Obama vs. Romney: The race begins


The presidential election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama began with a bang. With the primaries over, Americans across the nation have mixed feelings about the current president and his opponent.

A recent poll revealed only 56 percent believed President Obama would be reelected.

Quin Monson, director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at BYU, said he thought this race will be a toss up.

“Obama has had some legislative success with Osama Bin Laden and Iraq, but the effects of the heath care bill on the election remains an open question,” Monson said.

According to a poll done by the Chicago Tribune, support for “Obamacare” — the nickname for Obama’s health care bill — has increased by five percent since June 28, when the Supreme Court upheld the legislation. Forty-eight percent of the polling audience reported approving of Obamacare, an improvement that could help Obama this election.

Romney’s ideas for health care renovation to “replace Obamacare and replace Obama” remain questionable for political experts. According to a Washington Post poll, the majority of the polling audience voted that Romney’s plans for health care reformation are similar to Obama’s. Both Romney and Obama advocate for covering people with insurance who have pre-existing medical conditions. Also, Romney and Obama both make plans to minimize insurance premiums.

Jim Dabakis, Utah Democratic  Party Chair, critiqued Romney’s health care plan. Dabakis said the problem was that Romney has no real health plan, saying he rejected the DREAM Act but has no plan of his own. Dabakis continued, commenting that the Republican Party is “just a party of no, no, no, no.”

Adam Brown, an assistant political science professor at BYU, said he feels the biggest issue of concern for this coming election is the economy, an issue the president has no direct power over. Brown added that the state of the economy is actually a partisan question.

“If you look at the polls, you will see that Democrats will say the national economy is doing fine, and Republicans will say it is terrible.” Brown said. “When looking at the Utah economy, run by a Republican governor, Republicans will say it is far better than the nation, and Democrats will think it is sub-par.”

The nation’s economy could be Romney’s key to a leg up in the election. The Pew Research Center conducted a poll that revealed Romney is viewed as slightly stronger with his plans to improve the economy, with 49 percent of the poll audience voting in favor of him, and 41 percent for Obama. Another poll from the Pew Research Center showed 39 percent of the poll audience favoring Obama’s economic skills and 46 percent favoring Romney’s.

“Romney has a slight lead with the economy being as mediocre as it is. He has proved his skill with management ability. He has proved his ability to improve the economy. Obama doesn’t have a record to show for the economy. It may be a little unfair, but that’s what it is,” Monson said.

Smaller skills, such as the ability of a president to relate well with his people, could become relevant factors in this election, according to Brown.

“We need to recognize that campaign effects are small,” Brown said. “As voters we want to think, ‘I’d like to put somebody like me in office. Maybe smarter or more educated, but somebody like me.’ That way, for issues that we don’t see or understand yet, the president will make decisions that we would, too.”

Dabakis elaborated on the issue of presidential familiarity: “Mitt Romney’s strength is Obama’s weakness. In Utah, people are not familiar with President Obama.”

Dabakis continued, explaining Romney is out of touch with the working class of Utah.

“(Romney) was in town a couple weeks ago at Deer Valley and Park City. If you were a regular Utahn and wanted to meet him, you could pay $50,000 to have a wonderful lunch with him. Mitt has lost touch with normal Americans,” Dabakis said.

It is likely that Romney and Obama will both be trying to improve their campaigns and image all around the nation as they compete neck and neck for the seat in the Oval Office.


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