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Michelle Obama and the Americanization of the Britain general election

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Like a political version of the WWII film The Americanization of Emily, in which a roguish James Garner plies English rose Julie Andrews with pilfered US chocolate and nylons, Britain's politicians are reaching across the Atlantic to woo voters.

Tactics and strategies include the use of Obama-style Internet campaigning to harness grassroots activists, negative campaigning offensives which target specific personalities, US-style presidential debates -- and political consultants on both sides who assisted the successful 2008 Obama campaign.

The focus on personalities demonstrates how British general elections have started to resemble presidential-style races rather than battles between competing power blocs, even though there is clear blue water between both of the main parties on economic issues in this campaign. Why the change? UK voters want it that way.

“This is the first election where the individual leaders have actually been as high as the policies in terms of priorities identified by voters,” says Roger Mortimore, Head of Political Research at pollsters Ipsos MORI.

Charisma matters

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