4. The auto bailout and Obama's union support
The federal government’s bailout of General Motors and Chrysler – which started, in fact, under President George W. Bush – proved essential to winning the ultimate battleground, Ohio, where 1 out of 8 jobs is tied to the auto industry. The exit poll of Ohio showed that 59 percent of the state’s voters supported the bailout versus 36 percent who opposed it. Union membership has long been in decline, but across the upper Midwest – from Wisconsin to Michigan to Ohio to Pennsylvania – the unions’ voter-turnout operations supplemented Obama’s efforts. And in an ironic twist, the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United, which Democrats love to hate, allowed the unions to expand their reach to nonunion members.