The Promota Magazine
America’s Presidential election 2012 – How Michelle Obama won it for Barack
by Ade Daramy
As the dust settled (and what a lot of dust there had been!) on the American Presidential election, it was hard to remember who you were, such had been the information and sensory overload. The bombardment of facts, figures, and opinions was almost overwhelming. It was truly the election where the electronic age came into its own and social media was used to the fullest and best effect so far. However, as with any democratic election, it came down to the people who decided that they could be bothered to vote.
Of the election itself, the statistics were so plentiful and mind-boggling, one had to stop and take a breather after reading them. It was the most expensive in terms of expenditure by both candidates, the Black vote went 93% in favour of Barack Obama, and the vote from single mothers was close to 70% for Barack Obama.
With Barack Obama’s victory were buried not just the hopes of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney and his reluctant Tea Party supporters, but so too were shredded the reputations of forecasters and forecasting organisations. This was true to such an extent that few certainties remained intact at the end of the count. Republicans who had been shouting so loud at everyone, including each other, did not give themselves a chance to stop and listen to the true ‘voice of America’. What they would have heard is that it is not the one they hear in their heads but, another different, real and very diverse one. From the noises coming from the defeated camp, it would seem they are convinced that not only were they not shouting loudly but, that they were not shouting loudly enough! Get your earplugs handy for the next election.
One thing that not only survived but was enhanced during and after the election was the reputation of The First Lady, Michelle Obama. In the aftermath of her husband’s election victory, many seasoned and respected political observers opined that she had ‘won the election for Barack’.
To the disengaged or plain disinterested, this might seem like the hyperbole of praising the ‘woman behind the successful man’ taken too far. However, when one looks at the facts, this does not seem such a fanciful idea.
As in most elections these days, particularly in countries that could recognisably be called democracies, it is not uncommon to see the prospective President’s spouse make an appeal on behalf of her husband. In Africa, we don’t tend to bother with such things as there are few working democracies on our continent.
It was clear that once her husband became President, the brilliant lawyer had to put her career on hold. People had heard speeches by the First Lady before, many speeches veering from the good to brilliant. However, on 4 September 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina at the close of the Democratic National Convention, she delivered a speech that eclipsed all others she had ever delivered in support of her husband.
In an age of instant news and instant opinions, the impact was equally instantaneous. Pollsters were quick to ask Democratic-leaning voters what they thought of the speech. The answer was that in the preceding weeks, months and full year when her husband had had some of the hardest times from his Republican opponents and had sunk frighteningly low in the opinion polls even among his core audience, something special had to happen to turn his fortunes around. And, those polled believed that the ‘something special’ came in Michelle Obama’s speech to the convention.
In a curious way, her intervention had an echo of that made by Ann Romney the week before to the Republican National Convention in support of her husband. As was to be the case with Mrs Obama, it could be argued that Mrs Romney was speaking to a sceptical audience. It was no secret to anyone that Mitt Romney was a ‘Reluctant Right-wing Republican’.
Even after securing the nomination, there were many in ‘his’ party who doubted Romney’s credentials. They had finally gotten over the fact he was a Mormon but were struggling to come to terms with the fact that his record showed him to be a bit too centrist for the liking of the more extreme wings of the ‘Republican Family’. So diverse were some of the views within that party that if it is indeed a ‘family’ then it must be a pretty dysfunctional one. Mrs Romney’s speech was a bravura performance full of charm and folksiness. And, it succeeded in endearing her and her husband, to some of those previously sceptical on her own side.
When Michelle Obama walked to the podium to give her speech, there were many commentators thinking “Mrs Romney has laid down a ‘follow-that’ performance, now, show us what you’ve got”. Boy, did she show them! The speech was light on politics but heavy on the personal but, in amongst all that, she dropped magic words like ‘change’, ‘hope’ and ‘opportunity’, words that could have come straight out of one of her husband’s speeches. Her voice rose and soared with the kind of emotion that even the best actors would have struggled to portray and yet, it came over as warm, as folksy as Mrs Romney’s and most importantly, it was infused with sincerity.
At the conclusion of the speech, instant, 24-7 news coverage meant the speech and the cheers were heard around the world. For Republican watchers, it must have felt like a dagger to the heart, particularly when, the following day, polls showed support for the President rising. This was no coincidence; the speech had galvanised a Democratic movement that had begun to doubt its own candidate, had begun to waver and may have even been thinking the unthinkable: not bothering to vote. Instead, they now had fresh wind in their sails. They were re-energised; they were re-animated and they were once again reconnected to the idea of giving Barack Obama four more years.
When history looks back on the pivotal moments of the election, of which there were many, that moment, those few minutes will surely count as the single moment when Michelle ‘won the election’ for Barack.
Note: You can find a shortened version of Michelle Obama’s speech at
Post Election opinion
So, Barrack Obama will serve a second term in office as the US President. A victory of which I, for one, am pleased. What with the global conflicts and world economic crisis at the time Obama was first elected, his four years in office was sure to be a very rocky road…and so it proved. One term in office never seemed enough time to try to hopefully put things right. He will now have another four years to attend to unfinished business.
My not being a resident of the USA may make my opinion on the changes to Healthcare Reform irrelevant and unimportant, but I’m pleased Obama managed to have the planned reforms passed through Congress.
It was a very bold and admirable thing to do. The belief by many that this step would be political suicide did not deter him. It took immense courage to start and persevere in that endeavour. Some will say that he was naïve at times and was too inexperienced to be in such a powerful position.
I believe he now has the experience and the determination to improve on the things he was trying to implement. The financial crisis around the world will still be a burden around his neck, as it will be for all world leaders. We should remember that in his first term in office, the country was already in turmoil. When will it all come good on the financial front ?…..who knows ? We should all have hope and faith in a change for the better.
For someone who had no say in the matter, Barrack Obama got my vote.
Albert Defoe – UK
Africa should not be seen to reap where they did sow, nor should Africa expect gains from leaps and bounds of economic growth and development of US, when African countries like Kenya have no respect for Rule of Law, adherence to the key tenets of Governance and still have no credible institutions to stamp out impunity—Africans of all races/nations must pride great sense of unity, purpose and direction in developing compelling vision and rules of engagement with the Obama’s Administration to open corridor for business networking and linkages.
El Mashriq – Kenya
Tell me folks; how does 100,000,000 voters peacefully and efficiently undertake the voting exercise within a most diverse cultural, economic, and political extremes without protests, scuffles, stone throwing, vote rigging etc. Are we cursed or just unlucky?
Erastus Oluoch – Kenya