Why are the presidential candidates spending so much time in so few states as election day approaches? They are fighting for the votes that matter – electoral votes.
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Wisconsin has only 10 electoral votes, far fewer than California’s 55, but as election day approaches both candidates have made frequent visits to the smaller state while spending little if any time in the larger one. Here, President Obama speaks to a crowd at an airport in Green Bay Wisconsin. AFP
All eyes on the swing states
In the last three days of campaigning, you will likely NOT see either President Barack Obama or his challenger Mitt Romney campaigning in the two most populous of the 50 US states, California and Texas.
They could both probably gain votes by making campaign appearances there, but they don't need those kind of votes.
A US president is elected by winning the most electoral votes given by the states, not popular votes cast by ordinary voters. It is true that voters in each state choose a presidential candidate on the ballot, but they are really choosing electors who have promised to vote for that candidate.
The number of electors a state has depends on the number of representatives it has in the House of Representatives plus two for its senators. The total number of electors is 538: for 435 representives +100 senators + 3 electors for the District of Columbia, the home of the nation's capital, Washington DC.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney speaks to a crowd in Lebanon, Ohio. The presidential candidates are spending so much time in this state, you would almost think they are running for President of Ohio. AFP
All but two of the states, Maine and Nebraska, choose their electors on a "winner takes all basis". Thus, if Mitt Romney wins Ohio by one vote, he takes all 18 of its electoral votes. And if he is able to gather 270 electoral votes on election day, he becomes president. President Obama remains president if he reaches that magic number.
It makes little sense for candidates to campaign where they are certain to win or certain to lose. This year, polls show President Obama with a huge 13-15% lead in California and Mitt Romney with an even more impressive 20% lead in Texas. Thus, campaigning in either state is a waste of time.
Instead, they are spending almost all their time in states where polls show the election to be very close, big states like Ohio, Florida, Michigan and Virginia and even smaller states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada and New Hampshire. These are known as swing states (the result could swing from one side to another) or battleground states.
Ohio seems to be at the top of the list, seen as a must win for both camps. As a result, voters there have been bombarded with campaign advertising – some areas of the state have been seeing more than 300 TV ads a day – and each candidate has been there numerous times. They are probably not finished.
Comedian Jon Stewart says the situation in swing state Ohio is worse than the areas hit by superstorm Sandy.
Popular political comedian Jon Stewart calls Ohio "Swing State Hell" and says he is thankful that he is in New York where they only had Hurricane Sandy to contend with. In one skit, he talks to one of his "reporters" reporting from an underground room in Ohio where he tries, unsuccessfully, to escape TV advertising. People there are wondering when authorities will turn the power off, he says.
For an introduction to this year's election and some of the key election vocabulary, click here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/319372/us-election-it-time-to-pay-attention
For a great map, showing current state-by-state opinion polling results, click here: http://elections.huffingtonpost.com/2012/romney-vs-obama-electoral-map Put your cursor over a state to see the latest polling information.
For a listening exercise featuring Mitt Romney, click here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-together/318523/listening-to-romney
For a listening exercise featuring Barack Obama, click here: http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-together/318321/listening-to-obama
You can watch Jon Stewart's Swing State Hell here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-november-1-2012/swing-state-hell
approach – to move or come closer เข้าใกล้
candidate – a person who is trying to win an elected position ผู้สมัคร
frequent – happening often เกิดขึ้นบ่อย
swing states – US states where the voting appears to be very close and either presidential candidate could win, i.e., the winning vote could swing from one to another
campaign – to take part in a planned series of activities (a campaign) designed to persuade voters to vote for a particular candidate or political party รณรงค์หาเสียง
challenger – the opponent in a sport or competition คู่แข่ง
populous – where a large number of people live ซึ่งมีพลเมืองหนาแน่น
appearance – an act of appearing in public การปรากฎตัว
popular vote – the vote by the people of a country การลงคะแนนเสียงของประชาชน
cast – (of a vote) to vote by putting marking your voting paper (ballot) and putting it in the ballot box ลงคะแนน
ballot – the piece of paper on which someone marks who they are voting for บัตรเลือกตั้ง
House of Representatives – the largest part of Congress in the US, or of the Parliament in Australia and Thailand สภาผู้แทนราษฎร
Senate – one of the two groups of politicians who make laws in some countries, for example in the US, Australia, Canada and Thailand วุฒิสภา
senator – a member of the Senate วุฒิสมาชิก
capital – the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from เมืองหลวง
remain – to still be present after the other parts have been removed, used, etc; to continue to exist ยังเหลืออยู่
make sense – to be a sensible (reasonable) thing to do มีเหตุผล
poll – an occasion when a lot of people are asked about what they feel about something – การสำรวจความคิดเห็น
impressive – something that people admire because it is very good, very large or shows great skill ซึ่งน่าประทับใจ
lead – the position ahead of everyone else in a race or competition ตำแหน่งนำ
battleground – a place where a battle (a major fight, especially in war, but in this case an election) is being fought or has been fought สนามรบ, แนวรบ
camp – a group of people who have the same ideas about something and oppose people with other ideas
bombard – to continuously hit or attack, in this case with political advertisements ถล่ม
advertising – telling the public about a product or a service, political candidate, etc. in order to encourage people to buy, use or support it การโฆษณา
numerous – many มากมาย
comedian – a person whose job is to make people laugh by telling jokes and funny stories or by copying the behaviour or speech of famous people นักแสดงตลก
popular – a situation in which someone or something is liked by many people เป็นที่นิยม, เป็นที่ชื่นชอบ
contend with – to have to deal with a problem or with a difficult situation or person ดิ้นรนต่อสู้กับ
skit – a short piece of humorous writing or a short humorous performance เรื่องล้อเลียน
reporter – someone whose job is to write articles or make broadcasts about events in the news ผู้สื่อข่าว, นักข่าว
escape – to get away from a place where you are in danger หนี
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ