Obama wins in a divided nation

A Democratic president, a Republican U.S. House of Representatives, and a Democratic U. S Senate is where this election started, and it is where it has ended

Thomas Mega, Las Vegas, Nevada 


Barack Obama returns to the White House with an election victory brilliantly orchestrated by his campaign team. Democrats attacked Republicans at their weakest areas, and triumphed. 

Comparing this election with 2008, Romney was only able to turn two of the 28 states that Obama won in 2008 to the Republicans; North Carolina and Indiana.  Historically, both states have voted reliably Republican in Presidential elections, and Romney’s victory in North Carolina was by the slimmest of margins.

Obama needed a large turnout by Democratic voters, and he got it.  According to exit poll data, African Americans turned out en masse, and voted 93% for Obama.  Voters aged 18-44 have also given him the edge.   Surprisingly, Jewish voters, a bloc Republicans who were thought they could do well with Romney, voted 69% for Obama and Catholics, another hopeful group for Republicans, voted 50%.  Women and Latinos, an area of weakness for Republicans, voted 55% and 71% respectively for Obama.

Obama’s team had to win large urban population areas, and they did, getting 62% of the urban vote. But America remains hugely divided by political ideology, and this election did nothing to change that. While Obama got 303 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed (Florida is yet to be determined as of this writing), the popular vote was much closer, with Obama winning 50% to Romney’s 48%.

Rural America voted overwhelmingly for Romney. White voters and men gave him 59% and 52% of their votes respectively, and whilst women voted in favour of Obama, white women voted 56% for Romney, clearly a surprise to many.

Most Republicans, including Romney and his campaign team, truly thought they would win.  The ‘blame game’ will now start among Republicans.  Was Romney too weak a candidate?  Perhaps.  He was beaten badly in Massachusetts, where he was governor, often citing his success there.  Republicans also lost a senate seat in Massachusetts.  Romney also lost in Michigan, where his popular father was governor and once a presidential candidate.  In Wisconsin, the home of Republican vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, Republicans not only lost to Obama, but they elected a Democratic to the Senate, who is also the first openly gay woman to win a U.S. Senate seat.  Ryan’s strong Catholic and family values position didn’t help much in his own state.

However, little, if anything, changes from the last four years.  A Democratic president, a Republican U.S. House of Representatives, and a Democratic U. S Senate is where this election started, and it is where it has ended.

Save for that, history was made in other ways in this election. Women now account for 20 seats in the U.S. Senate, the most ever;  recreational marijuana use was passed in Colorado, but is still illegal by Federal law; medical marijuana usage was passed in a few states; and the first time voters approved same-sex marriage in Maryland and Maine.

Now the question on every American’s mind is whether this retention of the status-quo in Washington will mean four more years of gridlock and partisan ideology, or will America get back to governing, for the people and by the people.

There is hope.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which devastated areas of New York and New Jersey, President Obama stood side-by-side with one of his most vociferous critics, New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie.  They pledged to work together to help so many thousands of people who were distraught by this massive storm.  In a moment that made partisan Republicans livid, Christie praised Obama for his efforts in providing Federal help to those impacted by the storm.

Hard core Republicans may have been livid, but most Americans were delighted by this act of political bi-partisanship.  Politics, after all, is the fine art of compromise.  Nothing is achieved by the politics of ‘no.’ Americans are terribly tired of a government that cannot do its job.  The challenge for this administration and congress is to get something constructive done to address the many suffocating issues facing millions of Americans.

During his speech shortly after the results were announced, President Obama said he would meet with Romney in the coming few weeks. But it remains to be seen if, in a country divided, our leaders can unite for the common good.


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