Obama’s signature legislative achievement of his first term, health-care reform, drew very mixed reviews. Forty-nine percent of voters favor repealing all or most of it, 44 percent say to leave it as it is or expand it, and many of the controversial aspects of the legislation have yet to go into effect.
When asked which candidate would best handle three particular issues, Romney edged out Obama on the economy and the federal budget deficit, and a slim majority said Obama would better handle Medicare.
Last-minute voters broke in favor of the president, who won the 9 percent of the voters who decided in the last few days. Indeed, the October surprise of superstorm Sandy and its made-for-TV presidential photo opportunities likely stopped Romney’s momentum and tipped the election for Obama. (The 42 percent of voters who said that hurricane Sandy was an important factor in their vote chose the president by a 37-point margin.)
Both parties won resounding support from their base. Independents chose Romney by a five-point margin, but the Democratic edge in total voters pushed the final tally toward Obama.
Bill Clinton pleaded with the American people to give their president four more years to finish the job, and by a slim margin they consented. Obama should seek the counsel of his party’s elder statesman once again. Mr. Clinton learned from the 1994 Republican wave in Congress, changed his tactics, and worked with Republicans to balance the budget and enact historic welfare reform.