July 10th, 2012 // 10:01 am @ Oliver DeMille
But in 2012, the U.S. election truly may be the most important in our lifetimes.
We are at a crossroads, and November 6 will turn us in one direction or the other.
With the Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare, the battle lines are clearly drawn.
And while many conservatives don’t want to admit it, President Obama is still the frontrunner.
As I’ve written in the past, most red states will vote for Governor Romney and most blue states for President Obama, but the election will be decided by independent voters in the battleground states.
Right now, Obama is 2-3 percentage points ahead with independents in these swing states.
That’s not a huge lead, and polls will almost certainly shift several times in the months ahead, but Romney isn’t ahead.
Conservatives also struggle with why President Obama is still popular.
But in every election since 1952 the candidate who seemed more like a leader has won.
And Obama is still popular with swing voters in battleground states.
Conservatives tend to determine popularity based on policy, as do liberals, but many independents decide who is popular on the basis of non-political factors.
Moreover, the President’s policies on education have impressed many independents.
He gave more schools increased local controls and took on the teacher’s unions (though not enough).
Where George Bush centralized control of education more to Washington, Obama went the other, better, direction.
Many independents also like President Obama’s belief in more open immigration.
Though critics are quick to point out that we’ve deported more people under Obama than under any other president, Obama’s announcement that we won’t deport those who came as children is very popular among independents—even more in most battleground states.
Because of the high numbers of Hispanics in swing states, this one issue may sway the election.
Typical Republican criticisms that Democratic Presidents are soft on foreign policy won’t sell to independents in the post-bin Laden era, which scores points for the President among swing voters.
With all this, the President’s biggest asset may still be his personality.
Though his opponents scoff at this, he really does come across as a guy everyone wants to like.
He sings well, dances well, plays basketball well—in short, he’s cool.
If you hate his politics, you think being cool is beside the point or even unpresidential, but a majority of independents in the contested states really like having a cool president.
Besides, Obama came across sincere and committed when he went to Washington to change things—like a Jimmy Stewart character.
A lot of people still hope that’s the real Obama, and they’re waiting for him to truly lead.
Unfortunately, they think, the partisan extremes of Washington D.C. don’t allow a president to really lead anymore, but if he doesn’t have to worry about another election he can just lead like he always wanted to.
Most conservatives underestimate how much swing voters really like Barack Obama.
On the other hand, the big challenge for Obama with swing voters is Obamacare, and this hits hard in three ways.
First, is it overwhelmingly unpopular with American voters.
Only 28% of Americans thought the Supreme Court decision to uphold the law was a good ruling.
And swing voters dislike it almost as much as conservatives.
Independents haven’t found the Obama Administration’s explanations of Obamacare credible, and its unpopularity is growing.
Second, Obamacare is the main Obama achievement of the last 4 years, and many independents see it as the only major Obama accomplishment.
The problem is that voters elected Barack Obama to fix the economy, and many feel that he put healthcare (and, as a result, government expansion) ahead of jobs and economic opportunity.
In both the 2008 and 2010 elections, swing voters strongly supported the candidates they perceived as best for job creation.
Now they wonder: Why hasn’t President Obama done anything major about jobs? Why did he put all his capital into Obamacare?
Third, the Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare puts the debate in stark relief: Big Government vs. Jobs and the Economy.
The Obama Administration has become the poster boy for “Bigger Government, Fewer Jobs.”
The campaign is talking itself blue in the face trying to reverse this view, but swing voters aren’t listening.
Which brings us to the real consequence of the Court’s decision—the Congressional elections of 2012.
Regardless of who occupies the White House for the next four years, the future of the nation will be determined by whether Congress is for More Big Government or Drastically-Increased Economic Opportunity.
The problem, as independents know, is that neither Republicans nor Democrats are proven fiscal leaders.
Democrats spend on domestic programs, and Republicans often outdo them in international spending.
While many Republicans are loudly decrying Obama’s massive domestic spending and increasing debt, few independents have forgotten that Bush tripled spending over the Clinton years and that big-spending Republicanism came when Republicans held the White House and both Houses of Congress before 2006.
Though Obama has overused the point, it remains true that Republicans gave us the Great Recession.
We need to elect Free Enterprise candidates, since big-spending Republicans are as bad for our economic future as big-spending Democrats.
Still, if Congress remains split (Republican House vs. Democratic Senate), or goes all Democrat, we are headed for bigger government with more socialist tendencies.
If Republicans control both houses, there is a chance for our freedoms and economy—and this time the people will send a clear mandate that they want smaller government and a growing free economy.
This really is the most important election yet in modern times.
Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.