Though national polls have seen the presidential candidates edge past each other in the last two years, the numbers have typically remained a near 50-50 split.
The two candidates now vying for the top political spot showcase two starkly different approaches to the future of America.
The conservative Mitt Romney is a Mormon businessman and former governor of Massachusetts. He emphasizes his experience as CEO of Bain Capital and plans to use his business knowledge to create millions of jobs and turn around the under-performing economy Americans face.
President Obama was a civil rights lawyer, professor, community organizer, and a Democratic senator from Illinois. He is running on his record of the last four years and promises to continue his policies to bring the U.S. into a state of full recovery.
Romney plans to use his five-point plan to steer the country back on the right track. This includes energy independence, education, lowering taxes for all Americans as well as small businesses and corporations, opening new areas of trade, and cutting spending to reduce the deficit.
Obama has stressed funding for education and tax incentives for small businesses and manufacturing employers. The president also plans to cut the deficit by $4 trillion through raising taxes on those making more than $1 million annually, closing corporate tax loopholes and by continuing spending cuts he initiated in his first term.
Among their many differences, both candidates agree on the issues of investing in education, plugging corporate tax loopholes, and giving small businesses tax relief.
Polls show half the country favors one candidate over the other, meaning both have a chance of winning the election.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY
|During his term Obama has pushed to fix the economy by creating 4.5 million new jobs and dropping the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent, the lowest it has been since he took office in 2009.
|In his first term Romney plans to create 12 million jobs by expanding oil drilling in North American to become energy independent, reducing business regulation and opening more trade.
|Obama proposes tax cuts for small businesses to stimulate job growth, raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans and $2.50 in spending cuts for every dollar in taxes raised.
|Romney plans to cut taxes for both individuals and corporations, fill loopholes and decrease government spending to balance the budget and cut the national deficit.
|After ending the war in Iraq, and proposing the end of the war in Afghansitan in 2014, Obama plans to refocus military spending on education and infrastructure in the U.S.
|As president, Romney would add $2 trillion to defense spending over the next decade to build a stronger military and protect national interests and democratic ideals in the Middle East.
|The President’s Affordable Care Act reforms healthcare by implementing a pre-existing condition clause, gives small business tax credits, and covers millions of uninsured Americans.
|Romney plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on his first day in office and let the states decide, while keeping parts of the plan such as the pre-existing condition clause.