Americans went to vote Tuesday to decide whether to give President Barrack Obama a second term or to replace him with Republican Governor Mitt Romney, after a hard-fought election campaign that centered mainly on the country’s economy, healthcare, foreign policy, education, energy and immigration.
Millions of voters across the U.S. headed to polling stations in community centers, churches, schools and firehouses to cast their votes.
Media reports say the two candidates are in a very close race nationally but state-by-state polls show Obama with a narrow lead in most of the battleground states that are likely to determine the outcome.
Pundits say there is a strong chance that there will be a winner Wednesday, but poll surveys predict the contest is so close that it is possible one candidate could win the popular or majority vote while the other comes out ahead in the Electoral College.
In 2000, Republican President George W. Bush won the presidency although he had lost the popular vote to democratic presidential candidate Al Gore by more than 500,000 votes.
Zimbabweans have been watching the race closely.
Den Moyo, the chairman of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formation of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the United States, told VOA the elections show that Americans respect their constitution unlike Zimbabweans.
“For a country like ours this would be a good lesson on how to have a civilized campaign that follows the constitution to ensure that the constitution remains an important pillar in a democratic society,” said Moyo.
Portiphah Kandemiri, a Zimbabwean who lives in South Africa, said he is one of many foreigners glued to the television watching the US election with interest.
Kandemiri said: “This was a very free, friendly and informative election. The candidates were able to sell their policies to the electorate and it is up to the electorate to choose who they want, and they are choosing without any fear of favor.”
Nevanje Madanhire, editor of The Standard newspaper who is currently in the USA covering the elections as part of a US State Department program for journalists, said there are differing opinions on the outcome of the polls.
“This election is not about issues. It’s about campaign strategies.”
Madanhire said Zimbabwean parties, especially those in the opposition, should at least learn valuable lessons from the US experience in terms of mobilizing their supporters to vote.
He said it is very difficult to manipulate an election if voters turn out for the elections in their large numbers.