BY JONATHAN LEMIRE / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2012, 12:03 AM
President Obama will be in the White House for four more years.
President Obama won reelection Tuesday night as voters gave him a new chance to repair the nation’s economy and fulfill the promises of hope and change he made four years ago.
The networks called the race shortly after 11:10 p.m., as a series of swing states fell in rapid succession to give Obama the 270 electoral votes he needed.
First Pennsylvania, and then New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Iowa and Colorado fell to Obama. When Ohio was called for the incumbent, a roar went up at Obama’s Chicago headquarters.
Moments later, Obama sent this message on Twitter: “We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned, and that’s who we are.”
The nation’s first African-American President will take his second oath of office on Jan. 20, having beaten back a Republican Party that vowed to make him a one-term President.
But Obama will have little time to celebrate as he returns to a gridlocked Washington after a bitter campaign that may have only hardened the partisan divide.
Supporters cheer for President Barack Obama while watching voting returns before his election night rally in Chicago, Tuesday.
Challenger Mitt Romney lost his native Michigan and current home state of Massachusetts. Combined with his loss in Wisconsin, the birthplace of his running mate Paul Ryan, the GOP ticket became the first national ticket to lose both candidates’ home states since Democrats George McGovern and Sargent Shriver did in 1972.
Despite Obama’s lead in the electoral college, the popular vote remained close — raising the possibility of a repeat of 2000, when George W. Bush took the White House despite receiving fewer votes than Al Gore, could not be ruled out.
The suspenseful and extraordinarily expensive election drew to a close as Americans — millions still recovering from the havoc wreaked by Hurricane Sandy — braved long lines at the polls to cast their votes.
For most, the nation’s struggling economy remained at the forefront.
Sixty percent of those questioned in exit polls called the the economy their No. 1 issue.
But more said former President Bush was to blame for the current conditions rather than Obama — despite his nearly four years in office.
In addition, only 3 in 10 said things were getting worse —while 4 in 10 said the economy was improving.
And in all-important Ohio, 59% of voters surveyed in the exit polls approved of Obama’s bailout of the auto industry, while just 36% opposed it.
Exit polls also showed that Obama had an 11-point lead over Romney on the question of which candidate is more in touch with people like them. Most voters said that Romney’s policies would generally favor the rich, while only 1 in 10 said that was the case for the President’s policies. And Obama was getting a majority of voters whose family income was less than $50,000 last year, while Romney led among those with $50,000 or more.
Four years ago, Obama’s lofty oratory and this historic nature of his candidacy drew hundreds of thousands of people to rallies and inspired legions of new voters who helped capture several states that had been traditional GOP strongholds.
But Democrats enthusiasm was not nearly as high this time after many of the President’s promises were lost to Washington gridlock and his soaring rhetoric was weighed down by the burdens of office.
BRYAN SMITH FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The Empire State Building is lit up in blue, in celebration of Obama’s win.
He struggled to frame his major legislative accomplishments – in particular the national health care reform known as Obamacare – and his party took a beating in the 2010 midterm elections.
This time, Obama’s campaign was forced to wage a gritty, county-by-county fight.
His team spent four years building an elaborate ground game that turned out a winning coalition that looked similar to the one that first carried him into office: women, young voters, African-Americans and Latinos.
The candidates, their parties and outside groups spent $2.6 billion on the campaign, by far the most in history.
Confusion ran rampant at polling places in states ravaged by Superstorm Sandy and long lines of voters were reported in battlegrounds like Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Both campaigns dispatched lawyers to scores of polling sites to help their supporters cast their ballots — and to gather information for potential lawsuits that could challenge the election’s outcome.
People watch the Electoral College Map in Seoul November 7.
Touting his business experience, Romney pledged to jumpstart an economy that showed consistent, but small, growth during Obama’s first term.
A one-term governor from Massachusetts, Romney failed to capture the Republican nomination in 2008 but entered this year’s GOP primary sweepstakes as the early favorite.
But the lengthy primary process, which at times resembled a circus sideshow featured carnival barkers like Herman Cain, Donald Trump and Michele Bachmann, was a harder slog than expected and left Romney bruised heading into a general election fight with Obama’s battle-hardened crew.
The incumbent’s team, based in Chicago rather than Washington, made the tactical decision to spend huge sums of campaign cash early to define Romney as a heartless corporate raider and flip-flopper.
Ad after ad hammered home Romney’s conservative positions, turning his experience running Bain Capital against him and portraying his positions on women’s issues like contraception and abortion as backward.
The Romney campaign, after a gaffe-filled international trip and the release of a video showing the Republican saying he “didn’t care” about 47% of the nation’s people appeared lifeless as the campaign entered its home stretch.
But then during one night in Denver, everything changed.
Romney pivoted toward the center to win over moderates, delivering a performance as powerful as Obama’s was oddly listless.
Overnight, the polls tightened. The President bounced back with stronger showings in the next two debates but Romney moved ahead in several national surveys.
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