BOSTON – US President Barack Obama convinced the American people to give him
four more years in the White House on Tuesday, as he defeated Republican
challenger Mitt Romney by a margin greater than many analysts and polls
He will return to the White House with less national support
than he won in 2008, but facing the continuing challenges of a stalled economy,
massive deficits and a Middle East in turmoil.
According to tabulations
through Wednesday afternoon, Obama won 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 206, 62
fewer than the president garnered last time, and 50 percent of the popular vote
to Romney’s 48%, 3% less than he received previously.
Obama will need to
continue working with a divided Congress, as Republicans held the House of
Representatives and Democrats retained the Senate, though total numbers were not
yet clear by Wednesday.
Obama turned out his base of young voters, single
women and minority groups in larger numbers than expected – and in some places
even greater than in 2008 – to hold the White House, but lost the inroads he had
made with Independents, who went for Romney 50-45, according to national exit
Obama also lost some support among the Jewish community, a
staunchly Democratic constituency. Exit polls found that Jews backed Obama by
69% to Romney’s 30%, as opposed to their 78% support for Obama over Republican
candidate John McCain, who garnered only 22%, in 2008. A group of academics and
pollsters, affiliated with the National Jewish Democratic Council, later
adjusted the figure to 74%.
Despite the modest erosion in the Jewish
vote, Obama pushed past Romney in key swing states Ohio and Pennsylvania – and
most likely Florida, which was still too close to definitively call on Wednesday
– with small but active Jewish populations.
Obama went on to sweep nearly
all of the remaining swing states as well.
Both Obama and Romney, in
their speeches Tuesday night, spoke of the need to work together in a bipartisan
“I believe we are not as divided as our politics suggest,” Obama
told the thousands of cheering supporters who greeted him in Chicago, his
adopted home town, on Tuesday night.
“We rise or fall together, as one
nation, and as one people,” he said.
Though he didn’t go into foreign or
domestic policy specifics, Obama did speak about America’s role in the
“We want to pass on a country that is safe and respected and
admired around the world,” he said.
“A nation that is defended by the
strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever
“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point,” Romney told the dispirited supporters who packed a ballroom in Boston, where the former
Massachusetts governor established his campaign headquarters.
“At a time
like this, we can’t have partisan bickering and political posturing,” he said in
a short concession speech delivered in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
“Our leaders have to reach across the aisle.”
There will be some shake-up
within the Obama administration itself, however, as first-term officials
traditionally make way for new figures to enter high-ranking
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton long ago
announced her departure from government, and rumors have long swirled that US
Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice or Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry
would take her place. Rice, however, has been damaged by her role in the Libya
flap, as she made public statements playing down terrorist ties to the killing
of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11. She has also been mentioned as a
possible national security adviser.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has
been less clear of his second-term plans, but he is likely to step down, paving
the way for former undersecretary of defense policy Michele Flournoy, who would
be the first woman to hold the position, or possibly Deputy Secretary of Defense
Ashton Carter, to take over.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is also
expected to leave, and a top name in the hopper has been that of Jack Lew, the
first Orthodox Jew to serve as White House chief of staff and former director of
the Office of Management and Budget under both Obama and former president Bill