Elaina Rollins ’16, News Editor
President Barack Obama secured four more years in the White House this past Tuesday, November 6 after a close and tough election. Obama received 332 electoral votes and 51% of the popular vote, while his opponent, Governor Mitt Romney, received 206 electoral votes and 48% of the popular vote.
Two swing-states were expected to play crucial roles in deciding the outcome of the election: Ohio and Florida. However, in the end, the election was ultimately decided without Florida’s electoral votes. News stations and political analysts confirmed an Obama win before the final Florida vote was tallied. President Obama did, however, ultimately win both of these two swing states. Obama received 50% of the vote in both Florida and Ohio, while Governor Romney received 49% and 48%, respectively.
Many political analysts partially credit Obama’s win to his expansive and wide-ranging support basis. Exit polls shows that the majority of Romney’s votes came from men, citizens over forty-five, and those living in rural areas, while Obama appealed to women, minorities, urban cities, and young voters.
Despite Obama’s advantage in attracting minority voters, political analysts from CNN and The New York Times point to the President’s direct contact with voters as ultimate reason for his success. The Obama campaign team secured 125 million voter contacts throughout the course of the election, while the Romney team had less than 63 million. Democratic field offices also outnumbered GOP offices by more than 2-1 or 3-1 in swing states like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. A top Obama aide was quoted saying, “Many field campaigns… have favored quantity over quality. We do not.”
The Democrats also out-spent and out-raised Republicans. President Obama, the Democratic Party, and the Priorities USA Action Super PAC raised $934 million and spent $853 million compared to the Republican Party’s $882 million raised and $752 million spent. The majority of the Democrats’ candidate donations came from voters contributing $200 or less, while the Republicans received most of their donations in offers of $2,500.
Along with the presidency, Democrats also managed to maintain control of the Senate. Republicans took one Democratic seat from Nebraska; however, Democrats will be replacing Republicans in Massachusetts and Indiana. The status quo will also be retained in the House, where Republicans continue to hold control. Prominent Republicans such as Speaker John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and Michele Bachmann all retained their seats.
Two other social issues, same-sex marriage and the legalization of recreational marijuana, also appeared on ballots this election. Maryland, Maine, and Washington all voted to allow gay marriage – an important milestone for the LGBT community. In the past, gays and lesbians have won marriage rights because of actions taken by judges or legislators. This was the first time voters directly decided to legalize same-sex marriage.
Colorado and Washington voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana; however, because legalization directly contradicts federal law, the implementation of these laws is questionable. Both states ruled that personal possession of up to an ounce of marijuana would be legal for citizens 21 and over. It would be sold and taxed at stores with state licenses, a program similar to alcohol sales. However, while Colorado also would allow citizens to cultivate up to six marijuana plants, Washington still bans personal growth of the plants.
Another vote whose implementation is uncertain is the Montana and Alabama decision to take anti-Obamacare measures. Montana voted, in a 2-to-1 margin, to prohibit the federal and state government from requiring the purchase of health insurance. This is in direct contrast to Florida, a state whose voters defeated anti-Obamacare and anti-abortion measures.
The New York Times says that although Obama was not as strong as he was in 2008, he was “strong enough.” Key groups, such as women, young voters, and Jews all shifted slightly to the right while still continuing to mainly vote Democratic. However, a shift to the left from voters ages 30 to 44 and the legalization of same-sex marriage and recreational marijuana shows an increased tolerance for social issues.
Obama and the Democrats secured the presidency and the senate; however, their loss in the House could pose problems. A long and expensive election, in many ways, reaffirmed the status quo of the past four years. The public eye will now shift to Washington and its partisanship – or, hopefully, its lack thereof.