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US Election Special

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This year’s US Presidential election has briefly resuscitated the phrase ‘the most important election in living memory’. It is being conducted in extremis. The victor will replace arguably the worst president in American history; will inherit an economy in crisis; will have to rebuild America’s shattered reputation.

In 2004, when electoral panic gripped observers around the world, readers of the London Guardian were encouraged to write to the inhabitants of Ohio’s Clark County in an attempt to push that crucial state’s political swing in John Kerry’s direction. The voters’ rebuke was fierce, and this time all the rest of the world can do is watch obsessively, often nocturnally. The polling trends have favoured Barack Obama, even if the reported size of his lead has varied. But it is a measure of the erosion wrought on America’s political confidence, and on its political topography, that there are so many ‘known unknowns’ in this election – the ‘Bradley Effect’ and the ‘reverse Bradley’, just for starters. Are voters telling the pollsters the truth when they say they’ll vote Democrat? Are long-time Republicans telling the truth when they say they won’t? America’s political map might be redrawn, but it might not. Early voting in more than thirty states indicates an Obama victory. But whomever one supports, one can only look on hopefully, wincingly.

On the final day of campaigning, with charges still being traded on the stump and in adverts, Granta asked writers from America and around the world to offer their stories and opinions of the race. Read pieces by Daniel Alarcón, Ruth Franklin, Andrew Hussey, Hanan al-Shaykh, Akash Kapur, Lionel Shriver, Paul Kingsnorth, Ariel Leve and Dinaw Mengestu.

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