Swing States Get the Blues

Sal Polcino, Staff Writer

Seven of the nine swing states turned blue giving President Barack Obama the electoral votes needed to remain in office for the next four years.

The popular vote, however, was too close for comfort. Obama won by a mere 2 percent. So close that if not for the Electoral College system, the election might be awaiting a recount.

Here’s how the electoral college works:

The number of electoral votes of each state (and the District of Colombia) is equal to the number of members that state is entitled to have in Congress. Currently, the total number of electors is 538. There are 435 representatives and 100 senators, plus the three electors from the District of Columbia.

Each state’s electors pledged to a presidential and vice-presidential candidate and honor that pledge based on the popular vote. California has the most electors with 55.

Proponents of the Electoral College believe that the system protects the right of smaller, less-populated states.

This made the graphics presented by NBC News misleading.

The small blue portions of each undecided state, representing Democratic voters, were mostly concentrated near major cities whereas the red (Republican) precincts were mostly large rural areas. The wide red areas gave the mistaken impression that Mitt Romney was leading in almost all of the Midwestern states as well as the Eastern swing states.

But the more densely populated cities, where education and culture abound, turned the tide for Obama.

This may speak volumes for the American people. Big cities have more diversity than rural areas. They have better education, universities and colleges, more businesses and more money. They have more media resources and spend more time on social media websites. This is where the Republicans’ association with religious fundamentalists, anti-gay sentiments and inequality for women hurt them the most.

Even in some red states where Republicans almost always carry the day, there were small pockets of blue dots concentrated near large cities.

But make no mistake — nearly half of the American voting public still committed to Romney and the Republican platform.

So what makes the country so divisive? Is it really Republicans versus Democrats? Liberals versus conservatives? Religious people versus non-religious? Rich versus poor?

Of course these are all contributing factors but the most critical issue is education. This might well be the biggest difference between red and blue states.

Red states include the states with the worst education records in the country. Oklahoma, Nebraska, Nevada, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are the lowest ranking for math and science.

Education does begin in the home. In many cases, parents decide early on whether their child will follow in their religious and political views. Children may become radical in their views with only one source of information (their parents) before they are fully developed. This is the parents’ choice but once children are in the public school system they have a chance to make their own informed decisions.

Maybe more classes in humanities and political science need to be taught at an earlier age. History has shown the terrible effects of prejudice and intolerance with genocide, repression, slavery and world wars.

More teachers and better schools are needed to impress these things upon young minds while they are still open to receive.

President Obama is very pro-education. In his first term he created such programs as:

The Race to the Top Fund which includes $4.35 billion to reward states that create comprehensive education reform plans.

Established the State Equalization Fund to build new schools.

Provided $77 billion to reform K-12 and secondary schools.

Provided $26 billion to a state aid package that saved 160,000 teaching jobs in 2010.

Provided over $2.3 billion in additional funding to Head Start and Early Head Start programs in 2009.

Obama has been busy helping to educate the youth who will inherit this nation and everything that comes with it: the multi-trillion dollar national debt, a dwindling social security system and a failing medicare program, and unemployment.

Education is the key. This is the true path to keeping this country great.