Commentary and opinion on national and regional politics by Seema Malhotra

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

How will America vote?

Tuesday 4th November 9am.
It’s a bright day in San Francisco. The torrential rain is holding off, and the papers are predicting record turnout in today’s general election. I’m expecting to see legions of people around town wearing the official “I’ve voted” sticker – as the nation goes to the polls.
I heard this morning some interesting views from a neutral but well informed American entrepreneur – the sort of person who embodies the American dream. He has been struck by the how close the two candidates are in the politics – more closely aligned on the middle ground than the country has seen for a long time – and surprising when you consider how divided the country has been.
Perhaps, of course, not that surprising in one way, as you consider where the real battle is likely to be – around the middle ground. However he therefore “liked them both” – though what concerned him most about Obama was whether the was really experienced enough to be President. I understand that isn’t to devalue the hugely developed political skills he does have of oratory, debate and connection. It is just to state a fact, that brings with it a risk factor that votes have to assess for themselves.
This same voter talked about how he has had cause to go to Alaska in recent years and how he has been aware of Palin for some time. Longer than the masses.
And has been impressed by her confidence and tenacity in standing up to corporate oil forces. There aren’t many who will have had a view about her before the elections. And what this clearly shows – albeit from one view of an informed and respected citizen who in his own way is an opinion former, is that the fault lines of this election, even a day before or on the day of poll, remain incredibly close to call.