Reading the US election runes

Combination picture of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama Correspondents say the candidates are fighting for a small slice of the electorate that is still undecided

It was fun while it lasted, the rumour of a gaunt and dynamic game-changer riding over the horizon.

But the idea that retired General David Petraeus would leave the CIA, lead the Republican surge, stomp on the Obama insurgents and hand Romney a victory quickly evaporated.

No, his office said, he would not be Mitt Romney's vice-presidential running mate (purists might note they actually said "he will not seek elected office" - I suppose the VP is technically elected by the electoral college).

So, with three months to go, it is back to hard-pounding in a few states.

President Barack Obama is carpet-bombing the states of Colorado and Arizona with love over the next few days on a multi-town tour.

Oracles and entrails

This election will be won in a handful of places.

The New Yorker, in a fun piece, suggests that it all boils down to 916,643 undecided (and rather ignorant) voters in six states.

That is not really true - this election is more about persuading the unenthusiastic but decided to actually bother to vote than changing minds.

It still feels very tight. There is a strong dislike of Mr Obama in much of the country, but no matching enthusiasm for Mr Romney.

A Gallup poll today has some very bad news for Mr Obama on the economy, suggesting he gets less than a 50% approval rating in all six (or eight) crucial swing states.

But another poll suggests Mr Romney's favourability rating is stuck at 40%.

Real Clear Politics' tracking of 7 polls suggests an average of a 3% lead for Mr Obama.

The ever-entertaining Michael Tomasky mines the data to predict a possible landslide for Mr Obama, arguing he can lose four key states and still romp home.

I am not convinced.

And the U-T San Diego newspaper's belief in a Romney landslide is based more on faith in the country's fury with the president than number-crunching.

Politicians who say things like "the only poll that counts is the one on the day" are fibbing. They all, obsessively, study opinion polls.

But sometimes, like oracles and entrails, it is not clear what they are trying to tell us.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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US Presidential Election 2012


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Will it matter who is president if Congress remains disfunctional?

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    The New Yorker, in a fun piece, suggests that it all boils down to 916,643 undecided (and rather ignorant) voters in six states.

    Plus Suilerua .

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I am really tired of voting for the least bad likely to be elected out of touch politico. In this case, considering who put us in this hole with unnecessary war on credit with benefits to supporters, President Obama is much less bad and, unlike in the last election, he will get my vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    This election boils down to the devil you know (Obama) and the devil you don't (Romney). The last 4 years have given Americans a view of what Obama wants. The past 5 years have give us few clues as to what Romney wants, other than to be President. Congress assures us of legislative gridlock either way. Obama has done OK on foreign policy, while Romney seems clueless. Known wins my vote.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    If I hear the phrase "what the American people want" from either of the presidential candidates again I think I will go screaming into the night.
    Neither candidate is listening, or responding to what the American people really want to talk about-jobs, they seem to prefer talking about anything else.


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