President Barack H. Obama triumphed again against unrelenting opposition, some of it far beyond mere campaign rhetoric, for the highest political office in the country, and was re-elected to a second term as president of the United States.
By the next morning, he had accumulated 303 electoral college votes (270 needed to win) to 191 for the challenger, Mitt Romney, and a solid 2 percentage points lead in the popular vote count (more than 3 million votes more than the challenger).
Florida, again having trouble with its ballot count, as voters in that state were still standing in line to cast their ballots through 11 p.m. Tuesday night, finally reported an Obama victory Wednesday morning, and the president's total went to 332 electoral votes, a stunning thumping of his opponent.
By comparison, in 2008, then-candidate Obama received 365 electoral college votes to 173 for John McCain. George W. Bush received 286 to John Kerry's 251 in 2004, and Bill Clinton received 379 to Bob Dole's 159 in 1996.
Although President Obama's current number is very, very substantial, Republican comments in the aftermath of the election already seem to show they do not regard the president's victory as a mandate that they must respect and take to heart. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, said in his public comments that the president now had another chance to come to the political center to work with Republicans on moving America forward, but that the president had to understand that compromise is a two-way street, and the Republicans intended to make no concessions against their principles.
"Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office. To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we'll be there to meet him halfway."
John Boehner, Speaker of the House, added, "that by keeping Republicans in control of the House, voters made clear there is no mandate for raising taxes."
"If there is a mandate," he told the Associate Press, "it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs."
Five things are very clear in the election results, however, and need little interpretation:
1) The Democrats strategically out-organized the Republicans in the battleground states, winning all but North Carolina.
2) The Republicans seriously miscalculated who the 2012 electorate is and focused almost exclusively on White male voters. They got 72 percent of that group, but still lost pretty convincingly.
3) The Citizens United case influenced, but did not determine, the presidential election of 2012. This was the most expensive election in American history, with more than $2.6 billion spent during the two presidential runs, but money did not decide the winner.