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Obama’s new political era

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“The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep,” said Obama. “We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.”

Obama’s governing style remains an open question. He has never run a state or city government or a business, though his successful presidential campaign – an intricate operation involving thousands of moving parts – may provide some clues.

Obama put together a cohesive team that settled on what proved to be a winning strategy and did not waver, or erupt in internal drama, in the face of setbacks. Obama’s cool demeanor makes him appear enigmatic to some. But at a time of profound challenge, his temperament worked to his benefit as voters considered their options.

“One thing about Obama is he’s ‘planful’ – he’s a planner,” says Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. “The economy will come first. There are a ton of mean problems ahead that will involve allocation of pain and could splinter the coalition.”

But in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 20 inauguration, a nation that has struggled with racial strife since its founding will also take stock of the historic import of Obama’s election. His victory touched Americans of all hues, but perhaps none more so than African-Americans who had personally experienced a time when blacks had little opportunity for advancement.

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