When President Barack Obama took to the stage at McCormick Place in Chicago to address Americans after being re-elected on Tuesday night, Signed, Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours blared over the public address system.
A nice touch by his campaign team, but a little out of tune, perhaps.
Yes, he had Signed, Sealed and Delivered an election victory. I’m Yours? Hardly. The reality is that heading into his second term, Obama leads a nation that is divided from Maine to San Francisco, Miami to Fairbanks, Long Island to the islands of Hawaii. After a night of excitement in his moment of triumph, the cold hard reality of dawn breaks on the president and his team.
In terms of a campaign, Obama’s was brilliant. He had Mother Nature on his side. When Hurricane Sandy blew into New Jersey and New York nine days before polling day, he reacted with all of the might of his office, a campaign resource the Republicans could only watch in envy and silence, lest they be accused of scoring cheap political points out of the natural disaster. And after all, given the way that their Republican president George W. Bush had handled Hurricane Katrina, it’s probably wise that they maintained a studied silence.
But the Obama campaign knew they were in for a tough fight from Mormon millionaire Mitt Romney. All of the pre-polling showed Obama in trouble in the key swing states of Virginia, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. And in those same polls, he had a fighting chance in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Clinch those, and the 270 electoral votes were in the bag.
After all, no president going into an election since Franklin Roosevelt had managed to be win when unemployment was higher than 8 per cent. Obama? He never came close to that figure in his four years in office. And his lowest figures came three weeks before the campaign ended —raising suspicion that the figures were somehow rigged.
But the Democrat organisers had a game plan. It was simple. And brilliant. Target the city and suburban dwellers in those states in play. Give away the rural counties where territories are far and wide, but voters are few and far between.
It worked like a charm.
Driving through rural Illinois before polling day, every city and large town was festooned with billboards and lawn signs for the Obama-Biden ticket. Once outside and on the highways and byways, where corn grows tall and fields stretch for kilometres, there were the Romney-Paul ticket signs when roads or farmlands met.
On polling day, the returns showed how brilliantly the strategy worked. For every vote cast in an urban area for Romney, Obama was picking up four. And when the rural returns came in, Obama picked up one vote for every five that Romney claimed. The result, as Bill Clinton said, is simple arithmetic. Obama’s numerical superiority was guaranteed.
Yes, a risky strategy, but one that worked.
He also claimed nine out of 10 votes from the African American community, eight out of 10 votes from Hispanics, and six out of every 10 votes from women.
Republicans? Angry white males voted overwhelmingly for Romney. And angry white males whose livelihoods — making cars and trucks — were saved by the president, voted for Obama in droves.
In Congress, where the work of the nation is supposed to be done — not much has been accomplished in the past two years through Republican obstruction — the Democrats maintain their control of the Senate.
The Republicans continue to control the House of Representatives.
Interestingly enough, the Democrats actually picked up a couple of extra votes in areas where Tea Party candidates were simply too far right for enough mainstream Republicans to support. And these same Tea Party candidates had bumped off centre Republicans in bitter nomination fights.
But now what?
Obama leads a nation divided between city slickers and rural hicks, liberals, gays, women and minorities on one side, Bible-thumping Southerners and the affluent on the other side.
In terms of popular support, this was a close-run race coast to coast.
Obama claimed 50 per cent of the total votes, Romney 49 per cent.
The US is also divided between the Northern Eastern, Rust Belt and West Coast states — with Nevada and Colorado thrown in because of Hispanic influence — against the rest.
President of the United States? Yes.
President of united states? Hardly.