US Elections: Obama leads, but dicey

on   /   in People & Politics 5:07 am   /   Comments

By Ochereome Nnanna, Reporting from New York
Today’s presidential election in America is ending  like the premiership league in in English football season.

The rivalry between the two Manchester foes – City and United – was not decided until the very last minute of extra time. Kun Aguero’s goal was the last kick that decided it, in City’s favour.

Based on the result of state and national opinion polls published on Monday, Democratic candidate President Barack Obama was entering the final couple of days to the election with very modest leads.

He led by an average of 1.3 per cent points in twelve of the national polls that were conducted over a period of 24 hours, though three other polls by Rasmussen, Politico and CNN indicated a tie between the president and his Republican Party rival, Mitt Romney, while a number of other polls still favour Romney.

The polls had mostly shown Romney tying with Obama after the first debate in Denver, Colorado, where Romney put up a surprisingly stellar performance, leaving Obama to pick up the crumbs in the follow-up debates.

Nate Silver, who operates the hugely popular political blog, FiveThirtyEight, predicts an 86% chance of victory for Obama.

The “Crystal Ball” at the University of Virginia Center for Politics says Obama will get it 290 – 248, and Obama’s performance in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, according to the “Ball”, will help catapult him to wins in the swing states of Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wisconsin.

The final polls from Reuters/Ipsos gives it to Obama at 294 Electoral Votes, while the Public Policy Polling final survey awards it to Obama at a princely landslide figure of 332 electoral votes.

Obama is maintaining steady but slim leads in the “swing” or “battleground” states (states that have not definitely made up their minds in favour of either candidate).

He is ahead in Ohio, New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin, while Romney leads in Florida and North Carolina.

Politico, for instance, predicts that Obama will likely run home with a total of 303 Electoral College votes (well over the 270 he requires to remain in the White House) while Romney will score 235.

If this comes to pass, it will actually look almost like a landslide, given the sustained knife-edge structural uncertainties that shadow this year’s election.

For instance, USA TODAY points to the spoilsport role that third parties could play in a tight race such as this. According to the paper, in the crucial battleground state of Ohio, apart from Romney and Obama, five other presidential candidates are on the ballot.

They are: Jill Stein of the Green Party, Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party, Stewart Alexander of the Socialist Party and Richard Duncan, an independent.

These candidates cannot win any election, but USA TODAY graphically illustrates how they can turn the applecart even against the candidate that appears to be in the lead right now:

“History shows the impact of the more obscure candidates. In 2000 when the Democrat Al Gore lost to George W Bush, the loss was attributed in part to Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who took the votes from Gore in Florida and New Hampshire; both swing states.

And we can’t forget Ross Perot. He didn’t win either, but he got 18% of the popular vote in 1992 and 8% in 1996”. A third party candidate that campaigns along a similar ideological line with any of the big two could steal as many votes as possible from them in close contests like this one.

After attending to the needs of Americans struck by Sandy, Obama returned to the campaign hustings, assisted by former President Bill Clinton. But beyond this, not much has been noticed as a party effort to drive the president’s candidacy.

On the contrary, Romney has enjoyed the full support of his party, particularly the conservative Tea Party elements.

The conservative wing of American politics seem determined to end the Obama era as a result of his perceived far-left radicalism that has openly sided with the gay people, gone hard against industrial practices that pollute the environment (such as coal) and promoted the Obamacare, a revolutionary healthcare system some see as a socialist policy in a country renowned for its strong private enterprise foundations.

There are those who think the national debt of $16 trillion could hit the $24 trillion mark by the time Obama is done in 2016 if re-elected.

This is the grim prospect that Romney vigorously drives home in his campaigns.Says Romney in his closing pitch:

“We are at a turning point. The decision we make on Tuesday (today) will affect not only us but also generations yet to be born.

The president and I offer fundamentally different visions about the size, cost, reach and role of the federal government… we can begin to write great new chapters in the American story. I’m prepared for this moment, and I am ready to lead this nation.

But I need your vote, because there is an economy to revive, and dreams to build, and great work to be done”.

Obama, on the other hand, presents his report card as an incumbent. He reminded Americans that when he took over in 2008 the country was mired in two wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan) as well as the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

“Today, we have fought our way back. Our businesses have created nearly five and a half million new jobs in the past two and a half years. Home values are rising. The American auto industry is thriving.

The war in Iraq is over. Osama bin Laden is dead. Our heroes are coming home. We’ve made real progress. But our work is not done. Our fight goes on.

On Tuesday, you get to choose between two fundamentally different visions of what makes America strong…the folks at the very top do not need another champion in Washington. The middle class does. That’s the change we need right now…that’s why I am asking for your votes this Tuesday”.

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