Headed into tonight's election, most of the states are already considered to be in the proverbial bag for either Obama or Romney. The real suspense of the election, as it has in the past, will reside in the decisions of a few key swing states.
This swing state phenomenon instills apathy in the minds of voters who live in predominantly Republican or Democratic states.

"Tennessee has been a Republican state for as long as I remember, so I don't see why that would change," said Adrien Raucoules, sophomore in mechanical engineering who decided against voting.

His mentality is not rare among voters, and history backs him up. The GOP has carried Tennessee in the past three elections, with almost 57 percent of voters siding with the Republican candidate in each of the last two elections.

Dr. Nick Geidner, an assistant professor of journalism, is originally from Ohio, one of the biggest swing states in this year's election. He noticed the different atmosphere in Tennessee compared to his home state.

"It's a completely different world living in Tennessee than it was living in Ohio four years ago. You can't imagine the ads," he said.

Geidner's alma mater, The Ohio State University, has provided a nearly literal battleground in this year's election. The presidential candidates have combined to make seven appearances in and around the campus, and Obama even chose to kick-off his campaign there.

"Today, both Romney and Obama were within a couple miles of Ohio State's campus," Geidner said.

UT, however, does not provide a common destination to the candidates. Tennesseans may not have as direct of an impact on the Electoral College as Ohioans. For those disenchanted with the election process, Geidner offered an alternative perspective, pointing out the importance of the popular vote.

"If Obama wins the Electoral College and loses the popular vote, he'll still be the president, but he'll have a lot less political capital," he said. "The votes still mean something."

This thought may explain why both campaigns have pushed to increase their hold on the states they are projected to carry. Obama and Romney know the importance of the popular vote.

The election is not only a matter of our country's executive branch, either. School board members, house representatives and a senate seat are also up for grabs. These are elections that may affect voters more than most students realize.

"There's a number of downticket races," Geidner said. "We tend to focus on the presidential election, but there are school board elections that will be decided by hundreds of votes. I can still make valuable decisions in my community by voting."