How to follow the US Election: A guide for Australian women

06 Nov 2012

Update: As polls begin to close and numbers are counted, here are the sites to check back for the most comprehensive coverage 

Scenarios to the White House - The possible paths to victory for both candidates - New York Times

Live Blog: The 2012 Presidential Election- Nate Silver's up to the minute live blog with data-driven analysis, FiveThirtyEight, New York Times

Check out Amber Jamieson over on our sister publication Crikey, who's live blogging election day

Antony Green's ABC election blog is great for Australians to follow

Follow the live map on Huffington Post to see which states go red or blue based on popular vote

Mother Jones and The Daily Beast have joined up and are compiling a map to track voter suppression and issues voting around the country

By close of business Wednesday afternoon local time, all votes for the next President of the United States of America should be in. POTUS Barack Obama and his adversary Mitt Romney are doing all they can to secure a very tight race: kissing babies, consoling victims of Hurricane Sandy and handing out flyers in the final hours of a long, fierce campaign.

And what a campaign it's been – especially for women. First Lady Michelle Obama and First-Lady-Hopeful Ann Romney have been front and centre for months, helping to win over the women who vote (Americans have only recently discovered that "the female vote" is crucial). Reproductive rights, abortion and parenthood have been critically important issues.

This collection of conversation-starters should prepare you for the election debrief, at home and in the office.

What's happening in the polls
Polls in the US suggest that this presidential race is neck-and-neck, but Obama has a modest lead on Romney today. Of course it depends which polls you watch, and whether you believe in polls as an accurate projection of voter behaviour.

7-Eleven stores around the US swear by their polling method of selling blue and red coffee cups - Obama supporters buy blue, Romney supporters buy red. As of today, Obama is leading the Coffee Cup Count with 59% to Romney's 41%.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll puts Obama at 48% and Romney at 47% nationally.

At the time of publication, Sportsbet has the following odds: Democrats $1.22 Republicans $4.33 and Other $61.

According to the Rutger Centre for American Women in Politics, more women vote for Obama and more men vote for Romney.

When satire is better than the news

Two of the finest election commentators also happen to be professionally funny men. Jon Stewart, anchor of The Daily Show, is a self-described short Jewish man who openly votes Democrat. Stephen Colbert, anchor of the Colbert Report, poses as a Republican to deliver impossibly clever commentary as a faux-insider. Stewart recently interview Barack Obama for the second time, and routinely invites senators, governors and celebrities on as guests. Colbert covers similar ground, but his satire is so pitch-perfect he's often mistaken for a genuine Republican.

Stewart and Colbert cut through the election coverage with such succinct wit, you may want to forgo all Fox News or MNSBC coverage in favour of the Comedy Channel.

Memorable moments

When Obama coined the term 'Romnesia'
Romnesia: (n) A condition which causes someone to explicitly contradict their own stance on a political issue; the willful erasing of one's memory to gain political advantage.

When Clint Eastwood lectured an invisible President on matters of national security

(Click the image to watch the video)

When Mitt Romney introduced the phrase "binders full of women"

When Lena Dunham made this amazing ad for the Obama campaign, and scandalized conservatives worldwide:

When a little girl called Abigail became inconsolable about "Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney" (and then NPR apologised to the little girl stating "we must confess, the campaign's gone on long enough for us, too")

Celebrity endorsements

For Obama
Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres, Cher, Eva Longoria, George Clooney, Mariah Carey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce Knowles, Leonardo DiCaprio, Salma Hayek, Alicia Keys, Neil Patrick Harris, Ricky Martin, Tobey Maguire, Jane Lynch, Gwen Stefani, Steven Speilberg, Jada Pinkett Smith, Katy Perry, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Tom Hanks, Jessica Alba.

For Romney
Clint Eastwood (and his empty chair), Kid Rock, Gene Simmons, Chuck Norris, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Voigt, Donald Trump, Trace Adkins, Orson Bean.

Election Watch: How to follow the results

Antony Green's ABC election blog is great for Australians to follow, because it puts the race in our time zone. He'll also be hosting ABC News 24's election coverage today and tomorrow.

Rolling coverage on SBS starts at 1pm ADST, and you can live stream it here

Get the results in your inbox with a special edition of Crikey ( Women's Agenda sister publication, paid subs only).

The Huffington Post is running a really helpful, colour-coordinated visual breakdown of the presidential race. Here you'll find a map

The BBC has typically excellent, comprehensive coverage

When you're at work, the easiest and most subtle way to follow the election is on Twitter.

Best to follow these key players and commentators to keep up to date:



















Battle of the First Ladies
Given the amount of coverage Michelle Obama and Ann Romney have had recently, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the position of First Lady was also open for voting.

At the Democratic and Republican National Convention respectively, M Obama and A Romney shared the moments they first fell in love with their husbands, spoke about their daughters' futures and openly courted the female vote. They dressed in bold colours and stood by their men - deliberately visible, powerful and feminine. Here are the videos, and an excerpt from each speech on the subject of love.

Michelle Obama's Speech

(Click the image to watch the video)

"Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids. Barack knows the American Dream because he's lived it...and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we're from, or what we look like, or who we love.

And he believes that when you've worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of do not slam it shut behind reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.

So when people ask me whether being in the White House has changed my husband, I can honestly say that when it comes to his character, and his convictions, and his heart, Barack Obama is still the same man I fell in love with all those years ago.

He's the same man who started his career by turning down high paying jobs and instead working in struggling neighborhoods where a steel plant had shut down, fighting to rebuild those communities and get folks back to work...because for Barack, success isn't about how much money you make, it's about the difference you make in people's lives."

Ann Romney's Speech

(Click the image to watch the video)

"I'm not sure if men really understand this, but I don't think there's a woman in America who really expects her life to be easy. In our own ways, we all know better!

And that's fine. We don't want easy. But these last few years have been harder than they needed to be. It's all the little things — that price at the pump you just can't believe, the grocery bills that just get bigger; all those things that used to be free, like school sports, are now one more bill to pay. It's all the little things that pile up to become big things. And the big things — the good jobs, the chance at college, that home you want to buy, just get harder. Everything has become harder.

We're too smart to know there aren't easy answers. But we're not dumb enough to accept that there aren't better answers.

And that is where this boy I met at a high school dance comes in. His name is Mitt Romney and you really should get to know him. I could tell you why I fell in love with him — he was tall, laughed a lot, was nervous — girls like that, it shows the guy's a little intimidated — and he was nice to my parents but he was really glad when my parents weren't around."

Further Reading

How Americans elect their presidents and why Ohio is so important this year - Professor Joshua A Tucker for Aljazeera

The Voter Fraud Myth - Jane Mayer for The New Yorker

Obama and Romney stay silent on climate change, the biggest issue of all - George Monbiot for The Guardian

How Romney would treat women - Nicholas D. Kristof for The New York Times

Kate Leaver

Kate Leaver is a journalist, columnist and radio producer.

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