President Barack Obama handily defeated Gov. Mitt Romney and won himself a second term Tuesday after a bitter and historically expensive race that was primarily fought in just a handful of battleground states. Obama beat Romney after nabbing almost every one of the 12 crucial battleground states.
Romney conceded in Boston in an earlier speech around 1:00 AM ET. "Like so many of you, Paul [Ryan] and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign," Romney said. "I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead your ocuntry in another direction. But the nation chose another leader." Romney congratulated the president and his campaign on their victory.
We believe in a tolerant America, says Obama. "As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come with fits and starts," and he calls for "difficult compromises".
"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you," saying that he returns to the White House "more inspired than ever about the future and the work that lies ahead."
After sketching out the things he wants to do, Obama stops and says that what makes America is "the bonds that holds together the diverse nation on earth," which only works if people recognise their shared responsibility – a theme of his campaign speeches.
In a sweeping victory speech early Wednesday morning, Obama thanked every American who voted, and vowed to work with leaders from both parties to tackle the country's challenges.
"Our economy is recovering, a decade of war is ending, a long campaign is now over," he told a crowd of cheering supporters in Chicago. "And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president." Obama added he has "never been more hopeful about America" as he returns to the White House. "We're not as divided as our politics suggest," Obama said. "We remain more than a collection of blue states and red states.
These ads were one reason Romney faced a steep likeability problem for most of the race, until his expert performance at the first presidential debate in Denver in October. After that debate, and a near universal panning of Obama's performance, Romney caught up with Obama in national polls, and almost closed his favoribility gap with the president. In polls, voters consistently gave him an edge over Obama on who would handle the economy better and create more jobs, even as they rated Obama higher on caring about the middle class.
But the president's Midwestern firewall--and the campaign's impressive grassroots operation--carried him through. Ohio tends to vote a bit more Republican than the nation as a whole, but Obama was able to stave off that trend and hold an edge there over Romney, perhaps due to the president's support of the auto bailout three years ago. Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan all but moved to Ohio in the last weeks of the campaign, trying and ultimately failing to erase Obama's lead there.
A shrinking electoral battleground this year meant that only 14 states were really seen as in play, and both candidates spent most of their time and money there. Though national polls showed the two candidates in a dead heat, Obama consistently held a lead in the states that mattered. That, and his campaign's much-touted get out the vote efforts and overall ground game, may be what pushed Obama over the finish line.