On a knife edge
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The US presidential election has come down to women against men, turnout against momentum
FOR one prominent Cleveland businessman, a lifelong Democrat, the election had come down to a couple of burning questions: Did he dare tell his wife that he was thinking of voting for Mitt Romney? Would she ever forgive him?
In the end, although tempted, he did not dare and voted early for Obama. His quandary illustrates a fundamental dynamic of the excruciatingly close Ohio vote, which in turn could decide the election. Many men who voted for Obama in 2008 are now leaning toward Romney because they are frustrated by the president's handling of the economy and convinced that he cannot spur a decisive recovery.
Many women, more focused on social issues, the problems they face in the work force and particularly the right to abortion, just think these men have lost it.
My Ohio survey was unscientific — conversations over a few days — but national polling reveals a sharp split along gender lines. The latest poll by The New York Times and CBS News found that Obama is supported by 52 per cent of women and 44 per cent of men, while Romney is preferred by 51 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women.
The race is poised on a knife-edge: the knives at the American breakfast tables where many husbands and wives are arguing.
If Obama loses, he will have to blame not only his disastrous first debate performance, his futile attempt to define Romney as a monstrous unfeeling capitalist, and his touch of alienating coolness. He will have to blame his inability to convince the leaders of corporate America that he is not "anti-business". The anti-Obama feeling I encountered among business leaders in both Cleveland and Chicago was of startling vehemence. It included his failure to place business leaders in his inner circle, his reluctance to listen to them at White House gatherings and his lack of business experience.
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