A week ago, if you asked the average Democrat who was going to win this presidential election, the resounding answer was President Obama. But the latest Pew Research poll shows Mitt Romney ahead with likely voters, 49 to 45. Obviously, Governor Romney is benefiting from a bump after his superior performance at last week’s debate (even though Governor Romney made a boat load of false claims and spouted off inaccuracy after inaccuracy, not to mention he’d been saying one thing throughout the campaign and said the near opposite during the debate on numerous topics).
Personally, I think Governor Romney’s bump in the latest polls is a simple reflection of average people finally beginning to pay attention to the election. Sure, everyone’s been seeing clips of things on the evening news and people have been going to see the candidates speak for months now, but the average American has a job, a family, hobbies and other interests besides politics. The average American doesn’t watch MSNBC or FOX all day every day and doesn’t read the newspaper or the news websites that updates us on even the most mundane topics of the campaigns. The average American, the everyday Joe, the likely voters who are vaguely undecided (and who will very likely decide this election) are just now beginning to really pay attention to the election. They started last week at the debates, and if they haven’t listened to Mitt Romney before and heard all of his promises and claims for the last year or so, then what he said at the debate made perfect sense. In fact, it sounded pretty darn good.
And the Romney/Ryan campaign knows this and is taking full advantage of this—as they should. But here’s the thing: as citizens of this republic not only is it our duty to vote, it’s our duty to be informed voters. Know the issues, know the candidates.
Now, I’m not a political writer or pundit. I’m just an average person who gets really interested in politics every four years. It’s important to me. Also, I’m a proud liberal Democrat. The blood in my veins runs blue. President Obama doesn’t need to campaign for my vote; he has it just by showing up. There are Republicans out there who feel the same way about their party and candidate. And that’s great. But there are just as many undecided and independent voters out there who really do weigh the candidates equally, who consider the issues that are important to them. Or maybe they’re just not as interested in politics or as engaged as some of us are so they begin to pay attention as election day draws near, when they start to formulate their opinions based on the often desperate claims made by panicky surrogates as the poll numbers shift and tighten.