Editorial: Now more than ever, important for Iowa Staters to vote

Editorial Board

On Nov. 6, the next president of the United States and your next representative to the House of Representatives will be elected. That’s 56 days until you are called upon to perform one citizenship’s many duties.

As you’ve no doubt noticed, President Barack Obama has not only been to Iowa several times recently, but also Iowa State. Mitt Romney naturally has been trying to match Obama’s every move.

You’ve also probably noticed all the campaign ads. Obviously a lot of money is being spent here in Iowa to court your vote. As a resident of and potential voter in Iowa, you are in a unique position to play a critical role in the future of America.

But why is Iowa so important to the national election?

The origin of Iowa’s attention in the national spotlight is Iowa’s famed “first in the nation” caucuses. But Iowans put their pants on one leg at a time like anyone else. We have the same hopes and dreams as everyone, and we’re moderates. We’ve correctly picked six of the last 10 presidents and four of the last five.

And it just so happens that we swing politically.

We have one Democrat and one Republican in the Senate. In the House, we have three Democrats and two Republicans. Our governor is a Republican, but our state legislature is divided, the Senate having a Democratic majority, and the House a Republican one. Last presidential election, most Iowans picked Obama.

Many Iowans think that this bipartisanship works for us. Despite the worst recession since the Great Depression, Iowa’s unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, far below the national average. Congressman Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, recently said Iowa’s success in hard times is due to investments in education, renewable energy and trying to restore our manufacturing base after losing 54,000 jobs in the last decade.

Polls show Obama and Mitt Romney in a dead heat now. The parties are circling their wagons: Most Republicans report they’ll vote for Romney, and most Democrats report they’ll vote for Obama. That means the independents and swing voters are critical this election — and Iowa is a major swing state.

But voting is in decline; in 2004, 71.3 percent of Iowans voted, and in 2008 only 70.2 percent. That decline is expected to continue, making every vote in Iowa critical. If Braley is right and the key to Iowa’s and America’s recovery is education, renewable energy and manufacturing, we Iowa Staters hold the keys to the future.

Your vote is more important than ever, Iowa State. Choose wisely.