Published for www.aljazeera.com, May 31, 2012

Mitt Romney finally clinched the Republican nomination on Tuesday, by clearing the benchmark of 1,444 delegates.

Even though polling day is more than five months away, the general election campaign has already been in full swing for weeks, with both campaigns running a litany of attack ads.

Barack Obama’s campaign has focused on Mitt Romney’s career with the private equity firm Bain Capital, arguing it acted like a vampire, sucking the life out of companies and destroying jobs.

And Romney’s campaign has run equally tough adverts highlighting what they would deem the failures of the Obama presidency.

Some on the right of the Republican Party, including Donald Trump, are also trying to reignite the so-called birther controversy, arguing that there are doubts that Obama was born in the US.

All of this, of course, feeds the unrelenting American news cycle, as the news anchors chew over the latest controversies with little examination of policy.

When Obama was elected in 2008 many thought his presidency would hail a new kind of politics – so what happened to hope and change?

During the Republican primary campaign, the Democrats were almost making fun of the Republican candidates, saying that none of those candidates were any match for Obama, yet now the presidential race is very close.

The Real Clear Politics website has averaged seven recent national polls, giving Obama, with the support of 45.9 per cent of registered voters, a 2.3 per cent lead over Romney’s 43.6 per cent.

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