New Jersey Governor Chris Christie summarized the thoughts of many across the nation regarding the presidential race during the terrible hurricane that claimed dozens of lives and caused billions of dollars in damages. However, after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the East Coast, the campaigns have renewed their final pitches to voters with just days remaining in the election. The campaigns are chasing one another around swing states, utilizing any means necessary to connect with voters, from TV and radio ads to rallies and bus tours.
At this stage of the election, the campaigns must carefully decide which issues to focus on in order to reach their most important demographics and address the most important election issues. So what are President Obama and former Governor Romney’s campaigns focusing on in the closing days? To ask the same question a different way, what are the issues that American voters are going to respond to with days left before the election?
The Obama Campaign
Obama and his reelection team are focusing heavily on Ohio after losing some ground in Virginia and Florida. Ohio’s white working class voters give the president an edge relative to white voters in other states. Thus, the Obama campaign is currently directing attention to a misleading claim from Romney’s campaign delivered in ads that attack the president’s bailout of the auto industry. The ad states that as part of Obama’s solution in 2009 to assist U.S. car companies, Chrysler was sold to the Italian car manufacturer Fiat, who is now planning to move Jeep production to China. While China is an easy scapegoat used by both campaigns, Romney falsely led the public to believe that Chrysler is shipping Ohioan jobs abroad. The language in the ad is somewhat misleading, though the language is technically correct — not surprising for any campaign ad. But at a campaign rally in Ohio Romney also quoted a story that claimed “all” Jeep production would be moved to China.
Chrysler Group has come out and refuted these claims. Informed citizens are aware that China is currently the world’s largest automotive market — analysts predict that car sales will surpass the combined sales in U.S., Japan, and Germany in 2015 — and Jeep is another brand looking to increase its operations in this emerging economy by opening up new production facilities in China. The Obama campaign is trying to use this misstep to paint Romney as willing to say anything for political gain. This could prove to be influential in a state where one in eight jobs are linked to the auto industry.
The Obama campaign also recently announced that it will buy airtime in Michigan from Thursday until Tuesday. While Michigan was once labeled as a relatively safe Democrat leaning state, the race has narrowed considerably, spurning the campaign to spend $2.2 million to maintain its slight lead. The central message of the Obama campaign is sure to focus on the Obama administration’s support of auto jobs during the Great Recession.
The Romney Campaign
The Romney campaign is continuing to focus on ads and messages aimed towards female voters. This demographic has shown a proclivity towards Obama, demonstrated in a New York Times/CBS News poll with 52% of women supporting the president and 44% behind Romney. On the other hand, some polls indicate that Romney has closed this lead, with a recent Associated Press/GfK poll measuring a tie among female voters with 47% for each candidate. Accordingly, American Crossroads, a pro-Romney Super PAC, has released ads that attempt to appeal to women voters who are concerned about the state of the economy and the effects that four more years of an Obama administration will have on their families.
The ad campaign will last for seven days in Ohio, costing $2.9 million, the most expensive single ad expenditure thus far in Ohio for the pro-Romney camp. If Romney and his supporters are able to effectively convey his message to women that the former businessman is more capable to guide a U.S. recovery, thereby diluting Obama’s support from female voters in Ohio, the former governor could tighten the polls in a state which is showing an even closer race than many originally predicted.
The Super PAC is also hoping to feature more ads in Florida that focus on the economy in general, an issue where voters typically have more confidence in Romney than Obama. In addition, Romney is slated to visit three cities in Florida on Wednesday to try to ensure that he can win its 29 electoral votes. Romney is viewed to have a slight lead in Florida from a poll of polls posted by Real Clear Politics with 49% of the vote to Obama’s 48%.
Many pundits and analysts agree that Romney has enjoyed a surge of momentum in his campaign following the first presidential debate. Despite President Obama’s stronger performances in the two subsequent debates, Obama was not able to fully contend with Romney’s gain. This force could be crucial in such a tight race; so much so that the Obama campaign has recently released an ad titled “537” in an effort to address and match this energy. The ad cites that the difference between President George W. Bush winning and losing Florida in 2000 came down to 537 votes. The TV spot is being run in eight swing states.
Seven days remain until November 6 and the candidates continue their expensive cat-and-mouse game around the U.S. But with such a close race, it’s difficult to tell who is chasing whom.