Slate Votes

Obama wins our staff.


Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

We asked Slate’s staff and contributors to tell us whom they’re voting for on Election Day and why. These are their responses. Click here to read Editor David Plotz’s explanation for why we share this information with you.

Laura Anderson, assistant editor: Barack Obama

Full disclosure: There is probably a 0-percent chance I will ever vote for a Republican presidential candidate in my life. But Romney is particularly unappealing; I’m appalled by his apparent inability to empathize with people who are less advantaged than he is. I haven’t agreed with every single one of Obama’s decisions as president, but his administration’s failure to live up to expectations has more to do with the petty obstinacy of Republicans in Congress than with a lack of character or competence on his part. Plus, Obama has demonstrated a commitment to women’s reproductive freedom and has at least paid lip service to marriage equality, both issues near and dear to my heart.

Emily Bazelon, senior editor: Obama

I’m voting for Barack Obama because I want to live in a country with more opportunity and greater equality. I also want a government that will make Obamacare succeed instead of narrowing access to health care. I care about the rising cost of medical services and entitlements, and about the national debt. If I thought Mitt Romney, the moderate governor of Massachusetts, would show up as president, I’d be open to his candidacy. But I don’t—not with this Republican Party and leadership in Congress. Also, the future of the Supreme Court is at stake.

Jeffrey Bloomer, Slate V editor: Obama

I have already cast a vote for the president. I have selfish reasons, like health care: I’d prefer my domestic partner didn’t have to pay $122.54 monthly in federal taxes on my benefits—and the only change Mitt Romney wants to make to DOMA is to codify it into the Constitution. Really, though? Even if Romney is who he says he is this week, then he believes in near-term military action against Iran, deep cuts to safety nets, and a Supreme Court in the “mold” of Scalia and Thomas. Not a difficult decision.

Will Dobson, politics and foreign editor: Obama

I grew up in a Republican household. I have voted for Republicans and Democrats. Party identification has never been the most important factor for me. At least, it wasn’t. But given the direction the Republican Party has moved in my lifetime, on a whole host of issues, it feels like the height of irresponsibility to vote for Mitt Romney. I am willing to believe that Romney could be a good president. If he had always portrayed himself as the former governor of Massachusetts, he could have made a play for my vote. But I don’t care for the company he keeps. And when he promises to nominate another Scalia to the court, he seals the deal.

Greg Engel, software engineer: Jill Stein

For me, this election comes down to a stark choice between a wide-eyed idealist who’s often been labeled a “socialist” and a comparatively tough-minded pragmatist best known for briefly holding elected office in Massachusetts. It’s a genuinely difficult choice! So it is with some ambivalence that I’ve decided to vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party rather than Peta Lindsay (of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.)

Molly Fabbri, art intern: Obama

1. Obama hasn’t accomplished everything I wanted him to, but I’m not nearly disappointed enough to switch sides. I still agree with him on most things and I have a little extra hope leftover from 2008.

2. America invaded two countries before I was voting age. I feel a vote for Romney all but guarantees a third war in the Middle East before I’m 21.

3. My pre-existing conditions include being female, and the GOP has scared the crap out of me in that regard.

4. Obama seems composed, intelligent, and rational, all things I want my president to be, whereas Romney’s temperament reminds me more of [a less-likable] Bush.

Katherine Goldstein, innovations editor: Obama

I’m voting for Barack Obama because I feel he’s led the country in good direction over the last four years under difficult circumstances. I am happy that he was able to accomplish the herculean task of passing health care reform, which I believe is sensible and will save millions of lives through better preventive care. I believe we share a similar vision about what’s important for America: including a strong middle class, equal pay and reproductive choices for women, and support for ending discrimination and allowing everyone the freedom to marry. On the issues I feel the president has not made enough progress, such as fighting climate change, I feel that his policies are better than the alternatives proposed by his challenger. I am proud to vote for Barack Obama for a second time.

Laura Helmuth, science and health editor: Obama

If you care about science—teaching it, funding it, grappling with its findings, using it to guide policy—Obama is the clear choice. He has assembled arguably the most scientifically accomplished administration in U.S. history. He accepts the overwhelming evidence for climate change, values people over embryos, bases regulations (mostly) on sound science, and invests in the environment. Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans give comfort to creationists and climate change deniers and reject research findings on education, regulations, the environment, and social programs. The data are clear: The scientific vote is for Obama.

Fred Kaplan, Slate contributor: Obama

I will vote for Barack Obama. First, he has accomplished a great deal, especially given the Republicans’ obstructionism and given the post-Cold War world’s dispersion of power, which has diminished the leverage of any country. Second, Mitt Romney has proved himself a hollow man, shameless in the extent to which he switches views and outright lies in order to win. He is inept at foreign policy, clueless on the important issues facing our country. He is either the reactionary that he ran as through the GOP Convention or a man without a core. It’s unclear which is worse; both are unacceptable.

Dan Kois, senior editor in culture: Obama

I am voting for Barack Obama because all I care about are social issues and I don’t understand the economy. So maybe Mitt Romney would be way better for my pocketbook, but hell if I really know! On the other hand, it is clear that if Mitt Romney and I got into a conversation on a Greyhound bus, I would hate him in like 10 seconds (and vice versa!).

Rachael Larimore, managing editor: Mitt Romney

The GOP convention had few memorable moments, but one I keep coming back to is Ann Romney’s speech. “This man will not fail,” she said of her husband. “This man will not let us down.” Jokes about the 2008 nomination aside, Romney was indeed impressive as the Massachusetts governor and as the savior of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Four years ago, when John McCain bafflingly halted his campaign to deal with the financial crisis, I wished that McCain had picked Romney to be his running mate. Or that we had nominated Romney himself. Instead, Barack Obama inherited the admittedly daunting challenge of fixing the economy.

And he has tried. But it feels like his efforts have been as much about padding his résumé as helping Americans. It’s as if it was more important to pass a stimulus quickly rather than passing one that would work. (Say what you will, but this chart says more.) He pushed hard for Obamacare with no regard for the fact that it scared the crap out of already-struggling business owners. This aloofness and distance has alienated even his supporters. While I’m not quite sure what job one would use the presidency to audition for, I say let’s let him start looking.

Josh Levin, executive editor: Obama

I’m with the Democrats on gay rights and women’s rights and would never vote for a candidate whose stances on social issues align with what’s in the current Republican Party platform. I’m concerned that a President Romney would be beholden to the “shut that whole thing down”/“something that God intended” wing of the GOP and would appoint justices that would push the Supreme Court further rightward. Plus, Coach K doesn’t like Obama. That means he must be doing something right.

Chad Lorenz, news editor: Obama

I believe Democrats have the best ideas and the right moral code for leading America, and Obama represents those values well. He’s also proven himself a smart, careful, determined president in his first term. He has led America through one of its most difficult periods and has helped us recover from the economic and diplomatic damage of the Bush administration. Where he has fallen short, it is usually because of political obstructionism. His conservative opponents in Congress have stood in the way (deficit reduction, economic stimulus), and corporate interests have manipulated public opinion against him (environment, immigration).

J. Bryan Lowder, editorial assistant for culture: Obama

The short answer: I’m gay, and the protection of my and my partner’s still-meager civil rights (and, hopefully, their continued expansion) is my primary concern. However, the qualities I look for in a leader–intelligence (intellectuals welcome!), calmness of spirit, integrity, critical reasoning, sensitivity to the environment, belief in a secular state, and a commitment to a strong social safety net and an improved national infrastructure (what else is the federal government for?)–are clearly held by only one candidate. And hey, he’s a fellow introvert, so my vote was always in the bag. 

Farhad Manjoo, technology writer: Obama

I think he’s done as good a job as president as can be expected. That’s not nearly as good as I’d hoped, but the primary lesson I draw from Obama’s first term is that presidents just aren’t very powerful when hemmed in by a determined opposition. I don’t have high hopes that the next four will be any better.

Amanda Marcotte, “Double X” contributor: Obama

As I did in 2008, I will be voting for Barack Obama for president. The most banal reason for this is that I always vote for Democrats. I don’t buy the strange myth of “vote for a man and not a party,” since party politics are how things get done. But Obama also has earned my vote. While I disagree with him on some issues, mainly regarding civil liberties, as Jamelle Bouie points out, Obama’s overall record shows he’s the most liberal president since LBJ. I expect him to continue to be an effective leader into his second term.

Andrew Morgan, designer: Obama

I’m voting for Obama because he seems like he has an actual direction to go in, unlike Romney’s flip-flopping, listless “plans.” Also, he’s not an asshole.

Will Oremus, “Future Tense” blogger: Obama

Mitt Romney has played sea-level rise for a laugh linesucked up shamelessly to the coal industryridiculed clean-energy innovators in the private sector, and pledged to strip the EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. Whether even he believes what he’s saying is hard to tell: His readiness to subordinate his ideals to his political ambitions stands out even among politicians. Either way, his stances are irresponsible and will not be judged kindly by history. 

Brian Palmer, Slate contributor: no one

I missed the registration deadline. I live in New York, though, so neither candidate cares about my vote anyway. For the record, I would have voted for President Obama. He has been ineffectual, but at least I know what he will attempt ineffectually to do. Mitt Romney would spend the next four years ineffectually doing God knows what. I believe it’s important for a candidate to be consistent about what he will fail to accomplish in office.

David Plotz, Slate editor: Obama

I think Mitt Romney would have been an excellent president in an earlier, less partisan era. He’s technocratic, rational, and solutions-oriented. But hitched to a Republican Party with theological beliefs about taxes and almost everything else, he’ll be impotent at best, and extreme at worst. Barack Obama has played a terrible hand—awful economy, nihilistic opposition party—pretty well. He deserves another term to lock in Obamacare, appoint a couple of Supreme Court Justices, and change America’s military posture.

Alyssa Rosenberg, “Double X” contributor: Obama

For health care reform. For moving the conversation about marriage equality into the future, not back to the ’50s. For talks with Iran rather than talk about war with Iran. For not pretending that cutting public broadcasting funding is a serious solution to the deficit. And because I remain confident in my ability to make decisions about my own body, thank you very much.

Will Saletan, national correspondent: Obama

Four years ago, I had two worries about Obama: his executive inexperience and the risk that he’d be pushed around as he sought consensus. I’m sorry that those concerns turned out to be well-founded, and I hope in a second term Obama handles Congress more adeptly. But he has managed foreign policy—the most important part of the job, because a president can screw it up all by himself with global consequences— as well as anyone in memory. The chances that Romney would do this job better, given the cartoonish worldview he has presented, are nil. And the notion that Obama caused the slow pace of the recovery, or that Romney would accelerate it, is economically illiterate.

The good news is that both candidates have been wildly caricatured. For the most part, Romney would be a sensible, moderate Republican president. (I’m setting aside his idiotic pledges to defund Planned Parenthood and to spend at least 4 percent of GDP on the military regardless of need.) But we already have a sensible, moderate Republican president. Everything Obama has done, from foreign policy to economic policy to national Romneycare, is what moderate Republicans used to stand for. The only reason he gets called a liberal is that he’s up against the most right-wing Congress in history.

You want change? Vote out this Congress. If the Republicans lose enough seats to fear for their House majority and their ability to sustain filibusters in the Senate, you’ll find them much more cooperative.

Tom Scocca, columnist: Obama

Bill Smee, Slate V executive producer: Obama

In 2008, I explained my vote with a haiku. This time, I’ve written a sonnet:

Ode to the Shape Shifter

Shall I compare thee to the president?
Thou seem reasonable and moderate:
A Republican without precedent.
But campaigns doth bring out the desperate.

Those who say this, then that, really anything,
While revealing almost nothing about
What they’d do, why they deserve to be king.
Beyond a five-point plan and sowing doubt.

Face it: we are far better off today
Than when Obama came in amid huge fears
Saddled with cards no person could parlay
Into a winning hand in just four years.

You say we can’t afford four more of the same,
Yet offer nothing to back up that claim.

Eliot Spitzer, Slate contributor: Obama

It is really quite simple. There are a few things I believe in that I would hope the next president would believe in as well: facts, logic, constancy of opinion, expanding civil rights for classes of folks who have been historically disadvantaged, and Keynesian economics. These baseline issues seem to differentiate the two candidates. Obama is on the right side of all of them.

Jeremy Stahl, social media editor: Obama

Mitt Romney spent the last month obfuscating his positions on everything from taxes, to spending cuts, to foreign policy. He is clearly banking on the idea that the only way a Republican can win a national election is if he conceals his platform from the rest of the country. Barack Obama’s stimulus policies, meanwhile, saved the American economy from depression (and millions of jobs), he saved the American auto industry from destruction (and a million jobs), he passed a health care bill that will insure 32 million Americans, he killed OBL, he wound down two wars, issued a version of the Dream Act, etc. He did this despite unwavering opposition from Republicans, who have spent the last four years with the exclusive and explicitly stated goal of making sure that the current Democratic president is undone by the economic calamity that they wrought. Obama has earned a second term.

Mark Joseph Stern, editorial intern: Obama

Obama has improved the lives of gay people like me beyond what I ever could have imagined a decade ago. He repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and secured hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples, yes, but more importantly, he gave his blessing to marriage equality. That might seem relatively insignificant, but there’s something about the president of the United States recognizing your rights that puts to bed a lot of lingering struggle.

Seth Stevenson, Slate contributor: Obama

I think a Romney administration might actually govern pretty well. He’s smarter than G.W. Bush, more reassuringly bloodless and technocratic than John McCain. But Romney evinces zero sympathy for the less advantaged, he seems dangerously malleable when it comes to foreign policy, and his nominees could tip the Supreme Court in a terrifying direction. As for the other guy: President Obama has played a uniquely awful hand as well as anybody could have. Platforms aside (I greatly favor the Democrats’), Obama’s calm and steady performance in the face of potential chaos—along with his overall competence, intelligence, and authenticity—easily earn him another four years from me.

John Swansburg, editorial director: Obama

I believe I’m Slate’s only registered Republican besides Rachael Larimore. But Rachael’s the real thing; I’m a RINO. I joined the party in 2008 because I wanted to vote against Rudy Giuliani in the primary. (His fear-mongering use of the 9/11 attacks was driving me batty.) While I do admire certain Yankee Republicans of yore, their breed has ceased to roam the American political landscape, and I can’t imagine voting for a GOP presidential candidate nowadays. I lived in Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts and found him to be an able manager of the commonwealth’s affairs. But the Romney who’s running for president isn’t that Romney. And I’m pretty satisfied with my Obama vote from 2008. On the whole I think he’s done about as well as can be expected in difficult times and has earned another nod from this Lincoln Chafee Republican.*

Ryan Trow, account manager: Gary Johnson

I am voting for Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. He aligns much more closely with my views of laissez-faire governing, meritocracy, and individual freedom. I would rather throw away my vote than support the continued failure of the traditional two parties. Let’s try something new.

Matt Turck, publisher: Romney

I will again vote the Republican ticket this year. This follows my vote for Obama last presidential election, after a long history of voting Republican. 

While I don’t agree with all the principals of the Republican Party, and I think Obama is a good man, I don’t believe Obama prioritized well. More importantly, it’s my belief that larger government feeds into a “level of expectation” that is crushing our country. 

Julia Turner, deputy editor: Obama

I’m voting for Obama. Perhaps not wholeheartedly: I am frustrated by the gridlock that has characterized his term. I am disappointed that regulatory reform on Wall Street after the crash wasn’t more comprehensive. I am troubled by the kill-at-will drone strike program he has authorized. But I believe his stimulus prevented a total economic collapse; I’m impressed that he passed health care; I think he’s a fundamentally smart, thoughtful, and decent person—and I can’t stand the other guy. Romney’s “just trust me” economic “plan,” lack of firm commitment to any ideal, and general slipperiness turn me off. His comments on women in the second debate signaled a complete inability to understand the workings of a modern family. The power he would have over the future of the Supreme Court frightens me. I’d much rather see Obama get another four years—if he does, I think we’ll all be much better off.

Katy Waldman, assistant editor: Obama

I am voting for Obama because I do not understand how Romney plans to provide for people in need while cutting entitlements, increasing defense spending, and preserving tax cuts for the stupendously wealthy. I find his views on gay rights and women’s reproductive choice morally offensive. I wish I believed that he cared about 100 percent of Americans, but his policies tell a different story. Obama, on the other hand, seems to genuinely want to resurrect the value of “fairness” and to lessen suffering—not just to promote success for some but to secure opportunities for all. I get the disappointment surrounding the last four years, but Obama’s critics seem to be ignoring some dazzling accomplishments, too: a new health care system, Osama Bin Laden dead, the end of the Iraq War. GObama!

David Weigel, political reporter: Johnson

I’m copping out. On about half of the issues that I care about, Barack Obama has been a massive improvement on George W. Bush. Drone warfare or lie-based land wars in the Middle East? U.S. attorneys running junk cases against “voter fraud,” or the DOJ trying to expand the vote? Endorsing the Federal Marriage Amendment, or refusing to defend DOMA in court? I agreed with an economic stimulus in 2009, as did the forgetful Republicans, who just disagreed about what should go in it. But Obama’s a mediocre executive who’s never figured out how to overcome opposition in Congress. I think Romney could be a great executive. If we fell into some Greece-like receivership, and a coalition of bankers installed a dictator to manage our economy, Romney would be perfect. Give him a Democratic Congress and you’d bring out his best instincts. My problems: If you trust John Bolton and Dan Senor to speak for you, who are you going to fill the government with? If you agree to a Balanced Budget Amendment that would require a California-style supermajority to raise taxes, what other dumb fiscal decisions will you make?

So I’ll vote for the Libertarian ticket, which I agree with on everything besides the scale and speed of spending cuts, and the first third-party team that actually seems competent enough to run a country. (Let’s face it, Nader voters. Would you have trusted him to run anything larger than a make-your-own-salad franchise?) But I guess I’m pulling for a 269-269 electoral vote split, which would give us a chastened President Romney and let us keep the greatest vice president in history, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

Forrest Wickman, staff writer: Obama

I was going to list off President Obama’s many major accomplishments here—saving us from a depression, putting an end to “don’t ask don’t tell,” ending the war in Iraq, helping my struggling friends get insurance (I’m under 26)—and leave it at that.

But right now I can’t help but focus on another reason I’m voting for Obama, a reason that showed up at my doorstep on Monday. Right now I’m working from home in a city that’s gone half-dark, with a tree still on top of a car across the street, as vital federal aid begins to flow toward my city. I don’t believe that Obama is eager to grow the federal government, but he understands that there are some things—from rebuilding cities after historic disasters to helping ensure affordable health care for every citizen—that only the federal government is fit to do.

Meg Wiegand, copy editor: Obama

I believe access to health care and education are rights, not privileges reserved for those who can afford them. I believe this country needs economic policies inclusive of all Americans, not just those at the top. I believe women should make our own health care decisions and receive equal pay for equal work. I believe my friends, family members, and peers—straight or gay—should be allowed to serve openly in the military, receive benefits for their partners, and marry the person they love.

And I believe Obama will continue push for these issues and more in his second term as president.

Matt Yglesias, “Moneybox” columnist: Obama

I’m voting for Obama because, basically, I strongly disagree with Mitt Romney’s views on abortion, gay rights, foreign policy, and such. I’d like to say I have reasons driven by detailed examination of the policy issues, but that’s really what it comes down to. On the economic policy issues I cover for Slate I think it’s a tough choice, but Romney may deserve the edge. Obama’s proposed second-term agenda of deficit reduction is misguided, and I think it’s reasonably likely that President Romney would emerge as a closet Keynesian and bring us a lower unemployment rate.


Obama: 31

Romney: 2

Gary Johnson: 2

Jill Stein: 1

No one: 1

Correction, Nov. 5, 2012: This article originally misspelled Lincoln Chafee’s last name. (Return to the corrected sentence.)