After a primary and general election campaign that lasted more than a year, President Barack Obama won a second term more handily than some media and both presidential campaigns suggested in the week leading up to Election Day.
At around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday evening, Fox News channel and CNN projected that Obama would win the hotly contested state of Ohio, awarding him enough electoral votes to exceed the 270 needed to clinch victory of the 2012 presidential election. In the subsequent two hours, as results continued to roll in, Obama was projected to win several other states that secured his re-election, and thousands of his supporters danced and cheered at the McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill., the president’s national headquarters.
As of 3 a.m. today, Obama had secured 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206. Florida’s 29 electoral votes remained undeclared to either candidate—with 97 percent of precincts reporting, Obama held a slight 0.5 percent or approximately 46,000-vote lead on Romney. In Florida, an automatic recount is provided if the margin of victory for either candidate is smaller than a half of a percentage point, so Florida’s electoral votes may remain unpledged until a recount is conducted. However, as Obama already surpassed the 270-electoral vote threshold, this will not have an effect on the election outcome.
Some news media outlets predicted the Obama victory in the weeks leading up to the election, but many made the claim that the race was about as close as it could possibly be. Both campaigns asserted their confidence heading into decision day. Obama’s victory proved fairly decisive, though. He was assumed to be the winner very shortly after the West Coast polls closed.
Obama said he shared a telephone conversation with Romney at around 12:30 a.m., in which Romney conceded the election and Obama congratulated his opponent on a hard-fought and “fierce” campaign.
Although the crowd attending Obama’s 2012 acceptance speech was considerably smaller than the 2008 crowd that packed Chicago’s Grant Park, his supporters showed a familiar enthusiasm. Obama arrived behind the podium at around 12:35 a.m. CST, escorted by his wife, first lady Michelle Obama, and his two daughters Malia and Sasha Obama, who had grown considerably taller since the last time they celebrated their father’s victory.
The president invoked two Americas—one of the past, imbued with the trying but successful history of building a working democracy, and another of the ideal future, refined by bipartisan cooperation, which he promised will be practiced in his second term.
“Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward,” Obama said in his address, giving credit for his victory to voters, volunteers, his campaign staff and his family.
And the crowd went wild—Obama supporters proudly waved miniature American flags and chanted “four more years” in unison.
The atmosphere at the Romney headquarters in Boston, Mass., was far less jubilant. His supporters quietly and patiently awaited Romney’s concession speech, remarks he said he did not prepare prior to Election Day in expectation of a presidential victory. He took the stage at around 12:45 a.m., an hour and a half after major national news outlets projected he had lost the presidential bid.
Romney was gracious in his concession, thanking his supporters for their tireless campaigning efforts, and congratulating the president on his re-election. Neither he nor Obama dedicated any time in their speech to criticizing their opponent, a stark contrast to the months of attack ads both campaigns employed.
“This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation,” Romney said.
Although he did not mention specifics as to how he would collaborate with Obama in the coming term, Romney promised that he would work to facilitate the mitigation of “partisan bickering” and “political posturing” on the American political stage.
“Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion,” he said. “We look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the American people before politics.”
Obama expressed the same desire to bring an end to the partisan gridlock that has become infamous over the past four years. He said he looks forward to sitting down with Romney to create a plan to encourage politicians to work beyond party lines, but he also mentioned that the nation has its work cut out for it if America wants to move on the right track.
“You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours,” Obama said. “And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together—reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.”
At press time, Obama had won the popular vote by less than 2 percent, suggesting that one of the president’s major hurdles will not only be uniting a divided Capitol Hill, but also rallying the American people around the common ideals of recovering the nation and moving forward.
He paid homage to nations and their peoples around the world who are still struggling to have their voices heard in their governments, and warned Americans not to let the heated campaign season fuel animosity to opposing parties’ ideas.
“We can never forget that, as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today,” he said.
Ending with a message of equality and unity for all American peoples regardless of race, age, income level and sexual orientation, Obama invoked his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech.
“We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states,” he said. “We are and forever will be the United States of America.”