Leading article: Decision day for a nation emerging from Bush's shadow

Share
Related Topics

There has never been a "Super Tuesday" like it. Voters in 19 US states will today decide the allocation of their delegates to the party conventions this summer. There will be Democrat-only votes in three more states and Republican-only contests in another two. In all, there will be voting in 24 states, with the biggest prizes being California and New York – states big enough and rich enough to be countries in their own right.

What makes today so special, though, is not just the record number of states voting, but the level of engagement of the voters and the likely record turn-outs. With both party contests still open, despite the exceptionally early start to the electoral season, there are compelling reasons for everyone who has a vote to use it.

Connections and dollars may dictate who gets a chance to run for President at all, but so – at this crucial stage – do rank-and-file party supporters. It is they who will decide whose name eventually appears on the ballot paper. The primary campaigns are by way of being the ultimate interview process for the party's nominee. Voters will choose not necessarily the individual they prefer as a person – although some will do this – but the one they think would make the strongest candidate for President. On this make-or-break day, voters might make a different choice from the one they would have made earlier in the primary season.

For the Republicans, "Super Tuesday" looks likely to be decisive. As the campaign has progressed, John McCain has been able to recover some of the straight-talking glitz that won over such a broad swathe of primary voters in 2000. Whether it reflects regret over the preference given to George Bush in 2000, hesitation about the national electoral prospects of a Mormon, or the simple fact that Mitt Romney's campaign has so far failed to catch alight, today is looking increasingly like the former Massachusetts governor's last stand.

If this turns out to be so, however, Mr Romney can reasonably share the blame for his failure with George Bush. Mr McCain's growing advantage in recent weeks has been that he has come across as the furthest – in character and policies – from the outgoing President. He may have supported the "surge" in Iraq, but he publicly disagreed with Mr Bush over the "lighter, nimbler" force dispatched – on Donald Rumsfeld's advice – to effect regime-change. On the environment and many – but by no means all – areas of social policy, he is someone who could plausibly take on either of the duellists fighting for the Democratic nomination.

One early conclusion from the primaries is that whoever wins the White House – Republican or Democrat – will not be a proxy third-term George Bush. American voters are clearly impatient to see the back of him. That probably bodes well for the future direction of US foreign policy and may help to explain the excitement with which this campaign is being followed abroad.

The other reason, of course, is the vivid, all-American cast of characters. The promise of the first woman or first black American to head a US presidential ticket is epoch-making in itself. But the frenetic pace and switchback nature of the Democratic contest has shown off the US election process at its thrilling best.

This was the earliest start to a presidential campaign ever, yet it has many – in the US and elsewhere – hoping that it will not end when the counts in the 24 primary states are over in the early hours of tomorrow morning. With the polls for the Democratic primaries narrowing all the time, we dare to hope that the race will go on – perhaps even to the party convention in Denver at the end of August.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high