Where Obama and Romney stand just before the election
The heated but remarkably stable presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney has entered its final week, and both candidates are making their final cases for election.
Most polls show a very close race between Obama and Romney nationally, with Obama holding small but notable leads in most swing state polls.
“The advantage belongs to the president,” Central Michigan University political science Professor James Hill said. “The electoral college math, incumbency advantage for media coverage, good ground game, and swing state edge gives him a very strong upper hand that will be exceedingly difficult for Romney to overcome in the few days remaining.”
Much is at stake for both parties and their candidates on Tuesday. For Obama, re-election would mean, if nothing else, his legacy will be secured as reforms he signed in health care and the financial sector, among others, remain in place. A loss to Romney would almost certainly mean the end of many of his signature programs and a diminished legacy.
A Romney win would likely be taken as a mandate for smaller government following two straight Democratic election losses. A Romney loss, however, could force the Republican Party to re-evaluate its voter coalition following two consecutive presidential race losses. Traditionally, Democratic voting blocs like Latinos are growing in key swing states, meaning the GOP might have to reach out to them and other groups to compete in 2016.
Both campaigns and their super PAC allies have pledged to spend millions of dollars in advertisements in crucial states like Ohio, Virginia and Colorado to try and win over the few remaining undecided voters.
“The advertisements are targeted at a very small percentage of swing voters who are truly undecided,” CMU political science professor J. Cherie Strachan said. “In a race this tight, however, these swing voters are the ones who may very well decide the race.”
Many of the claims made in the advertisements are likely to be controversial or misleading, so it is important for voters to be able to cut through the spin in order to come to a decision. Here is where the candidates stand on several of the major issues facing the nation:
Obama: The president has proposed investing in infrastructure projects, giving tax breaks to manufacturers that invest jobs in America, penalizing those who outsource jobs and lowering the corporate tax rate to boost economic growth.
Romney: The former governor of Massachusetts has proposed lowering tax rates across the board, cutting regulations and getting more free trade deals on the books to get the economy on track.
Obama: Obama has been pushing for letting the Bush-era tax cuts on income over $250,000 expire while extending the rest in order to raise revenue without raising taxes on middle-class taxpayers.
Romney: Romney supports the permanent extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts while cutting rates by another 20 percent across the board. He promises the cuts will be revenue neutral through the closure of loopholes for the wealthy, though he has not yet specified which loopholes he would close.
Obama: Obama promises to further invest in Pell grants, financial aid programs, community colleges and work training programs while encouraging four-year colleges and universities to lower tuition by cutting back federal aid to institutions that raise tuition rates.
Romney: Romney has proposed to cut back on waste in federal aid programs while rolling back the federal government’s role in providing aid by encouraging private sector involvement.
Foreign policy and defense
Obama: The president has promised to end the war in Afghanistan by 2014 while continuing to focus on destroying al Qaeda and the Taliban. Obama has also proposed cutting the defense budget in order to make the military “smarter and leaner.”
Romney: Romney endorses Obama’s 2014 Afghanistan deadline, subject to conditions on the ground. He has also proposed adding to the defense budget by at least $100 billion by 2016.
Energy and the environment
Obama: Obama has pushed for an “all of the above” approach to energy, pushing for more domestic oil while investing in green energy projects. He has called for an end to subsidies for oil companies and supports higher fuel efficiency standards on automobiles.
Romney: Romney wants to open up more federal lands for oil production while emphasizing growth in domestic coal, natural gas and nuclear energy production. He says green energy is not advanced or stable enough for government investment and has blasted Obama for “picking and choosing” energy companies to invest in.
Obama: The president favors a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to tackle the deficit by raising an additional $1 in revenue for every $2.50 in budget cuts.
Romney: Romney opposes raising any taxes and promises to cut federal spending to 20 percent of gross domestic product by the end of his first term, while closing loopholes and eliminating certain deductions to pay for the difference. He is also in favor of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
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