US presidential election 2012

President Obama re-elected

7 November 2012

President Obama has been re-elected by a pretty large margin in electoral college votes. After all the talk of a possible tie in electoral college votes, or a split between popular and electoral college votes, in the end, it was not a close race as it might have been expected, or hoped by some, though it was quite accuratedly forecasted by the polls, especially by Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight blog. It was slightly after 4 AM UK time that many of the networks called the election for President Obama. While Ohio was decisive, it also became very clear roughly at the same time or very soon after that, even without Ohio, or Florida for that matter, that President Obama had won, as Nevada and Colorado were called for the president, and so were the other battleground states.

The evening didn’t start well for Mr Romney, and perhaps it was best illustrated by the closeness of the race in North Carolina, which he eventually won, as well as in Florida and Virginia. It was widely assumed that Mr Romney would win in North Carolina quite comfortably, and it was imperative for him to retake Virginia and Florida from the Democrats as well. Even if Mr Romney had come ahead in Florida and Virginia as well, and even if he had won in Ohio, that would still have left him looking for 4 more electoral college votes. It must be a sobering defeat for the Republians, and it reamins to be seen, whether the party will become more hardline, or will attempt to become a party of a broader coalition. Electorally, a party that abandons the centre ground is likely to do very badly, because such a party is appealing to a shrinking audience, but there may be too much anger and raw emotion, and the party may drift to more extreme positions, obsessed with apportioning blame to each other for the defeat, instead of objectively assessing their shortcomings, and learning from the opponent’s success.

It is difficult to assess the importance of an event, soon after its occurrence, but this election is historic. In being re-elected, it cements the position of President Obama in the history books of the future. Had he lost, he might well have ended up described as a failed, rather insignificant, one-term president, who tried to do too much in some respect, but achieved little, leaving the White House with a bad record in economy, even if he did prevent a terrible depression from taking place. Now, the healthcare reforms are here to stay – once instituted propery, they are very unlikely to be repealed wholesale, but which could have happened, had he lost – and that alone would qualify as a significant legacy of his presidency. If President Obama in his second term could come up with a workable and sensible immigration policy, then his position among the most important presidents of recent times will be undeniable. And perhaps most importantly, race won’t matter from now onwards: President Obama will be judged for his policies and achievements, and not for his colour.

It can be argued, on the other hand, that, despite all the drama, how historic this election was, and the obscene amount of money spent in the campaign, the US political landscape has essentially remained unchanged: President Obama is re-elected, the Republicans held the House, and the Democrats the Senate. Will the second-term President Obama be able to find a way to work with the Congress? Election is over, work starts again for the president.