Date: November 08 2012
BARACK Obama has won re-election to the White House by stitching together a coalition among groups that the Republican Party failed to appeal to - women, young voters, Hispanics, gays and even auto workers who benefited from the government's bail-out of their industry.
Although the President secured a significant victory in the electoral college, as Mr Obama addressed a victory rally after midnight in Chicago it was clear the nation remained split down the middle, with counting showing he had won 50 per cent of the vote to Republican Mitt Romney's 48 per cent.
Both men addressed the disunity in their speeches last night.
Conceding defeat in Boston, Mr Romney said: ''The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing.
''Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.''
An hour later, the President told his celebrating supporters: ''Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learnt from you, and you've made me a better president … I will return to the White House more determined and inspired than ever.''
Harking back to his famous convention speech of 2004, he said: ''I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.''
Mr Obama said the campaign had been fought hard not because of division but because Americans believed passionately in their country.
After the bitter $2 billion campaign, the balance of power in America remains exactly as it was in the previous gridlocked term - with Democrats holding the White House and the Senate and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives.
The President must now begin negotiations with the Republican House majority leader, John Boehner, to avert what has become known as the fiscal cliff - a set of automatic spending cuts and tax rises set to kick in on January 1 that was agreed to when the two parties failed to negotiate a budget.
The impact could return America to recession if it is not avoided, although it is expected both parties will agree to shift the deadline if they fail to find an immediate solution.
Last night, Mr Boehner issued a statement declaring that both parties had won a mandate in the election, suggesting the negotiations may continue to be fraught.
With the Republican side drawn to a coalition of conservative and Christian evangelical voters by the Tea Party, Mr Obama won 80 per cent of the minority vote and 40 per cent of the white vote.
He led among women and young voters too.
According to early exit polls, 28 per cent of the vote was non-white and, of that group, the President won 91 per cent of the African American vote and 72 per cent of Hispanics, while Mr Romney won 60 per cent of white voters.
Mr Obama campaigned on immigration reform, and Democrats attacked Republicans over their opposition to abortion rights and plans to cut funding to Planned Parenthood.
The President repealed the ''Don't Ask Don't Tell'' law, voiced his support for gay marriage and passed equal pay legislation.
Some early exit data suggested Mr Obama had won among women - who made up 53 per cent of the voters - by 10 points. At least 18 women will serve in the new Senate, a record.
The failure of the Republican Party to recognise and embrace America's changing demographics became a heated topic during the count as Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly declared that the ‘‘white establishment’’ had lost its dominance.
‘‘The white establishment is now the minority,’’ he said. ‘‘‘And the voters, many of them, feel that the economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff.
‘‘You are going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. An overwhelming black vote for President Obama. And women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things? The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America any more.’’
Soon afterwards, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee – also a prominent conservative commentator — said on the same program: ‘‘I think Republicans have done a pathetic job of reaching out to people of colour. That’s something we’ve got to work on. It’s a group of people that frankly should be with us based on the real policy of conservatism.
‘‘But Republicans have acted as if they can’t get the vote, so they don’t try. And the result is, they don’t get the vote.’’
The share of white voters has shrunk in every election since 1992, from 87 per cent to 74 per cent in 2008.
The President’s campaign was ruthless and disciplined.
From the moment that Mr Romney became the Republican candidate, Mr Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters un-leashed a torrent of negative advertising, first casting him as a plutocrat who stashed funds in offshore accounts, then as a corporate raider who built his fortune by flipping companies and offshoring jobs.
Unable to campaign on his record as Massachusetts governor because he had supported healthcare reforms similar to the President’s, it seemed for a time that Mr Romney would be unable to boast about his remarkable record as a businessman.
Only when Mr Romney demolished the President in the first debate did things turn around for him. The arch-conservative who had campaigned on the right suddenly turned into ‘‘moderate Mitt’’, and rather than being punished for it he jumped ahead of the President in the polls for the first time.
But rather than veering off course, the Obama campaign stuck to its With the President’s better performances in the final two debates, and the vast Democratic volunteer army mobilised, the Republican lead was erased.
The Republican failure to topple a President who was perceived as weak and divisive is expected to provoke a bloodletting in the party.
This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or mirroring is prohibited.
[ Canberra Times | Text-only index]