Summer 2012 stands politically charged with November election

Thaddeus Mast

As summer comes about, for many, it is the beginning of new opportunities.

For the Democratic Party, it brings opportunity and possible elections. For Iowa State’s College Democrats, it brings hard work.

“We’re going to be doing all we can, knocking on doors, making phone calls, getting as many supporters of the candidates as we can,” said Abhishek Vemuri, president of the College Democrats. “All of our members are encouraged to volunteer for candidates.”

The College Democrats are not the only ones working hard for candidates. The Obama campaign should start getting into full swing this summer, with ads expected to start appearing up over time.

“There are going to be a lot of folks working really hard, who are really dedicated, really focusing on getting Obama reelected,” Vemuri said.

The campaign this year will differ from years past, however, as Mack Shelley, university professor of political science, describes one aspect: money.

“In 2008, the Obama campaign spent something like $750 million. Both campaigns now are talking about just the presidential campaigns each being around $1 billion.”

A tactic likely to be employed this summer is a focus by campaign managers to put out “a very specific message out to a specific group,” as Vemuri said. An example would be to examine what demographic watches what television shows and to then place campaign commercials in the breaks of the shows that look the most promising.

Another new tactic that will be employed is social media, which was not used to a great extent in the 2008 election.

“There is definitely going to be more of a social media aspect,” Shelley said.

Vemuri also mentioned that social media as a form of political motivation.

“Things like Twitter are more prevalent,” Vemuri said. “This goes hand in hand with targeting voters in a really specific and personal way so that they are more likely to go out and vote.”

Another important issue to watch for this summer is the Supreme Court ruling over Obama’s proposed health care mandate.

Shelley shared his opinion on what will be the overall outcome of the case:“I see a five-to-four ruling overturning the mandate.”

While this would appear to be the death for any type of universal health care, there are other options available.

“What liberal and progressive types would like to see [Obama] do is support a Canadian-style, single-payer system,” Shelley said. “Most of the rest of the world uses some system like that. The U.S. is a very weird outlier. This country has been extremely backward providing health care for a long time.”

While all of this is happening, Congress will be in the midst of a tax cut war, especially in the House of Representatives.

“The House Republicans are really intent on trying to make sure that the defense budget doesn’t get cut much if at all,” Shelley said. “In return, they are making really huge cuts in things like food stamps. There are big cuts in Medicare and Medicaid coming as well.”

When students do come back to Iowa State next fall, opportunities will be present to support their candidate and political ideas, whether Republican or Democrat.

“As folks are coming back to Iowa State, there will be a couple kickoff events to get people excited and generate enthusiasm,” Vemuri said. “I just encourage people to participate and make their voice heard.”

The College Republican president Forrest Irvine was contacted for information, but was unable to be reached. Several other College Republicans club members refused to comment.