Obama won. Why? And what’s next?

Read few comments. What do you think was the decisive moment, what decided this election?

David McCuanAssistant Professor of Political Science, Sonoma State University

1. Two key elements worked for the Obama campaign. First, Obama is the fourth Democrat elected to a second term in the last 100 years. Why? A better ground game of contacting voters and getting out their base vote of new, Emerging Voters (young voters and some minority groups) while also drawing on a base of Habitual Voters (core Democratic voters who vote all the time, in each and every election).

Second, the demographics of the US are changing and the GOP are not speaking to those groups and their issues. It is Democrats who have turned the tables on the GOP in both the ground game AND linking that ability to get voters to the polls with a “connection” to what voters care about – economic issues, some social issues, and joining those voters into a broader coalition.

Romney ONLY has carried two states so far (we don’t know about Florida yet – still has not been called) that he switched from Obama in 2008 to Romney in 2012. Those two states are IN (Indiana) and NC (North Carolina). That’s it. And it is a siren call for the GOP moving forward.

The GOP has some serious soul-searching to do. This election may be the GOP’s 1968 election, where Democrats suffered a colossal defeat to Nixon due to internal factions.

The GOP faces a ticking time bomb without talking to Latinos – a natural electorate for them to attract. The GOP faces some real hard choices and the many new GOP Tea Party Members who are coming to Congress – about 80 new Tea Party GOP new Members – are going to move the party to the right. That is a severe problem for the GOP in the near term and certainly long-term. The President can leverage this right away on immigration reform and in the next few weeks on avoiding the fiscal cliff of the sequester.

But, without a doubt, our models of what would happen to the vote – what the final tallies would look like – were clearly accurate and highly predictive of the final vote totals.

And the GOP faces a crisis of identity and ideas. What comes next for the GOP is a key next shoe to fall after the results of tonight. This is the first time a President has been elected when unemployment was about 7.2%. A huge victory for the President and Democrats.

David Galbraith Education Programme Leader, University of Cumbria

Well, we have the results and they perhaps come as a surprise. Clearly, The majority of American voters wanted to return Obama to help the economy recover and he took advantage of a recent improvement in employment figures etc. Otherwise, America could have gone in a different direction.

In Obama’s acceptance speech he referred to ‘heart and soul’ matters by which he meant re-visiting the American Dream with its emphasis on democracy, American ‘exceptionalism’ and inclusion. He looked backwards to the founding principles of the country’s forefathers and forward to trying to still realise those principles.

He also talked about building a political consensus with the Republicans and will need to because, of course, he doesn’t have a majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives and this legislative body can block his legislative programme unless some Republicans can be persuaded to compromise.

Thomas ScottoReader in Government, University of Essex

1. Romney clearly resurrected his campaign with a strong performance in the first debate. However, the severe storm that hit the east coast just days before the election reminded people that Obama was a capable leader. Romney’s actions simply looked forced and out of place. Even though most voters had made up their minds before that date, the Government’s response in the wake of the storm showed that the Obama Executive Branch was competent. If the Government’s reaction was poor, it might have doomed Obama.

2. I think Obama might feel he can move a bit more freely now that he does not have to worry about running for re-election.

I think he’ll focus a bit more on his legacy beyond healthcare. He might seek to negotiate a budget deal that both increases taxes for the wealthy but also try for a restructure of cherished social programs. I do not think he wants to be the president that was in office for 8 years but failed to get the nation’s finances under control.

There is no doubt that there are segments of the American electorate that think very differently.

Obama’s support among Evangelicla Christians was very low, while his support among the non-religious was very high.

Strong support among minorities, particularly Hispanics was key to Obama’s victory. Romney’s support looked extremely homogenous while Obama’s looked like the increasingly multicultural face of the United States. The Republicans need to think long and hard about how they will woo the newer generation of voters, that is far more diverse.


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