Issue BriefsPublished on May 11, 2023 PDF Download
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Domestic Issues in US Elections 2012

This Paper looks at the three most important domestic issues-the state of the economy, healthcare and social issues-that American voters are grappling with in the run-up to the presidential elections later this year.

The US Presidential elections are probably the most closely followed elections in the world. In the election in 2012, at stake are the Presidency, 435 seats in the US House of Representatives, Tone-third of the 100-member US Senate and governorships of 11 states. Majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate are crucial as they strengthen the President’s hand and enable him to push forward his agenda; if the Senate and/or the House are ruled by the opposition party, they can block the President’s policies if they do not agree with them. The elections this year, more than ever before in recent times, are about two different concepts about government: while the Republicans want a “limited” government, the Democrats prefer a more active role for government.

The major points of contention between the Republicans and the Democrats are whether the government has become too large and encroaching into areas which should best be left to the individual or whether it has become too small and therefore unable to protect the needy. Another question is whether reducing the debt is more important than caring for the needy and the elderly.

Like in elections in any part of the world, in the US too, domestic issues play a major role in deciding the fate of contenders, Presidential or Congressional. The two major parties in the US, the Republicans and the Democrats, have fixed positions on many of these issues and the Presidential candidates generally follow the party position. A recent Gallup poll showed that for 31% of Americans, the economy is their top concern; for 25%, it is unemployment; and health care is the No.1 issue for just 6% of Americans. Other than these, social issues and immigration are also emerging as crucial issues in the elections.

There are, thus, three main domestic issues in the 2012 elections that will be examined in detail by this issue brief:

(i) The State of the Economy and Unemployment;

(ii) Healthcare;

(iii) Social Issues

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Sohail Mathur

Sohail Mathur

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Uma Purushothaman

Uma Purushothaman

Dr Uma Purushothaman teaches International Relations at the Central University of Kerala. She was earlier associated with Observer Research Foundation. Her areas of interest include ...

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