CHICAGO, Ill. — Four years after an historic election victory, President Barack Obama clinched a second term on Tuesday, edging out former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and securing another four years of holding the nation’s highest public office.
At press time, Obama had won a total of 303 electoral votes com- pared to Romney’s 206. Major news networks called the race for Obama at approximately 11:15 p.m., before all states had finished reporting final poll- ing results. The President’s vic- tory was accompanied by a slew of other Democratic victories in tight races, with Democrats maintaining control of the Sen- ate despite having more seats up for reelection.
“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 victory speech.
Election buzz built through- out the day in Obama’s home city, where he started his politi- cal career with three terms in the Illinois state senate. The crowd attending CNN’s public watch party at Chicago’s Thompson Center plaza steadily expanded as onlookers joined to to watch final results trickle in and hear the candidates’ speeches.
“Suck on that, red!” yelled a proud Obama supporter as he ran across the street to join the growing crowd of hundreds.
Lorena Pachecl, a Chicago resident who said she was at a bar but wanted to “get a little rowdy,” decided to join the watch party long after Obama was declared the winner. She barely finished her comment before joining a chant of “USA! USA!”
Romney offered a concession speech at around 12:55 a.m. in which he thanked his supporters and announced that he had called Obama to congratulate him on the election victory. Shortly after 2:00 a.m., Obama emerged onstage before an elated crowd with his wife and daughter to give his victory speech. The Chicago native voiced gratitude for support throughout the campaign and resolved to lead the nation through current, albeit controversial, issues, including global warming, LGBTQ rights and immigration reform.
With an affirmation of support from the day’s vote, Obama’s message to the country returned to the mantra of hope defined his 2008 campaign, citing an enduring national spirit that leads Americans to “keep reaching” and “keep fighting.”
“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggest,” Obama said. “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.”
Exit polls from Tuesday voting indicated that Obama performed particularly well among youth and minority voters. Data indicated younger voters turned out in even higher numbers than in 2008, and Obama won an estimated 70 percent or more of African-American, Asian and Latino voters, as well as posting large leads among women.
Early in the evening, Romney led Obama in the national popular vote, leaving some observers to fear that the race would pan out much the like 2000 presidential race, in which George W. Bush ’68 was not declared victorious until weeks after Election Day. But as the night drew on, Obama’s Election Day edge grew and it became clear that the president would sail to a comfortable margin of victory.
Political experts have cited the Obama campaign’s early spring and summer attack ad strategy, in which the campaign painted Romney as an elitist who was out of touch with the American people, as a major factor in his victory. Romney’s campaign, by contrast, launched a majority of its attack ads in the fall, after voters in key swing states had seen months of anti-Romney advertisements produced by the Obama camp.
“The American people just chose people over profits,” said Chris Olsen, a Chicago resident who celebrated the president’s victory in the Thompson Center plaza. “He’s more for the people. Romney was all about money.”
Sean Smith, a lecturer on media, politics and global affairs at the Jackson Institute, said that Romney’s biggest failure when appealing to voters was his campaign’s reliance on Romney’s image as the non-Obama candidate.
“He tried to establish a narrative to say that the biggest deficit the incumbent has is understanding of the economy and business, and [he personifies] understanding of business through Bain Capital, so he is the antidote to the incumbent,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, some Republicans have pointed to Hurricane Sandy as a major reason for their candidate’s defeat, blaming the massive storm for distracting the American public from the race and giving the president several days of positive media coverage during disaster relief efforts.
But Obama’s victory is sure to bring struggles in the nation’s not-so-distant future. On Jan. 1, the nation is due to fall off what has been deemed a “fiscal cliff,” a series of automatic deep spending cuts and tax increases that both parties in Congress desperately want to avoid. Neither party has acted to come to a compromise before last night’s election, and U.S. Senate and House Republicans have expressed unwillingness in recent weeks to compromise if the White House remained in Democratic hands.
Though this campaign likely marks Romney’s last, the Republican challenger’s running mate Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan was simultaneously re-elected to his house seat.
Obama is the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to win re-election with over 50 percent of the vote. He will be sworn in for his re-election on Jan. 20.