Posts Tagged ‘US presidential election 2012’

Labour will only win the economic argument when we make it about the future, not the past

12/11/2012, 07:00:02 AM

by Jonathan Todd

The return of the British economy to growth and president Obama to the White House both suggest that Labour will only decisively win the economic argument when it is primarily about the future, not the past.

While welcoming the economy’s recovery, Labour claims output has been foregone due to the government cutting too far, too fast. This frames the economic debate as being about faulty decisions of autumn 2010 by George Osborne and their consequences over the next two years. As much as the celebrated speech of Ed Balls at Bloomberg in August 2010 is vindicated by events over this period, framing the debate in this way invites the question: Why was the government’s fiscal consolidation programme deemed necessary?

Of course, Osborne then cites the reckless profligacy of Labour. Equally obviously, we contend that this programme was unnecessary and the cause of the recession “made in Downing Street”. What may be less apparent is that, no matter how intellectually justified the Bloomberg speech, arguing about past decisions asks the public to reconsider events over which they have a settled mind.

They would have voted differently at the last election were they convinced that Labour had credible and effective plans for public spending. Especially given the pain that government spending decisions have since brought, it is understandable that we find it difficult to concede this. But a strategy for winning the next election predicated upon the electorate reversing a verdict given at the last election rarely works.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

The Sunday review: the US presidential election

11/11/2012, 08:00:19 AM

by Anthony Painter

Politics is part art, part science. The best campaigns combine artistry and method. US election 2012 was the one in which science won and art was overwhelmed. And what a disappointing election it turned out to be – albeit one with a good outcome.

In his victory speech, president Obama declared:

“You’ll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse who’s working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job, or a roof over their head when they come home.

That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small; it’s big. It’s important.”

What a pity that this voice was muffled throughout the campaign. The Washington Post blogger, Ezra Klein, explains why:

“The Obama campaign found that their key voters were turned off by soaring rhetoric and big plans. They’d lowered their expectations, and they responded better when Obama appeared to have lowered his expectations, too. And so he did. The candidate of hope and change became the candidate of modest plans and achievable goals.”

This campaign was driven by focus groups and polls – science. Only, this wasn’t a campaign of modest plans and achievable goals. It was a campaign of attack and vagueness. What on earth has changed? In The Audacity to Win, campaign leader David Plouffe’s take on the 2008 Obama campaign recounts:

“Focus groups … and feedback from the field were two of our most important assets…We did not use them to make policy decisions. We used them to gauge how the arguments in the campaign were being received and digested. It was about communications, no content.”


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

After that result, the Republicans will go even more batsh*t insane

07/11/2012, 08:00:18 AM

by Nikhil Dyundi

There is an old adage that oppositions do not win elections, governments lose them. Clearly, there is a lot of truth in this; after all, it is only the government that can actually do things. The administration has the record to be judged.

But let us be in no doubt about what happened yesterday: yes president Obama won, but more than anything else, the Republicans lost. They lost, not only the presidency but failed to retake the senate in a year when both should have been a lock.

They achieved this improbable feat because of one simple fact: their base is batshit insane.

As a result, no vaguely competitive candidate stepped forward for the presidential nomination, leaving them with the weakest representative in decades. Electable, centrist senate incumbents and prospective candidates were brushed aside to make way for a variety of fruitloops who couldn’t stop talking about rape.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Obama must be more ambitious if he wins a second term tomorrow

05/11/2012, 04:30:36 PM

by Jonathan Todd

“Obama is forty-seven years old”, noted Russell Baker prior to the 2008 presidential election. “McCain is seventy-two, old enough to be Obama’s father … In classical mythology the son must kill the father to allow for the earth’s renewal.”

Has Obama’s vanquishing of McCain really brought the renewal that it might have done?

Yes, he arrived in office in the midst of the biggest economic calamity since the Great Depression. But, unlike FDR, he has not reformed Wall Street, often seeming keener to pacify than challenge financial interests.

Yes, Obama became president with America’s moral capital debased. But Guantanamo bay remains open. And his escalating use of drone attacks threatens to recruit violent anti-Americans as effectively as Guantanamo bay. His failure to meaningfully support those who oppose the Assad regime in Syria also seems to be increasingly driving them towards extremism.

Yes, China’s rise is about decisions taken over the past 30 years in Beijing, not anything done in DC or on Wall Street. But the tone and content of Obama’s attacks on Romney has hardly encouraged America to look outward to the great opportunities that are opening up as a consequence of Chinese communists doing capitalism better than American capitalists. Nor has any substantive reform of global institutions been secured to make them more democratic, inclusive and credible in a world where economic and political power shifts ever more south and east.

Yes, the American political system is designed to necessitate compromise and Obama was confronted by a Republican party determined to not compromise. But it took him an age to accept this. And he still struggles to adapt to it. He thinks, for example, that his re-election will sufficiently wipe the slate clean that the fiscal cliff will be averted via a deal somewhere close to the Simpson-Bowles plan. It is unclear, though, why Republicans who have not voted for any tax increases since 1990 will suddenly do so.

Obama misapplied the exhortation of Rahm Emmanuel: Never let a serious crisis go to waste. There are at least two crises that Obama has failed to fully exploit.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

On the frontline for Obama: fear and campaigning in Las Vegas

02/11/2012, 07:00:26 AM

by Fran O’Leary

The first thing that struck me when I walked into the Obama office on East Charleston Boulevard was the friendliness, warmth and inclusiveness, amid the frenetic campaign activity.  It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what generates this buzz, but it’s there in each smile and each wave as grassroots activists congratulate each other on the numbers of doors they’ve knocked on.

It’s there as people trade campaign stories from the streets and volunteers share pizza.  It’s there as activists and their kids sign their names, and write positive messages of support, on the paper that covers the entrance wall.

In stark contrast to Vegas’ lavish casinos, where every element of the experience – from scented air conditioning to security – is tightly controlled, there is a real sense that this place belongs to the grassroots. Everyone here has an important role to play.

The people in this neighbourhood – Clark county state senate district 8 – face a serious threat if Obama loses the election.  This battle is theirs and the stakes are high.  Unemployment stands at around 12% in Clark county as a whole, which is Democrat leaning overall, and the median income in Las Vegas is around $39k.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Obama’s campaign started going wrong at the DNC

30/10/2012, 07:00:37 AM

by Jonathan Todd

My most recent visit to the USA coincided with the two weeks of the Democrat and Republican national conventions. This was an immense treat. I could flick through the TV channels and find opinions to suit any taste. Every evening ended with a big speech forming the next chapter of the election.

My standard patter came to be that president Obama needs to do three things to retain power:

First, define Mitt Romney before he defines himself. Second, defend his record in office. Third, own the future.

These are hardly earth shattering insights. They are the components of almost any successful political campaign. But my understanding of the race is formed by thinking them through.

Romney made it absurdly easy for Obama to define him in terms that favoured the incumbent. Romney is a religious man in a religious country who won’t talk about his religion. He is also a successful businessman who struggles to talk about his business career in convincing terms.

Just as military hero John Kerry was traduced to swift boat John Kerry in 2004, so too CEO Romney regressed to a tax dodging embodiment of the one percent. The key strengths of the challenger were decapitated and inversed by a brutal onslaught by the president.

Romney’s heavy use of TV advertising was important to him finally securing the Republican nomination in a race defined by the party flirting with any candidate other than the unloved and wooden Romney. He got a taste of his own medicine when David Alexrod targeted him in TV adverts on behalf of Obama. So successful was this phase of the campaign that it appeared Obama might win comfortably by not being Romney. And, ultimately, this may yet be just enough for Obama.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

Why the Tories are rooting for Obama

29/10/2012, 10:28:36 AM

by Mark Stockwell

Each year, as autumn descends, nature-lovers’ thoughts turn to the russet and auburn vistas of New England. Every four years, an altogether different breed joins them in gazing longingly across the Atlantic as the leaves crispen and fall at home. But the only colours they care about are primary colours – red and blue.

With the end of the party conferences and the return to a dank, dreary Westminster, Britain’s political classes huddle round to bask in the reflected glow of a US presidential election.

The states of New England, for the most part solid blue Democrat territory, are but a passing concern. These peculiar beasts garner what warmth they can from the battleground states of the mid-West and the sunshine state of Florida.

With the axis of US politics tilted so far to the right, there are quite a few UK Conservatives who back the Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular. It is, on the other hand, vanishingly unlikely you will come across anyone on the British left cheering for a Republican.

There are all sorts of good policy reasons why both left and right in the UK should welcome the Obama victory which seems the likely outcome of next Tuesday’s poll. But if Labour is looking to Obama to win vicarious battles on deficit reduction, the size of government, or the role of the state in the provision of public services, they are missing an important point.

As a guide to its own electoral prospects, Labour should be cautious about celebrating Obama’s re-election.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

US campaign diary: Three reasons for Democrats to be calm about tonight’s debate

16/10/2012, 07:00:23 AM

by Nikhil Dyundi

It’s nearly here. Two frustrating weeks since president Obama phoned in his performance in the Danville debate, he has the opportunity to make amends.

Across the nation, Democrat nerves will jangle and nails will be bitten. The more volatile will fear disaster at the end of every sentence while even the most confident will feel anxious.

But, in spite of the unavoidable tumult of emotion, rationally Dems should be calm. There are three reasons the result in New York tonight should be more to our liking: expectations about Romney’s performance, his weaknesses and the format

First, Romney is facing a tough fight in the media expectations game. He won last time out and won big. Anything less than a comparable result will have journalists writing about a drop in his level of performance.

The swing of the media pendulum is as predictable as it is exaggerated. The last fortnight gave them the opportunity to write a Romney rebound into reality. An avalanche of gushing pieces about the GOP candidate’s performance has changed the prism through which the public view the race and inevitably shifted the polls.

But that story has been written.

Barring a similarly pallid non-performance from Obama as in the first debate, a passable showing from the president will spawn a wave of comeback pieces.

A presidential fightback will give the media the new angle they need to churn through the next six days until the final debate. There will be review pieces on the performance, tick tock pieces on the minutiae of how the campaign prepared Obama and impact pieces looking at how it played in the battlegrounds.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon

US campaign diary: a poor debate performance from Obama but Romney needs a lot more to change the game

05/10/2012, 04:29:37 PM

by Nikhil Dyundi

So Mitt Romney did well and president Obama phoned in his performance. It was unexpected and the Republicans are good for their positive headlines, but is it a game changer?

Simple answer: no.

There was no defining exchange, no zinger and no nightmare flub that can recast a candidate in an instant. We’ve already had one of those this electoral cycle. Rick Perry is a case study in what makes for one of those defining moments and unless I missed something, President Obama didn’t end up saying “oops” as he forgot one of his central policies.

If anything, the debate was just boring. Too many words from both candidates, too few answers, just charges repeated ad infinitum while the chair palpably failed to drive the exchanges with the vigour and verve that would have made for good TV.

Out in the country, opinions have already been formed. Nothing on Wednesday makes Mitt Romney less of the vulture capitalist. It’s impossible to undo weeks of dreadful headlines and little attempt was made by Romney to even address his negatives with voters.

The full impact of the debate will take time to percolate through the rolling 3 day samples of the tracker polls, but the one pollster who did a post-debate tracker –Ipsos Reuters – seems to validate this view.


Facebook Twitter Digg Delicious StumbleUpon