i Editor's Letter: Is the UK mainstream media obsessed with US politics?


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The Independent Online


Some readers — just a few, mind — have written to say they are not as obsessed with the US election as they believe the mainstream media is. Do they have a point? Like everything else to do with America, because of its sheer size, the volume of money ($2bn!), ads, stump meetings, debates, candidates, advisers, volunteers, badges and other paraphernalia can seem overwhelming.

Cutting through this to get to the nub of the matter after two years-plus of electioneering (if you count the Republican race) can be a real slog. We have tried to do so in order that you do not. Trying to do so without overt bias complicates matters. It is extraordinary how pro-Obama the UK press is — to a degree it could never be towards a Prime Minister, even a Tory one, certainly not the one we have.

Last time round 131.1m people turned out — that's 58.2 per cent of the electorate, compared with 65.1 per cent in our previous general election. But this vast vote will be decided by a few swing states: Ohio, Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin — all, bar Florida, holding relatively few electoral college votes. A crazy system? Who are we to talk about voting systems?

My fascination is the candidates' need to be such chameleons because no one person can today satisfy all competing interest groups by simply being themselves (see Amol Rajan, p14). Hence Obama playing a tough guy, and Romney playing whatever role in whichever state suits him — he is much more moderate than he has portrayed himself. I believe both to be decent men at heart, it's just that I believe one of their hearts to be cold and dead!

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