St. Louis Community College political science professor Dr. John Messmer claims the election will come down to which candidate have promised the best option for America’s future.
“Whether or not the winning side can actually deliver is another question,” he said.
Kansas City Stas political correspondent and host of KCUR’s ‘’Up to Date” Steve Kraske says the presidential race ultimately will be based on which candidate the public feels most comfortable with, and that the economy and jobs are the best gauges for that comfort.
“I can safely say that in 2012 most everything seems to swing around the question of economic leadership,” Messmer said. “This is true on the national level and even the state level.”
Messmer’s definition of economic leadership refers to voters essentially choosing between different visions of what will best bring the nation into a stronger economic future.
Voters and candidates seem to pay attention to the drastically differing opinions on each side, overlooking the many instances where views overlap.
“Overlaps aren’t emphasized by the candidates,” Messmer said. “Instead, the candidates just emphasize issues where they disagree. This has always been the case in American political campaigns. If they agree, there’s no reason to remind the voters that. So instead, they emphasize the differences.”
Gun control, the USA PATRIOT Act, the war on terrorism, the war in Afghanistan and drone attacks in Pakistan are among the majort issues on which candidates tend to mostly agree. Focusing on the differences draws voter’s attention away from these agreements and towards issues holding less weight.
Kraske pointed out a lack of distinction by the presidential candidates onhow each intends to handle foreign policy.
“If they’re not talking about it, they probably agree,” he said. “I think voters want the differences pointed out.”
Kraske also noted candidates talking less about fixing the budget, since any solution will require higher taxes or cutting funds. These solutions can cost candidates votes.
“What both are confronted with is the reality of an aging baby boom generation, rising health care costs, and a globalized economy with a capitalist China and India to compete with,” Messmer said. “Confronting these 21st century challenges demands fresh ideas.”
Kraske agrees with a need for innovative ideas, but doesn’t hear many from either candidate. He does, suggest, however, t that social issues will factor greatly into Missouri’s U.S. Senate race between Todd Akin and Claire McCaskill.
“The Senate race has been unusual. With Akin’s inflammatory comments about rape and paying for school lunches, McCaskill has definitely hit him hard with those issues,” Kraske said. “I think those comments are still looming over the electorate about how people are going to vote.”
Polls offer little insight into election results, according to. Messmer. He goes as far as saying that polls showing one candidate significantly ahead of the other mean nothing and are ignored by both candidates.
Kraske said his experiences with polls have been mostly positive, but that voters should always take the margin of error into account.
“Thanks to the Electoral College, swing states are everything to these campaigns,” he said. “If you’re are a swing states with a lot of electoral votes such as Ohio, Florida, Virginia or North Carolina, then the campaigns will throw everything they have at you.”
Kraske suggests the presidential candidates’ focus on swing states doesn’t revolve around driving platforms, but creating excitement and motivating people to vote.
“If you’re still undecided at this point, you’re probably not going to vote,” he said.
Messmer doesn’t believe the emphasis on swing states is a waste of time or money for either candidate.
“These campaigns are run by smart people spending lots of time and money on focus groups and studies that tell them what issues matter to the key voting constituencies, that is, voters that are key to winning electoral votes,” he said. “They would not emphasize anything that they weren’t convinced would be important to them winning votes.”