Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States Tuesday. Additionally, there were a number of other important elections held for positions in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Ballot measures were also passed in various states.
The presidential contest was between Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, and Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent. Romney picked up an early lead as returns came in, but was eventually surpassed by Obama who won in key states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama won in eight out of nine battleground states; the ninth state, North Carolina, went to Governor Romney.
By the end of the night, all states — with the exception of Florida — had been allocated to either President Obama or Romney. Obama won both the Electoral College and popular vote. According to Politico, Obama had 332 votes in the Electoral College compared to Romney’s 206, and led the popular vote by 61,675,412 to 58,479,114. Romney, in light of these statistics, decided against calling for a recount and conceded the election to President Obama early in the morning of Nov. 7.
“Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come,” Obama said in his acceptance speech.
A number of factors contributed to President Obama’s re-election, including the candidate’s campaign strategies.
“I think, ultimately, it came down to a much, much better organized campaign on Obama’s part versus Romney’s,” said Stephen Medvic, department chair and associate professor of government. He noted Obama was able to mobilize voters in a much more efficient manner than his Republican opponent.
According to Robert Friedrich, associate professor of government, Obama also understood the election would be close and implemented a strategy that allowed him to win certain states with only narrow margins of the popular vote.
“That’s really a remarkable achievement in terms of saying, ‘OK, I’m not going to get a big popular vote majority. Where can I maximize electoral votes by moving a relatively small percentage of popular votes.’” Friedrich said. “And they did it.”
Obama’s victory has a number of implications for the future of American politics. First of all, it shuffles around certain players on the political stage.
“My hunch is that we won’t see much of Mitt Romney anymore,” Medvic said. “Paul Ryan’s a different story, and he’s going to probably be very popular in the Republican Party.”
Furthermore, the election could signal efforts by Democrats and Republicans to reach across the aisle and work together.
“I think there’s going to be an attempt to have bipartisanship,” Medvic said.
However, Medvic also emphasized the fact that such partisan fighting is a natural part of democratic government and not something that is likely to disappear any time soon.
“The structure of the system — and I think this is the important point about polarization — the structure of our system of government encourages gridlock and encourages the kinds of fighting that we’ve seen over the past five or ten or longer years,” he said.
In addition to the presidential election, there were many races for seats in Congress and the Senate. According to Politico, Republicans maintained their majority in the House of Representatives, winning 233 seats compared to 194 seats for the Democrats. Republicans were not so lucky in the Senate, however, where the Democrats picked up a 53-45 lead. Two independents were also elected to the Senate.
A number of important issues were decided on the state level by ballot measures and referendums. According to Politico, Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage. In Puerto Rico, a ballot measure was passed supporting statehood.
Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana, yet because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, it is still possible for someone to be arrested by the federal government, and then face trial under federal law. Also, it is posible that the U.S. Attorney General will sue the state in federal court.
Now that the election is over, students can look for effects of Obama’s victory and how it will help them.
“If the president is able to continue the progress that’s being made for the economy, that’s going to help the students tremendously,” Medvic said.
At the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center, which is the polling place for most F&M students, 1389 people turned out to vote. Obama received 1029 of the votes, Romney garnered 332, Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson gained 21, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein received seven.
Members of the F&M community were involved in preparations for election day, especially through F&M Votes.
According to a F&M News article entitled “F&M Votes break registration record in ‘get out the vote’ efforts,” the organization registered 800 students, which is a 150 more than during the historic election of 2008. The College Democrats and College Republicans also had their own mobilization efforts, including a joint debate in the Steinman College Center sponsored by F&M Votes and the Government Club to inform students about various political issues and the positions of both candidates.
Questions? Email Steven at firstname.lastname@example.org.