The race to the 2012 U.S. presidential election has been a tight one with no candidate being a clear favorite to win. Incumbent President Barrack Obama, a Democrat candidate, and his opponent Mitt Romney, a republican candidate have carried out costly and painstaking campaigns. The winner of this year’s election will be determined by the preferences of the American electorate. Although many factors such as party loyalty and policies will play a crucial role in determining the outcome, race is still a serious issue. Opinion polls, political surveys and psychological studies have shown that most voters are most likely to vote for a candidate of their won race. This paper pools information from various sources to show how race may play a significant role in determining the outcome of the election.
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Researchers have found out that racial attitudes may significantly affect the outcome of the 2012 U.S. presidential election. Results from opinion polls show that Romney is mostly supported by older white voters. On the other hand, Obama is majorly supported by a large percentage of young voters, a fact reinforced by 2008 exit polling results, which showed that he won two thirds of the votes cast by college-age adults (Hanna, 2012). Obama is also favored by white women and colored people across all ages. Evidence from the way both candidates are conducting their campaigns shows that they are aware of this fact and are, therefore, shaping their campaigns to benefit as much as they can from those attitudes.
Voter’s Racial Attitudes
As compared to past decades, most minority groups are now eligible to vote (Frey, 2012). This has seen both candidates focusing on them in the last days of the campaign (Hartford and O’Meara, 2012). These groups include voters from ethnic backgrounds such as African Americans, Latinos and Asians. According to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2012), conscious and unconscious racial attitudes determine which candidate voters favor. Research results presented to the association’s 120th convention show that white people are most likely to vote for a candidate from their own race. Results from the Implicit Association Test (IAT), however, show that blacks are least likely to vote for a candidate because of their race.
The issue of race in politics took center stage in many a political debate back in 2008, just before the presidential election, when it became apparent that Obama could become President (Allen, 2012). Allen continues to state that even after the four years that have marked Obama’s first term in office, race is still a significant factor in American politics. He continues to cite a Columbia University professor and author of the book, “The Price of a Ticket: Barack Obama and the rise and Fall of Black Politics,” Frederick Harris’ sentiments that black voters’ support for Obama increases when he addresses racial issues affecting them whilst support from whites remains unchanged.
Obama Targeting Colored Voters
Evidence from polls shows that apart from Caucasians, most voters from various backgrounds (variously referred to as colored) will opt for Obama in the elections. Obama’s campaign machine is aware of this fact, and there is evidence that they have targeted such groups. According to Murse (2012), one of the key issues Obama promised to work on if he was awarded a second term is immigration reform. This will most likely sit well with immigrant voters; most of whom are of colored decent.
A campaign movement dubbed “Obama for America” (OFA) has been targeting voters from various ethnic groups (Pangilian, 2012). One of the ethnic minorities targeted by Obama’s campaign is the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). Pangilian states that of all AAPI first time voters who turned out to vote in 2008, 81 percent voted for President Obama. This explains OFA’s investment in AAPI communities. For instance, in La Vegas (in Clark County) alone, OFA has seven field offices. Pangilian reports that OFA stepped up its outreach to AAPIs by launching AAPIs for Obama and distributing “campaign materials translated into Asian Languages such as Chinese, Tagalog and Vietnamese” (2012. p. 1).
The American Third Position Party Cites a White House correspondent as saying that Obama stated he would focus on people of color in his second term for they are the “future of America’s workforce” (2012a. p. 1). In February, 2012 Obama’s re-election campaign launched African Americans for Obama, a move widely seen as an effort to engage black voters (2012b). The Herald-Tribune reports that in September 2012, at a campaign rally at Tampa Bay area, Obama declared to the crowd that immigrants who grew up in the U.S., got educated there and pledged allegiance to the American flag will not be deported (Anderson, 2012).
In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Obama said that he believed Hispanic voters will help him win the election. He went on to promise that their (Hispanics) support will “propel passage of an immigration overhaul” in the next year (Taley and Lerer, 2012). Obama went on to explain that the reason he believes he will win the election courtesy of the Hispanic votes is because Republicans and their candidate Mitt Romney have alienated the Latino community. Obama is favored over Romney by over 30 percent points (Boyer, 2012)
Race played a significant role in determining the 2008 presidential election outcome in which Obama emerged winner. In his bid for a second term, Obama’s campaigns show that he is aware of the impact race can have on election results. This is underlined by the direct statements in support of racial minorities (especially regarding the overhaul of immigration laws) made in several rallies at swing states. Previously, polls have accurately forecast presidential election outcomes. Current polls show Obama enjoying support among minority groups, albeit by a small margin. Judging from the past, it is necessary to emphasize that race is a major element in all politics. The attitude of white dominance is entrenched the USA constitution as drafted by the founding fathers. On the other hand, the black slaves are seen as property in the same constitution. This is the main reason of rifts among races especially when it is the electioneering period. Both presidential candidates have used race as a campaign tool to gain support from different racial groups, such as the blacks, the Hispanics, and the whites among others.
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