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United States: Obama leading comfortably ahead of November elections

September 26, 2012

On 6 November, the United States will hold presidential and congressional elections. Currently, polls suggest that President Barack Obama will be re-elected by obtaining around 49% of the popular vote, which would translate into 347 electoral votes, ahead of Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney, who would attain 45% of votes (191 electoral votes). Under the American electoral system, a certain number of electoral votes are assigned to each of the country's 50 states based on their population, with a candidate needing to secure a minimum of 270 votes in order to be elected president. As the vote in a majority of states is usually clearly defined towards one of the two parties ahead of the ballot, presidential elections are typically decided by the results in the so-called "swing states", in which differences in vote between the Democratic and Republican parties are rather small. With President Obama currently holding a wide lead in most of those states, he appears set for re-election by a comfortable margin. The Republican Party, however, is expected to maintain its majority in in the 435-seat House of Representatives, where, according to polls, Republicans will secure a minimum of 229 seats. Finally, the outcome of the Senate race - where only a third of the seats are up for re-election and where the Democratic Party currently holds a slim majority - remains too close to call. If the Republican Party was to obtain a majority in one or both of the two houses of Congress, this would lead to what is known as a "divided government", therefore increasing the possibility of a political stalemate in the country. With the so-called "fiscal cliff" - a series of major tax breaks and spending programmes running out on 31 December which amount to some USD 600 billion - looming, the economic outlook for 2013 remains overshadowed by the political situation in the coming months.


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