In passionate speech, Obama says 'You have made me a better president' (+video)
President Obama said he had never been more hopeful after winning a hard-fought election over Mitt Romney. He cobbled together a winning coalition, but it might not be enough to give him a mandate.
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As many observers predicted, it was the state of Ohio that ultimately put Obama over the top Tuesday night (at least, based on most network calls). Ohio had been seen by both sides as the most important battleground of this campaign cycle – a state hard hit by job losses, but where Obama’s support for the auto bailout appeared to provide a critical, enduring edge.Skip to next paragraph
Liz Marlantes covers politics for the Monitor and is a regular contributor to the Monitor's political blog, DC Decoder.
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Significantly, Obama’s message of looking out for the middle class appeared to carry more weight than Romney’s message focusing on job creation. According to exit polls, three-quarters of voters said Obama's policies would favor the middle class or the poor, while 54 percent felt Romney's policies would favor the rich.
The victory was a testament to the Obama campaign’s vaunted turnout operation, which brought its supporters to the polls in numbers that in some districts appeared to rival 2008’s turnout, despite what had been seen as generally dampened enthusiasm.
It also vindicated many of the preelection polls, which some conservatives had criticized as oversampling Democrats. In the end, exit polls appeared to indicate that in many states, the projected ratios of Democrats to Republicans had been fairly accurate.
The question now is what kind of mandate – if any – Obama may have going into his second term, and what kind of cooperation he may get from Congress going forward. The country remains sharply, and in many cases bitterly, divided. And although the Senate will remain in Democratic hands, Republicans will still control the House of Representatives. Given the wide chasm separating the parties on issues ranging from taxes to entitlements, it seems unlikely that there will be much common ground going forward.
But one area where political pressures suggest there may be at least a chance for some sort of compromise is immigration – in part because this election underscored once again just how badly the Republican party needs to improve its standing among Hispanic voters.
Indeed, the racial divide remains one of the most glaring aspects of the 2012 electoral results. Preliminary exit polls showed Obama winning just 40 percent of the white vote (down 3 points from 2008) to Romney’s 58 percent. Among white men, Obama performed even more poorly, winning just 36 percent (a drop of 5 points from 2008). But Obama won 69 percent of Hispanics, to Romney’s 29 percent, and 93 percent of blacks, to Romney’s 6 percent.
And although the economy was the dominant issue, in the end, the Obama campaign's focus on so-called “women’s issues” throughout this election cycle, from abortion to contraception, also appeared to pay off – since the traditional Democratic gender gap appeared to hold for the president. Exit polls showed Obama won women by 12 points, while Romney won men by just 7 points.
• Staff writer Liz Marlantes contributed to this report.