ANALYSIS: Obama Kicks Campaign into High Gear

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  • President Barack Obama cautiously predicted the outcome of the November election in a dialogue with wealthy campaign donors in New York.

    "If the election were held today, I think it'd be close, but I think we'd win," Obama told the group of supporters this week.

    This is the kind of unbridled confidence that helped propel Obama into the White House in 2008. The president’s supporters call it swagger. His critics call it arrogance.

    But this much is clear: Obama will need more than self-assurance this time around. He’ll need voters packing the polls and the black youth vote could be a deciding factor in Obama’s re-election bid.

    With some polls showing Obama running neck-in-neck with Republican rival Mitt Romney, and with Obama campaign strategists hoping to connect with millions of young voters who were not eligible to vote in 2004, young African-Americans could play a critical role in this year’s election process.

    In a new study by Tufts University’s youth research organization, the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, (CIRCLE) when blacks and Hispanics were asked whom they would vote for if the election was today, 87.5% of blacks indicated they would definitely or might vote for Obama compared to 64.4% of Hispanics.

    When asked about several leadership traits, black youth respondents indicated that Barack Obama has all of the positive traits of leadership showing strong support across the board. Black youth were also most likely to think the country was moving in the right direction with 49.8%.Only 29.1% of Hispanics and 17.6% whites thought the country was going in the right direction.

    In addition, according to the study released Wednesday, most whites (52.3%) also indicated that the system was not responsive to their needs.

    The Tufts report comes as a new Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll shows Obama leading Romney in Ohio and Florida by six points, and Obama has taken an 11-point lead in Pennsylvania.

    Obama spoke to cheering supporters in Mansfield, Ohio Wednesday and warned Democrats and independents that Romney's fiscal proposals will ensure that the nation's wealthiest citizens are given significant tax breaks.

    "The centerpiece of my opponent’s entire economic plan is a new, $5 trillion tax cut," Obama said. "A lot of this tax cut would go to the wealthiest 1% of all households.  Folks making more than $3 million a year – the top one-tenth of one percent – would get a tax cut worth almost a quarter of a million dollars. A quarter of a million dollars.

    “But it gets worse," Obama added. "Under my opponent’s plan, guess who gets the bill for these $250,000 tax cuts?  You do."

    While Obama’s strategists are combining high-tech mobile apps with old-school, door-to-door grassroots campaigning, many Democrats are concerned that at least 5 million young voters of color who will likely vote for Obama could be adversely impacted by the Republican-led voter ID laws.

    Republicans supporting these laws claim they just want to prevent voter fraud, but Democratic opponents say the GOP is systematically trying to suppress the black and Hispanic vote to get Romney elected.

    In a tight election where every vote will count, the prospect of 5 million voters of color being sidelined on Nov. 6 is deeply concerning.

    As it stands, 32 states have adopted some form of voter ID requirements. The laws disproportionately affect young voters and minorities and some Democrats call the laws racist. In Pennsylvania, for example, 18 percent of Philadelphia residents, many of them black and who voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008, don’t have adequate IDs to vote in 2012.

    Meanwhile, the Obama campaign says it’s moving forward with the largest grassroots campaign in history by offering a new cutting-edge smartphone app for supporters, volunteers, and voters. The new app, which will be available for iPhones today and for Android devices in the coming days, will bring key information and organizing tools directly to voters’ fingertips,  according to the campaign.

    “The campaign’s strength has always come from the millions of grassroots supporters who are organizing in their communities and talking to their neighbors about President Obama every day,” said Stephanie Cutter, Obama for America deputy campaign manager.

    Cutter said the app will help supporters participate in the campaign, listing local phone banks and volunteer events, and will even allow volunteers to canvass their neighborhood directly from the app.

    In addition, volunteers, supporters and voters will be able to use the app to:

    • Find and RSVP for events using a full, detailed map that makes it easy to share with friends;
    • Connect to hotlines for reporting voting issues and abuse when we get near Election Day – a tool that will be especially helpful for people in states with new voter ID laws;
    • Join Dashboard, the campaign’s other cutting-edge organizing tool that connects folks neighborhood by neighborhood;
    • Access information on issues as they speak with voters, including localized information on how the President has benefited your state;
    • Canvass their neighborhood, entering feedback and responses in real time; and
    • Access direct links to donate to the campaign.

    “As we push through the last 100 days of this election, our focus remains on helping make grassroots organizing as easy and accessible as possible for the volunteers and supporters that are the heart and soul of this campaign,” Cutter said. “That’s why we designed our new app to help break down the distinction between online and offline organizing, giving every supporter the same opportunities to get involved that they would find in a field office.”
     

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