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Expert Comment: Obama wins second term

White House Wednesday 7 November 2012

Dr. Robert Busby, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics, History, Media and Communication at Liverpool Hope, looks at what lies ahead for America in the light of Barack Obama's election win.

Barack Obama’s win on 6th November was testament to a well-run and largely effective campaign. The race was a close one in terms of the popular vote, but with the Electoral College system Obama actually did better than many political pundits expected. He got over 300 Electoral College votes, well beyond the 270 he needed to win. The key swing states of Ohio and Virginia both went to Obama and he cemented his victory by taking Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in the west. The Senate also went to the Democrats with an increased majority.

A second term is perhaps the biggest reward that a President can get. With a two term limit it is the only chance to receive the endorsement of the American people for the achievements of the first term, and in large part, Nixon aside, Presidents who do two terms are generally considered to have been a success on the back of this popular mandate.

While Obama can bask in the glow of the election victory there are significant challenges ahead. The House of Representatives has remained in Republican hands, so there will be a significant opposition to Obama’s continued efforts to reform the American economy. There remains pronounced division in society on many social issues, including healthcare, immigration, the legalisation of cannabis and gay marriage.

The Republican party faces a period of introspection about where to go next. Two election losses in a row will force the party to consider modifying its position on the electoral spectrum. Those on the right of the party will point to the previous success of Bush Jr as testament to the need to swing right and move from the centre. However, the changing demographics of America and the re-election of Obama suggest that the party need to consider some moderation in its stance, particularly on social issues. There is hope for the party, as 30 of the 50 state governors are Republicans. That said the grand prize has proved elusive and the Democrats, with the White House and the Senate are clearly the winners of 2012.

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