UK Politics

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

  • 7 November 2012
  • From the section UK Politics
  • comments

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.