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Tom Murse

Voters Liked Romney More Than McCain in 2008. But Not By Much.

By November 8, 2012

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Romney Obama Debate Picture CloseupSo. Was the 2012 presidential election as close as you thought it'd be?

The electoral-vote margin between between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney was substantial - 332 to 206. Considering there are only 538 electoral votes up for grabs, it was a pretty sizable win for the former U.S. senator from Illinois.

But 2012 was no 2008.

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Obama's margin of victory in the Electoral College shrank, most likely because of the economic uncertainty. In 2008 Obama won 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173 electoral votes. Romney and running mate Paul Ryan fared better than their Republican counterparts did four years ago, for reasons that include their strong performances in the 2012 presidential debates. They picked up two states in 2012 that Obama won in 2008: Indiana and North Carolina.

There are probably a couple of other good reasons for that. First and foremost: George W. Bush. Voters in 2008 were clearly motivated by change, to move away from a Republican administration that had engaged the United States in war and saw the economy enter the worst recession since The Great Depression. Many Republicans also saw McCain's running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as too polarizing and inexperienced to serve as vice president.

Still, while many voters saw Romney and Ryan as viable leaders in 2012, Obama was able to define the Republican nominee early in the 2012 presidential race as a greedy capitalist who is insensitive to average folks. Oddly, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, ran on his credentials as a businessman at a time when many middle-class Americans have seen their wages drop or remain stagnant at a time when they're forced to pay more for health care premiums - if, that is, their employer provides health care.

It is not difficult to understand how Obama's strategy worked in such an economic climate. Exit polls conducted by The Associated Press found that voters overwhelmingly believed Obama was better equipped to fix the economy, which about 40 percent of voters said had begun to improve over the president's first term. At the same time, many expressed distrust with Romney and said his policies would favor the wealthiest Americans.

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April 9, 2013 at 11:17 pm
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