Friday, 30 March 2012

How to.. Blog & Get Noticed

The internet is a colossal space filled with blogs and aspiring writers, so how does one stand out in the mass of talent on a growing platform of user generated content? When I see my traffic increase I occasionally want to burst into song,  'Hello.. Is it me you're looking for?', I always wonder if they stumbled upon me or sought me out.

There are blogs on every and any subject, there are personal blogs, professional blogs, and academic blogs, so how do you reach your audience? It can all be done with a few simple steps in the right direction.



Step 1: Be your own PR guru - Learn to sell your work to others


Like the old saying goes, if you want anything done right - do it yourself. With the masses of blogs available, visitors will stumble upon your blog but to get the traffic you need to become a trusted and respected blogger you'll need to take things into your own hands. Social networking is the best platform to market your blog, set up a separate Twitter account for your blog, and start by spreading it around your friends. Once you've done that, you can start linking your blog posts in your tweets, use hash tags to make it easily available for people interested and searching for related topics. For example, I use hash tags such as #BarackObama or #Election2012, occasionally I'll tag the actual person in the tweet. You never know, their team may stumble upon your blog if you persevere - become unavoidable but never annoying. Be sure to use your Facebook account as well to reach a larger amount of people if you're new to Twitter.

You can also print out your own flyers and distribute them across your university campus or hand them out to relevant societies and clubs to gather a loyal following. If you blog about a specific interest such as fitness, you can go to your local gym and distribute flyers there as there is a continual flow of people eager to improve their fitness and read tips and advice.

The important thing here is to consider your target audience, think about their habits and how you can fit into that. If you were blogging about a topic such as the one on this blog, you could pin flyers in the halls of the American Studies building, or inform the American Studies society of your blog. Students support other students, so you're likely to gather new visitors. It may be worthwhile getting someone to endorse your blog to by word of mouth, word of mouth is some of the most effective publicity as we all trust each other's opinions.

Press releases may also be a good idea, especially if you're serious about becoming a blogger. It's a good way to get your stories noticed by people relevant to your topic without spamming them with Tweets or Facebook notifications.

Keep your audience - Once you've got them, you need to keep them. Don't take for granted they'll always come back, so add a Subscribe gadget, or include your Twitter on your blog so they can follow you and be aware when you add new content. You need to hold their interest, and their support. Barack Obama's campaign team doesn't wait and hope for donations for the campaign, they email their subscribers with new information to keep them updated. Encourage interaction, ask for reactions in comments, or provoke a response with a controversial topic. Not everybody will agree with your work, but they might come back again if they think you're brave enough to approach a touchy subject.

Step 2: Update content - Just keep writing

In a few simple words, keep calm and carry on. Even if your blog reaches a temporary standstill, keep finding inspiration for writing and keep up to date with your topic or you'll find you will suddenly become overwhelmed. Keep blogging or reading up on your topic, and the more you blog the better your writing will become. It sounds like a cliche but when it comes to writing, practice does make perfect. Search engines take into account how often your blog is updated and the amount of new content generated, so it's important to keep it relevant with fresh content, even if it's only linking to other blogs, videos or articles.  If you're a student, it can be difficult to keep on top of this, but its worth doing especially if you're looking at a career in the media as it will give you an edge when it comes to an interview, it will show the enthusiasm and commitment you'll need to break into the industry.

Step 3: Make it easy to find


This is a crucial factor in standing out, make sure your headlines contain keywords so that they will show up in news results on search engines. Although a a clever headline may seem like a good idea, it becomes a waste if no one is there to read it. So avoid headlinese and use keywords relevant to your topic, this will ensure your blog posts show up in the search results and are easily found by your target audience.

Step 4: Interact with other bloggers, don't be a wallflower

Contacting other bloggers can be daunting, especially as a newcomer in the blogging sphere. If you're a student, chances are plenty of your peers are doing the same thing, so build a network of bloggers. You can help each other out, without feeling self conscious. It's also worth seeking out blogs within your topic, comment on posts and make yourself known. If you give feedback, chances are you'll get some in return.

Step 5: Be patient.


Getting your blog noticed won't happen overnight, it will take commitment and time that you might not always be able to find. Like they say, Rome wasn't built in a day. Be patient and eventually you will get somewhere. Good luck!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Nuts and Bolts: The iPad 3





Apple have launched a new model of the much loved tablet the iPad, so what's with all the hype? Read more for a deliciously quick and easy to understand overview of Apple's new addition.



Tech Talk - The Basics iNeedToKnow


9.7 inch screen
LED-backlit glossy wide screen
2048x1536 Resolution
A5X Chip
5 mega pixel iSight camera
1080p HD video shooting capability with auto video stabilisation
10 hours battery life
Wi-Fi - 4G LTE
Bluetooth 4.0 technology
AirPlay video streaming to Apple TV - 1080p

Price - Starting at £399 and available from Apple

Apple describes it's product as 'Resolutionary' and the new iPad boasts a retina display, with four times more pixels than the last model with a colossal 3.1 million pixels on the screen. It also includes a dual core A5X chip, which without all the tech speak means the iPad itself runs quicker even with this graphics chip. It has been pointed out by Mashable that the new tablet takes considerably longer to charge, though with all it's new features it's not worth putting in the negatives column.



The resolution breakthrough is the selling point on this new generation of iPad. In a consumer world transfixed with HD and 3D televisions, the iPad can now offer up to one million more pixels than your average HD TV. This 9.7 inch tablet can now rival the display of a 50inch HD television, smart move Apple. The internet capabilities on the new model are also astonishingly fast, however, Apple limits its data downloads from the App Store to 50MB, which may be an irritation to those who thought faster connections meant faster downloads. The faster internet speeds will make live streaming a pleasant and stress free experience without the annoyance of buffering, so watching news bulletins, campaign ads and Barack Obama's 'The Road We've Traveled' documentary is a quick and seamless streaming experience.


Apps


FaceTime, iCloud, Safari, Photo Booth - the usual list of suspects are all included in the new model of the iPad. One which really struck me is the Newsstand app. This app compiles all your newspaper and magazine subscriptions into one place, making it that much easier to keep up to date on who's winning what in the 2012 GOP race, or to keep up to date on President Obama's approval ratings. The app updates itself automatically without your interaction, so it runs in the background while you're busy doing other things.

NYTimes app - Image courtesy of Apple
Available from the App Store is the new improved version of New York Times for iPad. The New York Times election coverage and The Caucus blog are my go to for election news, delegate updates and analysis. The New York Times often gets criticised by other news websites and bloggers, but personally I find that their election coverage is some of the most in depth and thorough pieces of research I have come across.

Of course the existing apps such as Photo Booth can make it all the easier for supporters to show their support and Tweet the pictures to Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, or whoever gets their vote. The interactive apps and social networking equivalent apps give an indication to the campaigns as to how their candidates are being received by the public.


The Barack Obama campaign launched an official Obama 2012 app for the iPhone and the iPad, which allows supporters to receive breaking news bulletins, donate to the campaign, or watch videos and find events.
Image courtesy of Obama for America at BarackObama.com


The Washington Post also created a WP Politics app, which is filled with the latest polling data and news for those interested in following the campaign trails. This app is one which boasts the most thorough of campaign information for political junkies, as it includes historical campaign history dating from 1789. For an extra $2.99, iPad users can gain access to additional features such as an unlimited supply of articles and coverage compared to the free package which allows access to the previous 48 hours worth of published content.

Full lists of apps available here and here


The downside with Apple is it's constantly upgrading it's products. Many of the existing apps will be incompatible with the new iPad and users will have to wait for the compatible apps to be launched. Not long since the release of the iPad 2 has the new iPad been launched in it's place, leaving consumers wondering if it's worth waiting for the next big thing.


One more thing...


Personally, I've not bought into the tablet craze. I'm traditional in my ways and loyal to my computer. However, Apple's new upgrade, even I would take a bite-  but you know, when the price goes down, I am a student after all.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Quick Comment: "Our alliance is essential."

What the US and British alliance can do for the Obama campaign


Photo courtesy of The Prime Minister's Office's flickr photostream 
"We Americans and Brits speak the same language most of the time. David, we are chuffed to bits that you are here."
- President Barack Obama, March 14th 2012. 

Prime Minister David Cameron and wife Samantha's first official visit to the White House comes on the heels of disappointing poll results for the Obama campaign. This morning, both President Obama and the Prime Minister addressed the press at a ceremonial event at the White House.

The visit has been widely covered across the media, highlighting Mr Obama's hospitality towards the British leader and illuminating a comfortable dynamic between the two to remove the stigma of a transatlantic relationship which was once hostile during Gordon Brown's leadership of the UK. The synergistic visit will surely be one of significance and strengthen both leaders image in both foreign and domestic opinion. Critics will claim that the visit suffers from glorified media coverage and forced anecdotes such as both men's comments on Mr Obama taking the Prime Minister to a basketball game during the visit.


A strong relationship overseas can only strengthen Barack Obama's public image, as if David Cameron were to show diplomatic support in the Iran issue, then this would also reflect well on his image given the criticisms given by the Republican candidates. Foreign support for Mr Obama could only increase domestic approval for the president. Both men promoted similar values during their speeches this morning, with the President claiming that they are  "fighting for a global economy where every nation plays by the same rules." and stating that "The relationship between the united states and united kingdom is the strongest it has ever been."

David Cameron insisted the relationship was 'vigorous and long lasting' and  a solid transatlantic relationship should reflect well on the Obama administration, given that Mr Cameron is a Conservative leader. With the two leaders of great nations with opposing ideologies being able to find a common ground, it may work in the President's favour, accentuating favourable leadership qualities and diplomatic skill.

A dip in the polls seemed unlikely and may have caught Team Obama slightly off guard. Friday's unemployment figures were positive, with a growth in private sector jobs in February. The drop in approval came from polls conducted by The New York Times and The Washington Post. However, approval ratings on the Gallup tracking poll remain steady and indicates improvement. An email went out to supporters yesterday afternoon from campaign manager Jim Messina informing the American people that a poll conducted demonstrated that Barack Obama would lose to Mitt Romney. The likely hood is this will be short lived unless scandal or economic disappointment rocks the Obama White House, given the current state of the GOP race. Mitt Romney lost two conservative states, Alabama and Mississippi to Rick Santorum yesterday, as his rival gains momentum it could be debated that if Newt Gingrich were to withdraw from the race, his endorsement could turn the tables on Romney's campaign.

All who vouch for the ultimate (and self proclaimed) comeback kid Bill Clinton to publicly endorse Obama, please say I.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Highs and Lows of the Obama Presidency (Timeline)

Highs and Lows of the Obama Presidency in Office and the Media

Image courtesy of White House Flickr stream
 "Now is the time to keep our foot on the gas, not put on the brakes. And I am not going to settle for a country where just a few do really well and everybody else is struggling to get by."

Tripling the national deficit, a decline in public approval ratings, and  failing to fulfil his major campaign promise of closing Guantanamo, Obama's first term has been rocked with turbulence and hostility, on top of an inherited economy crisis unseen since the Great Depression.

I've compiled a list of the highs and lows of Barack Obama and his reputation, including legislation, appearances and state visits, and a few things which show that Barack Obama finds the time even on a national holiday to think of the American people.






January 20th 2009 - Inauguration of Barack Obama

Barack Obama following his inauguration.
Image courtesy of White House Flickr stream

The inauguration was a global event in which viewers observed a moment in history in which America welcomed it's first African American president. It set a record level of attendance for any Washington event, and was encapsulated in a theme to honour Abraham Lincoln. The theme was 'The New Birth of Freedom', a phrase from Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Since then it could be argued that President Obama has made a conscious modelling of his own presidency on Lincoln's, with building his own Team of Rivals including former opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton. It could be argued as to one of the many reasons that a colossal weight of expectations were placed on Obama's presidency from the moment of election.

This marked the beginning of the first 100 days of Barack Obama's presidency, which would be chronicled and documented by news outlets until April 29th 2009.

February 17, 2009 - American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

The 2009 stimulus package is one of the most criticised acts of the Obama presidency. The cost of the act was highly criticised by those on the right and the cost of the package was estimated to be $787 billion. It was considered by many to be a failure as the deficit at the end of Obama's first year in office was revealed to have tripled at $1.4trillion.

March 23, 2010 -  Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Image courtesy of White House Flickr stream

July 21, 2010 - Authorization of Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

President Obama signed an act to overhaul the Wall Street system and the law aimed to provide a new consumer protection system in order to avoid unfair practice experienced by many Americans. 

“These are reforms that would put an end to taxpayer bailouts; that would bring complex financial dealings out of the shadows; that would protect consumers; and that would give shareholders more power in the financial system."
President Obama, April 2010

March 2010 - BP Oil Spill Disaster

The oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 left many disappointed with the President's leadership. 20 million gallons of oil leaked into the gulf and the Obama administration's handling of the crisis left many feeling like their actions lacked decisiveness and generally displayed weak leadership. The administration were criticised for blaming the oil company for the disaster and failing to act quickly enough. The Gulf of Mexico is expected to fully recover by the end of this year.

December 22, 2010 - Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010

President Obama authorised the end to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' act, a controversial law banning openly gay Americans to join the armed forces. The end of the law was a milestone for the gay community and the President released a statement which said, 'I was proud to sign the Repeal Act into law last December because I knew that it would enhance our national security, increase our military readiness, and bring us closer to the principles of equality and fairness that define us as Americans.' 

April 27, 2011 - Obama Releases Birth Certificate


Following a row with right wing 'birthers' and sceptics of Obama's nationality, the pressure to release the President's birth certificate mounted. 

April 30, 2011 - White House Correspondents Dinner

Following the birther row, President Obama reacts to Donald Trump's stance on his nationality and constitutional right to be president with this hilarious 'birth video.' The birthing row had been an embarrassing media spectacle, as many believed Obama had been holding the birth certificate specifically to overshadow Republican politics. Since then the 2012 campaign has released 'Made in America' merchandise.



May 1st 2011 - Death of Osama Bin Laden

Image courtesy of White House flickr stream

Inheriting a war on terror which has dominated both American and British war efforts in the last decade, Barack Obama signed off on a raid which resulted in the death of Osama Bin Laden. The mission had been put into place following information obtained by the United States government in the summer of 2010, and was carried out by a group of Navy SEALs. At present, this could be argued to be the defining highlight of Barack Obama's presidency, finding America's most wanted criminal, a mission which the Bush administration failed to accomplish.


Personally, I enjoy the President's little swag walk at the end of this address.

May 24, 2011 - President Obama is greeted in London by the Queen

On his first official state visit to the United Kingdom, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were welcomed by the Queen. The Obamas also attended a state banquet at Buckingham Palace.

May 25th, 2011 - President Obama receives standing ovation at Westminster Abbey


During his first state address at Westminster Abbey, President Obama praised the relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom and claimed it would remain 'indispensable.'

June 21, 2011 - Announcement of Afghanistan withdrawal plan


September 11th 2011 - Tenth Anniversary of September 11th

Image courtesy of White House Flickr stream


October 21, 2011 - President Obama announces troop withdrawal from Iraq


November 24, 2011 - The President makes 'Happy Thanksgiving' calls to military workers

Image courtesy of White House flickr stream


                                January 2012 - New York Fundraiser 'Lets Stay Together'



I'll admit, this one is one of my personal favourites. Maybe not a political highlight but definitely one of character.


January 25, 2012 - State of The Union - Announces Auto Bailout Success



"We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back." - President Obama

President Obama reinforced his belief in the bailout on February 27 to the United Auto Workers union conference. He defended the decision, claiming "I placed my bet on American workers. And I'll make that same bet again any day of the week."

The auto bail out provoked criticism from Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, who both opposed the $80 billion given to General Motors, and Chrysler Group.

February 10, 2012 - Barack Obama announces birth control policy compromise

February 20, 2012 - Barack and Michelle Obama come under fire for vacation costs

American voters were left disappointed when it was revealed that the Obama's vacation count had reached 16 in 3 years. Critics claimed that it was a negative turn for the Obama image during a time when the United States is experiencing such troubling economic problems and unemployment figures are still rife.

March 9, 2012 - U.S. Labor Department Announces Unemployment Rate at 8.3%

It was announced that the United States added 227,000 private sector jobs to its economy in February 2012. It was concluded that 3.9 million private sector jobs have been added in two years. However, the President remained concerned that too many Americans were still unemployed, and claimed that "More companies are bringing jobs back and investing in America. And manufacturing is adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s, the economy is getting stronger.'


Of course, for good measure, it has to be noted how the President loves the First Dog, Bo. Definite plus for reputation when there's a Dogs Against Romney movement.

Image courtesy of  White House Flickr stream


Sources

Friday, 9 March 2012

Quick Comment: Video Games

Photo taken from official trailer of The Road We've Traveled.
The trailer for The Road We've Traveled, the 17 minute David Guggenheim documentary chronicling President Obama's first term in office, was released yesterday.

Critics will claim that the documentary is an extended campaign ad in disguise, over hyped and brimming with sensationalism, glossy effects and forced interviews in favour of Barack Obama's record. Even the sceptics can't deny that it is a clever move at this point in the race where voters are bombarded with the dirty ads of the GOP candidates and the Republican electorate is at a clear divide. President Obama is pushing the positivity at this stage, before the gruelling race against the ultimate GOP winner begins and the gauntlets are thrown down, when that stage is eventually reached.

The film is narrated by Tom Hanks and Guggenheim claims he is 'in awe' of Mr. Obama, and in an interview with Piers Morgan for CNN admitted the hardest part of filming was finding a balanced approach, 'The negative for me was that there were too many accomplishments'. Something tells me Guggenheim is a little bit of a Obama fanboy. There are worse crosses to bear, one can argue. Who didn't fall in love with Obama's smooth little sing song of Al Green at that now infamous fundraiser in January? I vote for Obama to do some Barry White next.What better narrator to use than the calm tones of Tom Hanks? Woody the Cowboy himself is a favourite across the nation, it adds a certain amount of credibility to the documentary, even if people do wonder how he much he was paid to take part.

The film will debut on the 15th of March and subscribers of BarackObama.com will be notified as to where they can view the film. It is expected to air in campus halls, campaign offices and some available theatres across the country. As for my stance on the film? Two words, I'm in. Smart game play, Team Obama. Republican candidates, it's  your move.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Quick Comment: Not So Super Tuesday.


Image courtesy of BU Interactive News Flickr
The votes are in, and the GOP candidates are no closer to the finish line.


Mitt Romney stood victorious in Ohio, although he beat Rick Santorum by a slim margin. He won 37.9% of the vote compared to Santorum's 37.1%. The delegate numbers are solid, and mathematically speaking, Romney is speeding ahead as front runner, but this race leads me to believe that despite all the over spending and investing in the campaign, he is continuing to fail at connecting with many voters. I doubt his talk of Ann Romney's numerous Cadillacs did much to salvage his reputation with blue collar workers. In the same respect, Santorum is suffering the same predicament, as voters may feel his religion dominates his views for the Presidency and his vision for America. The clash of extreme religious views and politics is a combustible coalition, as it creates issues with groups such as women voters and the right to birth control.


The electorate currently stands in a fragmented state, with no clear enthusiasm for one candidate. With all the money invested without accounting for the Super PACs, it is a clear indicator that like the old saying goes, money can't buy everything. Mitt Romney fared well in Super Tuesday, though with no majestic victory. The Romney team will have a harder challenge when it comes to taking on President Obama, although they're sure to attack the President's stance on Iran, the issue of rising gas prices, and the economy, Mr Obama has the ultimate political advantage. The power of the incumbent is a silent warrior in the battle for the position of the chief executive. Voters may feel a sting of disappointment towards the President's record, but many may feel the alternative would be much worse, and many may be disappointed in the GOP for the muddy battle the race has become. The President has recently built a record of withstanding negative blows, after responding to a heckler at a fundraiser who instructed the President to 'use your leadership skills, no war on Iran!'  Obama responded with "Nobody's announced a war, young lady, but we appreciate your sentiment. You're jumping the gun a little bit there." and a cautionary smile. The Presidency is very much like the role of the adoptive father, inheriting the needs of eager and impatient voters who set the role of the Presidency as that of a miracle worker, and are ultimately saddened at the result due to the hostile and unpredictable environment that the President must operate in. The essence of maturity seen recently in the public speeches of the President is the element the GOP race lacks, which is a fundamental problem for many Republicans. Mr Obama is also known for his communication and charismatic performances during speeches, his 2008 campaign speeches inspired passion and belief in the grass roots communities, which will be a colossal threat to Romney should he secure the nomination.

The President held his first news conference since November in the White House on Super Tuesday. According to Politico, the White House officials claim the timing was no more than coincidental, and Obama gave a brief but successful 45 minute conference while his opponents anxiously awaited the results of the Super Tuesday contests. When pressed on if he had any words for his possible opponent Mitt Romney, Mr Obama responded with a cool 'Good luck tonight. Really.' and with that, the President walked away.



The current delegate counts stand at:
Mitt Romney: 415 421
Rick Santorum: 176 181
Newt Gingrich: 105 107
Ron Paul: 47
(updated 9th March)

 The New York Times delegrate tracker can be found here
Check back for a post on Barack Obama and The Incumbant's Advantage.


Note: As someone who lives in the United Kingdom, I'd love to pay $3.77 for a gallon of petrol instead of sometimes £1.40 a litre. Petrol prices are affecting the world market, not just the United States. Just an observation, no one get prickly about it.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Happy Super Tuesday!

It's arrived, and my money's on Mittens for Ohio.

Meanwhile, outside of the knife throwing circus, Barack Obama is holding his first news conference since November. One has to love the President's timing.

Politico has produced the article 10 Things to Watch on Super Tuesday, which I recommend for anyone interested in making sense of the contests today.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Quick Comment: The Vulture Tactic - Attack Ads



It has been revealed today that ad spending for Super Tuesday alone has reached $10million. Mitt Romney has spent approximately $6.3million on negative ads, and it is estimated that $16.4million has been invested  on negative ads alone by the Restore Our Future campaign, a Super Political Action committee overseen by former Romney advisers. Super PACs have the freedom to spend an unlimited amount on advertising under the condition that they do not directly converse with the candidate. Although it has been pointed out that Clinton and Obama viciously attacked each other in the Democratic race of 2008, the harshest of comments are usually saved for the general election. The  'Restore Our Future' campaign has chosen to attack fellow Republicans, sending out messages which claim that 'Newt Gingrich has more baggage than the airport'.  The aggressive style of the Romney campaign has been on display in several made for Web videos discussing Barack Obama's leadership, it has also created trending topics on Twitter to attack Gingrich such as #grandiosenewt. 


As Super Tuesday approaches, the American public are faced with relentless television ads of merciless attacks between candidates. The smear campaign of other candidates may provoke voters into reassessing their chosen candidate for the nominee, however Romney has come under attack for using such brutality in order to win back support. It may be debated whether attack ads destroy a pre existing expectation of a candidate's character, as many are disappointed in Romney's message. One user of The New York Times related the issue to Romney's Mormon faith, commenting 'I wonder if the Book of Mormon includes the parable about "those who live by the sword, die by the sword" ?' Due to the mass of negativity in the GOP, it should be considered that these attack ads may fall on deaf, disinterested ears. 

Sticks and stones, they say. What if the candidates own words can break their reputations among voters? Do attack ads really tell us about a candidates character? In an fragmented electorate all that can be said is desperate times call for desperate measures.

For details on campaign spending see Mad Money at The Washington Post
For an interesting discussion on this topic, I recommend The New York Times Opinionator
More campaign videos at Channel 4

Saturday, 3 March 2012

How To.. Make Sense of Super Tuesday


As Super Tuesday looms on March 6th, the race for the Republican presidential nominee heats up as the candidates prepare for this make or break event. I have found that for a non American, big voting days can be a puzzling matter and can quite frequently result in a massive brain ache.

To understand Super Tuesday and to make sense of it's results, it's best to kick things off with the basics. You need to know who's in the race and what they stand for, you never know, it may come in handy for a pub quiz one day. Although I'm going to whip up a quick overview on the candidates, I recommend looking here for details on where the candidates place themselves on the big issues.


Super Tuesday in a  Super Tiny Nutshell
Super Tuesday is a day with 10 states voting their choice for GOP nominee, with a grand total of 437 delegates at risk. Candidates need 1,114 delegates in the 2002 remaining in order to achieve the nomination.  Its a chance for the currently less popular (e.g. Gingrich) to regain momentum or for Santorum to outshine Romney as the front runner. In short, it's the catalyst.

Name Game: A Round-Up of Who's Who
Image courtesy of @mittromney Twitter account


Mitt Romney @mittromney

Ah, the Mitt bubble. Perhaps the most controversial of all candidates, Romney is currently front runner despite Rick Santorum's unprecedented surge in February. Former Governor of Massachusetts,  his moderate stance on issues such as abortion concern those in the GOP, and he has been attacked for being too moderate in his ideology. His Mormon faith has also been a concern for some voters. Unflattering stories of his past have continued to dog Romney in the press. Stay in your bubble, Mitt, the press are after you and they're all wondering, will the real Mitt Romney please stand up? Trivia: Romney's wife Ann reportedly has Welsh heritage. Personally I'd rather enjoy seeing the Romney's vacation in Maesteg, someone YouTube it if it happens, there's a cookie in it for whoever comes up with the goods.

Current delegate count: 150  180 (edited 05/03/2012)

Image courtesy of facebook.com/RickSantorum

Rick Santorum @ricksantorum

Santorum is the pesky thorn in Mitt Romney's side, a former United States Senator who has also dabbled in the media by commentating for Fox News. He most recently lost the Michigan primary to Romney, although very narrowly by finishing three points behind with 37.9%. Santorum considered this victorious due to Michigan being Romney's home state. He seems to connect fairly well with the working class and appeals to the social conservatives, which seemed to work in his favour in the Iowa caucus. His political ties with Pennsylvania should also assist him with his focus on Ohio. He is criticised by many female voters for his severe stance on abortion. Sorry Rick, right now you have no more control over a woman's uterus than any other man.

Current delegate count: 85 90 (edited 05/03/2012)

Image courtesy of Newt.org 

Newt Gingrich @newtgingrich

Gingrich, a former House speaker, is one of the most recognisable figures in the Republican party and was largely responsible for the takeover of Congress back in 1994 during Bill Clinton's first term. He showed strength in South Carolina but has yet to recapture that popularity in recent weeks. He has also been criticised for his interference in the Clinton presidency and urging impeachment despite his own private transgressions. Gingrich is a critic of Obama's leadership and favours repeal of Obamacare.

Current delegate count: 29

Image courtesy of  RonPaul2012.com

Ron Paul @ronpaul

A favourite with celebrities such as Kelly Clarkson, this candidate is still unable to connect with many voters. Paul served twenty years as a United States Representative for Texas and is popular with the Tea Party movement. He is known among the community for sticking to his ideological principles, and is currently concentrating on campaigning for the delegates available in the caucuses. He finished behind both Romney and Santorum in last week's Michigan primary with 11.6% of the votes, although he did not campaign in either Michigan or Arizona, relinquishing them as a battlefield between Romney and Santorum. Despite achieving the lowest number of delegates at present, Ron Paul is currently being endorsed by Chuck Norris, make of that what you will.

Current delegate count: 18 23 (edited 05/03/2012)

More information and candidate profiles available here at the Washington Post

The Ten States
Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Virginia
Newt Gingrich will be concentrating heavily on the south, especially his native state Georgia which will award 76 delegates. Gingrich will be a serious contender and Georgia is a chance for Gingrich to emulate the success he experienced in South Carolina and boost his odds. He is currently promoting a bus tour for the state with his wife Callista. However, he will not appear on the ballot for Virginia as he failed to meet the criteria needed. Chances are this one will go to Romney.
Other delegates up for grabs:
Oklahoma: 43
Tennessee: 58
Virginia: 49

Vermont and Massachusetts
Romney will have the edge needed here, however it has been pointed out he is not the same candidate Massachusetts citizens originally voted for when he became Governor, which could become a slight problem. However chances are his ties to the state will work in his favour. Massachusetts and Vermont will award 58 delegates.

Ohio
The second biggest award of the day, 66 delegates will be at stake on Super Tuesday. Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney are both focused on campaigning heavily here, with Romney travelling to Ohio last Wednesday where he campaigned in Columbus and Toledo. For Santorum, Ohio is a pivotal win. For more information and poll results for the Ohio primary, see here.

87 delegates will also be awarded in Idaho, Alaska, and North Dakota, this may be a chance for Santorum to recapture his recent surge as he's previously demonstrated popularity in the caucuses. Ron Paul is also expected to concentrate on these three states in order to revitalise his campaign.

One more thing... 

This was just a quick jump into Super Tuesday, I'd personally recommend  keeping up to date on the developments of the day as websites such as Washington Post, The New York Times, and Huffington Post will be tracking results. The more you read about the campaigns, the more you'll understand how it works.

One question remains about this day, whoever comes out on top on Super Tuesday, are American voters enthusiastic about any one candidate, or are they settling for what the GOP has to offer?

Friday, 2 March 2012

Quick Comment: Can Obamamania be resurrected?


Image courtesy of White House Flickr Stream



After immersing myself in over four hours of the Clinton documentary on PBS, I got to thinking, what if Barack Obama could work the same 'Comeback Kid' rhetoric that Bill Clinton was so talented at? Both are gifted speakers, both can connect themselves with their voters through speech, and like Clinton, Obama has a fiercely strong First Lady at his disposal.

Bill Clinton asked forgiveness time and time again, and the American public would oblige. Throughout the long winded palaver of the Lewinsky scandal and the witch hunt for Clinton's impeachment, the public would forgive him. What if Obama could claim to be the comeback kid? What if optimism in the President would provoke optimism in his voters, and revive passion in an unsettled electorate? This strategy could soon backfire if the economic state worsens or Obama suffers a setback, the GOP candidates would soon be ready to dig their teeth into the vicious rhetoric of failure. Unlike the GOP candidates, who have yet to reach the Presidency, their campaigns are based on promises. Barack Obama's campaign will have to be based on reality, not a hopeful narrative but a record of achievement. I began to wonder, if he admitted to his failings during his first term, would the American people forgive him? Or were the grand expectations that were once thrust upon Barack Obama too great for him to be granted forgiveness?

Imagine my not so surprise when I logged on to see several articles claiming that comeback is the buzzword, that it is a theme which will encapsulate Obama's re election campaign. Clever little campaign workers, I thought. Such a shame, imagine what could have happened if I had written this a few days earlier. C'est la vie, there's always next time.

Shelley-Marie Phillips