The 2012 Presidential Elections:  Understanding the Stakes, Getting the Numbers



While it seems only yesterday when the nation came together to watch President Barack Obama take the oath of office – and the historic step – as the nation’s first African American president, 2012 presidential elections are right around the corner. 

There are many things at stake with the 2012 elections, in addition to the presidential race, including 33 races in the United States Senate and elections for members in the United States House of Representatives. 

At the state level, there will be 11 gubernatorial races and numerous state legislature races that will take place in the 2012 elections. 

The implications are clear as the nation continues to rally from its significant economic downturn. The current trend to continue to “change horses” midstream due to promotional hype versus political accomplishments could be detrimental to effective and long-term recovery.  The 2012 presidential elections could be the turning point for the economy or the rallying point for a full scale tailspin.

Looking back at the gubernatorial races in 2010, which can be a possible precursor to the 2012 presidential elections, the Republican Party took 29 seats for governors, including five more seats than when they started.  

Florida, a major swing state, now has a Republican governor, as does Pennsylvania and Ohio, two states that were previously lead by Democrats. 

Many will tout the influence of the Tea Party movement and the opposition to the healthcare package as a major driving force for the election results in 2010, the transition in many state governments and a possible foreshadowing for the 2012 presidential elections. 

Governors hold a lot of influence, particularly regarding the trends of their residents as well as the Electoral College. 

Many are beginning to take notice.’s Eric Black in his article, “Way to Early for 2012 Electoral College Math, But What the Heck” stated, “Obama’s 2008 win was so solid and involved such a thorough sweep of traditional swing states, plus the capture of several states that had been solidly red over recent cycles, that he could lose as many six of the states he carried in 2008 and still reach the crucial 270 electoral votes needed for victory.” 

Thus, the focus on the Electoral College and the reapportionment process that has taken place following the 2010 Census is a major factor in the 2012 race, particularly due to the issues in the past regarding the census and the current implications on redistricting.

Hope Yen, writing for the Associated Press, stated, “Historically, the once-a-decade population count has disproportionately missed minorities, particularly poor people in dense cities, as well as children. In 2000, the bureau noted for the first time an over count of 1.3 million people, due mostly to duplicate counts of more affluent Whites with multiple residences. About 4.5 million people were ultimately missed, mostly Blacks and Hispanics.”   

The census is important to the 2012 elections in terms of the distribution of citizens and the allocation of funding as noted by Yen who wrote, “The population changes will result in a shift of House seats affecting 18 states that will take effect in 2013. The big winners included Texas, which will pick up four new House seats, and Florida, which will gain two.  The 2010 census results also are used to distribute more than $400 billion in annual federal aid and will change each state’s Electoral College votes beginning in the 2012 presidential election.”

Those who believe it is too early to start thinking about the 2012 presidential elections should think again and start counting the votes in your state.  The future is now.

Mereday is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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