November 05, 2012

Obama's anti-outsourcing ads could clinch his re-election


Pramit Pal Chaudhuri , Hindustan Times
New Delhi, November 06, 2012


  
First Published: 00:37 IST(6/11/2012)
Last Updated: 02:04 IST(6/11/2012)


US President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally in Aurora, Colorado. AFP/Jewel Samad
Indians may hate them, but Barack Obama's anti-outsourcing ads are helping him win swing states like Ohio which will determine the US presidency. 
 
Over the past few months the US president has released waves of advertisements against his Republican rival, Mitt Romney. These have claimed "Romney outsourced call center jobs to India" and was a "pioneer in outsourcing". Fact checkers like politifact.com have called the ads, at best, "half-true." 
 
But Obama has persevered - because they are working. 
 
The ads are part of a Democratic strategy to win over white red-collar voters in depressed industrial and farm states by portraying Romney as a Wall Street fat cat with little empathy for workers. 
 
Ronald Brownstein, National Journal election analyst, emailed that "they ran those ads everywhere but they had more effect and were run more often in the Rustbelt." Tracking polls show that nationwide, Obama has the support of only 32 per cent of white working males. In Rustbelt states like Ohio and Iowa the figure jumps to 42 per cent. In Wisconsin he's pulling 43 per cent.
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All three are swing states that will decide the election result on Tuesday. 
 
Ohioans are toxic about outsourcing. A full 86 per cent answered "No" to a SurveyUSA poll asking if jobs should be outsourced overseas. Among independent voters the figure was 79%, with white Ohioans 10 percentage points more opposed than blacks. 
 
Unsurprisingly, Obama is spending $ 6.5 million in the last five days of the election on ads in Ohio alone. One of the two ads, called "The Problem", attacks Romney on outsourcing. Concluded a Vanderbilt/YouGov study, "Obama's negative ads hurt [Romney] among swing voters." 
 
Another state where outsourcing has traditionally been a big voter concern is Wisconsin. A Columbia University study last year showed that the electoral impact of outsourced jobs in that state is greater than the swing vote needed to overturn an election result. 
 
The opposition is evident on social media. One recent tweet:  @KarandeepDizzl: #WhyImNotVotingForRomney I don't want to vote for a person that's primary business is outsourcing jobs to China and India,"@KarandeepDizzle. 
 


However, Brookings Institute analyst Teresita Schaffer argued there was little reason for India to worry, "This is an election year talking point. The administration has done practically nothing to turn these words into any kind of action in the past 4 years." She argued that the US public tends to associate outsourcing mostly with the loss of manufacturing jobs in China. 
 
The real problem lies in the US educational system, said a Tata Consultancy Service executive, who noted when his firm had tried to hire call center workers in Ohio, "though the line of American job-seekers had gone run several blocks, almost none of them could pass the qualification test."

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