Well, here we are, everyone! It’s time to get things rolling with Election Day 2012.
This post will be updated throughout the day (and perhaps into tomorrow morning) with all the latest news on the presidential election, including results, media coverage, and (when we have one) our president for the next four years.
270 Electoral Votes to Win
District of Columbia (3)
New Hampshire (4)
New Jersey (14)
New Mexico (5)
New York (29)
Rhode Island (4)
North Carolina (15)
North Dakota (3)
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
West Virginia (5)
The fateful day is almost upon us. On Tuesday, citizens across the nation will cast their ballots for the next president of the United States. Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have been hard at work over the final weekend of campaigning, both sides hoping to swipe as many votes as they can in order to pull out what may be a narrow win in two days.
Even as both sides have pushed to maintain an upbeat appearance as we near the finish line, the candidates have become mired in arguments over a poorly timed comment by Obama, who suggested during a Friday speech in Ohio that the American public should re-elect him over Romney out of “revenge.” Republicans have blasted Obama for the comment, with Romney saying that people should “vote for love of country, not revenge,” while Democrats argued that too much is being made of his word choice, showing that Romney is desperate enough to resort to “scare tactics” amid stalling momentum in the polls. Either way, it’s left Romney’s latest messages feeling oddly reminiscent of Obama’s 2008 campaign, with Romney echoing Obama verbatim in imploring Americans to vote for “change.”
Going into the third and final presidential debate on Monday, most major polls had Barack Obama and Mitt Romney effectively tied, with the difference between them within the margin of error. With the momentum swinging toward Romney, though, some analysts argued that Obama needed to completely dominate the last debate in order to stem the tide. But despite Obama’s best efforts, such dominance was nowhere to be found as the two candidates fought to a draw over foreign policy.
Well, actually, that’s not quite correct. The two candidates didn’t really fight to a draw. Obama indeed fought throughout the debate as he went on the offensive, trying to slam Romney throughout the affair. But Romney would have none of it, choosing to focus on the similarities between the two candidates’ policies instead of highlighting differences. He passed up countless opportunities to hammer Obama on how he handled foreign policy nightmares like the tragedy in Benghazi, to take a stand against Cuba in order to impress Florida voters, or to simply pressure Obama on the increasingly bloody global climate.
Oct. 21, 2012: Presidential Debates Round Two: Obama didn’t repeat the first debate. But did he win?
After the second presidential debate, only one thing was clear: it was not a repeat of round one. President Barack Obama took the affair seriously, fighting back against Governor Mitt Romney in a stark contrast with the passiveness he displayed in the first debate. Many analysts and polls suggested that Obama a stole the advantage in round two thanks to a few Romney missteps, of which the most egregious was a mistaken claim about Obama's response to the Benghazi embassy attack. However, the reported win was, at the very least, less clear than Romney’s round one triumph, with Romney making several compelling points and imploring voters not “to settle” for the current economy.
With the narrower win in mind, the Obama camp has to be nervous about Romney’s momentum across the nation. While early vote totals have been quite high, suggesting an advantage for Obama in the November election — in recent years, more Democrats than Republicans have filed absentee ballots — the margin by which he leads those early votes is much smaller than the lead he held in 2008. With even major media outlets that supported Obama four years ago openly shifting toward Romney, the presidency may be within reach for the challenger.
After the first presidential debate, almost every media outlet declared Mitt Romney the clear winner. He surged in the polls after his victory, moving past Barack Obama in almost every major national survey taken after the skirmish despite having consistently trailed for almost a year. According to RealClearPolitics’ average of nationwide polls, Obama had not trailed since Oct. 11, 2011, but Romney pulled ahead on Tuesday, showing just how decisively the debate changed voters’ impressions of the race.
Thursday’s vice presidential debate, on the other hand, did not have such a clear winner despite the clear contrast in the running mates’ policies and debating styles. Joe Biden was much more active throughout the debate, taking control of almost the entire first half but doing so by repeatedly interrupting both his opponent and the moderator, while Paul Ryan played a more passive role, but kept a cool, composed demeanor throughout the clash. Biden had a number of strong one-liners prepared to combat the Republicans, from attacking Romney’s now-infamous “47%” line to calling Ryan’s claims “a bunch of malarkey.” Ryan didn’t have nearly as many strong retorts, much of which was due to Biden interjecting and getting the last word on the vast majority of debate topics.
Still, just because Biden was more active doesn’t necessarily mean that he won, particularly since Ryan didn’t duplicate the annoyance that Obama displayed in losing the first presidential debate. While some said that Biden was much more gregarious, with his open laughter and warm smile helping him to connect with voters in contrast with his cold rival, others called him overly aggressive in trying to keep Ryan from even completing a sentence, saying that his audible scoffing throughout the debate made look crass and disrespectful instead of engaged in a serious discussion. Did Biden’s lively enthusiasm and pointed critiques stop the bleeding after Obama’s lackluster performance, or did his snarkiness and unwillingness to let Ryan respond further turn off undecided voters? Only time, and the polls, will tell — that is, if this sole clash between the running mates has any effect at all.
Last week, I said that Mitt Romney “needs a big win” in the presidential debates, as his opponent, Barack Obama, was building his lead in several critical swing state polls. And it looks like Romney may have gotten just that. Over the past few weeks, Romney spent countless hours preparing for his first clash with Obama — the incumbent, in contrast, famously complained two days beforehand that preparation was “a drag. They’re making me do my homework” — and Romney’s strategy paid dividends Wednesday night as more than 70 million people watched him dominate the sitting president.
Romney appeared to be energized entering the debate, immediately taking control and keeping Obama on the defensive throughout the affair while repeatedly hammering his rival on the weak economy and high employment. While Obama at times tried to wax professorial, it was Romney who took him to school, making him look frustrated with the proceedings at times and unsure of himself at others. You can watch the full 90-minute debate below.
Before we get to the big national story for the coming week, let’s address a few regional and international issues. Perhaps the top headline grabber over the past few days was the tragic shootings in Minneapolis which claimed six lives, including the shooter. Officials initially refused to specify how many people had been killed. Reports eventually indicated that the gunman, along with four victims, worked for Accent Signage Systems, an interior graphics and signage company. Later updates added a United Parcel Service driver for a total of six deaths.
All five victims died by gunshot, and Andrew J. Engeldinger, the shooter, committed suicide afterward. Several others were wounded in the deadly assault.
It appears that Engeldinger’s rampage was fueled by his termination from Accent just hours earlier. Oddly, Engeldinger’s attack may not have been a pure bout of blind rage, as he willfully bypassed several offices in his efforts to target a few specific individuals. However, family members did note that Engeldinger had grappled with mental illness for years; they said it was “not an excuse for his actions, but sadly, may be a partial explanation.”