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US polls: Romney relied on hope, Obama on smart strategy

Last updated on: November 09, 2012 23:56 IST

How did US President Barack Obama manage to trump Mitt Romney despite his dismal record in the last four years?'s Bikash Mohapatra, who at the heart of all the action in Washington, DC, listens to what the experts have to say

Mitt Romney offered hope.

His successful tenure as the governor of Massachusetts and as the CEO of the Salt Lake Games (Winter Olympics) Organising Committee convinced many that he could steer America clear of the many problems it is facing at the moment.

The Republican Party candidate who was vying for the United States President's post also came up with a five-point plan to effect a recovery.

US President Barack Obama, on the other hand, could not exactly keep the promises he had made before being elected for his first term.

In his four-year tenure, he failed to bring down the unemployment rate and failed to stop the fiscal deficit from getting worse. Moreover, most of his policies were anything but popular.

Yet Romney lost.

More importantly, Obama's winning margin (332 – 206) clearly indicating that the race was not as close as it was meant to be, despite the Romney campaign spending millions and going all out.

So what worked in favour of Obama and against Romney?

"The Republican Party is a party in denial," explained Leonard Steinhorn, director (public communication division).

"They deny the facts and evidence of a changing society and changing culture," he continued, adding, "For Romney to think that America is not a diverse country is being in denial".

"The Democratic strategy was built on the acceptance of this reality and that helped them win," he said.

Eric Hershberg, director of the Centre for Latin American and Latino studies, agreed.

"A lot of the pundits associated with the Republicans assumed the Latino turnout won't match the numbers of 2008," he said, adding, "The opposite happened and Obama got about 75 per cent of that vote, with Romney getting only around 25 per cent".

"Also, the Romney campaign ran ads in Spanish attacking Obama's healthcare campaign without realising these programmes were popular among the Latino voters."

There were others who blamed it on the SuperPACs (Political Action Committees that campaign for or against a candidate), the latest fad in American electoral politics.

"There were more SuperPACs on the Republican side than the Democrats. And therein lay the problem," reasoned Candice Nelson, director (Campaign Management Institute).

"The Romney campaign couldn't control the SuperPACs," she explained, adding, "But the Obama campaign could raise and control the money as much as they could.

"The analytics they had was very sophisticated and there was extensive micro-targeting on their part. If you look at the money both the sides raised there won't be much of a difference. What mattered was the fact that the Obama campaign had the opportunity to go back to its supporters again and again and I think that is what got him re-elected," she said.

Some experts opined that the economy was not as bad as it is being perceived and as such the anti-incumbency factor was nullified.

"Things have changed a bit on the voter perception of the economy and where the country is going. There is no anger in the voter, as was the case in 2008," explained Dotty Lynch, a political consultant with CBS News.

"What the Obama campaign did was to target people on specific issues. So no need was felt for a change," she added.

Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union, opined that Romney's defeat was a huge setback for the Republicans.

"Romney was the strongest candidate the Republican Party has had in a long time," he said, before admitting, "But he truly underperformed.

"In fact he received two million votes less than (John) McCain did in 2008. If he had matched McCain's numbers he could have won," he said.

Despite being a Republican at heart, and consequently disappointed with the result, Cardenas was effusive in his praise for Obama.

"He (Obama) had a dismal record in the last four years, partly because of the state of the economy and partly because of his policies," he explained.

"But for the President to win under such circumstances, with our economy yet to recover, is a great performance," he added.

Bikash Mohapatra