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Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, finish filling out their ballots while voting during the U.S. presidential election in Belmont, Massachusetts. (BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS)
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, finish filling out their ballots while voting during the U.S. presidential election in Belmont, Massachusetts. (BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS)

Expats debate: How the U.S. campaign changed my mind Add to ...

The U.S. election campaign began, effectively, more than a year ago, when Republicans began to position themselves to become their party’s nominee for president. Months later, after hundreds of millions have been spent in ads and hours of speeches on the campaign trail, voting day is almost here.

For some voters, their minds were long-ago made up. For others, the long campaign has made them rethink their positions.

This is part of ourU.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series– expats talking about life and politics south of the border.

Andrew Grimson, an academic in Hanover, N.H., from Regina:

I have moved from being right of centre to left of centre (Republican to Democrat), more from keeping Mitt Romney and his gang out than for rewarding Barack Obama and crew with another term. I don’t think Mr. Romney would be able to bring about bipartisanship – he can’t nullify the Tea Party and other fringes. To deal with the deficit and debt, it does not matter who is in power. We will have to tackle Social Security and Medicare and change them drastically. We will have to make cuts and raise taxes (or close loopholes). I think Mr. Obama has a slight advantage in bring these about in a sensible way.

Keith Vincent, a student in Boynton Beach, Fla., from Corner Brook, Nfld.:

While I was initially a reluctant Romney supporter, mostly out of the necessity of picking the alternative to Mr. Obama, I have grown to like Mitt Romney more over time. His performances in the debates, his choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate, and his presidential demeanour have all helped ease my concerns about his candidacy. My confidence in Mr. Romney's ability to tackle the lingering economic problems, the primary concern for most Americans, has been emboldened.

Jason Sidhu, who works in California’s Silicon Valley, from Vancouver:

I thought having a bi-racial president would be a great thing for America that would help unite us and move us forward. This election, however, makes me think that instead, Barack Obama becoming president simply served as a lightning rod to galvanize opposition to change and bring everyone together who fears change. That is an ugly side of America that has been openly displayed for all to see this election cycle.

The good news is that if the Republicans lose the presidential election, they will hopefully abandon this strategy of simply galvanizing the white vote to win. Hopefully it will send a strong signal to the party leadership that big changes are needed and that they need to widen their tent and create a more centrist platform, or forever be locked out of the White House.

I hope that future election campaigns are not like this one. I hope the trenches are not drawn so deep around racial lines, but rather around differences in policies and ideas. I hope big ideas are debated and that all issues are on the table in future elections and that everyone feels compelled to vote instead of being driven to cynicism.

Colleen Pendergast, who lives and works in Nantucket, Mass., from Edmonton:

Normally a Democrat, but very unhappy with the past four years, I was as open-minded as I could be about both candidates. I tried to see places where President Obama would perform better in the next four years, but I never did. And if I have to watch four more years of President Obama courting celebrities and sitting court-side, while this country continues it's downward spiral, I will go crazy. I appreciated Mr. Romney's financial success and business acumen and think his skills would be a great asset to this struggling nation. But, his desire for more war, more military spending, and his socially conservative values are something that I just can't get behind.

My biggest issue with voting for a third party candidate was whether it would be a "wasted vote." I knew that if I didn't support one of the Big Two, my vote wouldn't count for much. But, as I watched both the Republicans and the Democrats each spend millions on their conventions, billions on campaign ads (while this country is near bankrupt), I was more frustrated with them than ever.

As I paid closer attention to the independent candidates, I became more and more impressed: They were speaking my language. A "wasted vote?" – no way. It is a "momentum vote" and a powerful message. So, with a clear conscience, I will be voting Independent in this election.

Meredith Nelson, who lives and works in Raleigh, N.C., from Ottawa:

I don't think the President has done a very good job articulating his accomplishments beyond averting a second great depression. Mr. Romney has made a convincing case for needing new economic leadership, and for those able to look beyond other issues I can see how his message is resonating. Furthermore, on reflection, I don't think Mr. Obama worked hard enough during his first term to build bridges with Republicans and to exploit the divisions in that party which he himself predicts could lead to an internal war should he be re-elected. The American system is designed to force bi-partisanship and I think the super-majority of 2008 was a curse from the beginning: There was a sense among Democrats that they were invincible. Mr. Obama bought into this and made a lot of people really angry along the way. Whoever wins this election will have to reach across the aisle to get anything done. I hate to admit it but I think Mr. Romney would be more successful than Mr. Obama was.

Nevertheless, if I could vote I would cast my ballot for Mr. Obama. Contrary to what the campaigns would have you believe there is more at stake than the fiscal cliff and the economy. When it comes down to what kind of society I want to live in I feel more strongly than ever that I want a Democrat at the helm.

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