Presidential race will be fun to watch
Being a journalist, a close presidential race can be a lot of fun to follow and by all indications, this will be among one of the closest presidential races in history.
Last week, the Republicans had their convention and sent their nominee, Mitt Romney, off onto the campaign trail. This week the Democrats are reaffirming their support for President Obama.
All polls indicate a very tight race, all the way from national polls to individual key state polling. In some, Romney holds a slight lead, in others, Obama has the edge. Some polls disagree as to who is the frontrunner.
Election campaigns have taken on a whole new face with social media. This will be the second presidential race where social media will play a significant role and both parties are trying to take advantage of the medium.
I am old enough to barely remember the race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon in 1960. The new medium then, television and for a few, color television. Many pundits said Kennedy won that close election because he looked better on television and I would have to agree. Nixon came off unfriendly, while Kennedy display charisma and projected himself as a likeable, comfortable candidate.
The elections that followed relied more and more on television. Candidates no longer had to look good being quoted in the newspaper, but they had to be TV material as well. Hubert Humphrey never looked good on TV, and he never won a presidential election. Nixon kind of defied the odds — in more ways than one — in winning the presidency in 1968, but that was more due to the Vietnam War, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and a division in the Democratic party. Clearly, Nixon did not win because he looked better on TV, but next to Humphrey, he did not look so bad either.
I have to digress a little as to how the election night and even the conventions were covered. I miss that coverage today. Back then, it seemed as if the media was doing its job and covering the conventions, not like today when it seems they are all cheerleaders on the sidelines.
I have always had a fascination with presidential campaigns. I nearly got involved with a campaign in 1984, but wisely didn’t take a position.
Social media has put a whole new twist to the campaign and will certainly play a major role over the next two months. I expect both parties to not only use it to send messages to voters, but to also post items that may or may not be true, but will gain speed and eventually exposure in he national media. That is one of my beefs about social media.
Anyone can throw anything out there and it can gain legs. Unfortunately, often that can be damaging accusations that are untrue.
The money spent on this election will also be ridiculous. Both parties have raised millions and that does not even count the special PACs (political action committees) that have also raised millions and are able to run ads that the candidates can distance themselves from, even if the ads help them. We are already seeing ads in California and this is not even a battleground state. It would be a shock to see California go for Romney, although I predict by far a majority of the counties will support Romney, just not the Bay Area or Los Angels area.
I don’t think I’ll try to predict who will win in November, but I do see Obama running a campaign as someone who knows he is in for the fight of his political career. The economy could still play a role, or some other incident could tip in favor of one candidate or the other.
My only prediction — the candidate who gets the most electoral votes will be the winner. I just hope we know who that is on election night and not have to wait weeks for the election to be settled.
Rick Elkins is editor of the Porterville Recorder. He can be reached at 784-5000, ext. 1040, or by e-mail at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.