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Obama wins the way his campaign predicted

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the election night party at McCormick Place, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, in Chicago. Obama defeated Republican challenger former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
November 7, 2012 3:29:30 PM PST
In the end, President Barack Obama won re-election exactly the way his campaign had predicted: running up big margins with women and minorities, mobilizing a sophisticated registration and get-out-the-vote operation, and focusing narrowly on the battleground states that would determine the election.

Last night during his acceptance speech, President Obama told the nation that despite our differences, we all share the same dream of a better America and a better future.

Even though nearly half the nation voted for Republican Mitt Romney, the president says the freedom to voice opposition is what makes this country great.

"We go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn't," said President Obama.

President Obama has already called Republican and Democratic leaders from the Senate and the House to talk about the agenda for the next year.

Some local and experts shared their reaction on President Obama's re-election.

President Obama is in the victory circle again, overcoming a still troubled economy, Washington gridlock, and four years of relentless assault from the opposition party.

"The Obama campaign laid out its plan, told everyone what they were doing and executed," said Anita Dunn, a former Obama White House official who advised the campaign through the fall. "No one should be surprised."

Still, there were detours along the way, most notably Obama's dismal performance in the first debate, which breathed new life into Republican challenger Mitt Romney's campaign. The deadly attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, thrust foreign policy into the spotlight and exposed Obama to a flurry of GOP criticism of his leadership. And Superstorm Sandy upended the campaign in its closing days, though the political impact appears to have been positive for Obama, who got a high-profile opportunity to show voters his presidential leadership.

Demographics played a large part in his re-election along with a get out the vote machine second to none.

Black voters made up 13 percent of the electorate, just as they did in 2008, and Hispanics increased from 9 percent to 10 percent. Obama won more than 70 percent of Hispanics and more than 90 percent of blacks, according to exit polls. He also maintained his advantage with women, defeating Romney by 11 points among female voters.

While the demographics looked the same, Obama aides knew from that start that this would have to be a different kind of campaign than his insurgent, optimistic race four years ago. The public's frustration with the sluggish economy and high unemployment made Obama vulnerable. And the deeply partisan bickering that consumed much of his presidency made it impossible to run again on a promise to change Washington - or to claim that those efforts had succeeded in his first term.

"They were able to get their vote out," said Randall Miller from St. Joseph's University. "They also go their vote out from a lot of people who realized 'maybe it hasn't been a perfect for years, maybe I'm disappointed, but I trust that man more than I trust the Romney guy.'"

"The Obama campaign understands not only person-to-person organizing, but they also understand the importance of social media to organize on a person-to-person basis," said Professor Mathew Kerbel.

"You cannot lose the Latino vote by the margins Romney lost and still hope to win the election," said Professor Kerbel.

"They alienated voters, especially Latinos. They alienated African Americans. They alienated people who need government to help them get ahead. They alienated whole groups of people who the so-call 'New America'," said Miller.

The staffers and volunteers in those offices helped register 1.8 million new voters in the key battlegrounds, nearly double the number the campaign said it registered in 2008. Officials said volunteers made more than 125 million personal phone calls or door knocks with voters.

Obama's team also focused heavily on running up a lead in early voting and using the extended polling time to get supporters without a consistent voting record to the ballot box. Before Election Day, campaign officials said their early voting advantages meant Romney would have needed to exceed 50 percent or more of the remaining votes in Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and Ohio to pull off victories there. He lost all four states.

Throughout the campaign, Obama advisers prided themselves on not getting diverted by polls or the latest Twitter trend. After damaging video surfaced of Romney decrying 47 percent of Americans who believe they are victims, Obama advisers warned the race could still tighten. And when it did after Obama's woeful debate performance, they calmly insisted they had always planned for a close contest.

Obama was helped in the final stretch by two factors that Romney simply couldn't blunt.

One was Bill Clinton, the popular former Democratic president who became an exceptional surrogate, holding dozens of campaign appearances for Obama and vouching for his economic record.

The second was Sandy, the storm that struck the East Coast during the final full week of the campaign. Obama scrapped three days of campaigning and returned to Washington to manage the government's response.

It was an opportunity for Obama to project command and comfort in a crisis. His response won bipartisan praise, most notably from New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie, a vocal Romney supporter.

Forty-two percent of voters said Obama's response to Sandy was important in their vote for president. Most of those voters supported his re-election.

The Republican efforts to require voter ID tactics what would have cut voter eligibility by the Obama constituency backfired on the GOP.

"This effort to suppress the vote awakened a lot of people, black and white, old and young; a complete sense of outrage about it," Miller said.

"The Obama constituency is growing; the Romney constituency is shrinking," said Professor Kerbel.

As he looks at four more years in the White House, what are the president's immediate challenges?

"One of the things that has to happen soon is for people to move away from this so-called fiscal cliff," said Miller.

President Obama won a clear victory, but the balance of power in Washington has not changed, so there is much more road to be traveled before the Obama legacy is finally sealed.


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