An outcome that maintains the status quo in Washington guarantees Obama some important advantages. But the 2012 election results also foretell more gridlock, and the president, by not offering a path out of debt and deficit, lacks a clear mandate for action.
President Obama burnished his historic legacy by winning a decisive electoral victory – sweeping most of the battleground states – despite high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and a bitterly partisan atmosphere.
The reelection of America’s first black president shows that Mr. Obama’s triumph four years ago was not a fluke. Not only did Obama emerge the undisputed victor late Tuesday over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, albeit with a smaller popular-vote margin than in 2008, he also appears to have pulled along with him a larger majority in the Senate. Despite predictions of diminished turnout by Obama’s core constituencies – blacks, Hispanics, young voters, and women – they delivered again for both the president and the Democratic Party.
Still, 2012 was a markedly different election. Gone is the optimistic tone of 2008. The road ahead is paved with tough choices, amid worsening fiscal conditions. And the scorched-earth quality of the campaign, fueled by unprecedented spending by the campaigns, the parties, and outside groups, has left many Americans gasping for air.
The continuation of the status quo – Democratic president, Democratic Senate, Republican House – foretells more gridlock. And by not offering a detailed prescription for addressing the nation’s unsustainable deficits, particularly on entitlement programs, Obama enters a second term without a clear mandate for action.
IN PICTURES: Election Day 2012 - America Votes!
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