Wonkbook: Obama reelected

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Wonkbook dashboard (all as of 4 a.m. EST)

Obama vs. Romney, electoral vote303 Obama, 206 Romney. (FL's 29 not called, Obama leading slightly in state's vote count.)

Swing states: For Obama: NH, PA, VA, OH, IA, WI, NV, (FL). For Romney: NC.

Obama vs. Romney, popular vote57.7M Obama, 55.8M Romney; 50% to 48%.

Top story: Obama reelected

Barack Obama wins a second term as president of the United States of America. "Barack Obama was elected to a second presidential term Tuesday, defeating Republican Mitt Romney by reassembling the political coalition that boosted him to victory four years ago, and by remaking himself from a hopeful uniter into a determined fighter for middle-class interests. Obama, the nation’s first African American president, scored a decisive victory by stringing together a series of narrow ones. Of the election’s seven major battlegrounds, he won at least six...He said he intends to sit down with Romney in the weeks ahead to talk about how the two can work together." David A. Fahrenthold in The Washington Post.

@BarackObama: We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you. -bo

Read: The full transcript of Obama's reelection victory speech.

Watch: Video of Obama's reelection victory speech.

Read: The full transcript of Romney's concession speech.

Watch: Video of Romney's concession speech.

Scott Wilson and Philip Rucker explain the strategy which paved a path to victory for Obama's reelection campaign: "In early spring, President Obama’s veteran campaign staff in Chicago confronted the question that would ultimately determine the presidency: how to run against Mitt Romney? The choice discussed on frequent calls between the White House and One Prudential Plaza was whether to campaign against Romney as a flip-flopper -- a former centrist governor of Massachusetts who turned conservative to win his party’s nomination -- or use his career as the head of Bain Capital to cast him as a protector of the privileged at the expense of the middle class."

@ezraklein: This is the best speech Obama has given since the 2008 campaign

2012 keeps the status quo in DC. Does that mean the gridlock stays, too? "The election sorted out winners and losers, but it left intact a polarized governing structure in Washington that has been unable to produce much more than gridlock over the past couple of years...After an intensely negative campaign in which both parties defined themselves by who they were not and where they would not compromise, neither can claim that voters gave them a mandate to actually accomplish anything. But as they return to Washington and a set of immediate challenges, starting with the year-end 'fiscal cliff,' the election has given them a new understanding of what they are up against." Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post.

@CitizenCohn: Romney's strong sense of patriotism, civic duty is real. Hope he finds a way to put that to good use again.

The real work begins. Pronto. "After a long and arduous campaign, a newly reelected President Obama confronts his next challenge: binding together a deeply divided nation and turning from campaigning to governing...It will now be left to him to create a true mandate for his agenda and then through leadership that combines compromise with conviction, produce a political consensus in Congress and the country to put that agenda into place." Dan Balz in The Washington Post.

Wonkblog explains: Our footnotes on 2012.

Democrats will maintain control of the Senate... "Democrats retained their majority in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, an outcome that leaves a divided Congress that closely resembles the one that has been gridlocked for the past two years on some of the nation’s most pressing issues. A combination of misfortune and mistakes left Republicans unable to seize control for the second straight election in which they were early favorites to make historic gains. In a key race between Virginia political heavyweights, former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D) defeated former senator George Allen (R)...The Democrats flipped Republican Senate seats as the GOP saw sure-bet Indiana slip away...In Massachusetts, liberal hero Elizabeth Warren gave Democrats an emotional win by snatching back the seat once held by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy from Republican Scott Brown." Rosalind S. Helderman in The Washington Post.

@RobinBew: #Obama wins, control of House, Senate unchanged. Allows fresh look at bipartisan long term fiscal plan? But need more grip than last 4yrs.

...But Republicans will maintain control of the House of Representatives. "Republicans won enough crucial races Tuesday to retain control of the House of Representatives, beating back a strong Democratic challenge and allowing the GOP to keep pushing an agenda of fiscal austerity. Republicans won enough crucial races Tuesday to retain control of the House of Representatives, beating back a strong Democratic challenge and allowing the GOP to keep pushing an agenda of fiscal austerity...Many incumbents survived because of a redistricting process that left a record-low number of competitive seats, cloistering Republicans and Democrats together into geographically odd -- but politically homogenous -- districts." Paul Kane in The Washington Post.

@mattyglesias: List of Democrats who’ve won 50% of the vote twice: Obama, FDR, …, ?

Partisan lines split electorate in 2012. "Americans reverted to more traditional lines compared with the broader-based coalition that made Barack Obama president four years ago. President Obama held onto the demographic groups that traditionally make up his party’s base -- young and unmarried people, political moderates, women, blacks, Latinos, the least and most educated, city dwellers, lower-income voters and union members -- yet struggled with others who helped sweep him to victory in 2008. Men, political independents and suburbanites -- who backed Mr. Obama four years ago -- this time gave more votes to Mitt Romney...Mr. Romney retained the support of most other typically Republican groups, including whites, older Americans, Southerners, rural residents, married voters, regular churchgoers and, overwhelmingly, white evangelical Christians." Jackie Calmes and Megan Thee-Brenan in The New York Times.

Graphic: 2012's exit polls.

@ezraklein: The difference in diversity between the Obama victory crowd and the Romney crowd is this election in miniature

2012, another year of voting irregularities. "Americans went to the polls by the tens of millions Tuesday, and although most voted without incident, balloting in several states was hindered by long waits, legal disputes and lingering damage from Hurricane Sandy. Pennsylvania emerged as a hot spot for Election Day issues. In Philadelphia and outlying counties, voters reported that some election workers required photo identification, despite a judge’s ruling last month that placed the state’s tough new ID law on hold for 2012. Officials were permitted to ask for photo identification but not as a condition for voting...In the critical battleground of Ohio, Democrats expressed concerns about elevated numbers of voters in predominantly African American areas casting provisional ballots. Election officials and strategists predicted a sharp increase in the number of provisional ballots cast, possibly twice as many as the 150,000 in 2008." Bill Turque and Carol D. Leonnig in The Washington Post.

Romney thought he was going to win right to the end. "Mitt Romney ended his Election Day sprint believing that, in the end, he waged the campaign he always wanted...Then Romney pulled out his iPad. 'I just finished writing a victory speech,' he later told reporters aboard the Romney plane for its final flight. 'It’s about 1,118 words.' What about a concession speech? 'I’ve only written one speech at this point,' the would-be next president said. Romney wasn’t entertaining any what-ifs. Not on this day. He thought the White House would be his. " Philip Rucker in The Washington Post.

@chrislhayes: I've always been in the small minority of observers who thought Mitt Romney was a good candidate.

How the campaign was fought: The ad wars of 2012.

Gazing toward the political horizon. "Mr. Obama emerges from a scalding campaign and a four-year education in the realities of Washington a far different figure from the man sent to the White House in 2008. What faces him in this next stage of his journey are not overinflated expectations of partisan, racial and global healing, but granular negotiations over spending cuts and tax increases plus a looming showdown with Iran. Few if any expect him to seriously change Washington anymore; most voters just seemed to want him to make it function." Peter Baker in The New York Times.

@jbarro: Mitt Romney for Secretary of the Treasury

Paul Ryan's next act. "Unfortunately for Ryan, Air Force Two still remains beyond his reach...Ryan, 42, could decide that the House offers the best place to pursue his ambitions. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he has secured a place among his party’s intellectual leaders, speaking out on how to rein in entitlement costs and cut government spending...Ryan is likely to stay in the House and play a hand in negotiating the fiscal deals that need to be made or pushing for conservative alternatives." Felicia Sonmez in The Washington Post.

The Fix's Chris Cillizza explains: What the 2012 election taught us.

The president won't be a Republican. But governors are. "The Republican Party broadened its hold on governorships to 30 states on Tuesday, with a takeover of North Carolina’s chief executive post...The GOP not only became the first political party in a dozen years to capture at least 30 governor’s offices; its victories Tuesday mean that no Republican governor has lost a general-election campaign in five years. Republicans could pick up two more governorships if they win in Montana and Washington state, where polls have shown tight races." Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.

Wonkbook's post-election roundup of opinions

KLEIN: What is unusual about Obama's second term. "Typically, presidential elections are about, well, hope and change. The candidates make lots of promises about all the policies they’ll change, then they hope that they can get those promises through Congress. Usually, they fail. President Obama’s reelection, ironically, isn’t about hope and change. The hope is largely gone, but the changes are already happening...They say that presidents campaign in poetry and govern in prose. They say that presidents campaign in poetry and govern in prose. That’s rarely been truer for a president than it was for Obama, whose inspiring oratory launched him to the White House and whose grind-it-out, insider-game approach to working with Congress disappointed his fans. But it worked. That prose became law -- but, unusually, it became law that wouldn’t fully take effect until his second term. So while in 2008, his election was a vote for hope, in 2012, his reelection carries a guarantee of change." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

KLEIN: Obama’s victory speech: Behind the return of the president’s rhetoric. "Judging from Twitter, President Obama’s rousing victory speech left most everyone with the same question: Where’s that guy been during the 2012 campaign?...The Obama campaign found that their key voters were turned off by soaring rhetoric and big plans. They’d lowered their expectations, and they responded better when Obama appeared to have lowered his expectations, too. And so he did. The candidate of hope and change became the candidate of modest plans and achievable goals...What you saw tonight, however, was that Obama didn’t much like being that guy. He still wants to be the guy he was in 2008. He still wants to inspire and to unite. He still wants Americans to feel that the arc of history is bending under their pressure. He still wants to talk about climate change and election reform and other problems that the Senate is not especially eager to solve. This has been the tension at the center of the Obama White House for four years now. Hope and change don’t go together. The legislative process doesn’t leave people feeling very hopeful. But it’s the only mechanism the president really has to make change." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

PONNURU: Where do the Republicans go from here? "There will be attempts in the party to blame the outcome on Romney’s flaws, which were real enough, as a way of avoiding having to rethink the party’s approach to anything else. Yet Romney was the strongest of the Republicans who ran for the primary last winter. It’s hard to see how Perry or Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum would have done better, and Romney seems (at the time of this writing) to have run ahead of his party’s Senate candidates in Florida, Ohio and Virginia. The reckoning will be hard to avoid...As for what Romney should do with the rest of his life: Isn’t it obvious, Margaret? President Obama said he wanted to create a Department of Business. Who better to run it than Romney? He’ll get it operating at peak efficiency in no time." Ramesh Ponnuru in Bloomberg.

@sahilkapur: Reaction from conservatives almost seems like a big sigh of relief. No longer have to pretend race was close or that they liked Romney.

DIONNE: What Obama's reelection should mean. "President Obama’s reelection was at once a deeply personal triumph and a victory for the younger, highly diverse and broadly progressive America that rallied to him. It was a result that ought to settle the bitter argument that ground the nation’s government to a near-standstill...Just as important for governance over the next four years, the president took on an increasingly militant conservatism intent on vastly reducing the responsibilities of government and cutting taxes even more on the wealthiest Americans. In the process, he built a broad alliance of moderates and progressives who still believe in government’s essential role in regulating the marketplace and broadening the reach of opportunity. Many have argued that the president ran a 'small' and 'negative' campaign, and he was certainly not shy about going after Romney. But this misses the extent to which Obama made specific commitments and repeatedly cast the election as a choice between two different philosophical directions." E.J. Dionne in The Washington Post.

FRIEDMAN: The GOP reaps what it sows. "In October 2010, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, famously told The National Journal, 'The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.' And that’s how he and his party acted. Well, Mitch, how’s that workin’ out for ya? No one can know for sure what complex emotional chemistry tipped this election Obama’s way, but here’s my guess: In the end, it came down to a majority of Americans believing that whatever his faults, Obama was trying his hardest to fix what ails the country and that he had to do it with a Republican Party that, in its gut, did not want to meet him halfway but wanted him to fail -- so that it could swoop in and pick up the pieces." Thomas L. Friedman in The New York Times.

@ezraklein: Romney fought for this so hard, and for so long, and he came so close. It must be terribly hard to give up.

SARGENT: Demographics and the 'coalition of the ascendant.' "The story of this election will be all about demographics. As Chuck Todd noted earlier today, the fact that it remained unexpectedly close in GOP-leaning southern states shows that the GOP is not keeping pace with the changing face of America. Meanwhile, Obama’s support proved unexpectedly strong among workers in the industrial midwest, thanks partly to his willingness to pursue aggressive government action to save a major American industry. Obama’s team made the right bet on the true nature of the American electorate. Rather than reverting to the older, whiter, more male version Republicans had hoped for, it continues to be defined by what Ron Brownstein has called the "coalition of the ascendant" -- minorities, young voters, and college educated whites, particularly women." Greg Sargent in The Washington Post.

@RonBrownstein: Now, more than ever, Romney's decision to use immigration as his cudgel in the primary looms as his original sin.

DOUTHAT: The Obama realignment. "When you do it once, it’s just a victory. When you do it twice, it’s a realignment. The coalition that Barack Obama put together to win the presidency handily in 2008 looked a lot like the emerging Democratic majority that optimistic liberals had been discerning on the political horizon...But 2008 was also a unique political moment...So it was still possible to regard the Obama majority of ’08 as more flukish than transformative -- or at the very least, to see it as a fragile thing, easily shattered by poor choices and adverse developments...[J]ust as Reagan Republicanism dominated the 1980s even though the Democrats controlled the House, our own era now clearly belongs to the Obama Democrats even though John Boehner is still speaker of the House. That era will not last forever; it may not even last more than another four years. The current Democratic majority has its share of internal contradictions, and as it expands demographically it will become vulnerable to attack on many fronts. Parties are more adaptable than they seem in their moments of defeat, and there will come a day when a Republican presidential candidate will succeed where Mitt Romney just failed. But getting there requires that conservatives face reality: The age of Reagan is officially over, and the Obama majority is the only majority we have." Ross Douthat in The New York Times.

@BobCusack: Very impressive that Obama's campaign team won 2 strikingly different elections in '08 & '12. Key was courting Latino vote early.

FIRESTONE: The Senate is moving left. "The Democratic-controlled Senate is likely to be considerably more liberal than the one it replaces. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Angus King of Maine (nominally an independent) replace Republicans. Tim Kaine of Virginia is more liberal than Jim Webb, the Democrat who retired, just as Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Chris Murphy of Connecticut are more liberal than Herb Kohl and Joe Lieberman. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will be one of the strongest voices in support of Mr. Obama’s policies, and may even push the president leftward. Democrats could also win a few other races too close to call. So what will the reshaped chamber mean? Possibly a stronger backbone, and one of the first places to show it will be filibuster reform." David Firestone in The New York Times.

Top op-eds

SILVER: What about a 'Bad Samaritan' law? "In many states, Good Samaritans are protected from liability if their well-intentioned efforts inadvertently result in harm. But the Bad Samaritan, if you will -- the callous bystander who refuses to render even minimal help in a dire emergency -- goes unpunished. No matter how grave the danger or how minor the effort needed to prevent harm, citizens are not required to provide help...One defense of the no-duty rule is that common law exists to prevent people from harming one another, not to compel people to help one another. But modestly impinging on the individual freedom to do nothing seems reasonable when a life hangs in the balance." Jay Sterling Silver in The New York Times.

TRITCH: How to break a regulatory agency. "[W]ithout a single hearing, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs appears poised to vote on a bi-partisan bill that would impose major new bureaucratic obstacles on independent regulatory agencies. The effect would be to weaken and delay rules across the regulatory landscape...By design, independent agencies, unlike cabinet departments and executive agencies, do not report to the White House. They report to Congress, which deemed them independent precisely in order keep them insulated from undue political pressure from the executive branch...Among its provisions, it would require the agencies to submit all significant proposed rules to the White House for vetting." Teresa Tritch in The New York Times.

Reelection song interlude: Stevie Wonder, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered," 2010.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Still to come:household formation is rising; 2012 and healthcare; now the countdown to the fiscal cliff really begins; petroleum imports headed below 40 percent of total gas consumption; and wave-particle duality and other sorts of flip-flopping.

Economy

A key sign of recovery, household formation is rising. "Americans are setting up house at the fastest rate in more than six years, an indication that recession anxiety, which prompted adult children to move in with their parents and single people to postpone marriage, is starting to ease. The nation added 1.15 million households in the 12 months that ended in September, according to the most recent Census Bureau data...The rise in household formation is good news for home builders...The Commerce Department reported that builders started work on homes at an annual rate of 872,000 housing units in October, the highest level of housing starts in four years." Robbie Whelan in The Wall Street Journal.

Freddie Mac is turning a profit. "Freddie Mac reported a $2.9 billion third-quarter profit on Tuesday, offering the latest evidence that the company has turned the corner after several years of large losses. The profit compares with a year-earlier loss of $4.4 billion and marks the fourth consecutive quarterly gain for the mortgage-finance company. Freddie's fortunes have improved as home prices have stabilized amid stronger housing demand and low inventories of homes for sale...Freddie will make a $1.8 billion dividend payment to the U.S. Treasury, which took over Freddie and Fannie four years ago through a legal process known as conservatorship. It is the second straight quarter in which Freddie hasn't needed any U.S. assistance. The companies have taken nearly $187 billion in aid and returned around $47 billion in dividends, leaving taxpayers with a $140 billion loss." Nick Timiraos in The Wall Street Journal.

How's the economy? Your view is also likely your vote. "These are from The Washington Post’s early exit polls for the presidential race...Democrats overwhelmingly believe that the economy is getting better (88 percent) compared to Republicans, 83 percent of whom said the economy was in poor shape. Romney voters said that taxes were the most important issue, while Democrats were far more likely to cite the housing market." Suzy Khimm in The Washington Post.

But there's still economic unease wherever you look. "In his second term, freshly re-elected President Barack Obama confronts an economy that offers glimmers of long-missing vitality but remains held back by fiscal and regulatory uncertainties and slowing global growth. The U.S. economy has shown signs of improvement in recent months. Unemployment is below 8%, stock prices are up, the housing sector is reviving and consumers are starting to step up spending on cars and other big-ticket items after four years of paying down debt. Yet overall economic growth is anemic...[And] Mr. Obama, whose relationship with business deteriorated over his first term, will face daunting economic decisions almost immediately." Damian Paletta and Jon Hilsenrath in The Wall Street Journal.

Math is hard interlude: "To the surprise of pundits, numbers continue to be the best system for determining which of two things is larger.".

Health Care

Reelection helps Obama's health law, but much remains in the hands of the states. "President Barack Obama’s re-election ensures the survival of his landmark health care law, but predominantly Republican state officials will get a big say in how it is carried out. State lawmakers will control whether millions of uninsured people get coverage through Medicaid beginning in 2014, as the law envisions. They’ll also decide whether to set up online markets where individuals can shop for coverage and seek federal subsidies to lower their costs." Phil Galewitz in Kaiser Health News.

MO voters pass anti-Obamacare ballot measure. "Voters in Missouri approved a measure Tuesday that will hamper its governor's ability to implement President Obama's healthcare law. The law will prohibit the governor from creating an insurance exchange unless the move is authorized by the state legislature or by a ballot initiative. Given the makeup of the statehouse, the measure's approval Tuesday all but ensures that Missouri will have a federally run exchange." Elise Viebeck in The Hill.

Domestic Policy

Election over. Fiscal cliff watch begins now. "President Obama returns to Washington from the campaign trail Wednesday to face an epic year-end battle over taxes and spending that could ultimately tame the national debt and advance his ambitions for a second term. The president, who appeared headed for reelection late Tuesday, must now confront the “fiscal cliff,” nearly $500 billion in automatic tax hikes and spending cuts set to take effect in January that could throw the nation back into recession. If Obama can engineer a compromise to avert the cliff with the freshly reelected Republican House, he could set the stage for progress on other second-term priorities, including immigration reform, climate change and investments in education and manufacturing. Such a compromise could also infuse fresh energy into an economic recovery that has suffered from uncertainty over the future of federal budget policies." Lori Montgomery and Zachary A. Goldfarb in The Washington Post.

@BobCusack: For any fiscal cliff deal to get done, relationship between President Obama and GOP leaders must improve. #frosty

Other sorts of flip-floppers interlude: Photon findings complicate wave-particle duality.

Energy

Federal data: U.S. petroleum imports headed below 40 percent. "U.S. petroleum imports are heading below 40 percent in 2013 for the first time in more than two decades, and crude oil production is currently at its highest level since 1997, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The agency’s monthly forecast shows continuing trends in growing U.S. production and declining imports. U.S. crude production is expected to average 6.3 million barrels-per-day in 2012, which is almost 700,000 barrels-per-day above 2011 levels and the highest output since 1997, according to EIA, the Energy Department’s independent statistical forecasting arm." Ben German in The Hill.

@Ben_German: Obama speaks of need to pass on country that "isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."

E2Wire explains: Energy winners and losers in 2012.

Is Sandy a teachable moment on climate change? "There has been an intense rush to use Hurricane Sandy as a teachable moment to focus the public (and politicians) on the risks of an unabated buildup of greenhouse gases and resulting global warming...But it’s important, always, to consider the other contexts to events, however dramatic, in judging whether they provide a real opportunity for engagement on the momentous challenge of getting the carbon out of the world’s energy system...George Marshall, an expert on climate and communication, has just done that, in an important, if sobering, essay weighing the climate discourse around Hurricane Sandy against what he learned in recent interviews with a variety of people in Bastrop County, Texas, the suburban-exurban region east of Austin that experienced a stunning outbreak of wildfires in September 2011." Andrew C. Revkin in The New York Times.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.

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Ezra Klein · November 7, 2012