With Election Day less than a week away, it’s time for students to weigh their options and cast their vote. This year the presidential election is between former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Democratic President Barack Obama.
According to his official campaign website, Obama — whose 2012 campaign slogan is “Forward” — is running a campaign focused on growing the economy “from the middle class out, not the top down,” reforming the tax code to create jobs and pay down the national deficit, investing in clean energy sources, making education more affordable and making health care cheaper and more accessible.
Bryan Dettrey, an assistant professor of political science at the University of South Dakota, says Obama’s “Forward” slogan is uncommon for a sitting president seeking re-election.
“President Obama has had some success turning this election into one about the future,” Dettrey said. “This is unusual, because elections with incumbent candidates are usually about the past and their record over the previous four years.”
Dettrey added that although Obama has turned the focus of the campaign on moving forward, he has not offered an actual agenda for moving forward in his second term. Despite this, he seems to have a slight lead over Romney.
“The electoral college map provides more routes to victory for Obama than Romney,” Dettrey said. “Obama is also polling stronger in these battleground states than Romney.”
Dettrey said there has been a shift in public opinion since Obama’s largely-favorable campaign in 2008, and attributes this shift to the nature of politics.
“Campaigning is different from governing,” Dettrey said. “Campaigning is about appealing to people’s preferences, governing is often about making tough decisions. Easy decisions do not reach the president’s desk. After four years of decision-making, Obama has no doubt lost favor with some, but that’s politics.”
Obama has not lost favor with members of the USD College Democrats, who have been actively supporting the incumbent. This year, the College Democrats have been gathering to watch the presidential debates in the Muenster University Center Pit Lounge.
“It’s turned out to be a really close campaign,” junior Matt Bartl, an active member of the College Democrats, said. “I’m pretty confident in Obama winning, which is what I want to happen. Obama can shine a lot brighter than Romney, especially on foreign policy.”
Senior Brittany Levine, vice president of the College Democrats, said overall she is pleased with Obama’s performance in office and on the campaign trail. However, she would like to see him be more assertive.
“It’s not really his style to be an aggressive politician,” Levine said. “He should be putting up a stronger front for the Democratic issues he’s standing for.”
Levine said she has seen a lot of positive reforms since Obama took office four years ago, including passing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and ending the war in Iraq.
Levine said Obama has faced “basically a gridlock” in Washington since he took office, with a Democratic Senate and a Republican House.
“It’s not necessarily either party’s fault,” Levine said. “There’s just an unwillingness to compromise, and that did impact the efficiency of Obama’s presidency.”
Members of the USD Political Science League, a nonpartisan organization on campus, are interested in Obama’s impact on America’s youth and education.
“Obama’s doing good by college students,” PSL president Lindsay Veflin said. “He’s helping a lot with financial aid. As for the economy, he’s doing well but he could be doing better. He’s not living up to all of his promises, but he’s trying.”
PSL vice president Jennifer Kelly said that Obama’s support among young people seems to have declined compared to the previous election.
“In 2008, Obama did a good job of organizing the young vote,” Kelly said. “This time, he doesn’t necessarily have a strong young base. With Romney, picking Ryan as his running mate may have reenergized the youth in his favor.”
Kelley says it is crucial for USD students to make their voices heard.
“No matter what, everyone should get out there and vote,” she said.
If registered, students can cast their vote in the general election on or before Election Day, Nov. 6.