GOP?primary year favors Romney
Seven candidates were competing at the beginning of the academic year to win the Republican nomination, while President Barack Obama’s approval rating went down.
As the 2012 presidential election gained attention in September 2011, an Eagleton Institute of Politics poll found that voters have become less supportive of Obama’s re-election, while Republicans were not satisfied with the candidate choices at the time.
Poll results showed that 43 percent of the 615 registered N.J. voters polled think that Obama should be re-elected, which was a 5 percent drop from a February 2011 poll.
“I think a lot of people are unhappy with politics and political leaders. They are trying to express their frustrations about the economy and how they believe things are not working in Washington,” said David Redlawsk, poll director.
Thirty-one percent of Republican voters are not satisfied with the GOP candidates, while only 3 percent are very satisfied, according to the poll results.
“The significant thing about New Jersey is that Obama owned the state easily in 2008. If he is having trouble here, he is having trouble everywhere,” Redlawsk said.
N.J. voters showed a different attitude toward Obama a month later — an October Eagleton poll among 821 registered voters found that half of N.J. voters polled think that Obama deserves a second term.
Results show the percent of voters behind Obama for a second term increased from an August 2011 poll, and 47 percent of state residents agree with Gov. Chris Christie’s decision not to run for president, according to the poll.
“I think there are a couple reasons for this change,” Redlawsk said. “With Christie out of the picture, New Jerseyans don’t have to think about him as a potential candidate.”
Redlawsk said Obama began defending his position more so in October 2011 than before.
One of the major issues Democrats and Independents agreed on was Obama’s American Jobs Act, a plan aimed to put more people back to work, Redlawsk said.
Student and resident reactions in October of 2011 varied.
“My opinion of Obama hasn’t really changed,” said Vanja Vlajnic, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “I don’t think that he has changed anything drastically. I think he’s been doing an OK job.”
Vlajnic said he expected the two politicians to act rather than talk. He believes there is no basis for change in opinion of either one of them until they accomplish something.
Richard Hua, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said in October that he approved of the president’s jobs plan.
“I haven’t agreed with most of Obama’s plans so far, but this new one is different,” he said. “My opinion of him has definitely gone up.”
Candidates running for the Republican presidential nomination began to close the gap between one another through locking up delegate votes.
Mitt Romney gained the lead over Rick Santorum during Super Tuesday — in the Ohio primary, there was a 1 percent difference between Romney and Santorum, at 38 and 37 percent, respectively.
Romney gained delegate votes from Ohio, Idaho, Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, Wyoming and Alaska — six of the 11 states in the primary, according to The New York Times.
John Weingart, associate director of the Eagleton Institute of Politics, said in March that Ohio added significance to the Super Tuesday primary.
“I think Ohio is going to be the most crucial, most important, because it seems to be a contest between Romney and Santorum, who seem to be the most likely candidates,” he said.
With Romney continuously gaining momentum, it became apparent a month later that Santorum would not be able to catch up with Romney in terms of gaining delegate votes, said Ruth Mandel, director of Eagleton Institute of Politics.
“If he had stayed in and not won his home state of Pennsylvania, he would have been in a much a weaker position for the future,” she said. “There would have been fewer options in the future.”
Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10, while Mitt Romney maintained the lead against Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul.
Even though Paul and Gingrich remain in the race, Mandel said last week that they are not expected to get enough votes to win the Republican nomination.
“The numbers are not there for them,” she said. “Even if they decided to go all the way to the convention without dropping out, they don’t have the delegate votes,” she said.
She said the outcome is ultimately up to the independent voters and swing states, whose numbers are on the rise.
“It is not clear which direction they’ll go,” Mandel said. “In the end, they will have a decisive impact on the election.