US election

Welcome to a storm-curtailed review of US election coverage after a day on which both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney stopped campaigning because of Tropical Storm Sandy.

As the Financial Times reports, the campaigns caught their breath as a combination of practical difficulties in travelling and organisation, and a desire not to be seen to be practising politics as usual at such a moment took hold. Mr Obama was assuming his commander-in-chief role at the White House.

Politico.com asked a question few were expecting to have to pose: could Sandy delay the election next Tuesday? Forecasting that seemed as difficult as predicting the weather.

“Whether the election can be postponed or not is a legal black hole,” said Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “There’s very little precedent for such an act.”

Federal law requires presidential elections to be held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but it also provides that if a state “has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.”

The flooding that hit the north-eastern coast of the country, killing at least 16 people, was a disaster big enough to stop the juggernaut of campaigning, so the only non-storm news was the latest set of polling data. Read more

If Barack Obama is re-elected on November 6, a large part of that will be down to the Latino vote. The big question for Mr Obama, then, is will enough Latinos be motivated to turn out on election day to boost his chances nationwide? Read more

It may be a contest to become the most powerful human on the planet, but even the US presidential race has to bow to the might of nature sometimes. As Hurricane Sandy summoned up her powers to hammer the east coast of the US, organisers of the two campaigns hurriedly changed their plans and moved inland.

The weather is likely to have two effects, according to the US press, with practical concerns about travel and safety affecting both. But the campaign of President Barack Obama will be worse hit by a second factor, as the Wall Street Journal explains:

Today is the last day for in-person and mail-in voter registration in deadlocked New Hampshire, where the weather threatens to scuttle campaign stops planned by both camps next week. First lady Michelle Obama has canceled a Tuesday trip to the University of New Hampshire campus, which will be closed Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Sandy.

Mr. Obama’s campaign team is relying on banking votes during the early voting period in many states. Campaign aides are privately nervous about a potential disruption in early voting in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia.

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Welcome to a round-up of presidential election news and the quadrennial process of the “last dash for votes” stories has begun early this time around. Concepts like “momentum”, “campaign groundwork” and “heavyweight endorsements” are here to stay for the next 10 turbulent days.

Having voted in his home state of Illinois, President Barack Obama’s idea of momentum appears to consist of sitting in the Oval Office recording media interviews, while his challenger Mitt Romney has a slightly less hectic schedule than in the immediate post-debate days, with only two states, Iowa and Ohio, on his agenda on Friday. Read more

President Barack Obama at a rally in the swing state of Ohio. (AFP/Getty)

Welcome to the US election news round-up on the day that the candidates switched from sparring over military planning to blitzing the battlegrounds of the ‘burbs.

The debates are done. A fortnight from now, we’ll know whether Mitt Romney has evicted Barack Obama from the White House. Unless, of course, it’s 2000 all over again and the nail-chewing lasts for 36 days.

So narrow are the margins in some states that 10 are “toss ups”, according to the rolling average of polls by RealClearPolitics.com. All 10 voted for Obama in 2008, including four – Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada – that he won with double-digit margins. Read more

Welcome to the round-up of reaction to Monday night’s third and final presidential debate, in which President Barack Obama went on the offensive.

The debate’s topic was foreign policy and it saw an unusual inversion of what might have been expected, with the incumbent taking up the cudgels and the challenger assuming a statesmanlike position. Mitt Romney frequently agreed with his opponent’s foreign policies, although they clashed more fiercely on China, the final subject of the final debate. Read more

Welcome to the election news round-up on the morning before the third and final presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy.

While investors may increasingly focus on the threat of the so-called fiscal cliff facing whoever wins on November 6, this potential catastrophe for the US economy will remain off the agenda as Washington DC remains obsessed with the minutiae of an incredibly tight race. Read more

Welcome to a round-up of media coverage of a presidential election now so close that the candidates, with less than three weeks of campaigning left, are paying visits to states with only four votes of the 270 needed to win the electoral college on November 6.

President Barack Obama was in Manchester, New Hampshire, on Thursday, a town accustomed to the paraphernalia and pageant of primary campaigning in December and January, but not so much to autumnal visits by the victors of those primaries.

The latest poll for the New England state shows Mr Obama tied with his Republican rival Mitt Romney.
One local paper, the Eagle Tribune, reports that an enthusiastic crowd of 6,000 saw an energised president repeating many of the attack lines he used against Mr Romney in Monday’s presidential debate. Read more

Notes from the Heartland

Dennis Bute is a noun guy. Riding shotgun in his pick-up, cornfields melting into liquid gold, I listen to the 64 year-old farmer itemise West Point, his home town in western Nebraska. “This be combines”, he says, grammatically resuscitating the harvesters. “This be a cow”, he continues, an adjective as rare as a raindrop.

The Butes have farmed 160 acres of corn and soyabean for 130 years. The third oldest of eight brothers and sisters, Dennis will probably end the family run. His siblings, aside from one sister, live out of town and there is no heir to inherit the land. “Here’s my farm, it looks like any other farm”, he says, without decelerating.

I ask Mr Bute how the last years have been. He affords himself a rare smile, “prices gone up, double, triple, last three years.” Times are so good that he is mulling retirement from his second job – midnight watchman at the soyabean processing plant. “If we’d had these prices, we’d have seen more people”, he adds. Read more

In his latest dispatch from the US, John McDermott tells of an unfortunate automobile accident – and a fortunate meeting. Read more

In his latest Note from the Heartland, John McDermott meets Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, a strident campaigner against illegal immigration.  Read more

Here are some pieces to chew over today:

Birds have become flashpoints in politics worldwide — today’s reads on our feathered friends and others:

 

Welcome to the round-up of news coverage of the US presidential election. There is a noticeable spring in the step of election pundits in the wake of the first presidential debate.

Yes, while political rune-readers and campaign commentators had been showing a rather lacklustre performance in recent days, the surprisingly interesting Denver dialogue has invigorated not just the campaign of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, but his backers in the newspaper columns too.

With no major polls taken since the debate, we are still in the kingdom of analysis, where the likes of George Will hold court. In the Washington Post, Will ripped into President Barack Obama for failing to prepare properly:

His vanity — remember, he gave Queen Elizabeth an iPod whose menu included two of his speeches — perhaps blinds him to the need to prepare. And to the fact that it is not lese-majeste to require him to defend his campaign ads’ dubious assertions with explanations longer than the ads. And to the ample evidence, such as his futile advocacy for Democratic candidates and Obamacare, that his supposed rhetorical gifts are figments of acolytes’ imagination.

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Here’s what got us chatting this morning:

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama duel during the first presidential debate

Photo: Getty

Good morning and welcome to the daily presidential election news coverage round-up. As the dust settles after last night’s opening debate between the candidates in Denver, the consensus is: first blood to Mitt Romney. The question is whether that will translate into helping the challenger narrow Barack Obama’s lead in the polls. That will take a day or two to emerge. But an immediate CNN poll gave the spoils emphatically to the Republican hopeful, with two-thirds of respondents deeming Romney the victor and only a quarter handing the bout to Obama.

After he came out aggressively in a debate that featured more sparring over economic policy detail than rhetorical pile-drivers, Politico.com concludes that:

What Romney definitely did was earn himself a second look from the slim pool of undecided and persuadable voters still considering their options, and give himself a tighter messaging framework to use, if he is able to, before the next debate in New York two weeks from now.

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Notes from the Heartland

I’m in Springfield, Missouri, the second stop on my tour through the American heartland. Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the headquarters of the local Republican party, trying to understand what its members think about the upcoming election and about the future of the country. In advance of the first presidential debate, which takes place tonight in Denver, one thing in particular struck me amid the electoral regalia and kind-hearted atmosphere of this Christian, conservative and friendly town.

The idea that America is polarised is a given across the political spectrum. There is a lot of truth in this, but often it gives rise to caricature. Read more

Here’s today’s menu for you:

Good morning and welcome to the round up of news coverage of the US presidential election and today’s campaign calendar from Politico.com just about says it all. It’s all about the debate, and the debate is: do debates make any difference?

A dress rehearsal, featuring students, is held in Denver for Wednesday's presidential debate (Getty Images)

Received wisdom is that debates rarely win an election, but they can lose one. For every candidate’s bull’s-eye, such as the great Ronald Reagan “There you go again”, there are a dozen awkward moments or barely-avoided catastrophes.

At the weekend, the New York Times told us that Mitt Romney, the Republican challenger was in possession of “a series of zingers that he has memorised and has been practising on aides since August”, but on Wednesday Dana Millbank in the Washington Post points out that a Zinger is in real life an item of confectionery stacked high in trans-fatty acids and other ingredients guaranteed to clog the arteries.

In an article making reference to “sugar rushes” and lack of fibre, Millbank writes:

At a time when even his fondest supporters are pleading for more substance, Mitt Romney is giving them the political equivalent of junk food. His has been the Zinger candidacy — all sugary platitudes, no protein.

In the Chicago Sun Times, Steve Huntley says President Barack Obama is open to being exposed as an emperor with no clothes in the Denver debate on Wednesday night. Read more