US Elections - Exclusive interview with Mark Mardell | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

US Elections – Exclusive interview with Mark Mardell

Interview and article by Evie Ryan The U

Interview and article by Evie Ryan
The U.S presidential election is merely a few days away.

After months of planning, campaigning and rallying there is no clear front-runner. President Barack Obama has been unable to maintain support for his ‘hope’ and ‘change’ agenda that lead to his success in the 2008 polls. Instead he has been matched in popularity by Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Governor Romney’s early race was dominated by gaffes, as shown by his much documented trip to London prior to the Olympics Games.

Romney has managed to scrape back support while Obama has struggled to outshine him. The recent three debates marked a turning point in the polls. Nothing remarkable occurred, other than in the first clash on 3 October debate when President Obama did not give the fight the public was expecting. Now the candidates are literally neck to neck in the polls; each currently hold 48% of the popular vote as of 4th November.

With less than a week to go, the next few days alone matter more than the last months put together.

There are many factors which make up a US Presidential election campaign. The BBC’s North American Editor, Mark Mardell, gives Redbrick an exclusive insider’s view from the election trail. Redbrick conducted a Twitter-style interview, with each answer limited to 140 characters.

What is the current political mood, and how does this compare to the mood four years ago?
Uncertain, doubtful, unimpressed with politics – only diehards are excited.
Does this vary much state to state?
No, but community to community. Black Americans are more patient, take a long view of history.
If at all, how has the Obama presidency impacted political behaviour in the US so far?
It has sharpened the divide and his inability to bring all sides on board has undermined faith in politics.
What has been Obama's greatest strength and greatest weakness during the campaign?
Weakness – lack of zing, lack of new vision.
Strength – Dogged defence of his record. Good jokes.
What has been Romney's greatest strength and greatest weakness during the campaign?
The ability to evolve from a clumsy candidate into almost presidential.
In your view, have this year's polls been a good indicator of how each candidate is performing and why?
I think so – the first debate seemed a turning point.
What do you think has been the most prominent issue during this election cycle and why?
Jobs. The fear of being out of work drives insecurity about the economy. But character too.
Why do you think the race has been so close so far?
Obama has disappointed, Romney hasn’t impressed. The country is bitterly divided.
Has the role of the media in the election process changed since 2008 and, if so, how?
Tweet, tweet, drives consensus. Slicker and quicker than cable TV.
Do you believe the drive to get the public voting early will have an effect?
It’s important and it’s happening. Could give Obama an edge.
Are there any important political developments some Americans may have overlooked while focusing their attention on the presidential race?
I’d need 140 pages to list them all. It feels very blinkered, very 20th century.
Finally, are you as excited about reporting and documenting the next four years as you were this time in 2008? How is it different?
Yes – the narrative unfolds . Obama is as fascinating as Hamlet. Can’t want for act 2.


4th November 2012 at 11:52 am

Last Updated

5th November 2012 at 8:34 pm