Newsbeat's guide to the US election November 2012

02/11/12

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama

The next American president will be chosen on Tuesday 6 November 2012.

The results of the US election will decide whether current President Barack Obama will get to serve a second term at the White House.

The Democrat candidate is up against opposition Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

It is the most expensive election in American history costing $6 billion (£3.71 billion).

A quick guide to Democrat candidate Barack Obama

Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th President of the United States.

The 51-year-old is the country's first black president.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

He worked as a civil rights lawyer before getting involved in politics and becoming elected as senator for the state of Illinois.

In the 2008, he defeated Republican nominee John McCain to become US president taking over the job from former US president George W. Bush.

A quick guide to Republican candidate Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney

Willard Mitt Romney.

Age 65.

Studied at Harvard University.

A successful businessman - worth an estimated $190-250 million (£117m-£154m) - co-founder of a highly profitable private equity investment firm.

Served as a governor (politician) in the state of Massachusetts.

He's well known as a practising Mormon.

Obama's policies

Jay-Z and Beyonce
Image caption Obama supporters: Jay-Z and Beyonce hosted a fundraiser for president's re-election

To create a million new manufacturing jobs by 2016, 100,000 new teaching jobs and wants to help students pay for college.

First US president to support gay marriage.

Obamacare - is the president's attempt to increase health insurance care for poorer people.

Tax increases for the wealthy, closing tax loopholes, modest budget cuts but resists need to cut to welfare programmes.

First term presidential notable moments include ending US Iraq war involvement, increased troop levels in Afghanistan and ordering the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

Romney's policies

Mitt Romney
Image caption Mitt Romney, in Ohio, accepting food donations for Hurricane Sandy victims

Mitt Romney promises to boost the economy with lower taxes, closing tax loopholes and much greater cuts to the largest government programmes.

He made headlines at the beginning of his campaign for his views against abortion but has since changed his stance.

The Republicans believe Obama's health care plan - Obamacare - won't work and will cost too much.

The voting system - How does this election work?

Obama in Florida
Image caption Obama in swing state Florida where pizza restaurant owner swept him off his feet

Everyone votes in the state they live.

Each state is worth a certain amount of points called electoral college votes - bigger states are worth more.

The winner needs 270 electoral college votes to claim the White House.

Candidates will spend a lot of time and money targeting swing states - which are uncommitted to one party.

States like Ohio, Iowa and Florida are open to persuasion.

Celeb backers for Obama

Jay-Z and Beyonce

Mariah Carey

Eva Longoria

Celeb backers for Romney

Lindsay Lohan
Image caption Lindsay Lohan has pledged her support for Mitt Romney

Lindsay Lohan

Donald Trump

Clint Eastwood

The winner

Whoever wins the presidential race will be publicly sworn into office on January 21, 2013, in an inauguration ceremony at Capitol Hill, Washington DC.