The results of nearly every American presidential election in the past century have reverberated around the world. The same is true for this election, the 2012 presidential race between President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and a handful of under-represented third party candidates. This paper outlines some of the core issues that were on the table this election cycle. These are the main issues that the two candidates focused on, and which the American people tended also to be discussing in public forums or in polling. Although Americans are concerned with a number of issues this election cycle, a few of them rose to the surface and directed the tenor of the campaign. The economy was by far the important issue, or at least the issue that was most covered in the media. The second most important issue being discussed in the campaign was foreign policy and future military strategies. The third issue that became relevant in this political campaign was immigration, although the two candidates did not speak much about immigration in their respective debates.
After a discussion of these core campaign issues, I will discuss my personal position on each of these political issues. The following section will offer a discussion of political polls. There are several political polls that are used during election cycles. Each of them collect their data differently, and the polling needs to be understood or else it becomes misleading. The polls will be discussed in terms of their robustness, and which candidates seem to be ahead. Three different polls will be discussed in this paper. The first is the Gallup Poll. Although the Gallup Poll is not only concerned with the presidential race, it remains one of the most notable polling bodies. The Rasmussen Reports focus more exclusively politics, and offer daily presidential tracking reports. Finally, the Pew Research Center has a strong political poll. Even CNN news organization has a political poll it calls the "poll of polls."
The final section of the paper will offer my predictions on who will win both the popular and the Electoral College votes. These predictions will be based in part but not only on what the polls say. My predictions will be based on other factors, such as demographics, past experience, and common sense.
Issue 1: The Economy
The economy is an incredibly vague and complex issue that cannot be distilled into one political campaign, let alone one research paper. One of the primary issues raised during the 2012 election cycle was the poor state of the American economy, which is still recovering from a global recession. As CNN puts it, "the economy, unemployment, taxes and how to manage the federal government's $14 trillion debt will be leading issues in the 2012 campaign."
Unemployment is at record highs, and the recession is huge. What to do about these problems is a significant point of contention. Moreover, the President and Congress disagree over how to tackle these economic problems. The President is running on a platform that centers in part on stimulus packages such as job creation via the public sector, and also on ending the Bush-era tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 (CNN). Congress, which is headed by a majority of Republicans, disagrees. Mitt Romney has a more standard Republican vision of how to handle the nation's economic woes, and believes in the trickle-down approach. Romney is generally perceived as being pro-business and pro-Wall Street. Obama is viewed more as supporting the working and middle classes, and on discovering long-term solutions that do not involve trickle-down economics.
Issue 2: Foreign Policy
Foreign policy matters are important in Presidential elections because the President is the Commander-in-Chief. The core foreign policy issues this election cycle included how to deal with a nuclear-aspiring Iran; how to handle the rise of China as a global economic and political power; and how to navigate through the tricky situations in the Middle East. During his term, President Obama faced a number of foreign policy challenges including how to best withdraw the American troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. Recently, the President has been criticized for how he handled the situation in Libya in the events leading up to the terrorist attack on the American embassy there (what detractors call Benghazigate) and also on how Obama has taken a backseat to the civil war in Syria. At the same time, Obama nabbed the head of the Al Qaeda terrorist organization that led the 9/11 attacks.
Mitt Romney has a more aggressive foreign policy stance. Whereas Obama has a philosophy of integration with the world, emphasizing diplomacy, partnership, and cooperation, Romney believes in American exceptionalism. Romney has been quoted as saying, "he wanted to bring about an "American Century," in which the United States, "lead[s] the free world and the free world leads the entire world," (CNN). Romney has forged alliances with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and is perceived to be more "pro-Israel" than the President (Bohn).
Issue 3: Immigration
Immigration was lower on the list of issues compared with either foreign policy or the economy. However, immigration remains a crucial issue for many Americans. Immigrants and their children will of course be concerned with federal policy. During his first term, President Obama passed the DREAM Act, which helped the children of illegal immigrants to forge a path to citizenship and upward social mobility by attending colleges in the United States. However, Obama did not reform immigration in any significant way.
Americans living in states bordering Mexico will be directly affected by federal policy on immigration, as it might influence the ways their state governments handle the problem. Several states like Arizona have implemented draconian means to curb immigration. Racial profiling has become a major problem. Generally, the President's stance toward immigration, and towards illegal immigrants, is humane. There is some possibility the president will reform immigration so that there will be clemency for those who have stayed long enough to start families.
Mitt Romney has a more strident and conservative approach. He believes in the "border fence," (CNN). However, Romney has also suggested that children of immigrants who served in the American military should be able to pursue a path to citizenship (CNN).
Issue 1: The Economy
The President inherited a mess. The first action steps Obama took included a controversial set of bailouts that funneled taxpayer money into failing companies and banks. This was a huge misstep. However, the president has the country on the right track. His long-term vision is sound, because he understands that the economy cannot be fixed via a trickle-down solution. The outmoded method of stimulating the economy by giving tax cuts to the rich (who are supposed to invest in business and therefore stimulate jobs) is not working. It is leading to income disparity and creating major social justice concerns.
The economy also cannot be solved overnight. It is wrong to suggest that Obama is responsible for the high unemployment. High unemployment would have been a fact no matter who was elected. The problem with the American economy is systemic. It must be solved with long-range solutions that center on regulations on businesses. Economic problems are in part related to speculative markets and investment banking corruption. Another problem with the economy is related to the creation of a vast underclass in America. Without paying Americans a living wage, it becomes impossible for the working poor to become good consumers. The working poor cannot re-invest in themselves for upward social mobility. As a result, the entire country stagnates. Healthcare reform is linked to the economy too. Workers who do not receive benefits from their employers (because of loopholes that allow employers to hire someone for just shy of a full work week, thereby denying them access to healthcare benefits) end up taxing the healthcare system.
Another issue that needs to be discussed more in conjunction with the economy is education. Investing more in education will help create a new generation of more highly skilled workers. The economy cannot be based only on manufacturing. Science, the arts, and other areas of investment create a more diversified economy that can truly compete on the world's stage.
Issue 2: Foreign Policy
There is a plethora of pressing foreign policy issues. The Arab Spring is a major movement that has huge global implications. It is a tough situation, because too much interference is not good. The policy of America as the world's parent (or police) is antiquated. At the same time, it is difficult to watch the Syrian people kill each other without doing something. The ramifications of interfering need to be weighed against the implications of intervening. In general, it might be best to let Syria fight its own wars. Often, interference is met with resentment later on.
With regards to China, it is important to work closely with China as an ally. The nation is focused mainly on economic growth. Unfortunately, China pursues its economic growth at the expense of human rights and environmental sustainability.…