7 Nov 2012

US election 2012: McDonald’s, Dixieland, ‘dead heat’ so far?

As votes come in across the United States, Channel 4 News samples the atmosphere at election night events in the UK and US.

US election 2012: McDonald's, Dixieland, 'dead heat' so far?

There are plenty of distractions at the US Embassy’s election night party in central London – from a McDonald’s restaurant in the basement to a Dixieland jazz band.

But here, as it is elsewhere for Republicans and Democrats alike, all the real attention is on the big screens showing the latest election results.

With the race still too close to call, Channel 4 News has spoken to experts, politicians and supporters to take the temperature of US election night in London and elsewhere.

Labour’s Chuka Umunna, at the US Embassy event, told Channel 4 News it was “no secret” who he would be supporting in the tight race for the White House.

“The Democrats are our sister party, so it’s not a massive jump to predict who I am backing. I clearly hope Barack Obama is re-elected, but of course whoever wins we will seek to work with them if we have the privilege to be in government again,” he said.

However, he believes it’s still all to play for over in America.

“It’s too close to call. It’s a different night, a different party, than four years ago,” he added.

‘Long night ahead’

Dr James D.Boys, a US politics expert and research fellow at King’s College, London, predicted that it would be a long night ahead.

“I think that the Republican vote is probably being underreported and what you are seeing – that there is a tie going into this – is remarkable for Romney because he was 10 points behind in a lot of states two months ago…

“What I’m thinking is, if we get a result tonight, I think it is possible that Obama will win the electoral college but perhaps not the popular vote, however it is entirely possible we will not get the results tonight. With so many absentee ballots, that could make a difference in quite a lot of states, for example Ohio – and if the margin is less than 0.5 per cent there, we could have a recount so we could be in for a delay in the result,” he told Channel 4 News.

Absentee ballots are not counted until 17 November, he said, and there are a lot of them, which could make a difference. He also believes that, if Obama does win, it could be down to his response to Superstorm Sandy.

“You know the old story, the hare and the tortoise? It’s like that. The president went off like a hare, and Romney like a tortoise – but he threatens to pip him on election day. If it was not for Sandy, I think we would be at a very different point right now.”

In Washington, guests at the Democrat election night party said it is still too early to tell who will win – but added that they were optimistic about the exit polls so far. They are watching for Florida, Ohio and Virginia, they told Channel 4 News.

Emma and Emily, both White House interns, said they don’t expect to have a new boss tomorrow.

“God I hope not!” they said – but it will be a close call, they believe. The thought of a re-count they described as “scary”.

Back in the UK, Stacy Hilliard of Republicans Abroad said Mitt Romney appealed to the moderate voters across America. She said overseas perceptions of the Republican party were not always accurate.

“No side has a monopoly on idiots. Both sides have their fair share. Unfortunately ours are maybe just more photogenic,” she said with a smile.

No side has a monopoly on idiots. Stacy Hilliard, Republicans Abroad

She said the fact that Romney was a Mormon was no longer an issue for most Americans onsidering the state of the economy and his business reputation.

The two key reasons most Republicans voted Republican, she said, came down to their preference for state government rather than a big federal government, as well as fiscal policy – focusing on the private sector to get growth. And she pointed out that keeping an eye on the other races tonight – the senate and the house – was key because neither president-to-be would achieve much without their backing.

Ms Hilliard, who worked with Mitt Romney on his gubernatorial campaign, added: “He’s a CEO. He’s able to manage, without being nasty. When you’re sitting in a crowded room with your back to the door and he walks in, you know somebody important has walked in.”

Whether that presence will take him through to being (arguably) the most powerful man in the world is still a fair few hours from being decided – we’ll be keeping you updated via social media all night, on our Twitter feed and live blog.

Watch below: the Channel 4 News US election playlist