2012 United States Presidential Election- Obama v. Romney

2012 United States Presidential Election- Obama v. Romney

The run-up to the United States Presidential Election on November 6th is gathering momentum, with both candidates stepping up their campaigns. Barack Obama is seeking a second term and the Republican nominee Mitt Romney is vying to become the next President.

We asked Labs participants whether America would be worse off, better off, or no better or worse off under Mitt Romney’s Presidency than under Obama.

America would be worse off under Mitt Romney as President:

  • The majority of Labs participants said that America would be worse off under the Presidency of Mitt Romney. Those participants who believed America would be worse off under Romney as President gave a number of reasons.

  • Romney’s right-wing ideological policies were seen to be a major reason amongst this group, with participants voicing their fears about Romney reversing Obama’s healthcare plan and undermining the position of the poorest in society.

  • In addition, this group were worried about Romney cutting the tax bands on the richest in society, which many participants thought would not be in the best interests of the American people and would make the rich richer at the expense of the poorest in society.

  • Furthermore, these participants were worried that inequality levels were likely to rise if Mitt Romney was elected as President, at the expense of Barack Obama.

  • Another key explanation amongst this group was Romney’s lack of foreign policy experience, which was perceived as having a negative effect in diplomacy with other countries. Some participants noted that Romney’s perceived foreign policy incompetence could lead to increased tensions with Iran.  

  • To a lesser extent, Romney’s Mormon religion was seen by a minority of participants in this group to be a factor in these participants preferring Obama as President.

America would be better off under Mitt Romney as President:

  • Participants in this group were in the minority, believing that the United States would be better off with Mitt Romney as President. A number of explanations were given by this group.

  • A key factor amongst people in this group was the economy, bringing to mind the much used phrase, It’s the economy stupid.” Participants believed that Mitt Romney would provide economic stability and reform, through a mixture of free trade and economic taxation, both core features of neo-liberal ideology.

  • Another key feature was Romney’s pledge to reduce and cut government spending amongst these people. Other participants saw Romney as promoting a brand of nationalist sentiment, which they perceived as having the possibility to unify America.

  • In turn, other participants in this group blamed the Obama administration for the economic situation in the United States, with high levels of unemployment, high levels of inflation and government debt, key issues amongst participants in this group.

America would be no better or worse off under Mitt Romney as President:

  • A large number of participants in this group noted that America would be no better or worse off under Mitt Romney’s Presidency and gave differing reasons. Firstly, participants in this group said that they could see little difference between both candidates in regards to policy.

  • Secondly, there was a general feeling of antipathy towards the establishment and big business in the United States, with some participants suggesting that it mattered little who become President, as big business ran the country and decided policy, not the President. These people tended to cite corruption in America as another reason why America would be no better or worse off under Mitt Romney as President.

  • Thirdly, there were another group of people, who said that the overall power of the President was severely limited due to the powers given to each government branch in the United States Constitution. Most participants in this group said that the nature of the United States Constitution granted limited power to the President, and thus made very little difference whether Obama or Romney was elected.

  • Furthermore, other participants noted that whilst the President controlled a considerable degree of power, ultimately power between the Senate and the House of Representatives decided how powerful the President was and not the people.

  • Other people in this group noted that the United Supreme Court played a pivotal role in weakening the power of a President and another reason why people in this group said that America would be no better or worse off under either candidate as President.

Obama v Romney?

Here's what our poll participants had to say...

Viewpoint 1 - America would be worse off under Mitt Romney as President:

Mitt Romney is far too right wing to run a free country successfully for the majority of citizens, and with the planned cuts in their services, many Americans may suffer unnecessarily, when in reality they could all benefit from a bit of government helpAnon

“Mitt Romney’s views are extreme and so far removed from our norms in the UK. The USA needs some normality” Anon

“Worse off in the sense that there will be less government, lower taxes, more poor peopleDavid, Cambridge

“Mitt Romney is not concerned with the quality of life for those on low-incomes and others. He seems determined to grind into the ground the American equality and freedom that it is so famous for by lowering taxes on the richest and raising them for those who cannot afford taxes already, all the while slashing public spending in the areas that need it the most” Anon

“Romney represents the interests of the rich and the privileged; he will not do any good for the average American” Danny, London

“He will do more for big business and big business does nothing for workers and the economy - only the wealthy elite benefit from his sort of governmentRob, London

“Mitt Romney will undo all the good that Obama has done and only help the rich and better off, especially when it comes to health issues” Anon

“Mitt Romney is too right wing and has no idea of Foreign Policy and is too rich to understand working class people. He will promise the earth to get elected. From what he said about our Olympics, he will 'put his foot in it' in international policy decisionsAnon

“Mitt Romney will move America further and further to the right. His views are incredibly conservative and his policies on abortion, women and gay rights will only have a detrimental effect on American societyKatie, Dover

“Romney represents money and a return to isolationism. He has also made too many gaffes on foreign policyAnon

Viewpoint 2 - America would be better off under Mitt Romney as President:

“Mitt Romney has good financial judgement and will hopefully pull the us out of the major debt it is inAnon

Mitt Romney has the business experience get rid of the US deficit. Obama has got a lot of domestic policy wrong in the last four years” Josh, Ireland


He is fiscally sound. Republican leadership would give the US real purpose, Democrats are weak & liberal. Mitt will do a better job of steering the US towards economic stability whilst retaining the core values of the countryAnon

America is too big a country with effects across the world to stagnate. It requires new vision and enthusiasmAnon

His economic policies are better for America and the world than Obama's socialism. I think this outweighs the social policies of the Republicans which would make America relatively worse offAnon

Viewpoint 3 - America would be no better or worse off under Mitt Romney as President:

“I think big business runs the United States so it makes little difference who is in charge” Anon

Makes no difference in my view. They are only a cog in the vast infrastructure, lobbies that make up the state. They do what the markets dictate and what the election contributors sayJohn, Norfolk

Politicians are politicians. Sadly, they all appear to be power ravenous and with no real principles at all when it comes to the crunch. In the States it's not what you believe but how much money you haveChris, Middlesmoor

“Whoever is President needs to bring down their exorbitant debt, and I don't believe anyone has the guts to stand up to the electorate and tell them what trouble they are in and what sacrifices need to be made. I believe that American politics is too corrupt and too many people lobbying the State for funding for too many different causesRobert, Essex

“Both Democrats and Republicans are pretty much two sides of the same coin. Romney caters to different segments of the business world than Obama and is slightly less liberal in social issues but overall both pander to their rich backers and both will maintain the austerity measures demanded by neoliberalism. The rich will continue to profit while the poor will continue to suffer” George, Plymouth

The president has little say in what actually happens in the USA. The power is with the senate, the military and big business” Joan, Galashiels

“Who the president is isn't as relevant compared to which party has a majority in the SenateAnon

What's your view? Who do you think America would be better off under?

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Authors

James Downes

Writer and contributor to the YouGov Labs website.

Works in the YouGov London office