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Barack Obama Inauguration Address 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

President Barack Obama's second Inauguration Address presented as a word cloud.

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Obama and the economy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Politics students may not always be avid readers of the Economist so a heads up on a feature in this week’s edition that may be of interest:

“WILL the next presidential election see Barack Obama return triumphantly to the White House for a second term as president of the world’s biggest economy? Or will a sluggish economic recovery, which has left over 14m Americans out of work, doom him to defeat in November 2012?

Models of the way economic factors affect presidential elections already exist. The best known was developed in the late 1970s by Ray Fair, an economist at Yale, who used macroeconomic indicators (such as inflation and the growth rate of income per person) to predict the vote share of the two main parties in subsequent elections. Mr Fair most recently updated his estimates at the end of July, when his model predicted a victory for Mr Obama in 2012 with 53.4% of the vote. In releasing his predictions, however, he noted that “a strong rebound results in a fairly solid Obama victory…and a double-dip recession…results in a fairly solid Republican victory.” Democratic hearts will have skipped a beat or two on hearing Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, say on October 4th that the recovery was “close to faltering”.

But is it right to focus exclusively on macroeconomic indicators?”

Interested? Read more here.

Obama’s political history told through YouTube

Thursday, September 22, 2011


This is not intended to be an exhaustive journey through Barack Obama’s career, but instead to end the series on Politics via YouTube by bringing blog readers access to a step by step tour of some key points in the story of an individual with the kind of charisma and oratorical skill that comes around perhaps only once in several generations.

I have tried wherever possible to link to versions with the best combination of audio visual quality.

Put some time aside, and enjoy…

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White House 2012

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Voter perceptions of economic performance and the link with the White House incumbent are a large driver of elections.

And a new poll by CNN says that just one in three Americans think Obama is doing a good job of handling the economy, suggesting that it is going to take a miracle between now and next November if Obama is not going to be a one term president.

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A Level Politics eBook - Representative Processes in the USA - US Parties

Friday, July 15, 2011

The second in a new series of A Level Politics eBooks by Andrew Ellams examines the core specification topics related to US political parties.

Download sample pages from the US Parties eBook

Order this and other A Level Politics resources from tutor2u (download order form)

Order online from our ecommerce resource store

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A Level Politics eBook - Representative Processes in the USA - US Elections

This superb new eBook by Andrew Ellams, available now from tutor2u, provides comprehensive coverage of the key exam topics on US`elections.  Details of the content is provided further below.

Download sample pages from the US`Elections eBook

Order this and other A Level Politics resources from tutor2u (download order form)

Order online from our ecommerce resource store

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A solution to Obama’s gay problem?

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A good update on my posting about where camp Obama is on gay marriage.

In the Post, here

Evaluating the presidential candidate selection system

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

This is a reposting of a blog entry I put up in January of 2008. The basic framework still applies, and maybe as a revision exercise students could update the arguments with a more recent example or two!

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One for the Gipper

Monday, February 14, 2011

A great doc on Reagan is still avaliable on iplayer. The second half is strong on the strategies employed by Reagan as President in an attempt to fulfil the expectations that American people have of the POTUS.

Here is the link.

Gun crime USA

Friday, January 14, 2011

I’m sure the Arizona shootings have provoked fierce debate about the rights and wrongs of gun ownership in the USA in classes this week, as they have mine.

Here is some data on gun laws internationally.

And in case you haven’t seen it, or want to watch it again, here is Obama’s speech at a memorial in Tuscon. Arguably this is Obama’s best oration since he was inaugurated.

Both items are taken from the Guardian’s excellent US gun crime page.

Obama and gay rights

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I penned an article for t2u’s digital Politics magazine FPTP on this topic some months back, but events in Congress this week merit revisiting the issue.

The Senate’s decision this week to overturn the 1993 “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which operates in the military whereby gay soldiers are allowed to serve so long as they are not explicit about their sexuality has come as a relief to a group which was once one of the most ardent set of supporters of Barack Obama.

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It’s not all about race

Monday, November 22, 2010

In the race relations element of Route C with Edexcel we talk a lot about synopticity and how it is important to approach questions from different perspectives. Often these are left/liberal versus right/conservative with shades of centrism in between.

So it makes good sense to argue in essays that “Those on the left would suggest race is a barrier in the USA because…”, or “Those on the right would say that affirmative action is not necessary because…” before going on to explain the competing arguments.

But it is important to note that sometimes there is overlap between the two sides on reasons why something is the way it is. And we should bear in mind that both sides accept that there may be other contributory factors. Essentially it is a question about the extent both sides agree in something, and often opponents are not completely dismissive of arguments proposed by the other side. For instance, those on the right may accept that some racism still exists in the United States, but that this does not mean that it is an insurmountable barrier. Equally, those on the left may accept that welfare dependence is a problem to a degree but that the long term effects deeply entrenched divides in US society outweigh its importance in explaining inequalities between whites and blacks in modern US society.

This brings me to an excellent article in today’s Guardian by Gary Younge. Read it and I hope that you will never be tempted to write that all Tea Partyists are motivated by race.

Accessible article on US midterms, with questions

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I came across this article in the Guardian this week. Lots of fodder for class discussion or as a homework exercise

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What’s up with Obama?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Students of US politics should be keeping a close eye on the Obama presidency as a case study on leadership stretch and the constitutional limits of the office.

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Commander in Chief 2012 doesn’t like teachers

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This video is strange on so many levels.
See the CNN report with subtitles (not really necessary given the depth and extent of the Palin vocab) here.
Helpful to see, though, the Sarah for Prez support team gesticulate as to how the US is bigger than Alaska. Well, I guess that’s progress.
Hail to the chief?

The Daily Show does Palin

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I’m sure teachers of American Politics won’t need reminding about the virtues of watching the Daily Show, but students may need a gentle reminder.

The episode broadcast in the UK last night contained a hilarious analysis of Sarah Palin’s major speech at the Tea Party conference in Nashville.  Palin is a phenomenon and never quite manages to steer herself away from unintended controversy.  If you’re not sure what I’m on about watch a replay from the Channel 4 website.  Of course, Jon Stewart is presenting from a left wing perspective and I share many of his personal biases, so it may not be to everyone’s taste!!

Watch by clicking here.

Two halves of a bank note

Friday, February 05, 2010

How successful has Obama been in delaing with Congress?

Listen to this audio clip from national public radio to find out!

Obama and the State of the Union

Monday, February 01, 2010
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Obama’s first State of the Union

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I’ve just started the power of the presidency, and intend to use Obama’s address to Congress as part of delivery.  Here’s the link to the video

Obama’s approval ratings

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Real Clear Politics was a must visit site during the 2008 Presidential Campaign - it continues to provide superb coverage. Here is the link to the regular flow of approval ratings for the President.

Still more Obama - and ideas for a webquest

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

There’s a useful two page spread on Obama’s presidency one year on in today’s Independent—here is the link to the web version.

The BBC devotes a special section to the one year anniversary.

And see how you get on with the one year quiz!!!

I’m definitely going to use all the abundant material for students to do a webquest presentation on his first year.  A nice way to start Unit 4C having just completed the 3C exam.  Andy Lawrence has posted details of a similar exercise on Cameron the t2u Pol teachers forum.

More useful Obama article and video links

Monday, January 18, 2010

More interesting stuff on Obama for teaching and learning.  A great article on Obama and race here.  Younge is a corking journalist who has written two very readable books on the US, which are suggested reading for students of America.  He has also made a documentary for the World Service entitled “Opposing Obama”, first airing scheduled for the 1st of Feb. List of times is here.

Andrew Sullivan casts a cool eye over Obama in an article on his first year.  Newsnight’s Gavin Esler, a man who spent a few years in the US for the BBC, should be worth watching on Wednesday.

Obama and me on BBC Two might not offer great academic insight, but may give you a slice of insight into modern America.

Obama links

Friday, January 15, 2010

There’s a raft of material out there on Obama at the moment to coincide with the President’s first year in office.  This seems like the second anniversary in recent months since the media sought to celebrate his “first year” back in Nobvember when, of course, this marked 12 months since he was elected, not when he was sworn in.

See the Financial Times for an overview and analysis.

The Economist has a lengthy feature

For the next few days you can see the second part of Simon Schama’s BBC documentary on Obama.

Schama on Obama

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another documentary heads up

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The Decade of Terror - Reuters Pictures of the Decade

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A stunning online slideshow here from Reuters tells the story of a decade of global terror and violence.  Many of the images are hard-hitting.  All are thought-provoking. An amazing resource to use as stimulus material for Politics units covering global issues.

Launch Reuters Images of the Decade

The logic of communities segregated by race?

Monday, November 30, 2009

I wonder if this clip by Tim Harford will provoke debate among students about race, whether in the UK or the USA.

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Glenn Beck: the renegade running the opposition to Obama

Want to get a flavour of the degree of partisanship in modern American politics?

Say the Observer:

“Glenn Beck is a TV host, bestselling author and the most influential voice on the rightwing Fox channel. Now, even some Republicans worry that the extreme and maverick views of Beck and his supporters will make their party unelectable. Is the TV tail wagging the political dog?”

Read the rest of the article and listen to this classic five minute radio rant by the man himself.  It takes a little time to load up, but it is hilarious.  And just a little bit scary!

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Don’t mess with Texas?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

For reasons that are possibly too mundane to go into I have just read the special report on Texas from a summer edition of the Economist.

It is absolutely fascinating as a means of gaining a deeper insight into a rapidly changing state, and is a treasure trove of Americana.  Did you know for instance that Texas is one of four states where whites are a minority, or that tequila was invented there?

I recommend:

Lone Star rising
The best and worst of Texas
The red and the blue
The new face of America

A Republican revival?

Once a week my students are expected to contribute something to our media sessions.  A useful way to break a double, to be sure, but these are designed to supplement learning.  I usually keep something up my sleave just in case discussion doesn’t flow—though thus far it has yet to be a problem.

Here was last week’s from the Independent’s Big Question series.

The geography of US jobs

Monday, November 09, 2009

One of my colleagues at school sent me this link at the weekend which displays a fascinating graphic of job creation and loss in the USA over the last few years.  It gives the lie to the idea that there is such a thing as a national economy, even if there is a national picture.

It also serves to explain why despite a recent upsurge in gdp, many Americans are unhappy about the state of the economy—jobs are the pain that communities feel and make sense of.  Though a note of caution here since it only gives data to July 2009.

The link is here.

Media Monday Motown

Monday, November 02, 2009

This week for our American Politics media sessions we have been looking at a quite fascinating article about industrial decline in the USA. This tells us a lot about where power lies in America and is a useful basis for considering the extent to which America does really live up to the ideals it proclaims to stand for.

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Who’s that guy?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Only the 33rd most powerful man in Washington DC who is not called Obama or Biden.

So says GQ magazine (of all places) in their much anticipated DC power 50.  Believe it or not this was one of the buzz topics in the American capital when I was over there recently.  Hardly surprising in the most power obsessed city on earth. To paraphrase Michael Heseltine who was commenting on the ranking order of seats in Cabinet, everyone says it doesn’t matter to them, but of course it does.  Terribly.

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Gun crime debate

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It’s not so much the graphic and the info on the decline in support for gun control in America, it’s the readers’ comments that are worth looking at.  I particularly like the British v American stuff, as if that had anything to do with it: why does a comment on American society and politics by a non-native invite criticism of that person’s country?  Touchy!

Blank Palin

Saturday, October 03, 2009


Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s (ghostwritten) autobiography is due for release next month, and has already shot to the top of the bestseller charts.

Say the Guardian:
“News of the autobiography’s release has already prompted a string of jokes by the late night talkshow hosts reminding the wider public about Palin’s shortcomings.

“Critics say that it starts out okay, it gets really exciting and then confusing, and then the last 100 pages are blank,” said comedian Jimmy Fallon.”

USA: who runs government?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I’ve been like a child with a new toy today, spending hours browsing on the Washington Post’s “Who runs gov?” pages.

The site contains up to date and interesting to read profiles of the people pulling the strings of American government.  A great resource for students and teachers of American Politics.

I’ve come up with a list of 10 of the most influential politicians in the USA, some of which you will have heard of and some you won’t.

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Pick of the papers

Sunday, September 20, 2009

On the UK front the papers seem to be dominated by analysis of the party political debate on tax and spending.  For instance the Observer carries a front page story suggesting that the Tory attacks on Labour spending plans may backfire.

Here a Sunday Times editorial welcomes the development of a more open debate on the issue.

When it comes to American politics, coverage of the debate about Obama and racism dominates with acres of newsprint given over to this story.

Here Paul Harris reports from South Carolina, a state at the heart of the race row.

Keith Richburg, in an editorial piece, argues that Obama’s election victory is not proof of a post racial America.

Andrew Sullivan takes an in depth look at the race debate and outlines its significance for the Republicans.

Is opposition to Obama racist?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Former President (1977-1981) Jimmy Carter is the most senior Democrat to comment publicly that the venomous nature of the opposition to Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms can only be explained by racist undertones.

Racism continues to be the most divisive social problem in the United States, an issue that is never far beneath the surface when African Americans are the subject of political discourse.  This is partly explained by the legacy of slavery and segregation - both of which were outlawed much later in the USA than other comparable democracies.  You may recall, for instance, Muhammed Ali’s visit to the UK recently when the TV news channels broadcasted mini biographies of the boxer’s life, including Ali discussing how he was refised service at a lunch counter despite having won his country the gold medal in heavyweight boxing at the previous Olympics.  This was, of course, as recently as the 1960s.

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Obama health care speech reaction

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An energised and passionate President Obama delivered his speech to a joint session of Congress.  Will it be enough?

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Focus on US health care

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Watch this report by Lyndsey Hilsum from Wednesday’s Channel 4 news.

Hope for health care

The President needs Congress

The significance of the separation of powers is to be highlighted in perfect Technicolor later today when President Obama appears before a joint session of Congress to make a speech that he hopes will save his healthcare reform proposals (well, promises since he hasn’t actually been very specific about what he wants).

Most people expect Obama to be happy with some sort of healthcare package passing, even if it doesn’t include a government backed plan to insure Americans currently without coverage.

Bronwen Maddox in the Times takes up the story:

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Obama’s Waterloo?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

This year is a great one to be studying American politics (ditto on this side of the Atlantic given that we have a general election on the horizon that looks odds on to deliver a change in government), as we watch Obama try to transfer the electricity and excitement he generated during his election campaign into doemstic polciy success.  Now that the congressional recess is over after the summer, Obama must seek to win approval from sufficient numbers of the House and Senate to bring insurance coverage to over 40 million American citizens currently without it.

There’s a very good piece here outlining the challange Obama faces in trying to reconcile differences between Democrats and Republicans.  As the adviser to his predecessor as President points out, failure on healthcare reform could be Obama’s Waterloo.  This is why Obama is placing all his cards on the table by making a speech to Congress on Wednesday.  Watch out for that!!

After Ted: more Kennedys for Massachusetts?

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Big Question runs a feature on the rather complex dynamics of choosing a replacement for his vacant Senate seat, which has been controlled by his family for over 50 years.

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Obama and racism

Monday, August 17, 2009

Do you think that the Obama presidency means that race is no longer a problem in America?

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Media Monday in absentia

Saturday, August 01, 2009

There are obviously no lessons at the minute since we are bang in the middle of the summer break, but I thought I’d draw your attention to a piece that would be surefire favourite for the Media Monday sessions.  It is packed full of detail and analysis on the factors that determine the success of a presidency.  I intend to put it to one side until it comes to teaching this topic later in the year.

Keeping up with Obama

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I’m posting a couple of details for those who are looking to keep up tp date with the Obama presidency.

There’s a good feature on Obama’s diplomatic efforts in the Middle East in the Guardian.

But Lexington argues that Obama is only likely to disappoint his supporters.

Obama effect?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Politics in the US continus to be dominated by health care and the Sotomayor nomination.  But I came across this little cut and keep nugget on voter turnout.

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Can Obama meet the health care challenge?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I know there seems to be a lot of emphasis on the blog at the moment on the Obama Presidency, but a new White House incumbent gives us the chance to analyse the intricate workings of politics inside the beltway.

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Obama health check

Monday, July 20, 2009

President Obama’s campaign pledge to widen health coverage to as many of the non insured as possible is stumbling amid partisan wrangling

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Obama and race

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The discussion about Barack Obama’s African heritage has obviously moved on from discussion about whether the USA was ready for a black President.  This week Obama shifted the debate onto discussion about how black America could write its own destiny.

This should provide a good point of discussion for students examining racial politics in the USA.

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Obama lacking leadership?

So claims one of the leading commentators on US politics in a recent column in Time Magazine.

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Obama and Africa

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As if Barack Obama didn’t have enough on his plate as American President, he has taken time to forge a new direction in US foreign policy on Africa. Last week he made a bold speech where he argued that the continent could no longer apportion the blame on the effects of colonialism.

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Palin’s greatest hits

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Why some people were concerned back in the autumn that this individual would be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

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Palin for President?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate dropped a bizarre bombshell on the eve of Independence Day by announcing that she was stepping down as Alaksa’s governor.

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US politics: pick of the UK papers

Monday, June 29, 2009

There were a number of great features on Obama’s successes and failures in yesterday’s paper.  Here are details.

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Opposition is no laughing matter.  Or is it?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I have been holed up in various less than salubrious locations in London this week on examining duties, but light relief has been provided by a number of stories emanating from across the Atlantic.

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Book for the beach

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I picked up a copy of Justin Webb’s “Have a Nice Day” at the weekend, which lays out a forceful and intense case for what can be considered positives about the modern USA.

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Change to come in America?

Friday, June 19, 2009

I have come across a useful page on the BBC containing a series of short videos on the challenges facing Obama as President.

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US revision: Obama’s health care reform

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In an echo of the MPs’ expenses scandal I have been swamped with requests by students about how reports about Obama’s health care plans can be rolled into US politics exam answers.

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Useful Obama links

I’ve put together a list of resources on President Obama.  This could be accessed by students or teachers for a host of purposes.

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American starter: US quick quiz

Friday, June 12, 2009

A few quick questions to work on for students starting a US Politics course

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American politics: summer reading

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book review: an entertaining insight into life in America’s heartland

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US revision: American Cabinet

Thursday, June 04, 2009

One of the modern features of American cabinets is its role in reaching out to the people and representing the diversity evident in the USA.  Here are some notes on Obama’s.

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Post AS: A2 American delivery

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Here are details of an idea about getting something interesting and productive done once students come back after the AS exams.  If you are one of the lucky institutions that doesn’t welcome back students after AS exams are over, then this could work equally well as a bit of summer homework.

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Obama and Cuba

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The possibility of the USA formally softening its stance with the Caribbean island raises some interesting questions in terms of international relations.

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More on guns

Self defence, anyone?
If your eyes glaze over when reading more about the intricate detail of Westminster sleaze, read this instead.  You don’t have to be a US Politics student to find America’s relationship with the gun fascinating.

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Paris, parties and partisanship

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Many students write that American parties are catch-all or umbrella organisations

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US elections revision

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

I’ve come across this useful primer from the New York Times on the race for the presidency

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The West Wing way in

Monday, March 30, 2009

How one of this blogger’s favourite TV shows may help with revision

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Obama: first and last

Saturday, March 21, 2009

President Obama’s appearance on the Jay Leno show did not quite turn out as he hoped.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

There’s a short report in the Evening Standard tonight about Gordon Brown giving his stamp of authority to proposals the Labour Party is considering which are designed to usher in a new era of party politics.  With party membership in long term decline (although there has been a slight blip upwards for the Tories since David Cameron became leader) parties are considering new ways of connecting to supporters who may help out with campaigning.

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Larry Sabato

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I attended an absolutely excellent lecture last night by Larry Sabato, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia.

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Obama the politician?

Friday, February 13, 2009

I wrote in a previous article that an American politician once said that campaigns were in poetry and government was in prose.  This is a theme picked up in the Guardian:

‘You campaign in poetry, but you must govern in prose. That favoured phrase of New York’s former governor Mario Cuomo now applies with even more force to another progressive Democrat. Soaring rhetoric and a moving memoir combined to create the Barack Obama phenomenon and lift him from obscurity to the heights of the White House. Once installed, however, his main concern has been gritty negotiations over the minutiae of an economic recovery package. After protracted haggling, Congress has all but signed off on his fiscal stimulus plan, and yet the prosaic work remains far from complete.’

Read more of this neat editorial piece on the expectations gap here

First past the post

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


The new edition of first past the post, tutor2u’s digital Politics magazine, has been posted on the site. 

Given the importance of the recent American elections, there is a bit of a US slant, but there are great articles covering UK politics, the EU, UK issues, as well as political ideologies.

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What now for the GOP?

Sunday, February 01, 2009


I have penned an article for the forthcoming of first past the post, tutor2u’s digital Politics magazine, on the future of the Republican Party.  There has been, as is often the case when parties lose elections, some navel gazing going on at the heart of the GOP.  Essentially the party seems torn between deciding that it has been too conservative, while others believe it is not conservative enough.

In the short term the party seems determined to focus resolutely on tax cuts and government spending.  In my article I write that this alone will not be enough to restore the party’s credibility.  Anyway, an article by Paul Harris in today’s Observer picks up on some of the latest developments in the world of the GOP.

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Obama’s first weekly address

Sunday, January 25, 2009

On YouTubeimage

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Electing the president

Thursday, January 15, 2009


One might be inclined to think that after one of the most exciting elections in living memory, which ended with an historic outcome, that electoral reform campaigners in the USA would have lost heart.

Not so.  Check out the Presidential Elections Reform Program of the FairVote website, which carries a host of useful stuff on reform of the primaries and the electoral college—the latter is particularly helpful if you are trying to dress up what can be quite a dry topic.

First past the post looks at the 2008 election

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The new edition of first past the post, tutor2u’s digital magazine, has just been posted on the website.


There a number of excellent articles in it on a host of topical areas: the UK police force, multiculturalism, the US Supreme Court, the impact of Boris Johnson as London Mayor, a comparative analysis of the representativeness of the UK and US legislatures, the effect of the economic downturn on UK political parties, and look at the ‘what ifs’ of the US election.

I have also written one looking at the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.  This topic will inevitably crop up on the American papers of whatever syllabus you are following in the upcoming months.

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Obama’s Cabinet roundup

Monday, December 08, 2008


It’s getting to that time of year when this blogger starts looking for material for the end of term Politics quiz.  This year big prizes are on offer: Supreme Court gavel pencils, diaries, Obama stickers (yahoo!).  So I thought I’d do a quick scan to see who Obama’s latest Cabinet pickes were.

This page on the New York Times site does a good overview of the new - and potential - team.

It’s a shame that Arnie seems to have disappeared from the reckoning, but at least there is a ripple of excitement to be had in consdireing the exotically named Cassandra Quin Butts.

Where now for the Republicans?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

There was an excellent documentary at the weekend on the possibly declining influence of the religious right.  You can access for the next 29 days on Channel 4’s catch up site

I can’t find any way to download it permanently, so if there are any technophiles out there who know how…!

I have also included the first part here from YouTube

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Is Europe too racist?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As a follow up to an article in first past the post about the extent to which blacks have achieved political equality now that they have elected their first ever black president, I was going to do a further one about the self congratulatory state America has got itself in.  How many times have we heard that only in America can any child grow up believing that they could one day be in the White House?  Or that Britain could never have a black Prime Minister any time soon.

But Matt Frei, the BBC American correspondent, has done an excellent overview of the issues on the BBC blog.

Before going on to read it, I would ask readers to consider a couple of points.  First, Britain elected a female premier in 1979.  Second, how many African Americans will there be in the Senate after Obama is sworn in as president?

Read Frei’s article here   image

What will Obama supporters do now the election is over?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Obama obsessives like me are wandering around with a feeling of post-election emptiness.  No polls to scrutinise; no electoral college scenarios to run.  It seems we’re not alone, according to this hard-hitting news report from the Onion News Network…

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Great introductory article on the Chief of Staff

Saturday, November 08, 2008

It is unlikely that news that Rahm Emanuel has been chosen as Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff has escaped the attention of blog readers.

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Schott’s presidential almanac

How many presidents were over 6ft tall?  Which have had their faces on bank notes?

Find out via this jpg file, which would make a handy wall display:


Obama speech in full

I can’t seem to find the victory speech by Obama in Grant Park in full on YouTube, but this is the link to the BBC version:

Obama Chicago

‘Free’ poster

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A quick heads up for students and teachers.  This weekend watch out for a US elections 2008 poster in the Independent on Sunday.  If recent graphics in the sister paper are anything to go by, the elections outcome map may contain a few statistical errors, but at least they are promising a picture portrait of the president elect on the other side.

“One triumphant example won’t solve the chronic failure of blacks”

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So says Matthew Syed in The Times. 

With wall to wall coverage of the election results possibly weighing us all down, I thought I’d point out this excellent article on race and ethnic politics in the USA – it’s gone straight into my folder of teaching notes for the topic.

Get it here

Black and blue

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In an intelligent article, Gideon Rachman in the FT points out that Barack Obama will not only be the first ever black President if elected today, he will also be the first Democrat elected to the White House on nearly half a century that does not hail from a southern state.

He writes:

“We are on the brink of history. On Tuesday the US could elect its first ever blue president.

The fact that Barack Obama would also be the first black president has obscured the significance of his political colouring. If he wins, he will be the first northern, urban liberal to win the presidency since the culture wars broke out in the US in the 1960s.”

See the rest of the article here

Independent resources

The Independent today contains a feast of politics for students and teachers.

First off is their Great American Quiz  The same links takes you to the answers.  Teachers should be able to plunder this for many end of terms to come!

Some entertaining presidential trivia here

Why The Economist came out for Obama

Away from the US elections, here’s a good feature for UK issues coverage on the allegedly increasingly fluid nature of social mobility in the UK in the Big Question

Politics Teacher Quiz - Win a Barack Obama Action Figure

Monday, November 03, 2008


What better than to have a genuine Barack Obama Action Man figure on your desk or to display in the staff room.  We’ve got one of the last Barack Obama action figures left in NYC as the prize for this quick Politics Teacher Quiz…

read more...»

Are you staying up for Obama?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

If you are planning on staying up till the wee hours on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning here is a guide to what to expect.

For what it’s worth, I suspect it will be a lot closer than many polls are predicting and that we won’t be confident of the final result until sunrise on Wednesday.

See the guide from The Times here

US elections programming: heads up

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Saturday More 4 at 7.05pm The story of Barack Obama and John McCain

As America prepares to go to the polls this Tuesday in what many consider to one of the most historical presidential elections in decades, Jon Snow narrates The Choice , a one-off documentary special which presents the story of Barack Obama and John McCain, and asks what do these two very unlikely presidential contenders say about the state of America at this crux moment in time?

Then at 11:20 pm on the same channel, Dispatches: Jon Snow’s American Journey

As Obama and McCain’s gladiatorial showdown enters its final week, Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow goes in search of the new America. Starting at the border with Mexico, Snow takes a road trip up the Pacific highway linking San Diego to Seattle, travelling though areas of great affluence, deprivation, innovation and tradition to find out about the new Americans, new economy and new directions that are shaping the next America.

On Channel 4 at 9.05 pm: Recount

Austin Powers director Jay Roach investigates the Florida voting scandal of 2000. Made-for-TV drama starring Kevin Spacey, Denis Leary, Laura Dern and Tom Wilkinson

US elections: the electoral college

Thursday, October 30, 2008

As I write this it is 4 days and 17 hours until polling opens.  This is just enough time for readers new to American Politics to get their head round the way US voters elect their President.

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McCain’s gaffes hint at someone who is very, very tired

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I’m over in NYC next weekend for the Marathon and final stages of the Presidential Race.  Looking at John McCain’s latest gaffe, I get the sense he is feeling as tired I as I will be entering Manhattan (just beyond mile 16). When you’re exhausted after a long slog, the brain just doesnt let the words come out in the right order…allowing McCain to imply that the folks of Western Pennsylvania are racist…

The Bradley Effect in Reverse

As an Obama supporter I scan the papers and polls several times a day in a vain attempt to catch the direction of the electoral headwinds. Here Peter Kellner, veteran UK pollster and President of You Gov argues that the so-called Bradley Effect may work in reverse for the 2008 campaign.

Colin Powell endoses Barack Obama

Sunday, October 19, 2008


In a potentially significant development, former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell has gone public with his endorsement of Barack Obama for President….

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US Presidential Election 2008 - Crossword


Looking for a quick starter activity?  Try this crossword on the 2008 US Presidential Election.

Download crossword (pdf)
Download crossword solution (pdf)


With 16 days until Election Day: A selection of campaign related news items from the week that wouldn’t necessarily warrant a post of their own but may still be of interest to political observers.

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Toasting and Roasting

Friday, October 17, 2008

It could never happen in the UK - the two Presidential candidates put aside their campaigning for an evening at a glittering dinner in New York.

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The TV debates

A quick discussion about the presidential debates this morning revealed that students (a hat tip to Ben Winders here) thought that McCain seemed to spend more time attacking Obama rather than saying what he would do himself.  Now it turns out that “Joe the plumber” doesn’t even exist

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Colin Powell dancing to hip hop speculation

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The former Secretary of State danced with Olu Maintain, a Nigerian hip hop outfit and the news has been picked up by Fox News in the US that this signifies his intention to endorse Obama

The Young Turks show tackle this surreal notion

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Sarah Palin - In Her Own Words

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


This video simply defies belief.  How on earth could McCain select her as his potential replacement…

The moment that Sarah Palin’s ratings began to slide

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This video is the first time that Tina Fey gave her Sarah Palin impersonation on SNL, and there is an argument that it was this satire that began the slide in Palin’s approval ratings….

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A brilliant satire on the Palin / Biden VP debate from SNL


Tina Fey’s superb impersonation of Sarah Palin is showcased in this great send-up of the vice-presidential debate from Saturday Night Live…

read more...»

Obama in the money

Monday, October 13, 2008

Whilst news of financial crisis intensifies, it appears that Barack Obama is bucking the trend and continues to smash fundraising records.  Here the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports

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Panorama: US elections

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A heads up on the Panorama programme covering the American presidential election on BBC1, Monday 13th October at 8.30pm.  From the BBC website:

‘Our reporter travels to two very different Americas - Obama’s political home in South Chicago, and the crucial battleground state of Ohio - to see how the different versions of America offered by the Obama-Biden team and the McCain-Palin team are playing out.

He examines the astonishing trajectory of Mr Obama’s political career, which has seen him go from his first public office to presidential candidate in just 12 years.

And he tries to find out who the real Barack Obama is:

Is he, as some in the programme say, a neophyte, with nothing on his CV which qualifies him for the role as president?

Is he a scheming careerist, whose choices of friends, mentors and even which church to attend all come down to climbing the political ladder?

Or is he the real deal and America’s best hope in a troubled time?

The programme also examines the way in which Mr Obama and his supporters have broken the political mould, recruiting new voters from parts of the electorate previously thought unreachable and smashing all fund-raising records.’

Obama nudges past 50

Real Clear Politics has to be one of the top sites for keeping track of the surge of polls and comment pieces that accompany the tail end of one of the most remarkable Presidential Races of all time. I must admit that, as an Obama supporter, I click on RCP almost be default these days to watch not just the latest poll data but also the prices from IntTrade - the predictions market. And as our highlighted chart from RCP demonstrates, the Obama surge over the last ten days may well have been decisive.

Of course it is not over and there will be twists and turns yet. We should not underestimate the ability of the Republican party to turn up the heat and get the vote out. But on the RCP data, Barack Obama has now nudged over 50% in the polls for the first time and he seems to be widening the advantage in a number of battleground states. Will the Democratic organisation on the ground be sufficiently good to turn this polling lead into a landslide when the real votes are counted?

US elections: classic campaign ads

Friday, October 10, 2008

The current US presidential campaign is getting nastier by the minute, largely as a result of John McCain’s desperation.  He has been reported as being behind by double digits nationwide and also lagging in some key states.  His camp have flirted with linking Barack Obama to a radical soialist who committed bombings in the 1970s but haven’t made much of it.  This reminded me of the 1988 campaign when George Bush Sr launched an attack ad on his Democrat opponent, Michael Dukakis. 

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Nader and Obama girl

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A question students often ask is why there are no third parties in the US elections.  There are!  It’s just that a whole series of instutitional, political and historical factors act against them when it comes to making an impact. 

Here Obama girl meets consumer advocate, Ralph Nader.

Read more to view the YouTube video

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President “That One” gets ready for office

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


It was perhaps the defining moment of last nights second Presidential Debate.  The moment when John McCain (becoming increasingly referred to as McNasty) finally let slip what he really thinks of Barack Obama. The moment when McCain played the racist card, and it backfired…

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Down and dirty in Tennessee: the end of evolution?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

According to a top geneticist, Steve Jones at UCL, evolution is nearly over or has even stopped.  But over in the US, it appears that the candidates have actually regressed as the campaign has turned ugly

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Race for the White House: changing electoral landscape

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I have written an article for first past the post on the factors which may determine the outcome of the presidential election, and it should be out shortly.  Meanwhile I would draw your attention to details of an article which popped up in my email inbox this morning from the New York Times.  It covers news that the economy has had a huge impact on the contest.  It starts:

“The turmoil on Wall Street and the weakening economy are changing the contours of the presidential campaign map, giving new force to Senator Barack Obama’s ambitious strategy to make incursions into Republican territory, while leading Senator John McCain to scale back his efforts to capture Democratic states.”

The article also contains some great links to multimedia maps: a useful teaching resource if you are covering voting behaviour.

Read the rest here

Time for campaigning

Saturday, October 04, 2008


The 2008 Presidential race is yielding some superb materials on YouTube, but my favourite so far has to be this catchy cartoon introduction to the Presidential campaign…

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Homer votes for Obama

Friday, October 03, 2008

In a potentially devastating blow for the McCain campaign, it has been revealed that Homer Simpson is to vote for Barack Obama in the episode to be screened shortly before the Presidential Election….

read more...»

Economist special report on the US elections

The Economist has published a 21 page analysis of the forthcoming ballot on the presidency. users can download a copy of the pdf from their website.  Print subscribers, of course, can look forward to receiving their copy soon.

The pdf link is here

Presidential debates: round one

Monday, September 29, 2008

What the papers said about the first contest between McCain and Obama

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Friday Focus

Friday, September 26, 2008

Links to a couple of Economist articles with some accompanying questions.  I used these today for my American Politics classes.  A useful exercise for understanding the US election

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The age card

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

With the first presidential debates nearly upon us, I wonder if any of the candidates will play the right card.  Watch this YouTube clip

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Tweedledum or Tweedledumber

Monday, September 22, 2008

Already a clear favourite has emerged for my Friday Focus US Politics lesson.  Andrew Sullivan is amongst my favourite commentators and he is on scintillating form in this week’s Sunday Times

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US elections: crisis, what crisis?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

As Obama’s campaign went negative this week, the McCain camp continued to dominate the news cycle with a quick response to the news about economic meltdown

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Quality, not quantity

Monday, September 15, 2008

Students, as we all know, are busy people.  Here, this posting brings you a couple of the best articles in the UK press in recent days

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US politics documentary heads up

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday 9.00 pm BBC4 is showing ‘How to Be a Good President: Time Shift’.  The blurb from their website states:

‘In a whistle-stop tour through the history of the US presidency, journalist and author Jonathan Freedland asks what qualities make a great president and what we can learn from the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, JFK or even Richard Nixon about what it takes to make a mark in the White House.

Freedland is helped by distinguished contributors including James Naughtie, Shirley Williams, Douglas Hurd, Simon Hoggart and Bonnie Greer, who give frank assessments of some of America’s greatest presidents.’

A hat tip to Jack Barnes on this one.

A clip from the BBC of Nixon campaigning in 1972

Joe Sixpack

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In an election as close as this, character could prove decisive

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Focus on Friday - integrating wider reading into class

Sunday, September 07, 2008

In a previous posting I have written about how important it is for students to develop habits that will pay long term dividends in terms of extending their knowledge and understanding of British politics.  I have double periods scheduled with my Upper Sixths every Friday and they offer the ideal opportunity to include sessions similar to the ‘Media Monday’ ones I do with my Lower Sixth groups - ideally with a bit of YouTube thrown in

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Sarah Palin: hindrance or help?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Two expert columnists in the Washington Post take differing views on McCain’s choice of running mate

read more...»

McCain’s problem with Bush

With the Republicans convening in the twin cities this week, I thought the blog should focus on what the experts say about the GOP’s chances this November

read more...»

It’s the economy (again), stupid

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sixteen years after Bill Clinton’s chief election strategist, James Carville (nicknamed the ‘Ragin Cajun’), coined the phrase that defined the 1992 election, the 2008 contest promises to be dominated by debate about which candidate can most positively impact on voters’ pockets

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Comment on the Obama nomination

Saturday, August 30, 2008

With wall to wall coverage of the party conventions, the Politics blog may not need to bring you news of the latest on the US elections.

In case you missed it, John McCain chose Alaskan governor, Sarah Palin as his running mate.  See the New York Times report here.

And Barack Obama’s acceptance speech appears to have gone down well.

But I thought I’d bring your attention to some quality on the significance of the Obama nomination, each penned by historians.

Simon Schama writes in today’s Guardian, and Tristram Hunt comments in the Times.



US elections 2008: Economist keeps swinging

Friday, August 29, 2008

The latest state to be featured in the series running in The Economist on swing states 2008 is Missouri.  Partly for my future reference, I have created hyperlinks to all printer friendly editions of articles on states covered so far on my subject site on the school intranet.  I thought it might also be useful to post them here.  I find them fascinating since they provide so much rich detail not simply on the politics of the states but also the economy, culture, demography, and – sometimes – the religious characteristics of each state.

North Carolina
New Mexico and Nevada

William Storey on the US Presidential Race

Thursday, August 28, 2008


William Storey (Edexcel & LSE) gave a superb presentation on the 2008 Presidential Race at the Politics Teacher National Conference.  Here are his presentation slides…

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Obama’s problem

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why the Democratic nominee is struggling in the polls

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US politics: lobbyists

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A great deal of media coverage will focus on the National Party Conventions for the Democrats and Republicans, and students should look out for examples of what role these summer events perform.  Do they give the candidates a bounce in the polls? Do they help to unify the parties?

But I thought I’d use this post to highlight a story I came across about the influence peddlers that are said to be such a corrupting force in US politics: lobbyists and corporations.

read more...»

US elections 2008: voting behaviour and race

Sunday, August 24, 2008

You must have been resident on the moon over the previous 48 hours not to have noted that Barack Obama has settled on Joe Biden as his choice of running mate.  See the video of the announcement here
But the focus of this posting is the issue of race.  Two words that every US Politics student will be wise to include in their essays on voting behaviour are ‘Bradley effect’.  I have found that Barack Obama’s race is something that black Americans have been far more willing to talk about than whites.  A number of articles in today’s papers look at the issue in depth.

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Running mate heading your way

Friday, August 22, 2008

By the time you read this you may already know who Barack Obama has chosen as his running mate - particularly if you are one of the many of his supporters to have received the news by text.  I don’t know why I have bought into the feverish speculation, since VPs don’t win elections.  Perhaps I should get a life.  Anyway, the hot money is still on Tim Kaine, but I have nailed my colours to the mast by backing Kathleen Sebelius.  Time will tell.

Matt Frei in America

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The BBC’s Washington correspondent has, he says, just returned from his extended summer break.  Coincidentally I have just finished reading his book Only in America.  In his online diary he turns his attention to the importance of that A level American Politics staple, the vice presidency.
This post considers Frei’s book and highlights his take on the veep’s office

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Veepweek madness

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A reporter for the Washington Post hit the nail on the head when they said that speculation about who the presidential running mates were going to be had reached the point of insanity.  Across the pond there is even fierce speculation about when the running mates will be announced

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US elections update: religion

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

This week the two main contenders for the White House met for the first time as they both sought to appeal to the religious right

read more...»

Do the Democrats understand the South?

Monday, August 18, 2008

There is a fascinating interview with a Democrat party strategist in today’s Times.  Dave “Mudcat” (yes, really) Saunders argues that Barack Obama will lose heavily in the South and rural areas unless he tries to connect with redneck concerns.

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US elections: swift boat to swift kids?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Whilst the US election gets more base by the minute, it’s unlikely to have reached its nadir.  A raft of anti-Obama books have been released recently, with echoes of the anti-Kerry moves in 2004.  But perhaps McCain was right when he said that you need to retain a sense of humour.  Obama better watch out that he isn’t swift kidded

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Hablas espanol?: the changing face of America

Friday, August 15, 2008

A new US Census Bureau report predicts that whites will be an ethnic minority by 2042.  This shift will undoubtedly have important political implications

read more...»

US election: ad war intensifies

The Economist this week features an article on the increasing importance of electronic media in election campaigns.

The latest in the White House air wars comes from Barack Obama

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Pick of the papers

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If you want to partake in something more satisfying than staring at pictures of the early rounds of the Olympics tiddlywinks, then you could browse through any of multiple Barack Obama articles in today’s papers

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US election: fancy a beer?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

If you have not been looking at the developments in the race for the White House in microscopic detail over the summer break, today’s Guardian news section contains a useful overview of the post primary campaign.  And there’s a bit of analysis from me in this post as well

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US elections focus

Friday, August 08, 2008

As I’ve said before on this blog, it is almost inevitable that all US A2 exams will carry a question or two on the 2008 race for the presidency, and for this reason alone students should keep abreast of the latest developments stateside.

But the race for the White House can also be fun to follow purely for the intrinsic benefits of learning more about the motivations of American voters.  Here I draw your attention to a twin set of articles in this week’s Economist

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Thin and nasty

Sunday, August 03, 2008

An aspect of the science of psephology I have hitherto been unfamiliar with is the salience attached to the body mass index of candidates.  But according to a report in today’s paper, Barack Obama might be too fit to appeal to an obese nation

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The importance of swinging

Saturday, August 02, 2008

New series of articles starts this week in the Economist focusing on the states that may detrmine the outcome of this year’s race for the White House

read more...»

Offensive?  Possibly.  Ludicras?  Most definitely

Friday, August 01, 2008

One of the features of the US campaign this year is the massive spread of internet based material - and exposure to it by voters - produced by individuals and teams seemingly completely independent of the candidate or party teams.  This song by rap artist Ludicras attacking McCain has kicked up a storm in America due to the extreme nature of the lyrics.  Even Obama has denounced its contents as ‘outrageously offensive’

read more...»

US election turns negative

As many pundits have predicted, the campaign has got personal as the two presidential candidates struggle to win support with their positions on the major issues

read more...»

John McCain’s ‘celeb’ ad

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Barack Obama comes under fire in a new campaign commercial from his Republican opponent for being a celebrity rather than someone who is ‘ready to lead’

read more...»

The importance of the vice-presidency

Monday, July 28, 2008

Essential reading in the Times newspaper on the running mate and the office

read more...»

Democrat scandal: potential Obama VP nominee out of the running over alleged love child

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mainstream media organisations have picked up on a story the National Enquirer has been running for some months.  It is alleged that John Edwards, whose wife is dying of cancer, has a mistress and has fathered a love child

read more...»

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