From the Editor

Dear readers,

Embassy Press Officer David Marks

As we head into this fall season, politics is dominating the news in both our countries, with newly elected Prime Minister Aso preparing to take the ruling coalition into a general election here, and with Senators Obama and McCain vying for the presidency in the U.S. There has been a great deal of speculation about what victory by one party or another in each of our countries might mean for the future, but it is important to remember that the fundamentals of the U.S.-Japan relationship – our longstanding alliance and our shared values of democracy, liberty, human rights, and the rule of law – will remain unchanged no matter what the outcome.

In this issue of American View, we focus on elections in the U.S., with our first piece, on Absentee Voting, taking a close look at how the millions of Americans living in Japan and elsewhere overseas take part in the political process. Voting is the most basic right of U.S. citizens, and the federal, state, and local governments have endeavored to make it possible for all eligible voters to participate, wherever they may be on Election Day.

This issue also features a State Department eJournal essay by renowned international pollster John Zogby about the importance - and limits - of political polling. As we approach the elections in our two countries, we will see new poll results on a near-daily basis. Zogby cautions us to be skeptical of polls, explaining things like sampling error and noting that polls are not predictors of the future but merely "snapshots of a moment in time."

In our third article, Professor L. Sandy Maisel, writing for the eJournal, examines the Congressional elections that are held on the same day as the Presidential election this cycle. Every two years, all 435 members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the 100 Senate seats are up for grabs. While attention is understandably focused on who will be the next President, control of Congress can be equally important, as the legislative and executive branches share in decision-making.

I hope you enjoy our Fall 2008 issue of American View.