September 29, 2013
Presidential Election 2012: Obama Wins Barack Obama made history as the nation’s first African-American president. He won the 2008 election vs. McCain by 192 electoral votes and 9,522,083 popular votes. (270 To Win) He was elected for a second term in 2012 when he won the election vs. Romney by 126 electoral votes and by 4,683,307 popular votes. (2012 Election Center) There were times during the election that people doubted that he would be re-elected due to some of the public’s frustration about the economy and unemployment. There were two factors that helped Obama in the final stretch that Romney simply could not understand.
Voters were divided by race and age. Obama credited strong support from women; he led by 11 percentage points among women. He also credited a strong support from young voters, those voters 45 and under. He lost a lot of the white votes but he made up for that by winning the minorities. He spent a significant amount of political capital getting his health plan passed, while the economy continued to falter. Yet he wound down the Iraq war and took credit for killing Osama bin Laden. However, despite his low poll numbers leading into the heat of the campaign he still had a personal likability that never faded. (Feldmann) It has been said by some that he won re-election not only by the women and the minorities but also by organizing a sophisticated registration and get-out-the-vote operation, and by focusing narrowly on the battleground states that would determine the election. Obama’s message in his campaign was hammered through countless television commercials. It was that the nation, under his leadership, had begun to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. He also pointed out that he saved hundreds of thousands of jobs by the bailout of the U.S. auto industry.
The public’s frustration with the slow economy and the high unemployment made Obama vulnerable. As the election continued, the economy's trajectory started to help Obama. The unemployment peaked to 10.1 percent during his term, but by Election Day it had dropped to 7.9 percent. More than half of the voters backed Obama’s call for tax increase for those whose income is over $250,000. However, that was a proposal that would never have a life beyond the campaign trail. Polls show that voters have long supported the idea, but it does not happen because the proposal will never shake loose enough of the partisan opposition to make it real. According to The Daily Beast, “The Democratic investment in negativity may have helped Obama win his bare majority of a radically shrunken electorate, but it also contributed powerfully to the sour national mood.” (Medved)
The two factors that helped Obama in the final stretch were simple but factors that Romney just could not do. One was Bill Clinton. He was the popular former Democratic president who became an exceptional stand-in, because he held dozens of campaign appearances for Obama and assured his economic record. The second factor was hurricane Sandy, the storm that struck the East Coast during the final full week of the campaign. This was an opportunity for Obama to project command and comfort in a crisis. His response won dual-party praise, and most importantly from New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie who was a vocal Romney supporter. (Peters)
When Obama found out that he had been re-elected for a second term he promised his supporters “that for the