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Key swing state wins pave Obama's path to re-election

President Obama strung together key swing state victories in Tuesday's election to win a second term as president of the United States, bringing to a close over a year of turbulent campaigning.

Going into the election, polls showed a dead heat between Republican challenger Mitt Romney and Obama, though sources including the New York Times predicted the incumbent's victory.

The presidential election outcome is "iffy" and "pretty unknown," said Jessica Mitter '13 early in the night at the Special Events Committee's on-campus watch party. "It seems kind of like a toss-up in many states," she said. "I'm kind of nervous."

The popular vote closely reflected national polls. Obama received 50 percent of the overall vote, and Romney received 48 percent. Some pundits were concerned that Romney would win the popular vote, thus symbolically undermining Obama's electoral college victory  -  an outcome that would recall the contested 2000 presidential election in which Democrat Al Gore won the popular vote but ultimately lost to Republican George W. Bush.

Swinging left

Obama started the night strong with victories in two of nine swing states - New Hampshire and Wisconsin, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's home state.

Taylor Daily '13, president of Brown Students for Obama, said it was rewarding to see the group's efforts canvassing in the nearby state pay off through Obama's win.

News sources began to call the race for Obama after projecting his victory in Ohio. Both campaigns poured considerable resources into the MidWestern swing state, which has historically been a consistent predictor of presidents' victories and carries 18 electoral votes. The state is also home to a large population of Independent voters.

Though nine states were considered swing states, a number of analysts named Ohio as the state that would decide the election. "It was kind of clear in the last few days that Ohio was going to be a deciding factor regardless of how Florida went," said Thomas Fink '13, who voted absentee for Romney in Florida, another swing state.

Obama rounded out the night by sweeping four more swing states  - Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and Virginia. North Carolina was the only swing state Romney carried. Florida was too close to call at press time.

Post-election analysis suggested that Minnesota, thought to be a Democratic stronghold, would have had a chance to swing Republican if Romney had chosen to target it more heavily, a point New York Times political analyst Nate Silver raised in an article a week before the election. 

Lil' Rhody goes blue

"It's a great day for Democrats," said state Sen. Juan Pichardo, D-Providence. "For the nation, the real change is happening and is going to continue to happen." 

Jake Brodsky '16 predicted the outcome early in the night. "I'd like to think that Obama is going to win," he said at the SPEC watch party. "I have a gut feeling."

Rhode Island, a traditionally liberal state, gave its four electoral votes to the Democrat incumbent with 63.1 percent of the vote at press time.

"I really like Barack Obama, and I think he's doing great things for the country," said Katie McManus of Providence at the Rhode Island Democrats event. 

"I don't think anybody could have dug us out of the hole that we were in in four years," she added, but said Obama has been moving the country toward progress. "I really dislike the direction that the Republican National Committee wants to move us in," she said.

The right retreat

Romney, who reportedly did not prepare a concession speech in advance, postponed admitting his loss to his supporters until an hour and a half after NBC first called the race for his opponent.

"This is a time of great challenges for America," he told his supporters in his concession speech. "We can't risk political posturing and partisan bickering," he said, encouraging politicians to reach across the aisle and "put the people before the politics."

Republicans appeared reluctant to accept Obama's victory. "This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!" Donald Trump tweeted last night. The former Republican candidate for the nomination suggested Republicans, who retained control of the House of Representatives, should refuse to work with Obama unless he agreed to repeal his signature health care legislation.

'The best is yet to come'

"The rest of the United States has finally caught up with Rhode Island," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., in his address at the Rhode Island Democrats event held at the Providence Biltmore Hotel last night. "Now the challenge ... is to move forward and come together to build a better, stronger United States of America." 

"We've seen some really great policies go through, and I really hope he can improve upon them in the second term," Daily said of Obama's victory.

When Obama took the stage for his victory speech, he emphasized the importance of moving forward after the election. "The best is yet to come," he said.

Obama said he looked forward to working with Romney in the coming months to shape future policy and resolve some of the contention between the two parties.

"Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated," he said. "When we go through tough times, when we make big decisions, that necessarily stirs up passions, it stirs up controversy."

But Obama noted that such debates "are a part of our liberty," something for which people in other nations are currently fighting, referencing the recent uprisings in Northern Africa and the Arab Peninsula. The democratic spirit and patriotism exhibited in politics and government are what makes America great, he added.

"I believe we can seize this future together," Obama concluded. "We remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We remain the United States of America."

- With additional reporting by Phoebe Draper, Caroline Flanagan, Sona Mkrttchian and Kate Nussenbaum



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