The US Presidential election
6 November 2012
I’ve been observing the unfolding US election drama from afar. As someone who lived in the US for a number of years, I have more than a passing interest in US politics, though I don’t pretend to know much at all.
The race for the White House is entering the final straight now. As I type this at 10pm on election day, the results are not yet in but the general consensus is that it’s going to be very tight. My money is on an Obama re-election but who knows.
What astounded me most about this contest was a piece on BBC Breakfast this morning about the strategy the two candidates have executed during the last few months. The majority of the US has already made up its mind as to how it’s going to vote — southern states always vote Republican, for example. The ‘swing states’ we all hear about is what ultimately decides who wins which is why the candidates spend so much time — and money — campaigning there.
The piece on the BBC went on to say that, between them, Obama & Romney have spent around £2 billion — yes, billion with a ‘b’ — on this election. That’s nuts. It also said that, within these swing states, the two campaign teams know an incredible amount about individual voters. They know if you’ve just bought a new car, what kind, how much you spent. Where you live. What your income is. What you watch on TV. An incredible amount of detail that’s used, presumably, to send targeted messages about why candidate A or B is ‘the right choice for you’.
I realise that there’s so much about politics — and electing politicians — that I have absolutely no clue about. It’s not as simple as you’d think. It’s much more fascinating.