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Straight from the Specialists

Weighing the Obama-Romney calculus

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Much is at stake in the United States presidential elections this year, perhaps more in terms of policy than in the past few election cycles. The presidency of Barack Obama has been fraught with battles in a deeply divided Congress, leading to paralyses on some major agenda such as government debt, and significant compromises on others such as healthcare reform.

A change in presidency, should Obama lose his re-election bid, will also likely lead to a change in the country’s policy direction — and perhaps economic fate. Obama and his opponent, Mitt Romney, have markedly different visions on the role of government in business and society.

As I write this, polls suggest an Obama victory, not so much because he has boosted his appeal, but more so because Romney has turned off many voters with his gaffes in recent weeks. One could even argue that Obama skilfully managed to make the campaign more about the person of his opponent rather than economics or political programs. The former Michigan governor’s off-the-cuff statement that 47 percent of Americans do not pay taxes and were dependent on welfare has alienated him from those even in his own party.

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