President Obama has won another four years, extending a historic tenure as the nation's first black president. The president has been called the winner in several key swing states, including Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin, making it all but certain that Mitt Romney has hit a brick wall in his bid to cross the threshold of 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency.
Obama lost some states he won in 2008, including Indiana and North Carolina, but his winning coalition — largely composed of liberal whites, blacks, Latinos, younger voters, and moderate white women — held up for the most part, a stunning accomplishment given that the national unemployment rate remains at 7.9 percent and the economy is still struggling in the aftermath of the Great Recession. In fact, no president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has won re-election with an unemployment rate that high.
How did Obama do it? One key factor was the auto bailout, which shored up his support in manufacturing-heavy states like Ohio. Furthermore, Romney's hard-right stance on illegal immigration cost him votes in the country's fastest growing demographic. And perhaps most importantly, it appears that Romney was hobbled by a tarnished GOP brand, with most voters continuing to blame the nation's economic woes on the Bush administration. Romney's prescription to fix the economy — basically a mix of tax cuts and looser government regulations — was virtually identical to Bush's economic policies.
Obama, of course, is considered by many to be a once-in-a-generation political leader. His supporters are ardent believers, while even less impassioned voters say they like the president personally. However, that doesn't fully explain how he could handily win re-election amidst such a tough economic climate, leading many in the GOP to begin questioning whether the conservative party's platform should be more inclusive, more dynamic, and more forward-looking if the GOP wants to once again win a majority of American voters.
So Obama heads toward a second term, which will protect and build upon a legacy that includes the controversial expansion of health care to tens of millions of uninsured. Meanwhile, the GOP will likely do a little soul-searching on the long route to 2016. Here, some initial reactions from Twitter:
The nature of tonight's GOP loss -- demographics turning decisively against them -- seems certain to trigger n internal war— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) November 7, 2012
This night is going to leave a mark on the Republican party— Taegan Goddard (@politicalwire) November 7, 2012
Give President Obama and his campaign team immense credit.He won in a national political environment VERY tough for an incumbent.— The Fix (@TheFix) November 7, 2012
Big Bird lives to fight another day.— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) November 7, 2012
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- China's leader is telling the People's Liberation Army to prepare for war
- The religious right isn't retreating — it's reforming
- How I lost all my money
- Diagnosing the Home Alone burglars' injuries: A professional weighs in
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- A brief history of the Christmas present
- Why torture doesn't work: A definitive guide
Subscribe to the Week