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Inside the Boiler Room: Battle of the Swing States

NBC's Mark Murray and Domenico Montanaro give their thoughts on what issues could move the swing states to vote one way or another.
Thanks to Frank "Grimey" Grimes for the question!

Edited by NBC's Morgan Parmet. Transcribed by NBC's Laura Emberland.

MARK MURRAY: Welcome back to Inside the Boiler Room. Domenico, we have a question from Frank “Grimey” Grimes. This must be Grimey’s like sixth or seventh question he’s…

DOMENICO MONTANARO: I wonder if he gets like an award.

MARK MURRAY: There will have to be an award. After this election cycle, we will give an award to our—in some form or fashion.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: He heard it here!

MARK MURRAY: Yeah, you heard it here first, breaking news! Domenico, Grimey’s question is this—it’s fairly obvious that the overriding issue in the 2012 election will be the economy. However, the Presidency will be won or lost based on battles fought in a handful of swing states. What are some of the other issues that could move a swing state one way or another outside the economy? Grimey mentions one example would be like Social Security and Florida. Your take?

DOMENICO MONTANARO: Yeah, it’s a really good question because, yes, the economy is going to be the overarching issue, even in states where there might be some other issues, like Virginia where jobs is a big issue, of course. You know, federal government spending, things like that, are still going to be on—but let’s look at a few other states. So, if you think about social security in Florida, this is exactly why Mitt Romney tried to slam home the fact that Rick Perry had called Social Security a Ponzi scheme. He’s been playing for the general election the entire time. You know, he took a pause from that strategy in having to hit Perry, but that’s why you heard him, you know, not talk about, not talk, you know, hit him more on Social Security. Other things, like the auto bailout in Michigan, you know in Michigan, in Rustbelt states, the auto bailout, if it’s Mitt Romney versus President Obama—there is Mitt Romney saying that he thought that, you know…

MARK MURRAY: The government bailout wasn’t a good idea. 

DOMENICO MONTANARO: That they needed to go bankrupt. You know, in Nevada, you know, look at home foreclosures, in Nevada, Florida, Arizona—these are key states! Home foreclosures are very high. One in 118 homes in Nevada is foreclosed on. Mitt Romney has that comment where he said that we need to let the foreclosure market bottom out, and the DNC has been pushing these comments. And we’ve been seeing that, you know, played everywhere. Immigration, if you look at the West, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico are President Obama’s firewall we like to say. And if he wins those states then that’s—you know it could fire up one way or the other in Arizona too. You never know. They want to make that a potential toss up states with Democrats and try to make Republicans spend money there, but we’ll see, you know, if that issue can resonate. Hispanics, Hispanics, Hispanics is what people have told us, that that is going to be the new Florida, Florida, Florida. And that also translates to Florida, but it translates to, you know, the Southwest in particular. You look at union issues, collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin and Ohio, key swing states. We’ve seen less, a lessening of attention on that issue, but on the margins, where this could be a very close election, those margins matter.

MARK MURRAY: Well, absolutely. A couple other issues, Grimey mentioned Florida and you were talking about Social Security -- Medicare. Don’t forget that, because that’s going to be a very big issue as well. You’re going to see Democrats play that a lot and also, energy in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, even Virginia on both sides of the issue. Particularly some coal-producing states, and about oil production there. So..

DOMENICO MONTANARO: It’s part of Rick Perry’s jobs plan.

MARK MURRAY: It’s going to be chock-full of issues. And of course, when you look at even broader, like nation-based issues on the future of the Supreme Court, on you know, issues like abortion, other things. We’re gonna have plenty of stuff to cover in a general election.

DOMENICO MONTANARO: And of course, foreign policy is going to be an over-arching issue. You know, and they’re going to talk about it. But, you know, still you come back to it. A lot of times the people try to push those issues that are second and third on the totem pole, are the people who are kind of coming from behind because the main issues isn’t helping them. So you’re going to hear a lot about these other issues from the White House because the economy is not doing well.


DOMENICO MONTANARO: If the economy starts to trend in a better direction, you’ll start hearing them talk about the economy 24/7 and how it’s going better. It it’s not, you’re going to hear republicans talk about the economy and not the White House.

MARK MURRAY: That’s a great response and a great question from Grimey.