Steffen Schmidt, IAFC Blogger
Steffen W. Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at Iowa State University, WNYC blogger, and chief Political correspondent of Insider Iowa.
There is a great old song from 1953 called “Little Things Mean a Lot,” by Kitty Kallen. In it, she sings
Blow me a kiss from across the room
Say I look nice when I'm not
Touch my hair as you pass my chair
Little things mean a lot
When it comes to understanding the 2012 election, if only Kitty knew how prescient her words would be! Take for example the Ohio battle over allowing members of the military three extra days for early voting. Seems like small potatoes, no?
Although Fox News has characterized the law as 'obscure,' it "is suddenly at the center of a nasty dispute between the Obama and Romney campaigns - months before Election Day, in a case that underscores how the campaigns are poised to fight for every last vote.”
The Democrats clearly feel that this is another example of Republicans trying to skew the voting system by making it harder for voters who might support Democrats to vote (see the battle over Voter ID, which Democrats argue makes it harder for older and poorer voters to comply with the law by getting photo identification.)
And remember where this is happening. Ohio is a swing state with 18 electoral votes at stake in November, and Obama won the state by a squeaker in 2008. Most alarmingly for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign, no GOP candidate has claimed the presidency - ever - without winning Ohio.
According to polls, Romney has a big lead among veterans and active service military. While Obama is saying it’s not fair that the military members but not all voters, get extra voting days, republicans are saying that Obama is anti-military by objecting to this extra benefit. See how the little things such as three extra voting days can mean a lot in 2012?
The other “little thing” is welfare reform.
A new Romney ad campaign criticizes Obama for planning to 'gut welfare reform,' claiming that The ad says, “on July 12, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama’s plan you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”
While not being at all true, it's a pretty obvious tactic of class warfare being injected into the race for the White House. Income and social class are and always have been highly relevant factors when it comes to politics, voter alignment with the Democrats and Republicans and demagoguery. After all, much of what happens in politics “appeals to the prejudices and emotions of the populace.”
To stoke the anger, conservative bloggers and websites are highlighting cases of lottery winners who are staying on welfare, including the stories of “a Michigan man who won $2 million in the state lottery remained on welfare, now there are reports that a woman [Amanda Clayton] who snagged $1 million in winnings."
Think this won't matter in the November election? Don't forget - it's the little things.