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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.



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  • rate this

    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?

  • rate this

    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.

  • rate this

    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!


  • rate this

    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

    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.


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