Obama wins re-election
BY DAVID ESPO Associated Press
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
11/07/12 at 7:33 AM
Election Day Photo Essay: See all the photographs taken by Multimedia Producer John Clanton throughout the day in Tulsa, chronicling what happened and the point of views of Tulsans of both parties.
See the Tulsa World’s coverage of local, state and national elections.
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, Obama spoke to thousands of cheering supporters, praising Romney and promising that better days are ahead.
"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 telephoned the president, then spoke to disappointed supporters in Boston. In a graceful concession, 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.
After the costliest - and arguably the nastiest - campaign in history, divided government seemed 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 87 percent of the nation's precincts, Obama had 55.6 million votes, or 50 percent. Romney had 54.4 million, or 49 percent.
And the president's laserlike focus on the battleground states allowed him to run up a 303-206 margin in the competition for electoral votes, where the White House is won or lost. It takes 270 to win.
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 more 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, with Obama leading narrowly in a state where there were long lines of voters at polling places long after the appointed closing time.
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 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 whom he had campaigned against for more than a year.
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, and Obama made no attempt to carry Texas, much of the South or the Rocky Mountain region other than Colorado.
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 Springsteen 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 that progress had been slow, he accused Romney of offering recycled 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.
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.
Original Print Headline: Obama Again
OBAMA (D)|| 303|| 55,648,842 ||50%|| 429,611 ||33%
ROMNEY (R)|| 206 ||54,391,640 ||49%|| 863,311|| 67%
President Barack Obama waves as he walks on stage with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Malia and Sasha at his election night party early on Wednesday in Chicago. CHRIS CARLSON/Associated Press
Mitt Romney: He kept the popular vote close and won in North Carolina, one of nine battleground states
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, at his election night rally Tuesday in Boston, urged all Americans to pray for President Barack Obama. DAVID GOLDMAN/Associated Press