What are the lessons for UK politicians from Obama's win?


So Barack Obama has been re-elected as US president. What are the lessons from the campaign and result for British politicians?

1. Incumbents can still win

Since the crash of 2008 10 European governments have lost office - by my last count. Obama has shown that incumbents can be re- elected. Some comfort for David Cameron.

2. Negative campaigns work

Four years ago Obama promised to run a positive campaign. This time around his team ran a brutal personal assault on Romney for being rich, uncaring and out of touch (sound familiar?). It worked. One senior Labour figure told me he feared that the Tories would learn this lesson.

3. Minorities matter

Republicans told themselves that Hispanics shared their values and their belief in hard work and family. Nevertheless they overwhelmingly voted Democrat. The Tories say the same about Asian voters and have about as much success with this increasingly important voter group.

4. Women matter

Obama lost the support of white men but got away with it thanks, in part, to greater support amongst women. The so-called gender gap used to be the Tories' secret weapon. Labour are now trying to turn it back on them

5. Money and ads can't buy an election

Cash helps in any election but multi-millionaire Mitt Romney has shown that no amount of it can compensate for an uncharismatic candidate, a divided party and a message which veers from pandering to the party base one minute then appealing to moderates the next.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

David Cameron changes tactics over immigration

David Cameron changes tactics over immigration, moving to curb benefits instead of capping numbers in a bid to curry favour around the EU.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from Nick


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 257.

    "popularity contest…"
    For "fat kid" donut-votes?

    No, a contest - against a tide of misinformation - for the votes of the disadvantaged, those for whom conscience affordable, and this with rational interest in Equal Partnership (democracy) and survival

    Need: to share capital & rewards, spread confidence, provide stable platform for growth of real value, not sporadic scattered bubbles

  • rate this

    Comment number 256.

    #3. Minorities matter

    Aren't US minorities a greater proportion of the overall population than in the UK?

    Is the US's constitutional approach to immigration rather different to the UK's? Our former colony, but immigrants became part of the "dream".

    UK attitudes to immigration are as Empire ruler, not subject. Some hanker for this superiority, ignoring smaller minority interests here.

  • rate this

    Comment number 255.


    Who says you cannot buy election wins? There are recent examples of UK marginal constituencies being won over by plenty of cash to support campaigns.

    Would Cameron be PM now, without a bankrolled marginals campaign?

  • rate this

    Comment number 254.


    On R4 they were discussing the possibility our economies may be going the way of Japan in terms of growth and asking whether it was such a bad thing.

    Managing expectations may be difficult -selling the message no more boom and bust ain't easy, certainly did not work for Gordon.

    PS Could never get the image of Woody out of my mind when Romney took to the podium.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.


    :- )

    Ah got you, yes. The hat made me think Bush. Never did see Romney in a ten gallon (one of his better points).

    Just thinking (re the USA - and indeed the UK - future point), that 'graceful management of decline' ambition is much derided but it actually has a lot going for it, I'd say.

    It's certainly one of my key personal goals.


Comments 5 of 257


Features & Analysis

  • Prostitute in red light district in Seoul, South KoreaSex for soldiers

    How Korea helped prostitutes work near US military bases

  • LuckyDumped

    The rubbish collector left on the scrap heap as his city cleans up

  • A woman gets a Thanksgiving meal at a church in FergusonFamily fears

    Three generations in Ferguson share Thanksgiving reflections

  • Canada joins TwitterTweet North

    Canada's self-deprecating social media feed

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • IslandsUnmapped places

    Will the age-old quest to capture uncharted land and space ever end?


  • All-inclusive holidaysThe Travel Show Watch

    With all-inclusive holidays seeing a resurgence are local trades missing out to big resorts?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.