Strong turnout reported in critical US presidential election

06 November 2012 19:52  [Source: ICIS news]

Strong turnout reported in critical US presidential electionWASHINGTON (ICIS)--Very strong turnout was being reported on Tuesday throughout the eastern US as Americans began to vote in the nation’s quadrennial presidential election, with voters waiting two and three hours in key swing states to cast their ballots.

As voting began on Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, were almost evenly matched in nationwide polls, each showing 49% support among likely voters.

In addition to choosing who will occupy the White House for the next four years, voters will decide contests for all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and about a third of the 100 Senate seats.

Gubernatorial contests also are being decided in most of the 50 US states along with thousands of other state-level and local elections for legislatures, municipal governments and scores of special ballot items on government bond issues and social matters such as state-sanctioned marriage for same-sex couples.

As many as 135m Americans are expected to vote in this year’s hotly contested election, about 65% of the nation’s estimated 205m eligible voters.

Voters in as many as eight key swing states – states not seen as clearly for one presidential candidate or the other – are reported to be lined up a polling stations by the hundreds, with waits as long as three hours in Florida and two hours and more in Virginia.

Among the swing states, according to polling firm Rasmussen Reports, are New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The outcome of voting in all 50 states will not be known until late Tuesday night or even Wednesday morning.  Polls in most US western states will not close until 1900 hours Pacific time (0300 GMT Wednesday).

But with polls closing at 1900 hours in most eastern states (midnight GMT), some early indications of how the presidential race is playing out might be known earlier.

For example, in most recent polling Obama was leading Romney by two percentage points in the small north-eastern state of New Hampshire. Even that narrow polling lead falls within the margin of error for such unofficial voter sampling. 

In addition, Romney has a home in New Hampshire and is considered something of a “native son”.  If Romney overcomes Obama’s narrow lead and wins New Hampshire, that could signal the beginning of a trend for the challenger.

Early results from other eastern swing states, especially Florida and Virginia, could say much about overall voter sentiment in the nation. If Romney is to win the White House, he must seize the popular vote in both Florida and Virginia.

Conventional wisdom says that if instead Obama wins those two key battleground states, it is unlikely that Romney could amass enough votes in the remaining half-dozen or so swing states to become the nation’s 45th chief executive.

Broadly speaking, US business interests, including most chemical and resins manufacturers, have urged a change of command in the White House, charging that Obama's policies have hurt domestic energy production and otherwise held back the economic recovery.

By: Joe Kamalick
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