Joy News editor Israel Layea is currently in the United States to cover the presidential elections there and reports many Americans are eagerly anticipating the ballot Tuesday.
President Barack Obama and his contender Mitt Romney are crisscrossing battleground states such as Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada to make sure they either consolidate their support, improve their chances or over-turn their opponents’ lead, Isreal Laryea reported.
“There is no doubt the US elections are close. Most of the polls and pundits are speaking to that and even in some cases it’s a dead heat,” he said, adding “the candidates know too well what the situation is and are leaving nothing to chance”.
Today, Monday November 5, which is the last day of campaigning for instance, Obama is holding rallies in eight different states.
Apart from the rallies, his campaign teams have intensified efforts to get as many supporters out of their homes on Tuesday to vote. “They are using phone banks staffed with volunteers who just dial numbers they select at random on the internet to tell anyone who will listen that they should go out and vote,” Isreal explained.
Another strategy they have employed is getting the volunteers to move from door to door just to tell people to go out and vote on Election Day.
In one state, Wisconsin, “I found Obama volunteers had been bussed in from Chicago to come and encourage people in the state to go out and vote”.
The Joy News editor believed Obama has an edge over his opponent and stands a greater chance of retaining power, citing the following reasons:
“The latest job reports have endorsed his [Obama’s] claims that the economy is beginning to yield and respond positively to his policies.
“Hurricane Sandy got the country focused on him and how he will handle matters and he has earned himself praise even from some of his opponents for his approach to the situation.
“Hurricane Sandy also took President Obama’s opponent off the limelight for a while, breaking Mitt Romney’s momentum for a few days whilst Obama looked very presidential. This is a fact some Republicans have openly acknowledged.”
In addition, he said the aftermath of the hurricane has provided an “opportunity for Americans to rally around their president,” thereby, putting him ahead of Romney in the minds of the people.
According to Isreal, Mitt Romney’s goodwill may suffer a bit as he came under heavy criticisms for attacking the American auto industry in Ohio through an advert.
Overall, Mr. Laryea noted that pundits all agree that in the race to claim the 270 of 538 electoral colleges needed to win this election; President Obama has an easier task than Mitt Romney.
"Whichever way though, it will all be known in the next 48 hours or even less or even more, if the absentee ballots conundrum plays up. That’s a discussion for another day", he said.
The Electoral College
The nature of the electoral system, he explained, is that the number of total votes a candidate wins in the election does not really matter.
“It’s about winning in the various states so you can be awarded the electoral votes of those states to enable you accumulate at least 271 of the 540 up for grabs”.
Meanwhile, he said most of the states - from the various opinion polls - appear to have decided on the candidate they want to award their votes, except for the battleground states such as Ohio. “That explains why the candidates are concentrating on them”.
Governor Romney said his opponent; President Obama has failed on his promises to among others to turn the economy around. He also accused the president of “making America appear weak”, claiming the people cannot survive another four years of an Obama administration.
President Obama on the other hand said the economy as he inherited from the previous Republican administration was in such a bad state that he needed more than four years to fix it.
He however added there have been some improvements and used the latest job numbers to back his claim, reiterating that it will be a grave mistake for Americans to return to the policies that got the country into trouble in the first place.
He also said he has ended the war in Iraq and withdrawn from Afghanistan as well as eliminating America’s biggest enemy and threat, Osama Bin Laden.
Notable differences b/n US & Ghana elections
- The Electoral College system means a candidate could win more votes in the election, yet lose because he may not have won enough electoral votes.It happened in the 2000 elections between Al Gore and Bush and it is feared the same situation could be replicated in this election, especially because of how close the race is.
- Unlike in Ghana where the Electoral Commission administers the election across the country, the various states in the US are responsible for the elections in their areas of jurisdiction and are subjected to their own laws and regulations. For instance you could in some states register on Election Day and vote the same day.
- It is rare for you to see campaign banners and posters littered around the US as it happens in Ghana.
- They also don’t give out free t-shirts and other party paraphernalia. They expect individuals to buy these items as a way to finance the political campaigns.
- They rely heavily on television and other high-tech communication channels, including facebook and twitter to reach the electorate.
- There are all many organisations which openly declare their support for one party or another.
There are however lots of similarities in the way they go about their campaigns:
- They attack one another sometimes with television adverts sometimes using half-truths.
- Ghana is also beginning to focus more on issues into our elections as the US has always done.