The 2012 campaign seemed to lack a lot of the excitement of 2008. The latter was Obama's first run for president, a campaign of "hope" and "change" -- both sorely needed with the Bush presidency unravelling, two seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the budget surpluses of the Clinton presidency becoming deficits due to the careless fiscal policies of slashing taxes and increasing spending during war, and economic collapse on Wall Street that gave rise to global recession.
As well, Obama's 2008 campaign was historic. His victory represented the election of the first African-American president in U.S. history, a significant step forward in race relations.
By 2012, the dream of an Obama presidency had been a reality for four years -- including the harsh realities of American politics, the painful negotiating processes of passing legislation through Congress, the difficult task of putting America on the tough road to economic recovery, and overall the harsh realities of governing -- all of which dampened 2008's "Obama-mania."
However, election night 2012 still had the excitement and attention that comes with American politics, as Americans rendered their verdict on "Hope" and "Change" and decided ultimately to move "Forward" with Obama rather than change course with Romney.
A key aspect of this verdict was the economy, something on the minds of Americans facing the effects of deep recession where -- while there was economic recovery -- it was a recovery that was not complete. A couple of key results in this regard were Michigan and Ohio.
Michigan is the state where Mitt Romney grew up -- considered a home-state of his -- and was thought by many pundits to potentially be competitive because of this. However, CNN was able to call Michigan in the Obama camp immediately after the polls closed. It was not competitive at all.
Michigan was a primary beneficiary of the Obama administration's automobile industry bailout -- something that attracted some controversy at the time, but ultimately proved crucial in saving a sector of the American economy whose viability been called into question. The 2008 recession had compounded an already existing "one-state recession" there.
The result in Michigan was a positive verdict for the economic management of the Obama administration in saving this sector of the American economy, and a negative verdict on Romney who was haunted by a New York Times op-ed he wrote, entitled "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."
Obama also won Ohio, a key swing state in American presidential politics, a victory that put Obama over the magical 270 number in electoral votes to be proclaimed the victor in the presidential race. Ohio is a manufacturing rust-belt state where the automobile industry plays an important economic role, especially in the city of Toledo located near the Michigan border. The automobile industry bailout was popular in this state and Obama's victory here -- especially in the northern manufacturing regions -- represented another positive verdict on his administration's economic policies.
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At the end of the day, this "close" election was not really that close, and FiveThirtyEight.com's Nate Silver seemed justified in putting the odds of an Obama victory at well over 80 per cent. While the race was closer than 2008, Romney's routes to victory proved limited and, ultimately, impossible.
So what does this election mean for the Republican Party?
There were several stinging symbolic losses for the GOP ticket. This included Wisconsin, the home state of Paul Ryan where it was thought his presence on the ticket would make this state more competitive. Michigan, where Romney grew up, was not even competitive. Massachusetts, the state where Romney had been governor, was also lost, though this can be ascribed to the fact that Massachusetts is a solidly blue state. New Hampshire, where Romney's summer home is located, was also a loss for the GOP ticket.
The outcome of this election will likely raise serious questions about the influence of the right wing Tea Party in the Republican Party -- as Romney struggled to appease both the party's right wing base while positioning himself to win a broad enough electoral coalition to capture the presidency. His platform included fiscally unsustainable tax cuts coupled with an increase in military spending, he had proclaimed support for defunding Planned Parenthood, and he called for the repeal of Obamacare. These were positions he championed when trying to win the Republican nomination, but was backing away from during the general election.
Republicans failed to capture control of the Senate, losing races in Missouri and Indiana because of controversial statements regarding rape and abortion by the candidates there. In Indiana, an incumbent Republican Senator had lost the primary race to a Tea Party backed candidate, making a firm Republican hold competitive and, ultimately, a Democratic gain. The Tea Party putting forward unelectable candidates is a serious issue that is likely to receive more attention.
Overall, the 2012 election represents a positive verdict on Obama's economic policies of stimulus and saving of the automobile industry, even if tempered by the fact that the economic recovery, while underway, is not complete. It also represents a rejection of the Tea Party backed Republican Party. At the end, election night still retained the drama, even if the 2012 campaign did not quite hold the history or excitement of 2008.