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How Americans Choose Their President

  • Susan Koster

After being bombarded with election news and campaign ads for months, Americans will soon (11/4) be asked to choose the man they want to lead the U.S. for the next four years. How will they arrive at the decision?

For the party faithful, deciding who will be the next American president is an easy decision. Most, like Adriana Codero, have known for a while who they will vote for on Election Day:

"I always vote Democrat, pretty much, because I tend to agree with them."

But political analyst Dotty Lynch of American University says independent voters are having a more difficult time choosing their candidate:

"Many people like both of the candidates, so they are trying to figure out which one will really do something about the issues they care about."

Overwhelmingly, the economy is the issue on most Americans' minds. Polls indicate that a majority of Americans believe Senator Obama will do a better job at turning the economy around. Danny Williams agrees:

"Barack Obama is a smarter guy on those type of topics. McCain, he is a fighter and everything. I like a lot of things he stands for, but given the situation, I'd definitely go with Barack Obama."

But some Americans are concerned with issues other than the economy. They are looking for a president who shares their views on so-called social issues, such as whether women should continue to have the right to an abortion, or whether gay couples should be allowed to get married. Dan Ciszewski is one of those voters:

"I'm voting for Senator McCain. The issues that are important to me are moral and ethical issues, and I read both of the candidates' positions on these issues and his values more align with mine."

That choice is often based on more than simply how the candidates say they will solve those problems:

Many Americans have also said they believe Barack Obama's race - his mother was a white American and his father was a black African - makes a difference to them in this election. Some voters say they are excited by the prospect of the first African American U.S. president; other voters express misgivings about electing a black president. But for voter Shannon Hibbard, race isn't the issue: He says "I just go by usually who I have an instinct is a good person and somebody I can trust."

Dotty Lynch of American University says Americans get most of their information about the candidates and their positions from television:

But there are other sources voters turn to:

"People seem to want more information and it is available on the Internet. People can go to candidates' Websites. They can go to various news organizations' Websites. We are seeing there are a lot of clicks on those sites."

By now, Dotty Lynch says, most Americans have made up their minds whether they want to see Barack Obama or John McCain in the White House next January, but some may wait until they're in the voting booth on November 4th tomorrow before they finally decide.

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