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facts & arguments

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at an election campaign rally in Concord, N.H., Nov. 4, 2012.JASON REED/Reuters

If the world voted

"If the world could vote for a U.S. president … the outcome would be less than a thriller," says The Huffington Post. "Several polls indicate the overwhelming majority of people living outside of the United States would vote for Barack Obama if they had the chance. According to a 21-nation poll conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA for the BBC World Service, an average of 50 per cent of people surveyed abroad favour Obama. Only 9 per cent of those polled prefer Romney, and in 20 out of 21 countries voters would choose Obama. … Pakistan is the only country in the survey that prefers a Romney presidency. Fourteen per cent of polled Pakistanis would vote Republican against 11 per cent Democrat. Seventy-five per cent of Pakistanis do not favour either candidate."

Politics and charity

"Republicans and Democrats appear to donate roughly equal percentages of their income to charity," says a recent paper by MIT political scientists Michele Margolis and Michael Sances. The actual difference, they argue, is where that money goes: "Liberals and Democrats are more inclined to donate to nonreligious organizations, while conservatives and Republicans donate to religious causes, especially their own congregations." While those results aren't surprising, says Pacific Standard magazine, additional observation may raise some eyebrows: "We find that charitable contributions fluctuate based on the political landscape." Specifically, they write, Democrats apparently give less money to charity when a Republican is in the White House, and vice versa.

Election? Can't afford it

"You might think democracy is priceless," says The Guardian. "You'd be wrong. In Zimbabwe, there's a very definite price tag attached: $219-million [U.S.] … It's a two-for-one deal. In the coming year, if all goes to plan – and it rarely does – Zimbabweans should vote twice: once in a referendum on a new constitution and again during national elections. … Zimbabwe's situation is not unusual. Elections are a generally expensive business. In the United States, spending in preparation for [this] week's election is estimated to be nearly $6-billion, with campaign adverts taken into account. … But the United States can afford expensive elections. Zimbabwe, alas, cannot. Finance Minister Tendai Biti came out last week and told the rest of his unity government quite bluntly that there's unlikely to be enough money in the budget to fund the necessary democratic processes."

Reading and politics

The books you buy "may say more about you than just your preference for paperback romances or historical non-fictions," writes Gabrielle Levy of United Press International. "The latest infographics by Engage, using data gathered from Facebook via the Trendsetter app, parses popular book choices and compares them with political leanings. Among the most highly engaged voters on either side of the spectrum Noam Chomsky's Failed States (liberal) and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged (conservative) are the most popular. David Sedaris's When You Are Engulfed in Flames and Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas are popular with left-leaning users, whereas the Bible and C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series are popular with the right. J.K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter books are firmly in Obama's column."

Thought du jour

"Successful politicians are insecure and intimidated men. They advance politically only as they placate, appease, bribe, seduce, bamboozle or otherwise manage to manipulate the demanding and threatening elements in their constituencies."

Walter Lippmann, American writer and political commentator (1889-1974)