Monday, November 5, 2012


Election Day is almost here! The latest Capital Brief looks at the state of the race heading into the vote and poses just a few of the many questions for the aftermath of November 6.

Click below to read the Brief.

Capital Brief  
Amy Greene
Capital Brief – November 5, 2012

Election Day -1: Closing Arguments in Neck-and-Neck Race


  • Closing arguments: both candidates maintain sharp attacks. Obama touts his record and defends presidency as change agent for middle class Americans. Romney accuses Obama of not having done enough and making speeches rather than results.
  • Early vote: one of the keys to Obama’s 2008 victory, Republicans worked to stunt an Obama early vote momentum in 2012. The president maintains a slight lead among those having voted early, but Romney has made up enough ground to effectively neutralize Obama’s advantage. Example: seniors (strongly pro-Romney) intend to vote early in greater numbers than young people (Obama stronghold).
  • Fluctuating polls: national polls show Obama and Romney in a statistical tie, but the Electoral College trumps. To date, Obama has more mathematical paths to 270 electoral votes. Swing state polls are tight; Obama maintains a narrow though stable lead in Ohio whereas Romney is up in Virginia. Florida looks all but tied. Some early indications predict an Obama victory with about 300 electoral votes, but the reality is nobody can predict even at this stage exactly how it will turn out.
  • Most undecided voters have chosen their candidate. The 3% who still declare themselves as undecided are most likely to abstain from voting. The question now is, who can better turn out their base on Election Day? Romney’s Republican coalition is reliable in voting massively. Obama’s constituencies are generally more unreliable. Will Obama’s voter registration effort give him edge on November 6?
  • Other races critical: Senate likely to remain Democrat, and Congress Republican.


  • The economy (stimulate growth, create jobs, reduce deficit) is still voters’ primary concern. Entitlement reform (Medicare, social security) may also factor.
  • Social issues proved weighty in this election, too. Once the province of Republicans, Obama used them to mobilize his key demographic groups (women, Hispanics, minorities, young people) and contrast his vision from Romney’s. Think topics like abortion, immigration, gay marriage, gay military service.
  • After the election - What role in elections for money and media (esp. Super PACs)? Democrats massively registered new voters, esp. Hispanics – who were ignored by Republicans. How will Democrats ensure their continued mobilization after Nov 6? How will Republicans adapt strategy and message to Hispanics, young people, and minorities that reject their program now? Will either party try to reach across the demographic divide, or instead expect more voter-targeting messaging?
  • If Obama wins, how will he govern with a divided Congress? What second term priorities and what strategy to achieve them? Will he make more of an effort to cull liberal base? Will Republicans find it expedient to employ same systematic opposition to Obama as they look to grab 2016 victory?
  • If Romney wins, will he govern from the Center or the Far Right? Will he be able to mitigate the warring currents in his own party to establish clear leadership? How closely would his agenda resemble his electoral promises? What roles for new GOP generation in Romney administration, if not preparing for 2016 bid?