Singled out as one of the most contested election in American history, the 6th November, 2012 election between President Barrack Obama (Democrat) and Mitt Romney (Republican) caught the world’s attention. To Saulny (1), the Election Day seemed to be a reprieve for the American citizen who considered the presidential campaigns as having brought to them unreasonable amount of stress into their lives. Saulny gives an example of Esther Jenkins; a retired teacher who did not only consider the 2012 election as a marathon that started a long ago, but confessed that she could not as well get enough sleep through the night as the Election Day approached. Her claims did not differ from that of other voters who confessed to have equally waited anxiously for the polls to be opened. They were now considerate to believe that the strident and polarized contest between President Obama and Romney was coming to an end (Saulny, 1).
However, racial differences in voting played a significant role in the re-election of President Obama for a second term in office. It is in respect of this issue that this paper presents a commentary on the 6th November, 2012 America’s election.
According to CCN reporter, Cohen (1), President Obama rode through a wave of racial support from moderates, minorities, and American women thereby defeating Republican Mitt Romney by landslide. In America, as the writer points out, Electoral College votes normally determines who will be the next President since he or she must gunner 270 votes across the states to win the presidency. But to his projection, Obama surpassed the required Electoral College vote getting 303 votes against his rival Romney’s 206 votes. Even though president Obama was re-elected, his gunned electoral votes were lower than those he got in 2008 which were 365 as he battle presidency with Republican McCain who got 173. However, it is evidenced that for both cases, racial difference was a determining factor.
Cohen (1) points out that the exit polls on the Tuesday 6th November, 2012 election showed President Obama getting strong support not only from women voters but also overwhelmingly from African Americans and Hispanic voters. While it was projected by CNN that Obama lost Indiana and North Carolina between 2008 and 2012, this did not hold him from getting majority votes of the electoral votes. Bostock, Carter and Cox (1) notes that President Obama lost the support of white voters by 19 percent points compared to the 12 percent point he lost in the 2008 election. However, his surpassing by margin, of the white supports especially in the 2012 election was contributed by various issues in his agenda that racially allowed him to get more votes from black and Native Americans hence outweighing what his rival could get from the white votes.
Unlike Romney, Obama was able to get the minorities’ votes especially those from the Latinos and Asian voters. As projected by Bostock, Carter and Cox (1), President Obama won Hispanic vote by 44 percentage points which was 8 percentage points more compared to what he got in 2008. As they note, Obama’s greatest swing states of the Hispanic votes were Colorado and Florida where he got 74 percent and 60 percent of Hispanic votes respectively. This was much higher compared to 61 percent and 57 percent he got from the same states in 2008. It became very clear that the key contributor to President Obama’s landslide votes in Hispanic, Indiana, and African America votes was his agitation for immigration policies.
Racial influence on voting pattern also played out among Asians. As presented in Asian Pacific News, President Obama got 72 percent of Asian American votes which was much higher than two-thirds support he got from them in 2008. The article notes Asian Americans as small racial group that is fast growing in America with their voting number accounting for 3.4 percent of total electoral votes. This minority group, just like black and Hispanic voters, combined in order to provide margin of victory to President Obama just to offset the white votes. The Asian Pacific News reports that Romney’s harsh rhetoric attack at China made the Asian-American not to back him but rather vote for Obama whom they felt agitated for their interests.
Moreover, the reporter notes that 60 percent of Asian Americans overwhelmingly supported Obama because of his signatory achievements especially on health care and immigration policies that allowed for democratic process and freedom. In ensuring that democracy against discrimination is not only defeated at the Presidential level, Asians America fought to see that eight of their lawmakers or of Pacific descendent were re-elected as Congress persons.
But as Hay (1) points out, American politics and elections has disenchant from what it was meant for, which is a democratic process deployed to proportionally motivate the ever smaller electorate groups to vote. He notes that the electoral participation especially among the young, women and minority groups in America has ever been discriminatory. However, for this to stop thereby resulting into free, fair, and open election, Manza (833) believes that there must be a decreasing level of the initial depressive forces such as racial segregation. Obama’s reelection was a demonstration of eliminating depressive forces of discrimination against Latinos, Asians, and Africa Americans involvement in job and education areas.
Unlike President Obama, GOP’s rhetoric harsh against offering jobs to illegal immigrants and blocking them, especially their children, from obtaining education benefits negatively resulted to Romney’s defeat. As presented in the WEEK’s article, Romney, during his campaign, moved the right on immigration that would block the illegal immigrants from acquiring jobs and benefits. This would then prompt these illegal immigrants to self-deport. In his action, he never considered the fact that immigrants’ brothers and sisters to illegal immigrants formed almost 50 percent of American population. In 2010, Latino alone was projected to form almost 30 percent of American population. Therefore, inability for GOP to assess this situation in the years to come would make Republican Party unable to win any national election.
On the other hand, the racial component played a significant factor in luring young voters and women to vote. Bostock, Carter and Cox (1) note that President Obama has maintained his 55 percent votes from women with considerable decline in youth’s votes as compared to the 2008 election. They note that Mr. Obama was only able to improve on youth’s votes in Florida, Ohio and Virginia where his campaigns actively targeted. But more significantly, Obama was able to win the youth vote by huge margin as compared to Romney. This was due to the fact that Mr. Obama unlike Romney supported the Dream Act which was essential for minors’ education especially the illegal immigrants.
According to Latino (1), Dream Act is an essential bipartisan legislation that would give Latino student’s especially the illegal minor immigrants the opportunity to earn legal status in United States. The Act is thus essential for immigrants including Latinos illegal immigrants as it would offer the minor ones, after undergoing lengthy processes, the opportunity to serve as U.S military recruits. Further, the Dream Act would allow the minor illegal Latin immigrants to leave up to full potential especially in gaining proportional college education that is essential for U.S economic growth. Having in mind that Latinos constitute 21.7 million voters, their votes really count for the election of a president.
When Romney vowed to veto the Dream Act that allowed many of illegal immigrant’s children to apply for U.S citizenship, he was losing on Latinos among other immigrants’ votes. It is reported in The WEEK article that Romney stepped up campaign against illegal immigrants and their children from enjoying educational benefits deepened his fall out touch with the immigrant voters. The effect even got deeper when President Obama issued an executive directive that barred the deportation of minor illegal immigrants but rather offer them permanent citizenship in America.
Additionally, the racial component associated with Republican Party contributed to its defeat by Democrat Party in presidential race. More significant is the existence of a gender cum racial sentiment towards Republican Party that denotes the party as only for the “old and white me”. This presented Romney as a representation of the old white men society who only wanted to get young black man out of office. Analysts like Terkel (1) have argued that President Obama was able to use the above issues as his campaigning platforms especially in winning the un-decided voters. Republican’s inability to win election as claimed by Karl Rove, a Republican political strategist, was based on the painting of Mr. Romney by Obama as only “a rich guy who only cares for himself.” This presented Romney as being out of touch especially with the Latin, Asian, and African American people. It was because of this that 53 percent of voters denounced especially on the basis that his policies would only help the rich especially the whites. Rove also noted the inability of GOP to reach out to Latino and young voters as have contributed to the Republican’s loss. He adds that for the Republican to win any election in the future, they will have to strategize on how to better reach out to Latinos, and women; especially those who are single.
In conclusion, racial differenced played a key role in influencing the 6th November, 2012 America’s election outcome. President Obama’s continuity to fight for immigrants especially Latinos, Asians, and Africans inclusion in America’s welfare enabled him in gunning enough votes to win the election. Romney, on the other hand, was not able to win the election based on racial component of his campaign and policies. This issues portrayed Romney as opposing immigrants’ and other minorities’ democracy. Finally, while racial difference has been America’s tool for power supremacy, it is important for voters to effectively understand the ideologies of different parties so as not to vote along racial line.