THE UK RESPONSE TO OBAMA’S VICTORY

PLMR

Regardless of one’s own political views, the fact is that in the UK President Obama's re-election to a second term in the White House was the preferred outcome.

Despite the UK’s current Coalition led government, comprised of a large majority of Conservatives and a minority of centre-left Liberal Democrats, an Angus Reid poll  found Britons favour Obama to Romney by a 10-to-1 margin. An Opinum poll found even among Conservatives, only 13% thought a Romney victory would be good for Britain.

Obama’s continuous call for unity across the political spectrum in order to meet the country’s challenges together has particular resonance in the UK as the Coalition government, is struggling to make bi-partisan compromise work. With many watching election results through the night, UK leaders and the public are already looking to the future to see whether President Obama’s pledge that, “the best is yet to come” will come to fruition.

PLMR is pleased to provide you with reactions to the election results from this side of the pond.

Political Reaction

Media Reaction

PLMR Reaction

Expert Reaction

 


Political Reaction

Conservative reaction:
UK Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to announce his support for Obama’s victory over Twitter.

Mr Cameron tweeted: “Warm congratulations to my friend @BarackObama. Look forward to continuing to work together.”

Mr Cameron also observed, “the message loud and clear from this election… You win elections in the mainstream.” Sending a message to the far right in his own party that, “elections are won in the common ground, the centre ground. That is where you need to be, arguing about the things that matter to most people.”

While speaking recently during his tour of the Middle East, David Cameron expressed his ambition to work with President Obama on several issues:

“There are so many things that we need to do: we need to kick start the world economy and I want to see an EU-US trade deal. Right here in Jordan I am hearing appalling stories about what has happened inside Syria so one of the first things I want to talk to Barack about is how we must do more to try and solve this crisis.”

Labour reaction:
The leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition in the UK, Ed Miliband, also sent congratulations over Twitter describing his victory as “based on building a fairer economy and optimism about what politics can achieve”.

Tweet from Charlie Wheelen, a past spin doctor to former British Labour Prime Minster Gordon Brown:

@BBCNormanS ‘in this together’ worked for @BarackObama ‘cause he wasn’t cutting tax for millionaires. Unlike the Tories

Tweet from Labour MP Jamie Reed:

Jamie Reed@jreedmp “Hope those Tories working on the Romney campaign bring all that luck back with them.”

Liberal Democrat reaction:
Lord Chris Rennard, the former chief executive of the Liberal Democrats, comments:
“The Liberal Democrats welcome the re-election of a President committed to fairness and tolerance as well as someone committed to peace and justice in the world. As coalition partners they will be relieved to see that it is possible to win in a recession and see off a threat from an intolerant right inward looking right wing.”

Shaun Roberts, the Liberal Democrats Head of Ground Communications and Messaging adds:
“This is a phenomenal result re-electing the President despite a tough economy. Obviously this was a huge campaign, but the investment we saw in the ground game was obviously crucial in such a close race. I saw this at close hand in Colorado – person to person contact added an element to this campaign that Romney could not match. That, plus having some very strong messages to key demographic groups, really made the difference. Political parties and not for profit organisations around the world will be taking note!”


Media Reaction

Peter Oborne of the Daily Telegraph reports that Romney’s defeat sends a strong message to David Cameron to resist the calls by the far right of the party who are calling for the next election campaign to be run on a platform of “true Toryism” advocating tough immigration rules, shrinking state and opposition to the European Union.

Recently, Oborne adds that Cameron has been under pressure to bring back as chief strategist Lynton Crosby, the UK equivalent of Karl Rove. But while Rove predicted an easy win for Romney, “Obama’s subsequent victory is a massive and humiliating blow to the Rove/Crosby school of politics.”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/9661499/US-election-2012-A-good-day-for-David-Cameron-but-a-rout-for-the-Tory-Rights-vision.html

Unless Democrats and Republicans can compromise on a deal for tax cuts, tax rises and spending cuts as of January 1st 2013, the US will be sent over a “fiscal cliff” that risks taking the US into a double dip recession and causing damage to Britain. Indeed, British TV’s Channel 4 News reported that UK Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said the economic impact on Britain could be “bigger” than the effects of the crisis in the eurozone, as Britain is America’s biggest foreign investor and has close trade ties
http://www.channel4.com/news/obama-from-elation-to-potential-economic-nightmare

Robert Watson of The Times reports President Obama’s victory was reassuring for the Conservative Party in that an incumbent can get re-elected while the economy remains sluggish, and also affirmed to David Cameron that elections need to be won from the centre.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/americas/article3593583.ece

Ian Martin of the Daily Telegraph reports that David Cameron has long been a fan of President Obama and the gamble of building close relations has paid off for another four years. This is good news for Mr Cameron and will build his confidence at a time when he much needs it.

The Telegraph adds, “More than that, Cameron will take heart from the triumph of an incumbent. The economic despond of recent years was, in the end, not an impediment to victory for Obama. The message that although the economy is far from fixed, a corner has been turned on growth which was appealing to middle-ground voters.

“That notion – blended with the idea that whilst Obama is far from perfect he looks like he suits office compared to his opponent – was good enough for the Democrats.

“That offering, or something similar, is the offering Labour fears most from David Cameron in 2015. For all Ed Miliband has a polling lead and his party is projecting confidence, its leadership knows that Cameron is far from finished and fears that he can recover. Miliband is a long way from convincing voters. The Tories are still polling in the thirties, despite the best (or worst) efforts of a government prone to wounding itself. Yes, there is Europe, UKIP, and all the rest. But if the economy continues to recover, even modestly, the Tories will be in with a decent shout. Obama won, and Cameron can win too.”
http:/blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/iainmartin1/100188287/obamas-victory-is-good-news-for-david-cameron/

Amol Rajan of the Independent states President Obama’s second term in office will not be easy, and “far harder than his supporters pretend” given the “coming fiscal cliff is just the beginning of what could be a years-long-impasse.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-disunited-states-why-president-obamas-negative-campaign-bodes-ill-for-america-8293177.html

The Guardian reflects, “If Mr Obama’s first presidential election victory was a triumph of the audacity of hope, his second is a triumph for the audacity of good electoral judgement in difficult times.”

The Guardian also reports that Obama’s re-election is an opportunity for David Cameron to warn the right of his party to take note of Obama’s success and remain as the common ground.

Adding, “In the end Mr Obama owes his second term more to his vast campaign war chest and the ruthless professionalism of his get-out-the-vote machine than he did first time around, when hope and idealism did more to carry him to the White House. It is clear that the ground campaign at local level must have made the difference in the key contests yesterday.”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/07/us-elections-barack-obama-editorial

Daniel Finklestein of The Times finds the US election “disappointing, negative, expensive” that should not be considered inspiring to the British. He stated, “Whoever won the election cannot govern by themselves. They will need Congress. And, even if there are brief periods when the President, the Senate and the House of Representatives are all in the same hands, these brief periods soon pass. So the new President will find it very hard to do any of the things he spent the last year saying he would do.”
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/danielfinkelstein/article3592323.ece


PLMR Reaction

Senior Account Executive Tim Knight was based in Virginia as an assistant to the Regional Field Director for President Obama in Fairfax County. Tim observed in his Get out the Vote campaign work that “even an issue as apparently straightforward as the act of voting, and more specifically voter identification, is extremely politicised and bitterly contested.”

Account Manager Peter Elms predicted in advance of the election that Obama would win, citing that Governor Romney would not get his key messages across.

Account Executive Jessica Bridgman observes President Obama’s success could still be hampered by deadlock between the Executive and Legislative branch and especially when it comes to fiscal issues.

As the UK Coalition voices support for expanding and investing in the UK teach industry, PLMR’s Charlie Cadywould states President Obama has also shown himself to be the tech industry’s friend in a number of other key policy areas.


Expert Reaction

Reaction from the UK PR sector

Francis Ingham, the UK Director General of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) states it was a close election but a good omen for Prime Minister Cameron’s re-election hopes.

“From a UK perspective, Obama’s victory plays well for Cameron – he has proved incumbents can win even when their economy is weak, something which will give the Prime Minister hope as he enters the second half of his term.”

“Obama may have won 100 more Electoral College votes than Romney, but this was a remarkably close election, with many battleground seats won by very small margins, and with the power of incumbency possibly decisive as events played out on the Eastern seaboard last week. With the House still in Republican hands, and with the US facing a fiscal cliff, these will nonetheless be challenging times for the President. From a UK perspective, Obama’s victory plays well for Cameron –he has proved that incumbents can win even when their economy is weak, something which will give the Prime Minister hope as he enters the second half of his term.”

Response from the UK technology sector

President Obama’s win is good news for the tech sector in both the US and the UK. Chris Yiu, Head of the Digital Government Unit of the UK think tank Policy Exchange comments on the results:

“Technology and the digital economy will be a key item on the President’s agenda. Our recent report Bits and Billions highlighted the economic imperative of helping start-ups to scale up, and how this relies on education, visa reform and support for entrepreneurship. And as with the UK, continuing to open up data, to reform online public services, to protect internet freedoms and to enable broadband roll-out and take-up will also be important.”

http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/digital-government

Response from UK Academia

Dr. Emma Sanderson-Nash, Lecturer at the University of Sussex says, “My students and fellow academics at the University of Sussex were following the campaign and it was a very difficult result to call.

“First impressions are that it represents a decisive win for Obama, and the Democrats made important gains in the Senate too.  Analysis of the black, hispanic and woman’s vote will prove central to this win.

“It suggests that the Republicans under Bush well and truly lost their reputation for managing the economy and there seems to be a more sustained shift to the centre left.”

Response from the transatlantic polling & campaigns company Stratcom

While in the end Obama won easily, the popular vote was small. Political and polling analyst, Bob Penner asks how could Mitt Romney come so close to winning?

“While much analysis will be done in the next days and weeks about the campaign strategies and tactics, the micro targeting, the ad campaigns and the massive spending, in the end they didn’t achieve all that much – especially given their magnitude: the numbers really didn’t move that much.”

“Yes Obama governed in challenging times, and inherited difficult circumstances.  But at one level it doesn’t matter the reasons why Obama was perceived to have done a poor job.  As the Obama campaign did, you could blame the congress, the economy or the wars he inherited. You can blame George Bush, or Wall Street.  But in politics “when you’re explaining you’re losing.”  To many voters your explanations are excuses.  If you’re an American who lost your job or lost your home, that’s what you are going to care about. If you live in a depressed city because your neighbours have lost their houses or jobs you are going to care about that, and you’re likely to think the guy at the top should have done more for you.

Tough times are tough for politicians, but still many of them succeed in them. They manage to get their agenda, or important parts of it, delivered, and they are understood by voters for what they could or couldn’t do under the circumstances. Obama did some of this, but not enough.  Almost always these successful politicians are perceived for standing up, win or lose, for some group of people, a constituency, region or a class.  Why didn’t this happen for Obama in a more significant way in his first term?

Largely that’s no longer important.  What is important is term two.  And what is going to be important for the Democrats is not losing congress in 2014, or the presidency in 2016, both reasonable possibilities.  What’s also important for Obama is making his legacy the success of term two, not the popular vote split decision of term one.

So what will we see in the future?  I think we’ll see a more activist President, and a more combative President.  He will pick sides, more than he has done, and will put forward programs and solutions that he and his advisors think he can deliver on for the constituencies that the Democrats need to win coming elections.

Close elections you win are a bit like firm but forgiving parents: they make sure you’ve learned your lessons, but they also give you another chance to do better.

Here’s hoping that Obama does.”

Bob Penner is a Canadian political consultant who runs the political, communications and fundraising firm StratCom (http://www.stratcom.co.uk), which has recently expanded to the U.K.


 

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