Americans aren’t happy with the status quo in Washington and yet what we saw yesterday was America returning to the status quo. President Obama has been reelected, albeit with fewer votes — and a lower percentage of the popular vote — than he won in 2008. Democrats appeared to have strengthened their majority in the Senate. Republicans hold the House.
He owes his more decisive electoral vote majority to his razor-thin victory in Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and (as appears likely at press time) Virginia. The margin in Ohio is even narrower than it was in 2004 when George W. Bush won the state on his road to reelection.
The incumbent’s biggest legislative accomplishment, Obamacare, remains unpopular. The debt has increased more in his first term than it had in his predecessor’s two terms. He ran an aggressively negative campaign and didn’t really focus on any issues. He does not have the same mandate he had four years ago.
I have to say I’m surprised. Just watching the president and his opponent these past few days, one seemed energized and confident, the other angry and downbeat. You would think the more confident man would win. Mitt Romney drew larger crowds. The base seemed more energized.
Perhaps, it was as Charles Krauthammer put it last night on FoxNews that Mitt Romney wasn’t the best candidate to articulate the conservative message. Perhaps, it was that he did not do a good job of outreach to the Hispanic community. Perhaps, those hundreds of millions of dollars in negative ads really did do the trick. Or maybe Hurricane Sandy caused wavering Obama supporters to return to their man. Up until the storm hit, Mitt had the momentum. And it stopped.
Or perhaps, the legacy media, in failing to cover Obama’s various failures and scandals, won the election for him.
He has been a most lucky man. And this year, the Democrats have been a most lucky party. They owe at least two Senate seats to Republican candidates who imploded. But, now they have to govern. Now that he has been reelected, Obama can no longer blame George W. Bush for his problems.
He must now come up with solutions.
That’s all I can offer for now. As Bruce put it, there will be “Plenty of time for 20-20 hindsight.”
UPDATE: Jonathan S. Tobin offers best the best election post-mortem I have (yet) read.