The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

October 25, 2012

Swing-state suburbanites expected to shape election

LITTLETON, Colo. — With two weeks left, the outcome of the presidential election could hinge on a relatively small group of suburban voters in swing states, who are genuinely conflicted about and often disenchanted by the choice before them.

They are people like Mark Bremmer, 50, a freelance designer who is something of a unicorn in the current political climate: An educated, informed and truly undecided voter still waiting for either side to tackle real problems in a way that feels truthful.

"What I want are common sense, pragmatic approaches to our very real problems, which are being grandstanded and marginalized by the rhetoric used to characterize them," he said recently. "I would like honest dialogue. That's what I'm looking for." Bremmer said he's leaning toward Republican Mitt Romney but remained unhappy with the lack of solutions from either side.

As a group, suburban voters are more affluent, more educated and more female than the population generally, and, although anxious about the economy, they survived the economic crash better than their fellow citizens in rural areas, better than blue-collar workers and better than city dwellers.

It's in the nation's suburban swing that President Obama and his campaign hope to build a margin that will help bring him 270 electoral votes. They believe the grass-roots organizing they initiated in 2008 — with neighborhood team leaders responsible for reaching out individually to voters, precinct by precinct — works especially well among suburban voters, who build off existing PTA, church and playground relationships. And it is here that Romney is counting on disenchantment with the president and the economy to swing voters his way.

The battle for these voters will be fought in places such as Loudoun and Prince William counties in Virginia, Jefferson and Arapahoe counties outside Denver, the suburbs of Cleveland and Columbus in Ohio, the Orlando area of Florida — and they are likely to, once again, shape the election's outcome in November.

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