And as the count tallies up, it is clear that this race is not as close as many had predicted.
The analysis on why Obama won will continue for weeks, whether it was the incredible job of the Get Out the Vote campaign (aided by PLMR’s Tim Knight) encouraging ethnic minorities to vote and vote early, or whether it was Mitt Romney’s admission that he would not have bailed out the auto industry that scared off Ohio voters- will be debated at great length.
The question that is now on everyone’s lips is: what now?
What now for the Republicans? How in a Presidential race with unprecedented economic conditions, high rates of unemployment, growing deficits, and huge social divisions, did an incumbent President manage to get 303 electoral votes to the Republicans 206(not including Florida’s 29)? The somewhat unexpected landslide victory is a clear mandate for Obama’s path forward and leaves the Republican Party questioning where they stand. Whilst there is dissatisfaction with Obama, the notion of ‘best of a bad bunch’ has been the rationale for many undecided voters to support Obama. Moderate, undecided voters, key in any campaign have not bought in to the Republican campaign, which was arguably better organised than the Democrats. This leaves important questions to be addressed: What went wrong? Was it the candidate? The policies? The voters? What made the Republicans an unappealing choice is still to be decided, and there is no shortage of ideas. American political reporter Charles Thomas cut to the chase this morning by controversially commenting on Sky News that Romney “ran out of white people to vote for him” referencing the fact that 91% of Romney’s supporters are white.
As these discussions begin internal fractions are already surfacing with many Republicans coming out at this early stage to blame the Tea Party for alienating moderate Americans. Jeb Bush has long been calling for the Party to re-evaluate their core voter-base and to reach out to ethnic communities especially. The Republican swing to the right as a result of the Obama presidency had not resonated well with these groups, which are among the fastest growing in the US with issues such as immigration and education listed as their highest priorities. The Republican Party will see as a result of this election that relying on a core voter-base of older white men is no longer sustainable and outreach will be essential for the Party to be successful in the future.
What now for Obama?
It is fair to say that he is in a very different place than he was four years ago and even with the election under his belt, the gravity of the job ahead of him is immense. His achievements are not to be underestimated: the re-regulation of Wall Street, bailing out the auto industry, investment in domestic energy, reducing dependence of foreign imports, the killing of Osama Bin Laden and most importantly healthcare reform.
But how will this affect his second term? With Republicans dominating the House of Representatives, there will still be a large amount of deadlock between the Executive and Legislative branch and especially when it comes to fiscal issues. As a result of this there will be a lot of legislation ‘dying’ in Congress and the President will have to reach out to the House of Representatives and make them realise their inability to compromise and on fiscal matters such as tax cuts, is partly to blame for their loss of the Presidential election.
As Obama comes out on stage to claim victory, and continue for the next four years there will still be many battles the President has to overcome: unemployment, a divided congress, reforming the tax code, potential conflict with Iran etc. However winning the second term is a vindication for the President that he is on the right track with his forward agenda and America is ready and willing to keep fighting.
Onward, Mr Obama.