Tough decision for American voters

2012-11-06 09:26

Washington - Americans will on Tuesday decide whether to re-elect President Barack Obama despite a plodding economy, or to trust Mitt Romney to restore prosperity, in a close fought vote unlikely to heal a polarised nation.

Democrat Obama, 51, leads his Republican foe by a whisker heading into polling day as he seeks to defy historical precedent that suggests incumbent presidents fail to win a second four-year term at times of high unemployment.

Romney, 65, a former Massachusetts governor blasted by critics as a rich plutocrat indifferent to middle class pain, would make history as the first Mormon president and promises to ignite economic growth and job creation.

Final pleas

Both men, exhausted by the last manic Monday of a campaign that has raged for two years, made their final, heartfelt plea to voters in late night rallies attended by fervent supporters.

"Tomorrow, from the granite of New Hampshire to the Rockies of Colorado, from the coastlines of Florida, to Virginia's rolling hills, from the valleys of Ohio to these Iowa fields, we will keep America moving forward," Obama said.

As he spoke in Iowa, the state that first nurtured his White House dreams in 2008, a single tear rolled down the president's face as he wrapped up what was - win or lose - his last-ever campaign event.

Romney put an exclamation mark on his campaign with his own, rowdy late night rally, at a sports arena in New Hampshire, capping the most expensive campaign season in US history, which cost $6bn.

"Tomorrow is a moment to look into the future and imagine what we can do, to put that past four years behind us and build a new future," Romney said.

"Walk with me. Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow."

Voters are not solely picking a president for the next four years on Tuesday.

Political gridlock

They will also cast judgement on a third of the Democratic-led Senate and the entire Republican-run House of Representatives. But with neither chamber expected to change hands, the current political gridlock will likely linger.

In a quaint slice of Americana, the people of the hamlet of Dixville Notch, in northern New Hampshire, played their traditional roll of casting the first votes in the election as the clock struck midnight.

And in a possible precursor of the tight race to come, Obama and Romney were tied at five votes, a historic first.

A dispiriting, negative, White House race, so different from Obama's euphoric change crusade of 2008, produced the election both sides expected - a down-to-the wire scrap for thin victory margins in a clutch of swing states.

Obama, America's first African American president, on Tuesday led by the slimmest of margins in averages of national polls, which measure the likely popular vote, possibly helped by his leadership during superstorm Sandy.

The president's polling leads in battleground states also stirred a quiet confidence in his campaign team.

Romney aides, however, predicted a surge of enthusiasm for the Republican would confound state polls, which they said overestimated the likely Democratic turnout and did not register the undercurrent of antipathy for Obama.

The central message of Obama's campaign has been that he saved America from a second Great Depression after the economy was on the brink of collapse when he took over from president George W Bush in 2009.

He claims credit for ending the war in Iraq, saving the US auto industry, killing Osama bin Laden, offering almost every American health insurance, and passing the most sweeping Wall Street reform in decades.

Striking a populist theme, Obama said he would not rest until every American got a "fair shot" in an economy not controlled by the rich, and with a negative advertising barrage sought to disqualify Romney as a potential president.

Economic recovery

Romney sought to mine frustration with the slow pace of economic recovery and argued that the president was out of ideas and had no clue how to create jobs, with unemployment at 7.9% and millions out of work.

No president since World War II has been elected with the unemployment rate above 7.4%, and Obama is hoping to avoid the fate of a host of European leaders who paid for the economic crisis with their jobs.

It appears that the US economy, the top issue in voters' minds, is neither so bad that Obama is inevitably doomed, nor so good that the president is safe, leading to a nervous night on Tuesday as results come in.

US elections are not directly decided by the popular vote, but require candidates to pile up a majority - 270 - of 538 electoral votes from the 50 states and Washington, DC, calculated indirectly on the basis of population.

A candidate can therefore win the nationwide popular vote and still be deprived of the presidency by falling short in the Electoral College.

Obama seems to be clinging on to a last line of defence in the Midwestern states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, which would, in conjunction with safe Democratic states, guarantee him re-election.

In poll averages calculated by the RealClearPolitics website, Obama led in Iowa (by 2.4%), Ohio (2.9%), Wisconsin (4.2%), Virginia (0.3%), New Hampshire (2.0%), and Colorado (1.5%).

Romney led by 1.5% in the biggest swing state, Florida, and in North Carolina, which Obama won by just three percent, or 14 000 votes, in 2008.

Voters will also weigh in on more than 170 state-wide ballots for everything from gay marriage to marijuana and abortion to electoral maps.

Florida will vote on banning funding for abortions or insurance covering the service, while Maine could legalise same-sex marriage. Three states - Oregon, Washington and Colorado - will vote on totally legalising marijuana.

  • Eterni80 - 2012-11-06 09:33

    the problem here is there are only politicians in this race and no leaders.

      rupesh.hari.7 - 2012-11-06 10:04

      Casters That same empty chair brought bin laden down. The leader you refer to seems to change his stance every other day. He hates universal health care when he introduced it in MA. Think about that.

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:02

      Romney is a fool and was caught out blatantly lying in the electoral debates. As for 'America's enemies' - get real. This is the kind of hyper-patriotic rhetoric that makes people fly planes into skyscrapers in the first place. America must stop touting itself as the self-appointed leader of the 'free world'. Romney would take away hospital visitation rights for gay and lesbian couples, and more. Obama 2012

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-11-06 14:52

      Casters you've got to take off that blind fold sometime pal...

      denny.cray - 2012-11-06 16:13

      There are more than 2 candidates. I suggest visiting: You might be surprised to see you match up more closely with one of the minor candidates.

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-07 10:09

      hahaha @casters - Obama WON. Too bad all your bleating about Romney came to nothing :)

  • emmett.wesleygarrett - 2012-11-06 09:35

    I don't see this as a tough decision at all. Americans know what we want and we want real change. Let's bring some capatalism back to our great shores and some family values like the days of old. Romney for president!

      sean.carbutt - 2012-11-06 09:59

      @adriaan,spot on. You NEVER want a religious person in charge, expecially a moron or is that mormon. Hell no. The first thing that he would do is abolish gays, segregate blacks, force religious crap down your throats. According to these here mormons, heaven only has a limited space, so we are all f..cked, it's full already

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:05

      AS Adriaan said, it's America's ridiculous free market capitalism that got it into a mess, coupled with extremely wasteful spending on pointless, oil-motivated wars as well as atrocious credit policies which make defaulting inevitable. What America needs to let go of is 'The American Dream'. While Republicans pretend it is a land of plenty, it's wealth has always been built on profound inequalities. Obama 2012

      whatda.fuqbro - 2012-11-06 14:59

      When they refer to 'real change' they mean change for the better, not 'let's destroy billions of dollars in wars and mess with a tax system in a country which is finally recovering economically'. So yes, if you want change that turns your country upside down, you vote for the war-mongering, indecisive, religious Bush-esque redneck.

  • emmett.wesleygarrett - 2012-11-06 09:43

    And why was my comment deleted?

      emmett.wesleygarrett - 2012-11-06 09:49

      Oh, sorry about that. It seemed to be there, then disappear, now it's back again.

      larry.piggott1 - 2012-11-06 14:42

      So was mine? odd, there was nothing controversial it it?

  • kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-11-06 09:47

    It shoud not be that difficult? Romney for President !!!

      Juan - 2012-11-06 10:15

      Romney has contradicted himself too many times. Things in the US aren't perfect but they are finally on the right track. Obama for president.

      kobus.hattingh.5 - 2012-11-06 11:03

      Says the man with no surname! Or could it be chicken? Lol

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:06

      Romney would strip away LGBT rights, Romney is a billionaire who doesn't give two flying effs about the people. Romney is the kind of gung-ho, unthinking American the world doesn't need as the leader of perpetual military adventurists. Obama 2012

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:39

      @casters - typical bigot, name-slinging is your best argumentative tool - a pretty weak, pathetic one actually. FYI the majority in several states are leaning towards marriage equality - polls for Maine as well as Washington. Rail against so-called 'deviants' all you like, we are winning. As for being deviant, I guess it's okay to be a mormon and have multiple wives. Obama is the humane and sensible choice. Obama 2012

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 14:05

      @casters - with your childish obsession with gay people, it's beginning to sound as though you're in the closet yourself

  • Brandon Ashley Bosman - 2012-11-06 09:52

    eterni80 i agree with u its only a race thing wtf is happening with this world

  • alec.sevins - 2012-11-06 09:56

    I can't in good conscience vote for a political party that ignores massive scientific evidence for climate change, Peak Oil, etc. How can you trust such people to cope with physical problems in the real world? The GOP is far too obsessed with money. They usually end up praying to an invisible man when things get difficult. So, it's not a tough decision to vote for reality-based thinkers, even if Obama is flawed.

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:08

      People carp on about Obama not 'fixing' the economy but he inherited a real mess from Bush which could never go away in five years. Voting in a small-minded, conservative fool won't magically make America's wasteful culture and global politics disappear. Obama 2012

  • mvekani.chipwatali.7 - 2012-11-06 10:08

    Obama must go ahead

  • rinus.groeneveld.7 - 2012-11-06 10:16

    Obama will win. Easy.

      hulisani.sitire - 2012-11-06 11:02

      y u say obama will win easy

      rinus.groeneveld.7 - 2012-11-06 11:10

      If he wins these 3 swing states where he has decent poll leads he wil have more than 270 .. Iowa (by 2.4%), Ohio (2.9%), Wisconsin (4.2%)

  • stirrer.stirrer - 2012-11-06 10:16

    Romney as "...the first Mormon president" - and the fourth moron president, after Carter and the two Bushes.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-11-06 10:28

      Shouldn't you be in school?

      rinus.groeneveld.7 - 2012-11-06 10:46

      What worries me stirrer is what it says about a Romney supporter? Same people who voted for George (the no 1 moron) and fail to recognise how he broke the US economy's back. Single-handedly. Over 8 years.

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:15

      @ stirrer love it. @Casters I am gay, and if I were living in the USA you can be damn sure I'd vote Obama. Romney doesn't even want hospital visitation rights for LBGT couples, and he's alienated a large segment of the population with such ridiculous policies.

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:45

      @Casters - nice try to spread more lies. There's a good piece on detailing the way the rumours regarding Stevens' death were spread by conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh. Fail harder.

      stirrer.stirrer - 2012-11-06 12:12

      @JamesHurleyZA - LOL, anyone like Caster who believes anything that Rush Limbaugh says, needs their heads read. He only has a following amongst trailer trash and the certifiably insane. He is a national joke in the US.

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 14:04

      @stirrer - I know - next he'll be quoting Ann Coulter as a credible source. Then I'll Really laugh. Lol!

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 17:56

      @casters wow your comments get progressively more childish!

  • denny.cray - 2012-11-06 10:48

    I couldn't stomach either of the mainstream options. Romney is a robot who wants to be president and will happily change his beliefs to any which will allow him to achieve that goal. Obama came into power promising change - very little of which has happened. (I knew I would be against his economic/socio-economic policies but I'd at least hoped he would quickly end the wars like he promised. He also should've come out a lot sooner in favour of gay marriage.) I'd vote for Gary Johnson. I'd even vote for the Green Party before the republocrats.

  • Asdiedamwalbars - 2012-11-06 11:21

    Americans wise for your childrens futuremmmvote Romney..or be Idiots and vote for disaster and vote Obama.

      james.hurley.1401 - 2012-11-06 11:46

      Americans be wise and vote for a conservative idiot who lied during the campaigns and will never be able to single-handedly solve America's economic troubles. Actually no, don't vote for him. Obama 2012

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