This year, Alabama has the unique opportunity to join the national stage with a primary that could have a significant effect on the Republican Party. Alabamians shared the national spotlight with the neighboring Mississippi as the “Deep South Super Tuesday” was underway.
Samford alumnus and Chairman of the Alabama Republican Party Bill Armistead lobbied the Alabama legislature last year to move the date of the Republican primary to the second Tuesday in March. This was done in an effort to place more attention on the state’s primary, and, in the case that the election was still split, Alabama could serve as a state that could potentially sway the selection of the nominee.
In the past several days, each of the remaining candidates traveled to Alabama and Mississippi to make a variety of campaign stops to encourage voters.
Romney visited the Birmingham area on Friday at a rally in Thompson Tractor in Tarrant. Gingrich had two events over the past week to push himself back into the nation’s spotlight as the candidates jockeyed for the lead in the polls.
Both Santorum and Gingrich attended the first Alabama Presidential Forum hosted by the Alabama Republican Party on Monday night at the Alabama Theater. The event served as a forum discussion as each candidate took the stage individually to answer questions from a panel of Alabamians. The Duggars from the popular television show 19 and Counting even made the trip to campaign for Santorum.
“I love the enthusiasm this year,” senior political science major Tom Oliver said. “Usually, Alabama is a “Super Tuesday” state and very few candidates come to Alabama. Since it was moved back a week, and the race has dragged on until mid-March, Alabama’s primary vote is important. Candidates have spoken all throughout this great state.”
The outcome of the election here in Alabama will help dictate the direction of the election that will be coming later this year.
“There is a lot of campaigning to do between now and November,” Oliver said. “If the economy starts to get better, it will give Obama a huge advantage. If gas prices continue to rise, expect more moderate voters to look toward a Republican candidate for change.”
As the view of the election shifts from the Republican Party to the 2012 presidential election, one of the most important issues remains to be the economy.
“The issue that is most important to me is the economy,” junior economics major Rebecca Price said. “I believe that it is essential to have a president who can lead Congress to balance a new economic track through spending cuts and tax programs.”
The primary election personifies the most important responsibility of citizens—to take part and vote.
“People have a voice, and if a government is willing to allow them to share ideas and have voting power, then citizens should be aware of what is going on,” Price said.
Particularly here in Alabama, residents and non-residents alike have been able to see how citizens from states small and large can truly make a difference.