United States

Oct 22, 2012

Rundle: prepare for a minority-voted president, America

Barack Obama continues to slide into the polls -- perhaps out of favour with the country overall. How will the US handle a president the majority of people didn't vote for?

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


With 24 hours until the final presidential debate, the race couldn’t be tighter. Whatever commanding lead Barack Obama enjoyed prior to the first debate has long gone, and his more respectable performance in the second debate failed to do anything other than stem the bleeding.

In September, Obama enjoyed solid leads, or a competitive position, in all swing states save for Indiana — a pseudo-swing state, which had jumped to the Democrats in 2008, for the first time since 1964. After the first debate, the numbers started to shift. One week after the event, it was clear North Carolina could be all but written off by the Democrats — Mitt Romney now enjoys a 4% lead there. Then Florida began to peel away — Romney now enjoys a 2-3% lead there, consistent across several polls. Virginia and Colorado moved in from Obama leads to a knife edge, and then New Hampshire, a solidly Democrat state with occasional cross-over, became a swing state.

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16 thoughts on “Rundle: prepare for a minority-voted president, America

  1. JonahBologna

    I think that Americans have already proven to be pretty prosaic about having a president that lost the popular vote. Remember Bush Jr. in 2000? 50,456,002 for Bush vs. 50,999,897 for Gore.

  2. Bondles

    The Dems never really forgave that, Jonah. And that was a President from the Grand Old Party – they’re born to rule anyway, so it was OK. The Fox News Right will be absolutely apoplectic if a minority-vote black Democrat gets elected.

    The National Popular Vote push is a cool solution, and half-way to its target. Seems like you need to work at a state level to get anything reasonable done in the States these days.

  3. michael crook

    Why are you persistently ignoring the history (and probable future) of voting fraud by courtesy of manipulable voting machines. This has been well documented as happening in Ohio in 2004, why have you not mentioned it? More why have you not made this fraud the subject of one of your feature articles on the election?

  4. David Heslin


    I enjoy your writing, but there were a few errors in today’s piece.

    1) Modern polling did not begin in 1948. Gallup has been conducting polls since the early 1930s.

    2) New Hampshire is hardly a safe State for Democratic presidential candidates.

    3) The political science literature indicates that voting in the United States is largely cultural for upper income voters. Poorer voters are much more likely to vote based on economic concerns. This is not to say that cultural issues are not a factor, but they are not the major one for these voters.

  5. max

    Michael I dont know if you saw the following on the weekend. Coincidence?

    Tagg Romney, the son of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, has purchased electronic voting machines that will be used in the 2012 elections in Ohio, Texas, Oklahoma, Washington and Colorado.

  6. Venise Alstergren

    What odds are the books quoting; or don’t the Americans have such an animal?

  7. Tony D'Ambra

    The view that “a wider transformation of social life — into an atomised order, in which the state and social institutions are the distant horizon of fragmented and partial social relations, rather than an imminent presence where people feel involved in the collective practices of national social life “, is a pretty big jump from the pollsters playing technological catch-up. You may be right, but a less passive electorate engaged via the new social media may be a God-send as well as a challenge.

  8. SusieQ

    How can an individual be ‘allowed’ to buy voting machines?? The great democracy? No way! Give me an AEC cardboard booth and a pencil anyday!

  9. michael crook

    Thanks Max, we actually did a road trip through the states in 2006 just before the midterms and stopped in Akron ohio which was the site of the late night queues we all saw on TV. At dinner with some guys from the uni there we were told that the Republican Governor who decided the voting system used had opted for the voting machines, the booths that voted republican in 2000 had lots of voting machines, the ones that voted democrat in 2000 had few, hence the queues. many voters got sick of waiting and went home. They also told of one booth in cleveland that in 2000 voted 1200 republican and 600 democrats. In 2004 voted 3000 republican and nil democrats.

  10. Guy Rundle


    1 – ok, gallup began in the 30s, telephone polling became the standard method in the 40s, hence the truman-dewey debacle

    2 – new hampshire has been democrat in 4 of the last 5 elections. it shifted from being solid republican in the early 90s, as part of the wider cultural/demographic shift

    3 – the notion that poor voters vote their interests is laughable – if they did the south would be solidly for Obama.

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