The U.S. elections 2012 – What do they mean for Europe?

24 May 2012

“The US presidential campaign is currently in a lull. [Likely Republican challenger Mitt] Romney and [US President Barack] Obama are shadow-boxing ahead of presumed nomination later this year,” said David Mark, senior editor of Politico.

“Now they’re working on putting together Electoral College support. Both candidates are forgoing public funding in favour of raising private support – this means that a lot of the discussions are in private,” said Mark.

“Very few states are actually contested, so campaigning won’t even take place there, except to raise money. Just a handful of states are contested, in which around 40% will vote Democrat and 40% will vote Republican. So you’re effectively competing over 20% of the vote in a handful of states,” he explained.

“The debate is mainly on national issues, for example domestic concerns like the economy and health care. But that doesn’t mean that foreign policy won’t come into it,” he said.

“We’re approaching the anniversary of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, which had been a major goal of US foreign policy for years, under several administrations,” Mark pointed out.

“Obama kept quiet about it at the time because he plans to use it now. Obama’s Bin Laden ad is about as unsubtle as you can get. Romney’s [ads] are exaggerated too. But voters are used to untangling all this to get at the truth,” he said.

Describing France as “the Greece of US politics,” Mark said “US politicians use Greece as an example of what happens if you spend too much”. “France is now being bashed for rejecting austerity,” he explained.

“Any sitting president will have a limited set of policy options regarding China and Europe. But the tone of the campaign is set by the challenger. Reality is somewhat different for whoever is president,” Mark said.