ForUm has decided to ask Russian political analyst Nikolai Pakhomov, working in US, about the main surprises of the presidential election 2012 in America, about probable staff rotations in the administration and first steps to be taken by the president re-elect.
- Even before the election, we heard that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama had equal chances. What was the decisive factor, which allowed Obama to win more votes?
- In fact, the whole campaign and results were easy to forecast long before the election. It was obvious that Romney was focused on specific categories of the population, namely on white older people, which are minority in US, thus it was impossible to win only with their support. Far seeing republicans knew that Romney could not bite more than he can chew and expressed their critical warnings long before the Election Day.
- However, on the eve of the elections American sociologists did not dare to forecast the result. Why?
- The fact is that due to zillion of public polls, the informational buzz confused journalists, voters and even workers of Obama and Romney campaign headquarters. It seemed that the situation was complicated.
Moreover, don't forget that in American election system any factor can become decisive for the results, for example the vote of one of so-called undecided states. Obama was the favorite of the race, and still it seemed surprises were possible. In fact, surprises indeed came around. Firstly, Obama's poor speech during debates made impression Romney had bigger chances. Secondly, separate republicans suddenly turned to social and cultural issues, like abortions, birth control, rape. Their statements were aimed at radical voters and pushed off ordinary people, which helped Obama. Thirdly, it was the most expensive elections in American history, too much even for American economy. Most probably, further elections will go up in cost even more.
- Is it true that Obama's active position during liquidation of Sandy hurricane's aftermath helped him to win the race?
- Of course, Obama's active actions and his readiness to help ordinary people brought him extra points, and his team played this card. However, he did not do something extraordinary. He was doing his job. Moreover, local authorities of cities and states did just as much, especially New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who took it as a personal tragedy.
I can tell you that New York has almost been restored. There are still problems with electricity and heating, but the authorities promise to resume supplies within the next days.
- American TV broadcast news about long lines at voting stations. Was it because of the storm?
- Indeed, the longest lines were at the storm-zone polling stations. The authorities had to combine five, eight or even nine stations together. There were problems with voting papers, and in some districts republicans tried to obstruct the voting process. They knew that less education and secured people would vote for Obama, thus they tried to put a spoke in the wheel there.
- How has America taken the victory of Obama?
- The country is split in two parts. Those who supported Obama are celebrating. However, there is a third group of people, small but powerful, which state that the country is in crisis, that current institutions cannot solve the problem and that people had to choose between two weak candidates. More and More Americans say they are disappointed, and not because Romney lost, but because the economic situation is difficult.
- State Secretary Hilary Clinton said earlier that even in case of Obama's victory she would leave her post. Who may take her place?
- Indeed, long before the elections Clinton said she might resign, but recently she dropped a hint that anything might happen. Anyway, I believe she would leave. Among possible candidates for State Secretary position there is Susan Rice, current United States Ambassador to the United Nations, who is emerging as the favored candidate to succeed Hillary Clinton. Rice remains close to President Barack Obama and shares many of his views on foreign policy. However, her reputation has been compromised with recent remarks on Libya, attack. Rice was sent out in the days after the Benghazi, Libya, attacks to explain the administration’s view of the crisis. Clearly almost everything she said was untrue, and republicans have criticized her for misinformation.
Former candidate for presidency, senior United States Senator from Massachusetts John Kerry also has good chances to take the seat of State Secretary. He has a lot of experience in foreign affairs and he was helping Obama in current presidential campaign, in particular preparing him for the debates and playing the role of Romney.
General David Petraeus, former commander U.S. Central Command and CIA director, also had good chances to get the post, but it was before the scandal around his personal life and extramarital affairs. On November 9, 2012 he resigned and Obama accepted the resignation.
- Taking into account current economic situation, what are the first steps Obama might take as re-elected president?
- It's hard to say, because even if he thinks of something effective and very right, he won't be able to realize it easily, as republicans still control the lower chamber of Congress. Though democrats have the majority in Senate, it is not enough to overcome a veto of republicans. Moreover, at the beginning of 2013 taxes may rise immensely, which will hot both American and world economy.
A number of taxes have been suspended from coming into force till January 1, 2013, and the authorities must decide whether to prolong concessions and for what categories of population. If Congress does not take any decision, taxes will increase automatically and for all. Republicans stand for prolongation of concessions for all categories of population, while Obama's administration suggest to keep rebates only for those Americans, whose annual income does not exceed 250 thousand dollars. There in information that democrats agree on a compromise - namely to keep rebates for those, whose annual income is under one million dollars, but rumors say republicans do not agree even with such approach.
- Apart from economic issues, Republican Party has other things to work on, like to analyze their mistakes...
- We will hear soon the propositions on the future of the Republican Party. The fact is that republicans are in a difficult situation and do not have enough support to compete with democrats. Republicans will have to do some serious work in order not to become the party of vanishing groups of society.
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