Barack Hussein Obama, the first Kenyan-American to occupy the presidency, was re-elected on November 6 followed one of the most divisive campaigns in history and virtual deluge of advertising. Republican Mitt Romney lost Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin: essential battleground states where the two presidential contenders had spent much of their time and effort. Obama also won a narrow margin in Florida as Election Night drew to a close. The incumbent president won at least 303 electoral votes in the contest, as opposed to 270 for Romney.
Voters were still waiting in line at the polls in the western states as raucous cheers of joy emerged from Obama’s campaigners at their headquarters in Chicago at 11:20 p.m. local time. As votes were still being tabulated, the victory was clear but not as comprehensive as Obama’s first election four years ago. Speaking to a wildly cheering crowd in Chicago, the president thanked his campaign team and assured his listeners that the course set by the Founding Fathers was still on the right track. “Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back,” adding “We know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”
Even while media networks projected an Obama victory, Governor Romney and his team appeared ready to go on the road to contest election results. The Republican contender held off until just before 1 a.m. on November 7 to concede. Speaking to saddened campaign workers in Boston, Romney said of Obama, “His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters. This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.” Appearing stoic, yet gracious in his remarks, Romney said “We have given our all to this campaign. I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead this country in a different direction.” He did not allude to the challenges Republicans will face in the coming four years, even while running-mate Paul Ryan emerges as a GOP leader in Congress.
President Obama faces not only a divided electorate, but also Republicans who maintained their majority in the House of Representatives even though they fell short of achieving a majority in the Senate. He will face an escalating challenge in the fiscal deficit and contention over the method of reducing spending and national debt. Obamacare, the signature achievement of this administration, is ratified by the election and now surges toward full implementation in 2014 and a watershed change in the administration of medical care in the republic.
Preliminary exit polls show that Hispanic voters figured prominently as supporters of Obama. Romney had said during the campaign that he intended to implement get-tough policies regarding immigration. Republican moderates, such as Senator Paul Rubio of Florida, called for less inflammatory language by Romney even while they agreed that the deportation implemented by Obama should continue. Obama did lose some of the margin he won in 2009 among key constituencies: younger voters, blacks and Jewish voters, even while he apparently augmented his support among Hispanics and Asians. Exit polls showed Hispanics represented 10 percent of voters nationwide, voting for the incumbent in greater numbers than they had in 2009. This made a difference in Colorado and Florida, home to Hispanics of various origins. Obama held sway with women, but struggled even more among white men than he did in 2008.
Perhaps the bitterest defeat of all for Romney was his loss in Michigan, where he was born, and in Massachusetts, where he governed. Pundits in the Great Lake State opined that Romney’s remarks four years ago in opposition to a bail-out for General Motors cost him dearly in a state that gave birth to the automobile industry. Massachusetts, a state long known for liberal tendencies, also rejected Romney, as did Pennsylvania.
Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.