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US election: Into the home straight

Monday 5 November 2012, 11:15

John Pienaar John Pienaar BBC Radio 5 live Chief Political Correspondent

US voter

If the President and the man who's after his job are collecting air-miles this weekend, the loser will at least be able to console himself with a free flight to China. You only have to look at Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's exhausting schedule to see this race has come down to a frantic search for a comparatively small number of votes in a handful of battleground US States. If the President and his Republican rival visit Ohio much more they may just get arrested for stalking.

 

The national polls show the contenders to be leader of the free world are running neck-and-neck. But forget them. This is no longer a national campaign and probably never really was.

 

On Tuesday night watch Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin and a handful of other results to find out who'll be sworn in as President next January. Those, crucial, states are agonisingly close fought contests too. And only a fool - or a very brave pundit - can call this race with any real certainty this weekend. Team Romney insist they can beat the odds, as their man beat all expectations and beat the President in the first of their three live TV debates. Since then, Obama's learned his lesson and shown more sparkle. More fire.

 

Hurricane Sandy allowed Obama to look more like the Commander in Chief, in charge, directing operations. Even that Svengali among Republican strategists, Karl Rove, admits Hurricance Sandy blew Romney's argument on the economy off the front page at a critical time. The US unemployment figures this week have been used by Romney as evidence of a sluggish recovery; by Obama as evidence of an economy healing.

 

So if you hold a gun to my head, kidnap my children and threaten to flush my goldfish down the toilet - if I had a goldfish - I'd probably say Obama's looks most likely to win his second term. Probably. But since you're not threatening my life, or my children, or my pet fish, I won't.

 

All the polls say America will choose the leader they trust most with their economy and their jobs. They'll also be choosing the leader of the most powerful economy on earth: a man, in other words with a big say over our economy and our jobs.

 

So it'll be well worth tuning in to our 5 live election special on Tuesday night. Oh, and maybe have another listen to my line up of US campaign players, pundits and ordinary American voters in Sunday night’s Pienaar's Politics. This race is gripping, and trust me, it matters.

 

Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    Utterly respect John's work, but it would be nice to read something new that hasn't already been written or spoken about in the run up to this election. And if there isn't anything, then why not leave it to the BBC US correspondents?

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    Comment number 2.

    I have now heard a third programme where John has been featured and it was exactly the same thing - now Shelagh is asking him to explain which states are important, how they vote, all the same stuff. This is the drawback of rolling news - no actual reporting but just repeating the basic facts every time. John is well able to actually report on what is happening today, from back in the UK, and he isn't being asked to say anything except the same thing over and over.

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    Comment number 3.

    John, certainly looks like the current polls agree with your call about a second term (your pet fish can breathe easy... for now!). This US election has been quite different in terms of coverage internationally when compared to 2008 - still picking up some interesting blog posts around the world though - just came across one on a satirical news blog in South Africa that was featured on BBC WHYS last year.. think you'd enjoy the Obama vs Romney cartoon on it this week: http://www.wonkie.com/2012/11/05/obama-vs-romney-us-2012-election/ - kind of sums it up perfectly with the public's irritation with politician's promises during campaign time and their signature lack of delivery right after.

    Looking forward to the 5 live election special this evening in any case!

    Emma

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    Comment number 4.

    The last time Bacon did eight hours straight, as he is tonight: "I'm doing eight hours...eight hours...Welcome!!" - it was the major BBC success which was the royal jubilee. In which a senior BBC TV presenter described the station's/his coverage as "Appalling!"

    Now if this station can't take this election - or anything - seriously, you know what to expect come rajars in early Feb.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 5.

    Emma - be prepared for some pretty liteweight fayre if Bacon is in control.

    You'll be better of on R4.

    Sorry but fact.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 6.

    @3

    External non BBC links are normally not allowed for more than 10 minutes.

    I am going to watch rather than listen. But at least I really do know what a swing state is - phew.

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    Comment number 7.

    I thought that the BBC was supposed to be impartial on political matters. If so how did the politically very partial Richard "I love Barack Obama" Bacon get the show?

    Still perhaps we will get the gems he gave us at Wimbledon.

    Richard Bacon "This must be the best Wimbledon ever!"

    Michael Stich "How many have you been too?"

    Richard Bacon "One"

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    Comment number 8.

    Last night's election coverage was a disgrace to the good name of the BBC.

    In just the first hour Bacon seemed to think that the people of Vancouver were voting, quoted a right wing think tank website that suggested that Romney was winning (and then got noticable upset with an expert who told him this was unreliable) and used the phrase 'the swingiest area of the swingiest state' on at least 3 occasions. It was like listening to Newsround.

    But the worst thing as has already been mentioned was the obvious bias towards Obama. He was openly dismissive of anything that a Republican said to him and displayed zero neutrality.

    I would love somebody from Five Live to explain why Bacon was used instead of a serious presenter like Peter Allen or John Pienaar who was in the US anyway.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    Yes, I agree with @8. It was uncomfortable to listen to an over-excited presenter like Bacon trying to actually do serious interviews with anyone, and on occasion, the person he was talking to obviously did not get his delivery style at all and several people sounded quite bemused at the chaotic questions and their style. It was a relief to move on to Nolan and Pienaar but in the end I couldn't stand the yelling of everyone and just gave up.

    I believe @3 should be removed because of the advert.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 10.

    The Sky News US Election coverage and presenters were very good, as was Radio 4 and the BBC TV News Channel but what do we get from 5live ? That well known political analyst...Richard ( hyper ) Bacon .Quite frankly it is embarrassing and what the people he was supposed to be interviewing thought about him and his lack of knowledge and credibility, god only knows ? I can't quite make out what this station thinks its doing or who its supposed to be aimed at ? Someone get a grip ! Are we supposed to enjoy a radio station that treats its listeners as complete idiots ?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 11.

    To compound the election night coverage debacle Bacon yesterday interviewed the awful Piers Morgan .... on the phone from Florida. Could have done that from London me thinks.

    Also read today that Talksport has won the Lions Tour radio rights. Assuming Sky will have the TV that's another iconic event the Beeb has missed out on. Will soon be known as the 'former' national broadcaster at this rate.

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    Comment number 12.

    Typically, the hapless Bacon was in the one place where nothing happened!

    "I'm in Florida. Florida! Welcome! (a beat) Four years ago I was in Chicago. Before that Los Angeles...." By this (early) stage it was already apparent he considered himself more important than the Presidency.

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    Comment number 13.

    Bacon was dire. Appeared more concerned about the lack of warmth and sunshine "Hello! Welcome to Florida! Where it is raining and cold". Obviously was expecting an easy jolly in the sunshine. I feel sorry for John Pienaar having to co-present with him - must be excruciating for JP, As an aside I notice it now says one can rate comments on here - any hints as to how that is achieved?

  • rate this
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    Comment number 14.

    Sarnia ,there used to be some arrows you could click on to vote for and rate posts but they seem to have disappeared.No doubt the BBC have other things on their mind at present.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 15.

    As of Friday, more than 2 weeks after her arrival, Ashmall was still "stuck" in New England at our expense!!

  • rate this
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    Comment number 16.

    Oh for an up to date blog where we could post on the "BBC news" of the day.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 17.

    I would just like to say I agree with virtually all of the comments above - Richard Bacon was appalling and an embarassment to the BBC. No doubt when the various American commentators were informed they would be speaking to "Richard Bacon from the BBC" they were expecting someone with a serious, professional tone. Instead it was some over excited big kid whos obvious political bias got in the way of any objectivity. Why oh why did it have to be Bacon? Why not Rhod Sharpe, or John Pienaar or Peter Allen? Anyone but Mr Bacon...

  • rate this
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    Comment number 18.

    Thanks Ginger. Al Murray made me snigger on his show this morning when he said he listened to 5 Live's Election coverage driving back from a gig and heard Bacon "who was obviously broadcasting from a cocktail bar in Florida asking anyone what they thought was going to happen" so, he turned off he said!

 

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