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Six swing states go blue to guarantee Obama’s victory

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 08:11


Obama’s successful bid for presidency this fall depended on one crucial factor: his success in swing states.

This year’s swing states included Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa and New Hampshire. As a result of their unique demographic and partisan divides, they continued to be key battlegrounds for Romney and Obama throughout the campaign until late last night, when all seven of these states swung toward Obama by slim margins, although Florida’s electoral votes remain in the balance.

This particular group of highly contested states is strikingly similar to swing states from 2008, 2004 and 2000, although it excluded past swing states Pennsylvania and Nevada, which went blue, and North Carolina, which went red. According to Associate Professor of Political Science Deborah Schildkraut, swing states remain unpredictable for several reasons.

“A lot of it is, these states just happen to have the right mix of Democrat, Republican, white, nonwhite, different economic classes, that lead it to be this perfect storm of being a very close state [that’s] not easily tipped one way or the other,” she said.

Obama’s swing-state successes garnered him a total of 303 electoral votes, well over the total of 270 votes needed for a presidential win.  Though Florida’s 29 electoral votes are up in the air as of press time, Ohio, with 18 electoral votes, proved to be a critical contributor to Obama’s electoral success.  Ohio and Florida both have been historically decisive in predicting the outcomes of presidential elections.

“What really makes a swing state matter so much is how close does it seem to be, and how many electoral votes does it have,” Schildkraut said. “With Ohio and Florida you have this combination where it really is a total tossup, and it’s a significant number of electoral votes, and that’s what really makes it crucial.”

CNN reported that Obama took 50 percent of the vote in Ohio with Romney trailing close behind at 48 percent, a margin of roughly 100,000 votes. Although Florida remained undecided at press time, Obama led Romney 50 percent to 49 percent, again with a slim margin of just 100,000 votes. However Ohio and Florida are only two of a whole slew of important divided states home to many Tufts students.

 Ohio (18 electoral votes): 50 percent Obama, 48 percent Romney 

With an entrenched rural conservative population and a large urban Democratic bloc, Ohio truly is a swing state, leaning toward Obama in 2008 but supporting Bush in 2004 and 2000. According to Politico, Ohio has correctly picked the winning candidate in every presidential election since 1960.

Sophomore Gabe Rothman is from liberal Shaker Heights, just outside of Cleveland, Ohio. He voted absentee for Obama and explained the importance of voting in his state.

“Most of the blue is concentrated in the cities, and everything in between is red,” he said. “So basically it comes down to voter turnout in Cleveland and Columbus and whether it will outweigh the turnout in the rest of the state. It’s pretty important to get to the polls or send in a ballot if you live in one of those places.”

Schildkraut emphasized the significance of voter turnout in split states such as Ohio.

“In Ohio, both parties are strong, both parties have had governors, both parties have had senators, both parties have a significant presence in the state, so it’s really a matter of convincing people to vote,” she said. “And we know from decades of political science research that mobilization efforts and get out the vote campaigns work.”

The polls remained neck-and-neck up until Election Day and through election night. Despite strong rural support for Romney, the federal bailout of the auto industry and Ohio’s recently improving economy gave Obama the slight but crucial edge in the polls.

Many Ohioan students reacted to Obama’s win in their home state with relief and jubilation.

“I’m so incredibly excited,” senior Rachel Rubin said. “This is my first time voting, and I got to vote for an important county in Ohio, and so it’s an amazing feeling because my vote actually mattered.”

Florida (29 electoral votes): 50 percent Obama, 49 percent Romney 

Made famous as a crucial swing state in the 2000 election, Florida continued to be a hotly contested battleground for Romney and Obama in 2012. Florida contains a large population of conservative retirees, as well as a large and traditionally Democratic Latino bloc concentrated in Cuban communities in southern Florida and Puerto Rican communities in central Florida. In 2008, Obama won 57 percent of Florida’s Latino vote.

Sophomore Emily Quigley is originally from Parkland, a town north of Miami. She spoke of the demographic and regional differences that divide Florida politically.

“I lived in the southeastern part of Florida, so I was surrounded by a lot more liberal-minded people and Democrats, just being in the city and surrounded by a lot of Hispanic culture,” she said. “You can definitely tell as you move north that people are more conservative and Republican.”

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