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Story Archives: Why Obama won
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|Why Obama won|
As disheartening as it was, President Obama's re-election last week confirmed what we knew to be true but chose to turn a blind eye to for years.
That is the demographics of the country have changed, and more Americans than ever before are dependent upon government to provide for their wants and needs. And those two factors played a huge role in some 60-plus million Americans voting to re-elect a liberal Democrat who has presided over the worst economy since the Great Depression while adding some $6 trillion to the nation's debt.
Heading into the 2012 election cycle, Republicans were giddy over the prospect of taking on Obama and his abysmal performance on the economic front. After all, the unemployment rate had hovered above 8 percent for months and no president had been re-elected with the unemployment rate above 8 percent since FDR did it during the height of the Depression. Moreover, some 100 million Americans are on welfare and food stamps, nearly one-third of the people in the United States.
But as is always the case, certainties in politics don't exist. They especially don't exist for a fractured party taking on an incumbent who enjoyed easy access to hundreds of millions of dollars in contributions from working people, captains of business and industry and elitists, who, if you ask them, know far more about how the world operates than some commoner who puts in a hard day at work.
It was bad enough that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney endured a bruising primary in which all of his baggage was laid bare for the public to consume. But Democrats witnessed it, too, and they very astutely tucked it away to use against the Republican nominee in the general election. And use it, they did.
You could argue Romney was the right candidate for the right time for Republicans, given the general public's attitude toward former President George W. Bush. Think about it. Obama has been blaming Bush for four years for every ill that plagues the Republic.
Still, you would think Romney's easy-going demeanor and picture perfect family were a plus. Don't forget about the incredible success Romney has enjoyed in the business world. But Romney ran as a moderate who pledged to work with Democrats in the Congress if he was elected president. And that didn't sit well with hard-core Republicans, who refuse to negotiate on hot-button social issues such as abortion and same sex marriage.
That Romney never truly defined himself for the voters was a major mistake, especially among voters who we would describe as moderates. That left it up to Obama and his top-shelf political advisors to do it for him. They did it all right and successfully painted Romney as a cold-hearted businessman who bought and sold companies and occasionally shut them down to ship jobs to China where labor is cheap.
Yet, perhaps the presidential race was decided over the summer when Obama's campaign gambled, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on negative radio and television commercials and the like, driving home a message that Romney the businessman would take a businessman's approach to the White House. That would be bad, according to Team Obama, for the working men and women of America, particularly for the middle class in the key swing states of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. Don't forget about Florida and Virginia.
And Obama won every single one of those states.
Messages and mistakes aside, we cannot engage in an honest discussion about the presidential race without considering the demographics that helped decided it.
Twelve years ago, roughly 78 percent of the electorate was white. Eight years ago, 76 percent of the electorate was white. Four years ago, 74 percent of the electorate was white.
This year, whites composed just 72 percent of the electorate. And Obama captured more than 40 percent of the white vote, including a vast number of single, white females.
On the other hand, some 92 percent of black voters voted for Obama, while the president locked up more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote.
That raises a question.
Lost in the shuffle were some seven to 10 million white voters who voted in the 2008 presidential race but stayed at home last week.
That's anyone's guess, but I suspect we'll learn in time that a vast number of those seven to 10 million white voters declined to participate in the election because they were not enthralled with Romney and voting for Obama simply wasn't an option. There was no lesser of two evils.
What, you may ask, changed in the 2012 election cycle?
Not much at all.
Obama will serve for another four years, Democrats still control the U.S. Senate and Republicans are still calling the shots in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Divided government at its best.