Iowa may be the key to the White House - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa may be the key to the White House

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

We're wrapping up a busy week of presidential politicking, much of it centered right here in Iowa. President Barack Obama and the First Lady both made stops in the Hawkeye State. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney is turning out to be the unofficial Republican nominee. The political leanings in Iowa are a good reflection of the rest of the country. This year, you might say, as Iowa goes, so goes the nation.

Obama came to Iowa Wednesday touting the need for financial aid reform, but it's no coincidence that the President chose to do so in Iowa.

"Iowa is one of those states that they need to keep as a blue state. I think this is certainly a push to rejuvenate some enthusiasm among young voters in Iowa that were crucial to his election in 2008," said UNI Associate Professor of Political Science Chris Larimer.

Iowa may only have a handful of electoral votes -- six, to be exact, but the Hawkey State is shaping up to be a central part of the 2012 Presidential Election. Four years ago, Obama easily won here. But recently, the number of registered Republicans overtook Democrats for the first time in six years. And yet, both candidates need to worry about a different set of voters.

"The key, as it always is, is going to be that third group of independents. And that goes back to why Iowa is a swing state, the largest party ID in Iowa is the no party registration," said Larimer.

So with Newt Gingrich announcing this week that he would end his run for president, next week...

"That's just Newt being Newt," Larimer laughed.

Iowans can soon expect to see Mitt Romney hitting the campaign trail in the Hawkeye State.

"They're going to have to look at Iowa now and say, 'this is one we have to pull into our column.'"

Larimer pointed out -- Romney's toughest battle in Iowa may be himself. He's seen as a moderate republican, and Iowa's conservative core is much more left-leaning. But Larimer believes, ultimately, most Iowa Republicans will get behind Romney.

Whomever ends up winning in November, it may be Iowa that comes out on top.

"I was trying... we've had Obama here twice, the day after the State of the Union and on Wednesday. We've had Michelle Obama here twice, and the Vice President here twice. So I think, all those people who say Iowa doesn't matter after the caucuses, we've had six high profile visits after the caucuses. So that speaks well onto the importance of Iowa."

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