Abroad , Obama inherits the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a severely weakened reputation for the United States. The election of Obama has in itself begun to strengthen the reputation, and the clear opposition first to the war in Iraq and then to torture contributes in the same direction. The fact that Obama has said that he will focus on diplomacy and cooperation rather than armed force, partly in relations with Iran, but also reportedly towards Hamas, also gives positive attention in the world and perhaps especially in the Middle East. In the Middle East, Obama has recently criticized his predecessors for waiting too long to be active, signaling that he will take initiatives relatively quickly.
In general, Obama has indicated a more multilateral line than Bush stood for, especially during his first term in office. In addition, many hope that the United States will now become more active in the environmental fight and non-proliferation work. However, it should not be underestimated that Obama has signaled that he will use US military force if he feels that the US national interests are threatened, preferably with multilateral support, but also unilaterally if necessary.
6: 2008 election: a watershed?
The election of Obama was historic in part because an African-American man was elected president, but also because Democrats, for the first time since the 1960s, gained a broad majority behind their candidate. The election in 2008 may stand as a watershed in retrospect. Obama also goes to work with historically high support and high expectations. It’s easy to see that he has to disappoint someone – not everyone can be made fun of. However, there are many indications that Obama will have slightly longer wheat bread days than is usual for presidents. Both internally in the US and in the rest of the world, the awareness of the challenges he faces is great, and both at home and abroad he can float for a while on what was perhaps his most important advantage in the election – that he is not George W. Bush.
The Bradley effect
The Bradley effect – an explanation for why there is sometimes a big difference between opinion polls and election results. Assumption that some white voters in political polls respond based on what they think the pollster expects. In the election itself – and outside the pollster’s gaze – they dare to vote more easily based on their own prejudices and may be racist notions of black candidates. In this way, opinion polls can give an incorrect and too positive picture of how strong a black candidate is. Bradley was a black candidate to become governor of California (USA) who was long ahead of the polls, but still lost the election.
Primary election and party congress
- Primary elections are “elections before the election” – an initial round of elections in which candidates compete to be nominated as a candidate for their party in the presidential election itself. Primary elections can be both open and closed , and they are held in the state in the first half of the year – from January to June – the same year as the presidential election. A closed election is only for voters with a registered party affiliation; in open elections, everyone can participate. Caucus (in 10-12 states (D), slightly more among R) is – a kind of local general meeting for party members and people who have declared themselves party supporters – a special variant of primary election, which is sometimes referred to as party nomination.
- Party Congress: The result in each state (Republicans distribute more according to the “winner take all principle”, Democrats more proportionally) determines how many delegates the individual candidate has behind them at the national party congress after the primary elections in the states are over. The states (and some others) send different numbers of delegates to Congress – the larger the state the more. To the Democratic convention, California sent 370 delegates, North Dakota 13. Therefore, it is important for the candidates to win in large populous states. Republicans mainly operate with fewer delegates from the states and thus at the party congress.
- Even before the party congress, it is often clear for a long time who will be the party’s presidential candidate. To a large extent, the congress has therefore had the function of marking the strength and unity behind the party’s presidential candidate.
About the election in the United States
- Right to vote: Anyone over the age of 18 can vote if they are registered and do not have a criminal record. In order to be able to vote, a person entitled to vote must also have registered in the electoral roll.
- Voters: On November 4, 538 voters (and women) were elected in 51 state elections (50 states and the capital, Washington DC). See map p. 3 for the number of voters per state.
- A candidate must have at least 270 electoral votes to be elected. Elections in 2008: Obama: 365, McCain: 173
- Formally and according to the constitution, the president and vice president are elected by the electors who meet the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. In 2008: on 15.12.
- The winner gets everything: In 48 states as well as the capital Washington DC, the voters vote as the majority of the people in their state did – in other words, the winner gets everything. Only in Nebraska and Maine are voters elected proportionally.
- Barack Obama becomes the 44th President of the United States, a country located in North America according to extrareference.