THE near year-long campaign for the presidency of the United States of America culminates today with millions of Americans going to the polls to decide between incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Four years ago, Obama created history when he defeated Republican John McCain to become the first black president of the United States.
However, the euphoria that surrounded Obama's campaign has almost disappeared, forcing him to dig very deep as he attempts to fight off a strong challenge from Romney who, like many of Obama's critics, are suggesting that he has not delivered the change he had promised while campaigning in 2008.
Several political commentators used various media in the US over the weekend into yesterday to comment on poll results, which suggest a battle to the finish line.
A new CNN poll released yesterday showed 49 per cent support for Obama and 49 per cent for Romney, while a Politico/George Washington University survey has the race tied at 48 per cent.
Speaking with Fox News in the United States David Axelrod, senior adviser to the Obama campaign, said the race was so close it could be the early hours of tomorrow morning before the outcome is known.
Various sector interests in Jamaica are watching the US elections with bathed breath as some believe the outcome has significant implications for Jamaica.
For local talk show host and political commentator Richard 'Dicky' Crawford, said Jamaica and other Caribbean countries would reap more benefits from an Obama presidency. "The democrats tend to favour a little bit more, developing countries in the Caribbean like ourselves. That history is on our side and that is the big choice facing the Caribbean right now, and that's another reason why members of the diaspora are encouraging each other to vote for Obama, because they also have a love for their country. Even though they are living in America, they feel that Obama would be the better persons for interests in the Caribbean," Crawford argued.
Commenting on Romney's strong challenge Crawford asserted that many Americans have been disappointed with Obama's efforts and achievements. "There has been a lot of disappointment in the American public over Obama's presidency. He came to office with people expecting amazing developments and it never really happened. Many people also felt that he was misguided, in the sense that instead of creating more jobs he went and took a lot of taxpayers money to bail out big players in the auto industry," said Crawford, even as he highlighted the existence of factions in the US which were hostile towards Obama.
"When, in the mid-term, he lost control of the Congress, that became a turning point because almost all the policies or programmes that he tried to push through were blocked by the Republicans," said Crawford. "It seems to me that he (Obama) has recovered. The latest viewpoint coming out of the USA is that he is going to win, very close but he is going to win. And I think with all his weaknesses and the disappointments, what is going to save him is the fact that he is a known quantity, wheras Mitt Romeny is unknown, vague in some respects and very changeable."
Meanwhile, prominent trade unionist and president of the National Workers Union Vincent Morrison is predicting an Obama victory as he believes the American public is tired of their country being led into wars by republicans.
"I think Obama is going to win. Day by day the electorate in the United States is understanding the issues. They understand the economic meltdown which came about as a result of failed policies by the previous Bush administration, the tax policy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan all of these were errors in judgements that has not only led to the international meltdown but affected the recovery of the US economy," said Morrison.
"We know the trade union movement in America supports Obama despite some challenges in places like Wisconsin, where worker benefits were taken away, where the right to collective bargaining was destroyed. These actions weren't done by the Obama administration or the American Federation of Labour, but by right wing groups that run the congress," echoed the local trade unionists as he sought to defend his support for another term of Obama.