How do you introduce Obama’s and Romney’s campaign strategists David Axelrod and Stuart Stevens to a Chinese audience? One blogger found a solution: You cast them as Zhuge Liang and Liu Ji, two military strategists in ancient China. One was a famous advisor during the time of the Three Kingdoms. The other helped the first emperor of the Ming dynasty come to power. And like Stevens, who authored screenplays and skied to the North Pole, Liu was more extravagant. He wrote poems and became known as the Chinese Nostradamus for his prophecies.
As Barack Obama and Mitt Romney enter the final stretch of this year’s campaign, bloggers around the world are following the candidates’ every move and the pollsters’ every prediction. Their approach varies, depending on background and interests of their audience. While Chinese writers go to greater lengths to explain the basics of the U.S. system, Europeans are far more likely to chime into the American media circus. There was hardly a European blogger who could resist the jokes about Mitt Romney promising to defund Big Bird from Sesame Street in the first debate.
I had expected the Brits to be most active, but I found less than expected. Always worth a read is the Economist’s Democracy in America blog. On the Guardian’s website, Richard Adams devotes most of his recent entries to the elections. The Financial Times’ John McDermott wrote a series, Notes from the Heartland, that led him from Iowa through Nebraska and the Dakotas. It ended this past weekend.
All in all, I found surprisingly few blogs exclusively dedicated to the U.S. elections in Anglosaxon media – exceptions being The Irish Times’ U.S. election blog Campaign Trail 2012 and Canadian CBC News’ America Votes. In general, I was told that editors don’t want to dilute their existing blogs some of whom have long traditions.
Not so the German editors! When it comes to U.S. election blogs, the Germans are really going for it – closely followed by the French. While some media organizations mostly aggregate their correspondents’ regular articles, others produce content specifically for the blog (our own US-Wahlen 2012 at Financial Times Deutschland being one of them). And not just reporters are blogging. The Washington section of the German Green Party has its own site (with the cute name Eselfanten – Donkeyfants). I found so many blogs in German (including Austria, Switzerland and Luxemburg) that it is impossible to discuss them individually. So for my German readers, please check the updated blog roll to the right.
In France, L’Éxpress , Le Figaro and Le Temps have blogs similar to the German ones – mixing entertaining anecdotes with sober analysis. The U.S. correspondents for Libération use their existing Great America blog to provide interviews and content about the elections. So does Corine Lesnes, Washington correspondent of Le Monde, whose Big Picture was founded in 2004 and is one of the oldest blogs in France. Le Monde also has a more experimental format, dedicating entire blogs to the swing states Florida, Colorado and Ohio. Another one of their U.S. blogs is devoted entirely to Latino issues – a format that I would have expected more in the Spanish-speaking world.
I could go on and on with the blogs by El País and El Mundo to that of Público in Portugal. Please let me know if you see anything from Latin America, I would be happy to include that as well. And I apologize to all my Scandinavian, Southern and Eastern European colleagues who might have blogs in languages not accessible to me.
Outside of Europe, U.S. blogs devoted to the elections seem to be rare (correct me if I’m wrong!). I asked around among Arabic-speaking friends, but was told that the Arab media were busy enough covering the Arab Spring. Fair point.
All the more impressive are the Chinese, whether it is the aforementioned 华府小记 by history buff Wu Qingcai, Washington bureau chief of China News Agency, or the blog on Caixin media’s website, in which the the U.S.-based financial investor Wu Qianli has so far written twelve installments about the U.S. elections. He seems to have a professional fascination with Mitt Romney. In one post, for example, he explained how the American system forces a rich and privileged candidate to develop empathy with the common man.
If you don’t read Chinese, pick blogs that are based on sina.com since they are likely to have Mandarin pop songs or elevator music by Richard Clayderman playing in the background. Only in China do U.S. election blogs appeal to all your senses!