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Obama wins Iowa, the state that propelled him in 2008

November 06, 2012|By Seema Mehta

President Obama won Iowa’s six electoral votes Tuesday, holding on to the state that launched his presidential bid four years ago, according to exit polls for the Associated Press and news networks.

His win over Mitt Romney was slimmer than the president’s margin last time, reflecting how the once-euphoric support for him in the state has dimmed.

Iowa’s half-dozen electoral votes are meager compared with other battleground states such as Ohio, Florida and Virginia, yet both campaigns considered the Hawkeye State a priority as they raced to assemble the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. Both Obama and Romney showered attention on the state, visited frequently and blanketed the airwaves.

PHOTOS: America goes to the polls

Obama’s 2008 victory in the Iowa caucuses dynamically changed that race, showing that the then-senator could compete with front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton and putting to rest skepticism about whether white voters would support a black presidential candidate. After four difficult years in office, the president was trying to rekindle the enthusiasm that fueled his 2008 win, rallying supporters on college campuses and bringing in stars from Bon Jovi to Bruce Springsteen to perform on his behalf.

Romney, whose campaign was premised on fixing the nation’s faltering economy, had to be cognizant of the rosier economic conditions in Iowa, where unemployment is low and the farm economy is booming. So Romney highlighted the nation’s debt and what he said was the immorality of leaving such a burden for future generations, an argument with resonance in this frugal state that has the lowest per-capita credit card debt in the nation.

Romney began the general election race at a disadvantage in Iowa because  Obama had such a head start in building a ground game, and because social conservatives in Iowa have often viewed him with skepticism. He came in second in the state’s caucuses in his 2008 and 2012 presidential bids. But he was helped by two high-profile congressional races and a judicial election linked to gay marriage, all of which would drive conservatives to the polls, notably in the deep-red western swath of the state.

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seema.mehta@latimes.com

Twitter: @latseema

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