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Obama wins second term

President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan — The front page of the Gwinnett Daily Post on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. President Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican Mit Romney.

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Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and his wife Ann stand on the stage with Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and his wife Janna after Mitt Romney conceded the race during his election night rally, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Boston. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama rolled to re-election Tuesday night, vanquishing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney despite a weak economy that plagued his first term and put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions. In victory, he confidently promised better days ahead.

Obama spoke to thousands of cheering supporters in his hometown of Chicago, praising Romney and declaring his optimism for the next four years. "While our road has been hard, though 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," he said.

Romney made his own graceful concession speech before a disappointed crowd in Boston. He summoned all Americans to pray for Obama and urged the night's political winners to put partisan bickering aside and "reach across the aisle" to tackle the nation's problems.

Still, after the costliest — and one of the nastiest — campaigns in history, divided government was alive and well.

Democrats retained control of the Senate with surprising ease.

Republicans did the same in the House, ensuring that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Obama's partner in unsuccessful deficit talks, would reclaim his seat at the bargaining table.

At Obama headquarters in Chicago, a huge crowd gathered waving small American flags and cheering. Supporters hugged each other, danced and pumped their fists in the air. Excited crowds also gathered in New York's Times Square, at Faneuil Hall in Boston and near the White House in Washington, drivers joyfully honking as they passed by.

With returns from 84 percent of the nation's precincts, Obama had 53.7 million, 49.6 percent of the popular vote. Romney had 53 million, or 48.9 percent.

The president's laserlike focus on the battleground states allowed him to run up a 303-206 margin in the competition for the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House, the count that mattered most. Remarkably, given the sour economy, he lost only two states that he captured in 2008, Indiana and North Carolina.

Florida, another Obama state four years ago, remained too close to call.

The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government — whether it occupies a major, front-row place in American lives or is in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship.

The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 percent of voters surveyed as they left their polling places. But more said former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for current circumstances than Obama did after nearly four years in office.

That boded well for the president, who had worked to turn the election into a choice between his proposals and Romney's, rather than a simple referendum on the economy during his time in the White House.

Unemployment stood at 7.9 percent on Election Day, higher than when he took office. And despite signs of progress, the economy is still struggling after the worst recession in history.

Obama captured Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada, seven of the nine states where the rivals and their allies poured nearly $1 billion into dueling television commercials.

Romney won North Carolina among the battleground states.

Florida was too close to call, Obama leading narrowly in a state where there were still long lines of voters at some polling places long after the appointed closing time.

Romney, who grew wealthy in business and ran the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City before entering politics, spoke only briefly to supporters, some of whom wept.

"I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction," he said. "But the nation chose another leader and so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation."

Moments later, Obama stepped before a far different crowd hundreds of miles away.

"Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual," he said. He pledged to work with leaders of both parties to help the nation complete its recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression.

By any description, the list of challenges is daunting - high unemployment, a slow-growth economy, soaring deficits, a national debt at unsustainable. To say nothing of the threat of a nuclear Iran and the menace of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups more than a decade after the attacks of Sept., 11, 2001.

There was no doubt about what drove voters to one candidate or the other.

About 4 in 10 said the economy is on the mend, but more than that said it was stagnant or getting worse more than four years after the near-collapse of 2008. The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and a group of television networks.

In the battle for the Senate, Elizabeth Warren turned Republican Scott Brown out of office in Massachusetts, and Rep. Joe Donnelly captured a seat from GOP hands in Indiana.

Deb Fischer picked up a seat for Republicans in Nebraska, defeating former Sen. Bob Kerrey.

In Maine, independent former Gov. Angus King was elected to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe. He has not yet said which party he will side with, but Republicans attacked him in television advertising during the race, and Democrats rushed to his cause.

In the presidential race, Obama won in the reliably Democratic Northeast and West Coast. Pennsylvania was his, too, despite two late campaign stops by Romney.

Romney won most of the South as well as much of the Rocky Mountain West and Farm Belt.

The president was in Chicago as he awaited the voters' verdict on his four years in office. He told reporters he had a concession speech as well as victory remarks prepared. He congratulated Romney on a spirited campaign. "I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today" as Obama's own, he added.

Romney reciprocated, congratulating the man who he had campaigned against for more than a year.

Earlier, he raced to Ohio and Pennsylvania for Election Day campaigning and projected confidence as he flew home to Massachusetts. "We fought to the very end, and I think that's why we'll be successful," he said, adding that he had finished writing a speech anticipating victory but nothing if the election went to his rival.

But the mood soured among the Republican high command as the votes came in and Obama ground out a lead in critical states.

Like Obama, Vice President Joe Biden was in Chicago as he waited to find out if he was in line for a second term. Republican running mate Paul Ryan was with Romney in Boston, although he kept one eye on his re-election campaign for a House seat in Wisconsin, just in case. He won re-election to Congress.

The long campaign's cost soared into the billions, much of it spent on negative ads, some harshly so.

In a months-long general election ad war that cost nearly $1 billion, Romney and Republican groups spent more than $550 million and Obama and his allies $381 million, according to organizations that track advertising.

According to the exit poll, 53 percent of voters said Obama was more in touch with people like them, compared to 43 percent for Romney.

About 60 percent said taxes should be increased, taking sides on an issue that divided the president and Romney. Obama wants to let taxes rise on upper incomes, while Romney does not.

Other than the battlegrounds, big states were virtually ignored in the final months of the campaign. Romney wrote off New York, Illinois and California, while Obama made no attempt to carry Texas, much of the South or the Rocky Mountain region other than Colorado.

There were 33 Senate seats on the ballot, 23 of them defended by Democrats and the rest by Republicans.

Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy, a Democrat, won a Connecticut seat long held by Sen. Joe Lieberman, retiring after a career that included a vice presidential spot on Al Gore's ticket in 2000. It was Republican Linda McMahon's second defeat in two tries, at a personal cost of $92 million.

The GOP needed a gain of three for a majority if Romney won, and four if Obama was re-elected. Neither Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada nor GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was on the ballot, but each had high stakes in the outcome.

All 435 House seats were on the ballot, including five where one lawmaker ran against another as a result of once-a-decade redistricting to take population shifts into account. Democrats needed to pick up 25 seats to gain the majority they lost two years ago.

House Speaker Boehner, R-Ohio, raised millions to finance get-out-the-vote operations in states without a robust presidential campaign, New York, Illinois and California among them. His goal was to minimize any losses, or possibly even gain ground, no matter Romney's fate. House Democratic leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California campaigned aggressively, as well, and faced an uncertain political future after her party failed to win control.

In gubernatorial races, Republicans picked up North Carolina, where Pat McCrory won easily. The incumbent, Democratic Gov. Bev Purdue, did not seek re-election.

In a campaign that traversed contested Republican primaries last winter and spring, a pair of political conventions this summer and three presidential debates, Obama, Romney, Biden and Ryan spoke at hundreds of rallies, were serenaded by Bruce Springstein and Meat Loaf and washed down hamburgers, pizza, barbecue and burrito bowls.

Obama was elected the first black president in 2008, and four years later, Romney became the first Mormon to appear on a general election ballot. Yet one man's race and the other's religion were never major factors in this year's campaign for the White House, a race dominated from the outset by the economy.

Over and over, Obama said that during his term the nation had begun to recover from the worst recession since the Great Depression. While he conceded progress had been slow, he accused Romney of offering recycled Republican policies that have helped the wealthy and harmed the middle class in the past and would do so again.

Romney countered that a second Obama term could mean a repeat recession in a country where economic growth has been weak and unemployment is worse now than when the president was inaugurated. A wealthy former businessman, he claimed the knowledge and the skills to put in place policies that would make the economy healthy again.

In a race where the two men disagreed often, one of the principal fault lines was over taxes. Obama campaigned for the renewal of income tax cuts set to expire on Dec. 31 at all income levels except above $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples.

Romney said no one's taxes should go up in uncertain economic times. In addition, he proposed a 20 percent cut across the board in income tax rates but said he would end or curtail a variety of tax breaks to make sure federal deficits didn't rise.

The differences over taxes, the economy, Medicare, abortion and more were expressed in intensely negative advertising.

Obama launched first, shortly after Romney dispatched his Republican foes in his quest for the party nomination.

One memorable commercial showed Romney singing an off-key rendition of "America The Beautiful." Pictures and signs scrolled by saying that his companies had shipped jobs to Mexico and China, that Massachusetts state jobs had gone to India while he was governor and that he has personal investments in Switzerland, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

Romney spent less on advertising than Obama. A collection of outside groups made up the difference, some of them operating under rules that allowed donors to remain anonymous. Most of the ads were of the attack variety. But the Republican National Committee relied on one that had a far softer touch, and seemed aimed at voters who had been drawn to the excitement caused by Obama's first campaign. It referred to a growing national debt and unemployment, then said, "He tried. You tried. It's OK to make a change."

More than 30 million voters cast early ballots in nearly three dozen states, a reflection of the growing appeal of getting a jump on the traditional Election Day.

Comments

will 1 year, 5 months ago

What a huge mistake, there are some stupid people in this country. Hussein has done zero to help the economy, unemployment still high, obamacare is a joke and look at the debt he has accrued. He has been a total failure in his position, he will NEVER BE MY PRESIDENT and I will never call him that word. Get ready people it going to get more divided and jobs more hard to find. I sat down with my workforce this morning and told them to be ready for reductions in staff by the end of the year. To the idiots that voted for this socialist stop voting and move out of America, its your fault this country will fail.

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Bemused 1 year, 5 months ago

If he's not your president, that means you are not an American as he is the duly elected (twice now - this time by a crushing majority) President of the United States. If you're not an American, please make your way back to home country asap.

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will 1 year, 5 months ago

Bemused, I'm 100% American. I work hard to provide a good living for my family and all of my employees. I'm not a worthless unproductive free-loader that sits on my rear waiting for an entitlement. He will never be my leader.

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John 1 year, 5 months ago

The large electoral college win does not necessarily mean a large popular vote won - Obama 51%, Romney 49% (not including Florida they are still counting but it look real close to 50/50) - that is not a crushing majority of the population. There have been President elected with less than the 50% of the popular vote.

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CW 1 year, 5 months ago

Barely over 50% is a "crushing majority"??? Surely you jest. Obama did not win in a landslide, by any means. Did you know that more people than live in Florida voted? This is true for at least one other state too. BTW -- if you consider comments Obama made in PA during the 2008 campaign, it is patently obvious that he does not consider himself to be president of a certain demographic. Should those people consider him to be their president?

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Bemused 1 year, 5 months ago

To John and CW - it's a week later and the dust in finally settling in regards to the numbers so let's take a look at what "crushing majority" means with respect to recent elections, shall we?

President Obama won the popular vote in 2008 and 2012 (2008's totals 69,499,428 to Sen. McCain's 59,950,323 - I'd call that a shellacking; 2012's early totals are 62,711,814 vs. Gov. Romney's 59,189,598 - I'll give you that it's not nearly the butt-whoomping that occurred in 2008). Electorally, 2008 and 2012 are similar (Obama in 2008 - 365 or 67.8% vs. McCain's 173 or 32.2%, whereas 2012's numbers were 322 electoral votes or 61.7% for Obama vs. Romney's 206 electoral votes or 38.3%).

But let's dig a little deeper to happier vote total times for the GOP. In 2004, Bush received 286 electoral votes (53.2%) and 62,040,610 votes (50.73%) to John Kerry's 254 electoral votes (46.7%) and 59,028,439 popular votes (48.27%). 2000's numbers are pretty close to that too - Bush took 271* electoral votes (50.4%) and 50,460,110 popular votes (47.87%) to Al Gore's 266 electoral votes (49.4%) and 51,083.926 popular votes (48.38%). There's one of those instances, John, of someone losing the popular vote (and some would argue the whole shebang) and still taking the Electoral College.

And CW, I'm not the one who said it was a "landslide." No, that would be people like Larry Kudlow who said "I am now predicting a 330 vote electoral landslide (for Mitt Romney)" or George Will who said "I'm projecting Minnesota to go for Romney (in a 321 to 217 landslide)" or Wayne Allen Root saying "Electorally it won't even be close...I predict a Romney victory by 100 to 120 electoral votes" or Dick Morris claiming "We're going to win by a landslide...my own view is that Romney is going to carry 325 electoral votes." The 'landslide' option is from today's wordsmiths of the GOP, but I agree with them on the spirit of landslide, in that President Obama beat Gov. Romney is a landslide.

CW, as far as that boil on the buttocks of voting or as we normally call it - Florida - goes, according to the US Census Bureau's 2010 estimate for total population in 2011, there would be 19,057,542 residents of the state. As of today, 8,471,088 votes were totaled for the 2012 election - 4,236,032 for President Obama, 4,162,174 for Gov. Romney, 44,684 for Gary Johnson and Other got 28,198. Romney, Johnson and Other combined only gives you 4,235,056 or not enough to beat Obama. Really, where do you get your info from? And as far as your 2008 claim - state your claim or don't make it at all.

Sorry guys, losing sucks. I know. 2000 being handed to Bush by his daddy's Supreme Court and 2004 were terrible years for us liberals. It made 2008 so much sweeter and 2012 was the icing on the cake! I'll give you the same advice that was given to me in 2000 and 2004 by some many Republicans: get over it!

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will 1 year, 5 months ago

Bemused, The Republicans did lose the fight but America has lost the war. Obama did zero to help the economy in his first term and layoffs and terminations have already started due to his failure known as obamacare. This country will be destroyed by the time hussein is out of office, he brings nothing to the fight but a bunch of welfare suckers and idiots that vote by race. Please name one thing he did in his first term that was good for our country. Unemployment was up, national debt was up and the productive businessmen in this country have been failed by hussein. The 47%ers need to move back where they came from and leech off those countries. hussein will never be my leader

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dennistay53 1 year, 5 months ago

Get ready in the next 4 years for $7 gallon gas, over 12% national unemployment, waiting for doctor care, Iran with a nuclear weapon among other things. By reelecting him this country has told him high employment, high national debt, and high gas prices are ok.

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bryanstephens01 1 year, 5 months ago

@Will.. calling everybody who disagrees w/u an idiot is a sensible way of showing your intelligence. Next time make sure to incorporate some facts that may sway some folks who would consider your opinion valid. Unfortunately for people such as yourself, Barack Obama couldn't have done anything to earn your vote. Do your homework and learn that congress actually stalls most progress. And the house led by the republican majority said on day one their goal was to defeat and stop Barack Obama not fix the economy so lets put the blame where it lays my friend. Don't fool yourself, you're not hiding behind your small code words and pitiful rhetoric. I can see right thru it. So take it how you may, but it would behoove some who think like you to get over it. Those w/your mentality do more to hurt the economy than Obama. Learn to live in reality, america has evolved and so must you, I actually feel sorry for you because you think you are right lol.

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will 1 year, 5 months ago

bryanstephens01, you are a true nutcase. Hussein had to be stalled because of his socialist views. He is against capitalism and small business. The only evolving this country is doing is growing a class of welfare freeloaders that rely on someone else for their well-being. I live in reality by the way and I EARN my living not feel entitled to it. Hussein did nothing to gain my vote, name one good move he made.

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Covingtonian 1 year, 5 months ago

Will has shown himself to be a fool prior to his last comments and I've chosen to just ignore him in the past with the exception of one instance when he sounded as if he was campaigning for the position of Grand Wizard of the Klan after the tragic loss of life on Washington street in Covington when he got sick to his stomach because an abundance of black people were at the scene not acting as he thought they should have and I know that he is black he stated as much. Will has a right to his views, most of which I don't agree with. To bryan you hit the nail on the head with your comments toward him. Poor will seems to have suffered an identity crisis and is trying hard to please someone he considers superior to himself by taking this other persons views on what is wrong with this country. Can you say Boortz... Will's real name probably is TOM. That's alright Will, I fought for the right for you to be able to have a different view than my own, Semper Fidelis. By the way, no matter who is the commander in chief he will be my President.

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will 1 year, 5 months ago

Covingtonian, I can see it now me a black American as the Grand Wizard of the Klan, that comment shows how foolish you are. What was concerning about the tragic loss of life on Washington street was all the young girls bringing all their very young kids to see this tragic scene. A murder scene is not the place for kids, period. Also, my name is not Tom or as someone with your qualifications would call me, Uncle Tom. As far as the Boortz comment you need to bring more to the table than that, typical democrat rebuttal. I was also a Marine and fought for the same rights. By the way your commander in chief will weaken our military and sit back while other countries build theirs and he will never be my President you can have him. Thanks for your service Covingtonian.

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Bemused 1 year, 5 months ago

I bet its really going to blow your mind to see that the military voted overwhelmingly for the president.

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will 1 year, 5 months ago

bryanstephens01, I,m waiting for you to tell me one good thing Hussein did, just one.

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CBSfinder 1 year, 5 months ago

You have good points Will, I mean your right about the murder scene was not a place for young children that's just sick and twisted. However whom ever you voted for no matter fact of the matter Obama doesn't salute the American flag. He doesnt apologize to american people when the navy seals got drug down the street dead instead he apologizes to his people. Wow that is in poor taste. I'm sorry but he will never be my President either and Will your absolutely right.

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will 1 year, 5 months ago

CBSfinder, you are a great AMERICAN. hussein also bowed down to a foreign leader, no other has ever done that.

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