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2012 Presidential Election: Obama Wins Re-election

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The long campaign for the presidency ended where it began, with Barack Obama being re-elected to a second term.

Obama won both the popular vote and the electoral vote, although the popular tally was much closer. In the end, Republican nominee Mitt Romney won just 206 electoral votes, to Obama's 332.

The electoral map was almost a mirror image of four years ago, with Obama winning all but two of the 27 states that he won last time. (He won the District of Columbia as well.) In 2012, India and North Carolina returned to the Republican fold.

In his concession speech, Romney said that he had talked to the President and wished him and his family well. Romney repeated this wish in his speech. Obama returned the favor in his victory speech, promising to consult Romney on important matters next year.

Many signs leading into the fall pointed to a likely Obama win, despite high unemployment and what seemed to be a sputtering economy. Romney's naming of Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate put the focus of the race squarely on the economy, especially since Romney, a governor and successful former business owner, had proven himself as knowledgeable on the economy. In fact, many voters said they thought that Romney would do a better job than Obama at improving the economy. Different polls found that Obama was the more likable, the candidate with the most evident vision, given that his four years in office demonstrated some of his commitments, especially to national health care, as demonstrated by his signature achievement, the Affordable Care Act. If anything, though, polling results demonstrated that either candidate could be found to be ahead depending on what kinds of questions were asked.

As Election Day neared, the two candidates engaged in three high-profile televised debates. Even though the results appeared to be mixed, with supporters of both candidates claiming each debate as a victory for their candidate, the overall result was a slight tightening of the polls, with most major polls heading into the election predicting a very close race.

The difference on the night was that Obama won a majority in enough states to gain the necessary 270 votes in the Electoral College. In fact, his total was well above the minimum needed for success, so a threatened legal battle looks unlikely.

Some numbers: A higher percentage of women voted for Obama than voted for Romney, 55–43. A higher percentage of Latinos voted for Obama, 69–29. A higher percentage of African-Americans voted for Obama, 93–7. A higher percentage of men voted for Romney, 52–45. (A relatively small number of votes went to third-party candidates.)

So Obama will serve out his second term as President, the third successive President to do so. Joe Biden will continue as Vice-president.

The Republican Party held on to control of the House of Representatives, and the Democratic Party maintained control of the Senate. The reality of that, along with a Democratic President, means perhaps more gridlock in Washington, with several high-profile disagreements to be sorted in the first few months of 2013.

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