Iowa

The campaigns are pouring millions of dollars into North Carolina and the polls show a tight race, but Nate Silver doesn’t think that the state is worth the investment. While he is certainly right that North Carolina is unlikely to prove decisive, it’s easy to envision how the Tar Heel state could play a pivotal role in 2012.

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On Monday, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) released the much anticipated results of his investigation into for-profit colleges. The report notes the exponential growth of the industry, its misleading advertising practices, high-default rates of students, and the fact that “the average tuition for a for-profit school is about six times higher than a community college and twice as high as a 4-year public school.” However, the biggest news about this report is that it’s not really news at all.

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After months defending traditionally red states like North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, and Ohio, Romney has finally decided to launch an offensive. Where? Poland: The predictably undefended flank of Obama’s route to 270 electoral votes. Poland is the ancestral homeland of about 3 percent of the American population, but a higher share of a few traditionally Democratic but potentially competitive states, like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, where Polish-Americans constitute between 7 and 10 percent of the population.

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Why isn’t Minnesota a swing state?

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State economies get a lot of media attention. In Nevada, the state’s sky-high unemployment rate is a must-mention for political analysts, while every article about Virginia or Iowa notes the unusually low unemployment rate. Although political reporters insist on stressing state economic performance, studies have found that state-level unemployment has no relationship to state presidential outcomes. Will history repeat itself?

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Affluent voters were an important element of Obama’s coalition in 2008. Will that change this year? Some observers believe that Obama might alienate former supporters with attacks on Bain Capital and renewed calls to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

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If Mitt Romney’s association with Bain Capital ends up sinking his presidential campaign, he’s unlikely to appreciate the irony. But, if he needs consolation, he might consider seeking solace in American history. The fact is that no successful businessman has ever been a successful president, and only a few have even been serious contenders for the job. This might seem odd, given Americans’ long romance with wealthy entrepreneurs and the enterprises they build.

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Achilles Tar Heel

IN 2008, Barack Obama won the presidency with a coalition that was impressive in its range: Young people loved him, African Americans overwhelmingly supported him, and he was a hit with college graduates. But he also picked up votes in key states from working-class whites—a group he’d struggled to win over in the Democratic primaries. Four years later, that coalition isn’t looking so good. Obama remains popular with minorities and college-educated whites, but enthusiasm among white working-class voters has collapsed.

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There’s no question that Hispanics are among the most coveted voting blocs for November’s election. Numerically, they’re the fastest growing minority group in the U.S. population. Major media regularly monitor their presidential preferences.

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