Life: Left of Centre

Last 10 Days: Obama’s final campaign

Posted on: October 29, 2012

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With just over a week to go until the 4th presidential election of the 21st century, President Barack Obama is entering the closing stages of his final election campaign. In a political career that stretches back 20 years, this is perhaps his defining moment. As the Americans put it – will he be a “one-hit-wonder”, or a “two-term legend”. So with election day looming on Tuesday 6th November, what are his prospects? Will Romney’s comeback knock him off course? What do the electoral maths look like?

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A lot has changed since the first presidential debate in Denver. A rambling, often all too professorial, Obama held a course of favouritism – adopting a no-risk strategy that dramatically backfired. In one fell swoop the election was turned on its head. From virtually a foregone conclusion (albeit tighter than his defeat of Sen. McCain [R-Ariz.]) to a dead heat. The 2 presidential debates that followed – the first a town hall format covering all topics; the second similar to the first in format but focussing on Foreign Policy – were won by Obama, but neither as decisively as Romney won the first. But Denver only served to remind the US public that there were two candidates in the race, not to float Romney as their favoured choice for President.

The weeks that have followed have seen sparring up and down the United States. From new catchphrases such as ‘Romnesia’ and ‘Obamaloney’ (the former taking off on Twitter and other social media), to a more considered vision by Obama for a possible next four years, and a fundraising tally that has topped $2bn – much has happened. But one thing that has not changed is the state of the race. Since Romney’s return to prominence the election has settled into a predictable rut, in fact. But he’s done very little to promote this himself – but rather he’s cut down on those all-too-regular gaffes (remember ‘47%gate’!) and softened his line on a whole range of issues.

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National polls show a small Romney lead (around 1%, on average) but statewide polls show a slant still towards Obama. Where it be because of his extraordinary grassroots campaign and organisation, the slight upturn in the US economy or the sheer likeability of the man, so-called ‘Battleground’ polls show Obama holding a small lead where it counts. In states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada – all states that are crucial to the destination of this election – Obama leads. All are by narrow margins – some, Virginia and Colorado, but an almost negligible amount (and well within the margin of error of these polls), but the fact remains that this lead across the board is significant because of just that, and the preponderance of polls that shows it.

So what to expect on election day? Well, bluntly, a narrow Obama win – if (and this is a big ‘if’) no major event (political or otherwise) knocks him of course. At the time of writing Hurricane Sandy could well be just that, or perhaps not. It’s too soon to tell – but it’s a good example and reminder of the fact that a week is a long time in politics. Let’s hope 10 days goes by like the blink of an eye, for Obama’s sake.

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