I remember staying up all night on November 4, 2008, to watch the election of Obama, sleepily aware of the historic nature of the moment. There was so much expectation and excitement. The extreme anti-Bush and pro-Obama feeling was clear cut and emotionally charged.
This year, November 4 will once again see the American nation deciding between a Democrat or a Republican leader, but in the wake of the anti-climax of Obama’s election it is likely to be a more nuanced and difficult decision than the one made in 2008. Many feel their high hopes that Obama would abolish the torture camp in Guantanamo Bay and bring troops home rather than get involved in more military action in Libya, amongst other things, have not been met. Support for Obama certainly feels more tentative than it did a few years ago. Over the course of the coming months, the various Republican candidates will be narrowed down, until the most popular goes head to head with Obama for Presidency.
The first round of voting in Iowa on January 3 resulted in a list of seven Republican candidates (although Michele Bachmann has since pulled out, leaving the other six to battle it out between them). These are the ones to watch – one of them will be running for President in November (in order of most votes):
So what do you need to know about the candidates? Mitt Romney is generally seen as the boring or safe option, and Rick Santorum is a neo-conservative with unpopular views on gay marriage, amongst other things. Ron Paul is a bit of a wild card who doesn’t really fit the typical Republican mould – CNN and other American media outlets seem to have given him less coverage than other candidates, despite his popularity, and so he has developed a reputation for being ‘ignored’ by the media. He’s probably the most interesting candidate. (Oh, and Michele Bachmann? She was kind of like the new Sarah Palin.) Nothing like a bit of Saturday Night Live to explain American politics.