Obama vs. Romney: A Tale of Two Firsts
OBAMA VS. ROMNEY: A TALE OF TWO FIRSTS
A podcast of Sir Robert Worcester's lecture at the Royal Society
Will we have the first Mormon President or the first black man to win two consecutive terms? Speaking at the Royal Society on 22 October, Sir Robert Worcester KBE gives his view on who he thinks will be the next President of the United States when America goes to the polls on 6 November.
It was American author Mark Twain who popularised the expression “lies, damned lies and statistics” and whilst he may have been referring to 19th century politics, the rise of the pollster gives the phrase a very 21st century feeling. It is an expression that probably has resonance for those in the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney camps as they compete for polling leads ahead of Thursday’s Presidential election.
Based on the polling data available at the time, Sir Robert believes that Obama will be re-elected to the White House. But will Sir Robert be proved right? If the financial figures are any indicator, the incumbent President certainly seems to agree with Sir Richard’s conclusions on the importance of taking Ohio. Obama is spending £40 million in Ohio against Romney’s £20 million in the same state.
Listen to the lecture in full
To view the accompanying slides from the lecture, please click the PDF icon:
1) How can data be used to shape the political debate and assist in political campaigning? This beautiful interactive piece of research from advocacy organisation Demos looks at governmental policy and its impact on poverty: www.trackingpovertyandpolicy.org
2) It’s not just the Americans who can produce great data journalism on the election. The Guardian, in conjunction with Real Clear Politics, has set up www.isbarackobamathepresident.com. Hover over the balloons to see how the pollsters believe each state will vote.
3) Mormonism is synonymous with Utah, the home state of the Church of Latter Day Saints, but the Church has temples across the USA and across the world. This map, by the LDS Church, shows locations of LDS temples across the world. www.ldschurchtemples.com/maps/map/
4) Not everything has to be serious to be informative. Website XKCD ran a comic strip detailing a very long list of 'ground breaking' Presidents. So, whilst there’s never been a Mormon President or a black man elected for two consecutive terms, there was also a point in US history when no one with a beard had been re-elected to the Whitehouse and no one with two middle names had become President: xkcd.com/1122/
5) Polling does not stop when the election’s over. Whoever wins will have Presidential approval ratings to deal with. Gallup has created the Presidential Job Approval Center (sic) for those who like their politics statistical: www.gallup.com/poll/124922/Presidential-Approval-Center.aspx
Sir Robert Worcester KBE is the founder of MORI (now Ipsos MORI), past president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, Chancellor of the University of Kent and an honorary professor at the University of Warwick. Born and raised in the US, he is now a well-known figure in British politics and public opinion research. He is a media commentator, especially on the subject of voting intentions in British and US elections. Sir Robert is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation and is a vice president of the Wildlife Trusts. He is on the advisory board of the Media Standards Trust (MST) and is a Freeman of the City of London. He holds a number of honorary degrees and fellowships, including an LLD from Warwick (2012). He is an author and editor. His current book, with Dr Roger Mortimore, Dr Paul Baines and Mark Gill is ‘Explaining Cameron’s Coalition’ (2010).
You can follow Sir Robert on Twitter: @RobertWorcester
By Gareth Jenkins
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