Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Duper Tuesday arrives in the US

Nearly half the United States is voting today in what has been dubbed Super Duper Tuesday as contenders for the Presidential candidate battle it out. Twenty four states are voting to decide who will stand for president for the two main parties. It has become a two horse race for the Democrats after John Edwards pulled out last week saying, “It’s time for me to sep step aside, so that history can, so that so that history can blaze its path”.

On the Republican side John McCain remains the favourite, though Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney are still in the running. The American election process is perhaps the most complex and longest running procedure in the entire democratic world. In the UK after an election is declared there is little under a month of campaigning before voters go to the polls. But in the US campaigning starts almost as soon as the preceding election finishes. The procedure does not however get into full swing until a little over a year before the Presidential election. After candidates have put themselves forward as a presidential candidate there then follows several weeks of Live television debates before voters are given their chance to endorse their favourite in either caucuses or primaries. Every state sets its own dates for the primaries which is the reason why the election for a presidential candidate is not held on the same day across the whole country. In addition, there are different rules governing how the votes are counted, either proportionally or as “a winner takes all” count; again depending too on which party.

It is not surprising that those outside the US glaze over as they try to understand the complicated procedures involved. Saturation coverage has been given over to the various primaries and caucuses. Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room on CNN has given in depth coverage throughout the campaign. But the BBC and Sky News in the UK have also given much time over to the ongoing voting process. But besides the in depth coverage, lists of statistics, points of view, charts and diagrams, to many people it is as clear as mud.

The election has revolved around many issues, but it is the economy and the war in Iraq that are the most important in the minds of many Americans. More superficially there is the subject of race, age and gender as the first black contender battles against the first female presidential hopeful on the Democratic side whilst the oldest candidate leads in the polls for the Republicans.

CNN conducted interviews on the streets of Harlem in New York where it found many black Americans torn between Clinton and Obama. Overall many polls show the two candidates neck and neck, but polls have been wrong before [Maps and in depth coverage - BBC / Sky News / CNN].

The final words come from Jon Stewart as he returned to CNN International’s weekly slot of the Daily Show, which had been dropped from schedules for several weeks due to the writers strike. That dispute is still ongoing, but the Daily Show Global Edition has returned nonetheless. The programme broadcast on CNNi, made up of a series of clips from the weeks output in the US, started this week with coverage of the last State of the Union address by the 43rd US President, George W Bush. The satirical show picked up first on Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush’s similar attire. Both were wearing bright red dresses. His outgoing, but little talked about address, was summed up by Jon Stewart as being a “weird, ugly, utterly subdued, insincere State of the Union”. Moving onto the election, which on the Daily Show was dubbed “Indecision 2008”, the discussion hinged around Edwards’ failure to put his backing behind either of the remaining Democratic contenders before making light of Rudy Giuliani’s failed campaign. “He put all of his eggs in the Florida basket” a TV news clip said, “and now they are beginning to crack”. Jon Stewart quipped in, “I guess the yolk’s on Giuliani, whose dreams have been poached by other eggstrordinary candidates”. The audience groaned as Stewart adds his “career was now scrambled”. If your mind hasn’t yet been scrambled by the incessant coverage of the US election there will be further coverage to numb your mind on all the major networks tonight.

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