Advertisement
Politics

Obama-Romney Race Could Swing on Surprise States

North Carolina, Missouri, Arizona and Wisconsin may be factors in the 2012 presidential race.

When it comes to swing states in presidential elections, pundits usually trot out a list of the usual suspects: Florida, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire and, in recent years, Virginia and Colorado. Carry them, as Barack Obama did in 2008, and you’re measuring the Oval Office for curtains.

This year, there are some surprising additions to the lineup of crucial battlegrounds, four states that will help determine whether Obama wins four more years in the White House or Republicans, behind nominee-in-waiting Mitt Romney, send him into early retirement.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The states: Arizona (11 electoral votes), North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Missouri and Wisconsin (10 electoral votes each).

At this point, Romney remains a favorite in Arizona, which home-state favorite Sen. John McCain (R) won handily over Obama four years ago. The fact that Obama has a chance speaks volumes about changing demographics and the shifting political landscape. Hispanics, who overwhelmingly lean Democratic, have accounted for nearly half of the state’s population growth in the last decade.

Both parties will closely watch a Supreme Court case that will determine the fate of Arizona’s tough immigration law this summer.

Obama already has five campaign offices in the state, with more to come. The Obama campaign will focus mostly on voter registration drives targeting minorities, using the fight over the immigration law to draw sharp distinctions between the two candidates.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Even if he doesn’t win the state, Obama’s campaigning there will help him with the big picture. With the incumbent so active, Romney will have to devote time and money to a state that Republicans often can take for granted, leaving less to spread around elsewhere.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The flip side of the Arizona argument is found in Wisconsin. In 2008, Obama won there by a comfortable 56% to 42%. And he’s the favorite again this year. But Romney has a chance to force Obama to engage, if he picks House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his GOP running mate.

An issue not directly involving Romney and Obama may also factor into Badger State politics later in the year. If GOP Gov. Scott Walker, who inflamed liberals and some moderates by curbing the bargaining rights of public employee unions, loses a June 5 recall election, Democrats will have momentum heading into the fall campaign. But if Walker holds on, the tea party wing of the Republican Party will get a boost.

North Carolina and Missouri were among the closest contests four years ago -- Obama won North Carolina by a single percentage point, while McCain’s edge in Missouri was a mere one-tenth of a point. Both states lean Republican at the moment, but the close outcomes four years ago will encourage Obama to actively campaign there.

Obama, with a huge edge in campaign cash and the trappings of incumbency, can afford to campaign anywhere that strikes his fancy. That said, don’t look for him to spend much money in places like Utah, Idaho and other GOP strongholds, just as Romney won’t put much effort into New York and similarly solid Democratic outposts.

In the end, both Obama and Romney will play in states where they can force the other side into defensive spending and, perhaps, steal a few electoral votes.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

What Trump's Payroll Tax Cut Will Mean for You
Tax Breaks

What Trump's Payroll Tax Cut Will Mean for You

President Trump issued an executive order to suspend the collection of Social Security payroll taxes. How much will it save you?
August 10, 2020
What a Payroll Tax Cut Would Mean for You
Tax Breaks

What a Payroll Tax Cut Would Mean for You

If Congress can't pass another stimulus bill, President Trump says he will initiate a payroll tax cut by executive order. How much would that save you…
August 8, 2020
Drawing Down Retirement Savings in a Pandemic
Coronavirus and Your Money

Drawing Down Retirement Savings in a Pandemic

Tapping the right accounts at the right time matters. Knowing how much a retiree can spend each year without running out of savings in old age is even…
August 7, 2020

Recommended

Vote by Mail: A State-by-State Guide to Absentee Ballot Voting
Politics

Vote by Mail: A State-by-State Guide to Absentee Ballot Voting

With health authorities recommending people continue to social distance, the idea of voting by mail is becoming an increasingly hot topic.
August 4, 2020
Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans
taxes

Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans

With the economy in trouble, tax policy takes on added importance in the 2020 presidential election. So, let's take a look at what Joe Biden has said …
July 22, 2020
Answers to PPP Loan FAQs (Now That There's Fresh Funding for the Loans)
small business loans

Answers to PPP Loan FAQs (Now That There's Fresh Funding for the Loans)

Small business owners are getting another crack at Paycheck Protection Program loans. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the lo…
July 21, 2020
Travel Planning in the Time of Coronavirus
Travel

Travel Planning in the Time of Coronavirus

Insurance may not cover canceled vacations, but airlines and hotels may be flexible.
June 11, 2020