8% unemployment is a lot, and that explains why the polls are so tight. But it was a Romney like figure who took that to 10%, and if it were not for Obama, that might still have been 15% or worse. And if the Republican Congress had not been so blindly obstructionist, the rate might have been down to 7% by now going on to 6. A Romney like person brought about the mess, and Romney's prescriptions over the past few years would have taken America to a Europe like mess of all austerity and no growth, no jobs. If anything, this country needs a second stimulus, this time of a trillion, with no tax cuts, all active spending, a ton of it on taking gigabit broadband to every American.

The choice 10/6
The gulf that separates the policies of the two candidates and their parties seems wider than in any election in living memory. ..... Mr Romney wants a much smaller government (except when it comes to throwing America’s weight around overseas, where he wants to boost defence spending from 3.4% of GDP to a target of 4%). To that end, he proposes to lower taxes, dramatically cut spending on everything other than the armed forces, adopt a balanced-budget amendment, repeal Mr Obama’s health-care reforms and overhaul big “entitlement” programmes such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security—the government schemes for, respectively, health-care for the elderly and the poor, and pensions. Even food stamps, the last refuge of America’s poorest, would be on the chopping block. ....... Mr Romney wants to ban gay marriage and, in almost all cases, abortion, although neither step is in the president’s power. Mr Obama is resolutely pro-choice and, after much dithering, now says he supports gay marriage. Immigration is another fault-line. ........ Mr Romney wants to make life so miserable for all those in the country without permission that they will “self-deport” ...... Romney .. promises to cow countries that have crossed America, including China, Iran, Russia and Venezuela ....... Romney .. says the causes and effects of global warming are too uncertain to justify expensive remedies. ......... Most polls have shown the two candidates within a whisker of one another for months, although Mr Obama has recently showed signs of pulling away. Americans do not often turf out sitting presidents: over the past 70 years, only three—Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and George Bush senior—have been shown the door after one term. ........ it has been over 70 years since unemployment was so high at the time of an election. ..... economic discontent is shared by Americans of all stripes: young and old, rich and poor, male and female, white and minority. ...... Mr Romney, with a personal fortune of some $250m .. the wealthiest presidential candidate in generations ..... a race between limping candidates ................ Mr Romney, meanwhile, is an extremely capable businessman. As well as creating a fabulously successful private-equity company, he turned around the failing Salt Lake City winter Olympics of 2002. During his time as governor of Massachusetts he ran the state in a pragmatic manner, co-operating with the Democratic legislature to close a big budget shortfall, in part by raising revenue, and to pass the health-care reforms on which Mr Obama’s were based. ...... Almost all this advertising, needless to say, is negative...... Where previously there was hope and change, in short, there is now fear and loathing.
States of play
Polling over the past few days shows little movement in the race, with Mitt Romney enjoying a slight advantage nationwide and Barack Obama holding the edge in the electoral college. In Ohio (which is being surveyed daily) Mr Obama is maintaing a lead, as he is in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Colorado, Iowa, Florida and North Carolina (where early voting is under way in earnest) are still very tight. If the election were held today, Mr Obama would win 286 electoral-college votes to Mr Romney's 252
White working-class voters: Fed up with everyone
2008, when he became the first Democrat to carry Indiana since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 ....... working-class whites, once the majority of the electorate, accounted for just 39% of voters in 2008. ..... They favoured John McCain over Mr Obama by 18 points. This year polls show them preferring Mr Romney by even larger margins: 25 points ........ social issues are much more significant for working-class voters in the South, a majority of whom own guns and strongly object to gay marriage ...... in the manufacturing cities of the Great Lakes region, many of which have a strong union tradition that does not exist in the South, the prime concerns are far more likely to be the economic dislocation caused by automation and globalisation ....... He never holds a campaign rally without pointing out that he supported a government-funded bail-out of the car industry and Mr Romney did not. He also talks up his plans to increase taxes on the wealthy and to make it harder to ship jobs overseas ...... These arguments seem to be working for Mr Obama in Michigan and Ohio, which have lots of jobs in the car industry and where he remains ahead

The swing states: Ohio: Coal or cars?
with the election just ten days away, Ohio is too close to call. Although most polls put Barack Obama ahead, Mr Romney has closed the gap to just a point or two ..... Ohio: the unemployment rate, at 7.0%, is nearly a point below the national average ...... to cars. An estimated 850,000 Ohio jobs depend on the industry, and his rescue of GM and Chrysler has helped to save a lot of them ...... In the end Ohio will be settled not by ideology, but by the grim mechanics of voter turnout. ...... OFA Ohio now boasts 125 offices, against the 40 Romney “Victory Centres” in the state. ...... Dashboard, a whizzy app that helps volunteers meet up, place phone calls to undecided voters and watch the latest Obama videos.
The youth vote: Young, drifting but back
Young voters backed Mr Obama by such a huge margin in 2008 (66% to John McCain’s 32%) ....... The unemployment rate for 18- to 29-year-olds stands at 11.8% ..... In early October a Harvard Institute of Politics poll found 55% support for Mr Obama among under-30s, next to 36% for Mr Romney. ...... Just 28% said they preferred Mr Romney’s economic policies. ...... Almost as many under-30s describe themselves as conservative (33%) as liberal (37%). ..... In its polling throughout 2012 the Pew Centre has found that just half of young voters claim to be registered to vote; lower than at any time since 1996 ...... In 2008, she says, young voters would weep tears of frustration when told they had missed the deadline to register during the primaries. This year few paid attention until Labour Day. ..... since 2008 the story has been the inability of government to protect citizens from the ravages of recession. ....... the stronger organisation of Mr Obama’s ground campaign
Latinos and the election: Throwing votes away
72% of Latino voters plumping for Mr Obama, next to a pitiful 20% for Mitt Romney ....... the anti-immigration arms race conducted by the party’s presidential candidates, very much including Mr Romney, in this year’s primaries seems the best explanation for its difficulties in winning Latino support. ..... swelling numbers of Mexican-Americans have turned Colorado and Nevada into battlegrounds. New Mexico, once a swing state, is widely considered a safe bet for Mr Obama this year ..... The Latino population in Texas is growing so quickly ..... George W. Bush, who won around 40% Latino support in 2004 because “he knew how to eat the tamale.” ...... In polls Latinos emerge as optimistic, aspirational types with a fierce belief in the importance of education.
Barack Obama and black voters: Returning to the mountaintop
He was descended not from slaves, but from an immigrant African father and a white mother. His mother raised him in Hawaii (just 2% black) and Indonesia. In 2007 Hillary Clinton had much higher favourable ratings among blacks than Mr Obama did. Many of Mr Obama’s earliest prominent supporters were white and Jewish, and indeed he has faced consistent criticism, first as a candidate and then as president, for being too aloof from the black community. Only after defeating Mrs Clinton in Iowa, which is less than 3% black, did he start to attract large numbers of black supporters. ...... one of the more salutary indirect effects of Mr Obama’s inauguration was that it put paid at last to the notion that blacks have self-appointed “leaders” who interpret the political views of black Americans to white America. After all, Messrs Jackson, Smiley and West may have thought Mr Obama was too unseasoned and accommodating to be president, but 95% of black American voters disagreed. ....... in 2009 the median wealth of a white household was 20 times higher than that of a black one, the largest gap since the federal government began tracking wealth data by race in 1984. The median wealth of black households had fallen by 53% over the preceding four years, compared with just 16% for white households. In August 2012 the unemployment rate for blacks was 14.1%. That was down from a high of 16.7% in August 2011, but it still far exceeded the national average of 8.1%. ...... stubbornly high black unemployment, combined with Mr Obama’s perceived indifference to it ...... the host of voter-ID and voter-registration laws enacted since 2010 that have the effect—and arguably the intent—of making it more difficult for black Americans to vote. Courts have rejected some of them (notably a Texas voter-ID law), but plenty remain. Small wonder that many black Americans are entering the election’s home stretch peeved that Republicans seem to have given up trying to persuade them, and have resorted instead to trying to keep them away from the polls

Election issues: foreign policy: It's not easy being indispensable
Who won the foreign-policy debate?
The foreign-policy debate: A win for Obama
To a remarkable degree, Mr Romney tacked to the moderate centre, seeking above all to distance himself from the record of George W. Bush and the sweeping ambitions of the neoconservative right. ...... Romney has a (frankly nonsensical) plan to set American defence spending at the arbitrary level of 4% of national wealth ..... Judging by Mr Romney’s answers, he is confident that his conservative base is fired up and ready to vote, and so can afford to tack smartly to the centre in search of rustbelt voters worried about jobs lost to China. Many of his answers sounded tailored to a block of undecided voters long ago identified by Romney aides as a key target: middle-aged women worried about schools and jobs for their children. ..... recent polls have shown the president’s once imposing lead among women shrinking to single digits. ....... At times, both men headed a farcical distance away from foreign policy, as they sought to appeal to war-weary, inward-looking voters. ...... After the race-altering shock of a disastrous first debate for the president, back on October 3rd, this third debate left the contest where it has been for some days: absolutely deadlocked.
The foreign-policy debate: Neoconservatism goes underground
US Elections 2012
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