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The portion of adult citizens who are members of racial or ethnic minority groups grew by four percentage points in Nevada, three points in Virginia, two in Florida and by one point in Ohio and Iowa between 2008 and 2011, according to an analysis of Census data by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
Obama’s team took advantage by organizing to motivate supporters in the remaining states considered electoral battlegrounds. In some cases, Obama’s campaign never disbanded its 2008 efforts and early in the 2012 contest it built more field offices and hired professional staff.
By Election Day, the Obama team claimed to have registered 1.8 million new voters in the battleground states, almost double the number of new voters the campaign registered four years earlier. By last weekend, 28 percent of those new voters had cast ballots through early voting, the campaign said.
"Don’t wait" to vote, Obama urged a mostly black crowd of 13,500 voters packed into Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Arena on Nov. 4. "Who do you trust?" the president asked the crowd, which shouted back "You!" Saying he knows what "real change" is, Obama added: "I delivered it; I’ve got the scars to prove it."
The geography of the economic recovery also favored the president in the eight swing states that received the most attention from the two campaigns: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin.
In five of those states, joblessness was lower than the national average by September, the most recent month for which state-level unemployment data is available.
In Ohio, a state won by every Republican who has ever won the White House, unemployment dropped to 7 percent by September. The Obama campaign promoted the comeback of the auto industry, which was boosted by a government bailout the president backed. One in eight Ohio jobs is directly or indirectly tied to the auto industry, according to a 2010 report by the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
While Romney took a trip to Europe in July designed in part to heighten his profile on the foreign stage, $1.2 million worth of ads attacking him played 1,947 times on Ohio TV stations.
The Obama campaign hammered relentlessly at Romney’s opposition to the federal bailout, memorialized in a November 2008 New York Times opinion article the Republican candidate authored entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
A tough stance on illegal immigration that Romney took in the Republican primaries also contributed to lopsided support for Obama among Latino voters.
As the national economy improved during the election year, it weakened the central theme of Romney’s campaign. A slowdown in job growth in the last spring and early summer kept Romney close; hiring accelerated again as the election approached.
The 7.9 percent October unemployment rate was a full percentage point lower than a year earlier, the biggest 12-month improvement in joblessness over the period during any election year since 1948 except President Ronald Reagan’s 1984 re- election, when unemployment dropped 1.4 percentage points.
The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index surged from 61.3 in August to 72.2 in October, showing consumers in the most optimistic mood since February 2008. Through Nov. 5, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index was up more than 12 percent for the year and more than 66 percent since Obama took office in January, 2009.
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