By Obed Manuel
Opinion and Copy Editor
The calm before the storm has arrived. President Barack Obama is at the starting line for the presidential race. Alongside Obama is Mitt Romney, the de facto nominee for the Republican Party.
The Associated Press and other news sources reported Rick Santorum’s decision to suspend his campaign for the Republican nomination April 10. Santorum’s move ceremoniously ended the Republican contest.
Congressman Ron Paul and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich are still in the race but neither has enough delegates to challenge Romney. According to The New York Times’ online Delegate Tally Count, Gingrich has 136 delegates and Paul has 55; Romney has a commanding 685 delegates and needs 1,144 to formally clinch the nomination. The race is essentially over with Romney emerging as the victor.
Romney is now where he wants to be – opposite Obama. Romney will now turn his aim directly at the president, and will make his case to the American people that he, not Obama, has what it takes to lead the nation.
A New York Times/CBS poll conducted April 13-17, roughly three days after Santorum announced his decision to quit the race, showed Obama and Romney in a deadlock with each candidate having 46 percent support from registered voters. Support from independent voters is also split: both garnered 43 percent of independents’ support.
However, in a show of just how difficult it will be to predict a winner, two separate polls showed varying results, indicating that Obama may actually be leading Romney.
A CNN/ORC International poll released April 16 showed Obama leading Romney by nine percentage points due to Obama’s likability and ability to relate with average Americans’ current economic struggles.
With a similar result, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released April 20 showed Obama leading Romney by six percentage points. This poll revealed 40 percent of respondents believe Romney would have better ideas for fixing the economy, compared to 34 percent who said Obama would have more success.
Dr. Philip Paolino, associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas, said the edge Romney has over Obama will be the Republican’s strongest talking point.
Paolino, an expert in the field of elections, said if the economy goes against the current trend of improvement, Romney’s message of being the right candidate for the economy would grow stronger and louder.
On the other hand, Obama will take a populist approach. He will attack Romney by saying the policies his Republican opponent would guide the economy with are the same policies that caused the economic downturn.
Paolino said if Obama highlights Romney’s wealth, “It could amplify the message that Romney’s economic policies do not work for the middle class.”
The only thing that is certain is the contrasting messages between the two candidates will bring about plenty of debate among experts and political enthusiasts. The race is starting, and the candidates are ready to go. My fellow Americans, we are in for a busy summer.