July 1, 2012
By Jordan Schatz and Raquel Reichard
The one thing I’ve learned in politics—and I’m not sure how this plays out in presidential politics—but sometimes people just want people to be firm and decisive and take a stand.
— Maryland State Delegate Anne Kaiser
With roughly four months until the presidential election on November 4, potential voters in the metro area are quickly running out of time to decide which candidate they wish to elect into the Oval Office. For many, President Barack Obama is making the decision easier, recently taking stands on several controversial issues that are expected to have a significant impact on who will ultimately be elected.
In June, the president delivered a speech in the Rose Garden of the White House in which he spoke of a new immigration policy put in place by the Department of Homeland Security that assured that young immigrants who posed low enforcement risks would not be deported. In early May, Obama announced that he was in support of gay marriage, a statement that further defined the line between liberal and conservative voters.
“I was not sure that the president’s vocal support [of gay marriage]would necessarily help him [earn re-election],” said Maryland State Delegate Anne Kaiser, who is also openly gay. “I think the states where is he is already likely to do well will be more supportive and the other states less so, but that whole dynamic discussion of purple states and the states that he needs to win, I did not necessarily see those states as being supportive of the issues of marriage equality.”
Kaiser notes that Obama’s recent perceived decisiveness has boded well with potential voters. “The one thing I’ve learned in politics—and I’m not sure how this plays out in presidential politics—but sometimes people just want people to be firm and decisive and take a stand,” said Kaiser. “And so it may be that some people who are in the middle and thinking about it and may not agree with him, appreciate the risk that he’s taking or the step that he took. At first, I thought it wasn’t a good decision on his own personal part, but now I’m not so sure.”
Overwhelmingly and historically, the District has voted Democrat during presidential elections and most would argue that those dynamics will not change in 2012. In a recent DC Spotlight poll conducted in the nation’s capital, a majority of those questioned admitted that come November, they will vote for Obama, with many pointing to the president’s stance on gay marriage and immigration, while also referencing the current state of the economy.
In May, the Department of Labor announced that the nation’s employers added the fewest jobs in a year and that unemployment rose for the third consecutive month.
“I think that [Obama] had a tough economy to work on when he came into office,” said Washington D.C. resident Lauren Evette. “I think that even though a lot of people are focusing on what he hasn’t done, I think there are a lot of accomplishments he’s made since his election. And I feel more confident [with Obama]the next four years rather than the other options that are out there right now.”
Evette finds the fluctuation in opinions about the economy disconcerting, but concludes that the president is her choice, despite the economy. “I laugh a little bit, because every time you look at the news, one day the economy is getting better and other times it’s getting worse, depending on job numbers,” remarked Evette. “Personally, I see it as right there in the middle. It’s not great. I haven’t seen great jumps.”
Ronalda Robinson, a resident of Washington D.C., admitted that she was unhappy with Obama’s first term in office, but believes he is the right man for the job. “Right now I would still vote for Obama,” said Robinson. “I’m not too happy with the changes already that have taken place. I would like to see [Obama] change what he wants to do as far as the next four years are concerned. I think as far as gay marriage is concerned, it created a lot more uproar in a negative way than a positive way. I’m not saying it’s his fault, but as far as making a statement on it, he could have elaborated on it a little better,” she said.
Others, such as Duan Harvey of Maryland, intend to vote for Obama simply because they are uncertain of the expected Republican candidate Mitt Romney and where he stands on several of the key issues.
“I’m still trying to find a lot more about Romney and what he is planning on doing, but a lot of what he’s saying is not really — I would say, they don’t really have a plan,” said Harvey. “If I saw he (Obama) had gotten to a point where he wasn’t trying, but he’s not. I see that over the past he’s working with the Republicans…so he’s still trying. I don’t see anything why I wouldn’t vote for him.”
Evette agrees, admitting that she believes that the president needs more time in office to fulfill the promises he made when he first entered office.
“He ran on big ideas. He ran on hope. He ran on the fact that people were so frustrated during the last election that he really capitalized on that in a way,” said Evette. “People thought about huge, huge humongous changes happening and I think that what they saw was not what they thought was going to happen… so I think, getting over that hump and getting over people saying that he sold us an idea that didn’t happen and actually [get]them to understand what has happened and where he can actually go.”
As voters in the District get clarification of the president’s platform and stance on several monumental issues, many are waiting tenuously to see what Republicans will offer before making their decision for the November elections.