This is my first post on the American election, an election that I have been following very carefully. I am a political anorak, I love elections and this one is proving to be a very interesting one.
As an Irish person I will respect what ever decision that the American people reach in November, such is their sovereign right.
That said, here's this foreigners "insight" into the election and who I would like to see win and why.
I would not easily fall into either of the two American political parties because I am a Socialist Republican, albeit one that is quite conservative/traditional on a number of social issues.
As an Irish Republican party Sinn Féin has received support from members of both the American parties, yet Democratic Presidents tend to be much more amenable to the Irish question than Republican ones.
Congressman Peter King, New York Republican, has been one of our staunchest allies. He was a friend during the height of the IRA campaign and for that he deserves great credit but I have to say that apart from his views on Ireland I would have a great many differences with him.
That leads on to the fact that although I would have respect for a few Republican politicians in the states the party I would feel most close to, the best of a bad bunch if you will, is the Democrat party.
On the Democrat side the main frontrunners are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, I personally can't see Edwards being in a position to challenge at the convention in August even if he does win South Carolina.
Although I have huge respect for Bill Clinton, his work on the peace process can't be praised enough, I can't abide Hillary. There is just something about the woman, I don't think she's honest, I think she would sell her soul to get into power and I think she's a hypocrite in relation to the War in Iraq.
For my part I think she is a very divisive figure in American politics, I think her nomination would mobilise millions of conservative voters all across America. There would also be the worry for American voters, weather realistic or not, that should she be elected that Bill will have too much influence.
Her gender doesn't come into it with me but I suspect it will for a lot of Americans, her fake tears may have done her some good in New Hampshire but it may count against her in the long run.
I also dislike the way that she is trying to claim some kind of credit, however small, for the Peace Process. Her husband did a lot of good work, she didn't and it's that simple.
If the Democrats want the White House, I pray to god that they get it, then I don't believe that she is the candidate that will win it for them.
Will Barack be the first black President of the USA? I don't know but I hope he is. I have been very impressed with not only a lot of his policies, especially his Foreign policy, but by his overall message and charisma.
I believe that America is a mature enough society to elect a black president, after all they have only ever had once Catholic president, JFK, and he had to announce that he was separate from the Vatican in Houston in 1960 in order to get the nomination.
I believe that while Barack may not appeal to the older Democrat supports in the way that Clinton does he does have huge appeal amongst the young people. I also believe that he would be able to pick up enough RINO votes in order to win the election.
The fact that his ancestors date back to Co. Offaly is just an added bonus. Plus, he has Oprah as his biggest fan.
A Mormon Republican that governed a democrat state. He was second in both Iowa and New Hampshire but his win in Michigan has placed him right back in the race. He would be classified as a pragmatic social conservative but his religion may cost him some votes in the Southern States.
His opportunistic journey towards being a social conservative has left many wondering if his conversion is for real considering some of his past stances on abortion and gay rights.
After winning Iowa and with so little money he was being talked up. That hype ended when he left behind the Christian Conservatives of Iowa and moved on to New Hampshire and Michigan.
This Baptist minister can't even rely on the Christian vote as polls in Michigan showed that Evangelicals were just as likely to vote for Romney as they were for him. He will be hoping for a higher turnout in the Southern states.
However with a strong McCain vote and a strong Romney vote he may well be the third cog at the end. This is despite the fact that he has bucket loads of charm and humour.
This Vietnam veteran, straight talker and maverick of sorts is, I believe, the biggest threat to the democrats chance of a win. The only other person like him on the Republican side is Rudy Giuliani and his campaign may be over before it even starts.
He is not afraid to go against party line on issues like gay rights and campaign finance and that will have an appeal for many Americans.
He is however quite old and his age may go against him.
The only Catholic still left in the race and the former Mayor of New York at the time of 9/11. His record of reducing crime in New York will be a big asset. Phantom has described him as a social liberal with claws, which relates to the fact that he is quite liberal on a lot of social issues.
His extra marital affairs and his stance on abortion and gun control with not go down well with Social Conservatives. The fact that he has left it late to join the race may be a risky strategy.
Who will win?
I feel it's still too early to tell but it's going to be interesting between now and November. I'm hoping to see Barack Obama as the next President but who knows.