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Introducing The 12: Student journalists chronicling the 2012 election on Tumblr

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It’s all but certain that a handful of states will determine whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will get to 270 electoral votes Nov. 6. Alison Noon The 12 Students line up to attend a speech by President Obama at the Coors Center in Boulder, Colo. on April 24.

And within those states, a few recurring narratives will dominate headlines and national perceptions about how those votes will swing in the fall: Economic recovery in Michigan. Immigration laws in Arizona. Union battles in Wisconsin. Northern Virginia (blue), and the rest of Virginia (not so blue).

Today, The Washington Post launches The 12, aimed at keeping track of campaign issues across swing states. The site is powered by Tumblr and will be populated by student journalists at 12 universities in some of the most competitive 2012 election states.

Using content aggregated from student media outlets and local news sources, the 12 will be a site that leverages Tumblr’s curation tools to feature election news that matters most to voters in battleground states and identify campaign issues that have yet to bubble up to the national conscience.

Why are university Democrats so keyed into the Ohio Senate race between State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)? What impact will Pennsylvania’s fast-growing Hispanic population have in November? And just how many independents are there in North Carolina? These are the types of questions that will be explored in The 12.

The 12 team will also focus on coverage that most affects young voters, who turned out in record numbers to propel Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 . But it’s unclear whether the under-30 crowd will do the same in 2012.

“Young voters were a critical voting bloc in the 2008 election, and no one knows the impact they will make in 2012,” said Washington Post National Politics Editor Steven Ginsberg. “The 12 is a way for The Washington Post to spotlight student journalism across the country and share unique analysis, observations and photos that might not have been documented otherwise.”

The students who make up The 12 are part of classes, student media outlets and journalism programs affiliated with their universities. In addition to Tumbling from their corners of the country, they’ll also be looking for ideas from readers (you can submit your tips here).

So please follow us on Tumblr and Twitter, tell us what campaign issues are brewing in your state, and meet The 12 team:

Natalie Jennings, social media manager for PostPolitics, is the editor of The 12.

Yvonne Gonzales is a senior at Arizona State University and is the incoming editor-in-chief for the State Press, ASU’s campus newspaper.

Alison Noon is a Media Studies and Political Science major at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she works at the CU Independent.

Ryan Thompson is a senior at the University of North Florida and is enterprise editor for the UNF Spinnaker and maintains a “vlog ” in his spare time on “words, books, college life and Harry Potter — among other things.”

Susan Woods is a junior at Wayne State University and a member of the Journalism Institute for Media Diversity. She is an editorial intern at Metro Parent, a staff writer for WSU’s South End newspaper, and co-hosted a radio show on the WSU

Andrew Krietz is a senior at Michigan State University and is the incoming editor-in-chief of the State News. He’s currently interning for the Muskegon Chronicle/MLive.com and participated in a multimedia program with the Dow Jones news fund.

Rob Abel, Ninh Pham and Travis Zimpfer are University of Missouri students rotating coverage of Missouri issues. Follow their group Tumblr.

Jake DeSchuiteneer is a junior at the University of New Hampshire. He works as a copy editor for the student-operated, pop-culture/general interest publication Main Street Magazine, contributes to UNH’s student newspaper, the New Hampshire, and writes a blog called Anvil Blue music.

Sarah Glen is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was a writer and editor, then online editor for the Daily Tar Heel, and is now team captain for the WhichWayNC Project.

Justin Lagore is a senior at Kent State University. He directs KSU student media’s mobile development team and coordinates social media efforts for the school’s integrated newsroom.

Haley Kmetz is a senior at Temple University and an intern at WHYY-TV. She previously interned with WHYY’s live radio newsmagazine, NewsWorks Tonight, and with the City Desk at the Philadelphia Daily News.

Samra Khawaja is a senior at Virginia Commonwealth University, majoring in broadcast journalism with minors in political science and Spanish. She hopes to become a foreign correspondent.

Tessa Fox is the Viewpoints Desk editor for the Marquette University Tribune and a reporter for the Marquette Journal.

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