With Rick Santorum’s departure, the 2012 U.S. presidential race has finally come down to Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. According to a recent Wall Street Journal poll, the former comes across as a strong leader, out-polling Obama 47 percent to 43 percent on economic issues. But the president seems to be a much more likable candidate, beating Romney with an 81 percent likability rating to the latter’s 63 percent. President Obama finds enthusiastic support among minorities and women, while Romney is holding slightly better among both whites and men. Overall, Obama has been consistently polling higher than Romney by a few percentage points across the nation, but the gap has begun to close since Santorum’s exit.
Although Obama’s campaign has raised twice the amount of money as Romney’s, it is likely that the Massachusetts governor will be gaining much more support from the Republican establishment now that he has all but secured the nomination. Whereas the majority of Obama’s campaign contributions have come from individuals giving less than $200, a whopping 63 percent of Romney’s contributions come in amounts greater than $2,500. I certainly would not be surprised if those large-sum contributions arrive in even greater numbers now that Romney has the GOP’s confidence. One also cannot count out the impact that “Super PACs” will have in the upcoming election. Although the election is still far away, pundits and analysts predict it will be a close race involving derisive attacks funded by major interest groups. As a matter of fact, both sides are using each other’s arguments to woo the swing voting population. After Democrats had denounced Republicans for intruding on the right to contraception, for example, the GOP declared the Democrats responsible for the recent decline in female employment due to their lack of leadership on economic policy. Each side has been using its opponent’s arguments against them, but polls show that women aren’t buying into the GOP’s rhetoric.
However, class divisions could become an even more significant battlefront. For the past 30 years, the wealthiest portion of our population has captured most of the country’s economic growth. Democrats are hoping to expose the unfair tax rates of which the top incomes brackets take advantage, as well as the loopholes that allow many of the wealthiest Americans to pay only around 15 percent on most of their earnings. Meanwhile, the rest of the middle class pays north of 20 percent on its annual income. In raising the issue, the left hopes to garner the unified support of the lower and middle classes. The “Buffet Rule” proposed by Democrats would supposedly close existing loopholes, forcing the wealthiest to pay their fair share. President Obama has been trying to rally support, calling it not a liberal but “patriotic” campaign that all Americans should stand behind. The bill has little chance of making it through Congress, and the GOP points out that even with increased taxes, very little revenue would be drawn in comparison to our national debt. Nevertheless, liberals claim that their objective is to fix injustice in the system. The battle for interest groups on issues such as this will certainly ensue throughout the election.