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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: obama

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October 3, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Why the presidential debates will either upend or end the 2012 race for the White House

Presidential debates are spectacles, watched by millions of U.S. voters. This evening we kick off a three-week run that includes three presidential debates and one vice-presidential one. Tonight we’ll be live-chatting the debate along with Times reporter Jim Brunner. Here’s a primer on why we’ve just arrived at The Biggest Moment of the Campaign.

For the past couple weeks I have read countless pieces by pundits, strategists, and analysts insisting that presidential debates don’t matter, and the debates are meaningless rituals. They point to the polls this year, which have hardly budged — as the realclearpolitics average of polls shows. average of all national polls on the presidential race, January 1, 2012, to October 2, 2012.

So, the conventional wisdom is that the debates won’t matter.

I don’t buy it.

Here’s my view: The first presidential debate — scheduled for 6 pm Pacific time tonight — will be the moment that turns the 2012 presidential election upside down, with Mitt Romney suddenly asserting himself as the dominant candidate. Or, alternatively, the debate this evening will be the moment that Barack Obama clinches a second term in the White House.

It will be definitively one or the other. By 9 am Thursday morning the race for the White House will be a brand new one, or it will be over. Tonight will matter.

I offer five reasons, after the jump.


Comments | More in National | Topics: John Kerry, mccain, obama

August 16, 2012 at 11:18 PM

In digital campaign for president, Obama far more active than Romney

Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter and Youtube channels became part of the political communication mix during the 2008 Presidential election. How do the Obama and Romney campaigns compare as we approach November 2012?

If an election outcome rested on how well a campaign does with Twitter, then President Barack Obama’s camp would be focused not on November 2012 but January 2013. Not only is the Obama campaign out-tweeting the Mitt Romney team but the Obama tweets are being shared at a rate of 17-to-1 compared with Romney’s.

Obama leads Romney

Project for Excellence in Journalism, August 2012

The Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism analyzed the digital activity of the two campaigns over a two-week period in June. The report shows that there is a “digital gap” between the presumed Republican and Democratic candidates for president, just as there was between Obama and John McCain in 2008.

The report reviews candidate activity across a mature set of digital platforms: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube plus the campaign websites. In June, the Obama campaign had a presence on nine platforms: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Spotify, Twitter (@BarackObama plus five others), Tumblr and YouTube. The Romney campaign had public accounts on five: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Twitter and YouTube; it has subsequently added Tumblr and Spotify, according to the report.

Obama established a broad digital presence in 2008 and has maintained it throughout his presidency. Thus it is not surprising that his digital support dwarfs Romney’s.

But it is not even close, in ways that are intriguing.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Facebook, Mitt Romney

July 19, 2012 at 6:45 AM

A presidential campaign that doesn’t need polls

Screen snapshot of the database of polls on the presidential campaign, from December 1, 2011 through July 8, 2012.

Been watching the presidential campaign?

Seen all those attack ads and seeming verbal gaffes and millions of Super PAC dollars? Ignore it. None of it seems to matter so far. This is the most stable presidential campaign I have seen since 1996, when Bill Clinton led Bob Dole by just about 10 points the whole way.

Public opinion regarding Barack Obama and Mitt Romney refuses to budge.

Any single poll might suggest a wider gap or a marriage gap or a move one way or another, but when we look at a “poll of polls” — essentially an average of all polls — we are almost exactly where we started.

12/1/2011 polling averages: Obama +2.3% over Romney

7/19/2012, polling averages: Obama +2.1% over Romney

So what gives? Why does nothing seem to give?

Three thoughts, after the fold.


Comments | More in National | Topics: Bain, Economy, Latino

May 26, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Wisconsin pastor has junior-high students pushing for same-sex marriage

UW Election Eye is on the road for three weeks, covering politics in the heartland of America. In Wisconsin, we found the same currents on same-sex marriage as we see in Washington. In Madison, we met a pastor whose 7th and 8th grade Confirmation students are writing to politicians advocating for same-sex marriage.


Reverend Sue Schneider in her office of Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison. (Photo by Kirsten Johnson/ UW Election Eye)

MADISON, Wisc. — Same-sex marriage is on the ballot in Washington state this fall. In this upper-Midwest state, same-sex relations last faced voters in 2009 when a domestic partnership plan was passed as part of Wisconsin’s biennial budget bill.

Reverend Susan Schneider, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison, wants to see marriage, not just partnerships, on the ballot — and soon.

Schneider’s junior high school Confirmation class at Trinity Lutheran is writing dozens of letters to political officials pushing for marriage equality.

“God loves everyone,” read the letters we saw. “One way we see a need for change in our state and in our world is that not everyone can marry the person they love…We want it to be a better state for all people.”


Comments | More in National | Topics: domestic partnership, ELCA, election

May 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Portland man recruits minority votes in a state with a changing face

With the magic of Barack Obama’s 2008 election long gone, fears of anemic minority turnout in November are prompting some to take action.

Johnny Richey recruits voters at Portland's weekend market. (Photo by Derek Walker / UW Election Eye)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Swaddled by a booth of clothing and outdoor garden trinkets, Johnny Richey hands out voter packets and homemade signs endorsing Barack Obama. Richey points to a stack of registration forms, noting that there used to be thousands of applications when he and his partner first began recruiting voters.

Since he started pounding the pavement, Richey has wheedled that stack down to just four or five.

“A lot of people have given up hope on the American electoral process,” said Richey, who spent last weekend recruiting at Portland’s Saturday market.

Richey, who is black and lives in this town, said he was not an active voter himself until he found somebody he identified with in a position of leadership.

President Obama galvanized his political career.


Comments | More in National | Topics: black vote, diversity, Hispanic vote