Obama or Romney? Americans vote in a cliffhanger


President Barack Obama and Republican contender Mitt Romney faced the moment of truth on Tuesday as Americans turned up in large numbers to pick their leader for next four years after months of gruelling campaigns in a polarized political landscape.
Signifying the intensity of the contest, which has defied outcome predictions, votes in the first minute of the opening US vote in a tiny northern New Hampshire village at midnight threw up a tie, giving the two candidates five votes each.
The dead heat of the political campaigns for the White House was matched by voters’ enthusiasm on a freezing November morning along the East Coast as citizens waited in long queues to give their verdict. The election day witnessed a first instance when aspirant Romney continued his campaign in the swing states. He cast his vote in Massachusetts.
An in first for an incumbent president, Obama had cast his vote days back, in an attempt to encourage early voting, which according to experts, will favour him.
Around thirty percent of voters said in this weekend’s NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that they had already cast a ballot, a proportion that could be even higher in states, where Democrats and Republicans have fought high-stakes political battles.
Washington D.C. and adjoined Maryland and Virginia states saw promising turn out from the start of voting.
Virginia along with Florida and Ohio, is expected to affect the poll outcome crucially as survey after survey have sensed an even fight between the two candidates nationally as well as many of the so-called swing states. Washington metro area has a large Pakistani-American population, which estimates put at around 100,000.
Meanwhile, voting also got under way in New York and New Jersey, the two states badly hit by Sandy storm. The displaced voters were allowed to cast their vote via fax, email or in mail. The development has raised questions. Voters were also proceeding in large numbers in cities and towns along the West Coast to cast their vote.
While the hotly contested election has prevented political observers from predicting a specific outcome, the US electoral process says a party can only choose its president and vice president if it can garner 270 electoral votes from a total of 538, consisting of 435 House of Representatives, 100 Senate and three D.C. electors.
The vote takes place when Americans see economic recovery as their number one issue. Washington has been experiencing highly charged partisan environment in recent years. A report in The New York Times captured the situation facing the Americans.
“If both campaigns could seem small at times, the issues confronting the nation remained big: how to continue to rebuild after the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression; whether to implement Mr. Obama’s health care law to cover the uninsured, or undo it; whether to reshape Medicare for future beneficiaries to try to curb its costs; whether to raise taxes to reduce the federal deficit or to rely on spending cuts alone; how to wind down the war in Afghanistan without opening the region to new dangers; and how to navigate the post-Arab Spring world.”
Another indication of how close and razor-thin the margin of victory could be came when Obama made an impassioned presentation at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa Monday night. “It all comes down to you,” Obama said. “It’s out of my hands now. It’s in yours,” he added, four years after making it to the White House on a wave of popularity.


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