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Where Elections End and Politics Begins
Halloween in America: the evangelical house of death - video


Americans are particularly reluctant to describe themselves as even working class let alone poor, which explains why many are unwilling to vote for candidates who favour policies that help the poor. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Working class voters: why America's poor are willing to vote Republican
Tracey Owings is fighting hard to keep the home that has been in his family for 34 years. In 2000 his mother refinanced. In 2006 she died. In 2009 he lost his job and had no paid work for nine months. He fell behind with the mortgage. The bank moved to foreclose on the house. Gradually the work came back. Less than before. Much less. But just enough. The house is not in negative equity and now he can make the payments. But he can't get the bank to take his money. Attempts to modify the loan and take advantage of a settlement, brokered by the White House, between mortgage companies and the justice department have come to nought. "I don't qualify," he says with exasperation detailing both his efforts to meet each bureaucratic challenge and his frustration at each bureaucratic obstacle.


Barack Obama greeting former Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2010. Powell endorsed Obama for president again, in 2012. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
Colin Powell's endorsement: less a vote for Obama than a vote against Romney
Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama won't swing many votes. It has come too late to an electorate too divided and in an atmosphere too poisoned to even be heard properly, let alone persuade anyone. (Though, were he to stump for Obama in Virginia's military towns, he might make some waves.)


The last time there was a similarly seismic shift in the nation
Evolution of the American voter: 'The tectonic plates of politics are shifting'
Kasha Nelson, 31, was only supposed to go hiking with a friend. But in the 45 minutes it took to drive from Taos to Ski Valley in northern New Mexico she'd changed her vote. For the last three elections she's voted Democrat, but this time she was leaning towards Romney. "In 2008 I got caught up in the whole hope and change thing, but I've lost total confidence in Obama's ability to get us out of this mess and I thought, with his business background, Romney might be a different breed of politician."


Obama and Romney: both men tried to steer the debate back to the economy. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Obama fires and Romney falters but third debate fails to find a flourish
If the world could vote on 6 November, Barack Obama would win by a landslide. A global poll for the BBC World Service revealed that 20 out of 21 countries preferred the president to his challenger. But when you watched the presidential debate on foreign policy on Monday night you had to wonder why. Not because Mitt Romney was better, but because on matters of policy, Obama was almost as bad. It takes a friend to reveal the harsh truth to the global community, so here it is: "Obama's just not that into you."


President Barack Obama arrives to speak at a campaign event at Ohio University, October 2012. Photograph: Carolyn Kaster/AP
This presidential election show is lame, but the outcome could be dramatic
'There are two ways you can interest [the average American] in a campaign, and only two that we have ever found successful," wrote Clem Whitaker, the co-founder of America's first political consulting firm. "He likes a good hot battle, with no punches pulled ...", or "he likes the movies; he likes mysteries; he likes fireworks and parades ... So if you can't fight, PUT ON A SHOW! And if you put on a good show, Mr and Mrs America will turn out to see it".


Obama won the best lines of the night as Romney came off overly aggressive in an attempt to maintain his lead. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images
Self-assured Obama recovers with better balance of style and substance
Barack Obama had one thing going for him coming into this debate: he couldn't be any worse than the last time. Mitt Romney had one drawback: he apparently couldn't be any better.


Volunteers hand out free groceries to locals in Pueblo, Colorado. Last year the census bureau found that a third of Americans are either in poverty or desperately close to it. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images
Colorado's working poor: 'Suddenly, I'm living below the poverty line'
The first visit to the food bank is always the hardest. Michelle Venus, 52, cried. "Not while I was there," she said. "But before and after." Four years earlier, she'd been a homeowner in a $75,000 a year job. She'd donated to the food bank's fundraising drives. Now she was there to pick up food she couldn't afford to buy. "It was not what I'd expected for myself or from myself. It was just a really hard day."
Biden and Ryan fight to a bloodied draw in VP debate
"Once there were two brothers," Thomas Marshall, the 28th vice-president, said. "One went away to sea; the other was elected vice-president. And nothing was heard of either of them again."


Obama draws a big crowd at a rally in Ohio this week but many of his supporters are conflicted over what he has failed to accomplish in the last four years. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
The struggle for Obama's voters: 'I just wish he could have been better'
The first time I met Susan Aylward, in 2004, she had just emerged from the opening night of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 in Akron, Ohio, and was shooing away John Kerry supporters who wanted to give her a sticker. She intended to vote for him and she even campaigned for him, but she had no intention of bragging about it. "People don't love Kerry because they're not sure what he stands for," she said. "But I'm going to vote for him because he's not Bush."


President Barack Obama greets supporters after speaking at a campaign rally in Madison, Wisconsin. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Americans deserve a better choice in this election than the one they've got
At a dinner table in Akron, Ohio, recently half a dozen Democratic activists took a break from trashing Ralph Nader for allowing a Bush victory in 2000 to discuss the material benefits of Barack Obama's first term. One had been able to keep his children on his healthcare plan after graduation; another with a pre-existing condition had been able to move plans without penalty. Then there was an awkward silence, broken by the mention of the jobs saved in Toledo, 140 miles away, by the auto bailout. That brought us on to Republican Mitt Romney's call to "Let Detroit go bankrupt". And soon, the conversation is flowing as easily as the beer as talk turns to how bad things might have been – and could yet be – with Republicans at the helm.


Barack Obama: too emotionally disconnected? Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Barack Obama: time for the president to show some anger
The appeal of any presidential candidate, argued Richard Nixon's speechwriter, Raymond Price, is based on a "gut reaction, unarticulated, non-analytical, a product of the particular chemistry between the voter and the image of the candidate … [It's] not what's there that counts, it's what's projected."


Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama talks after the first presidential debate at the University of Denver. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/AP
Romney gets off the ground in a presidential debate light on zingers
In the end there were no zingers; no knockout blows; no major blunders. But there was a winner: Mitt Romney. After several reboots and roll-outs he finally, finally found his voice. He wasn't likeable, but he was believable. Gone were the gaffes, the stiff, wooden persona and the excessive caution. He came out fighting and he kept on swinging.
'Obamacare means my child has health insurance' – video
What Race Has to Do With It
Obama's black vote: 'They look at me like I was a traitor' - video
Return to Roanoke: 'I never thought things could become more divided'
Chelsea's had a baby; the bookshop has closed; Joyce has gone back to school; a medical school has opened. A great deal has changed in the Virginia town of Roanoke – a swing area in a swing state – since I spent three weeks there during the last presidential election. Back then I asked a black woman if she thought Virginia would elect a black man to the presidency. She paused for five seconds. "If they really know how things are now they would … They should," she said desperately trying to convince herself.
Younge America: does Obama still electrify Democratic voters? - video
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Another Day in the Death of America
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