Analysis

President Obama wins re-election: What it means

Voters give Obama a second term, despite the fact that the unemployment rate remains near 8 percent

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:

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