Why did President Obama win?

by Barrister Harun ur Rashid | November 8, 2012 5:41 pm

On 6th November, a polarizing incumbent President Obama wins a closely fought but decisive re-election despite mixed public opinion about his first term when rate of unemployment is high and the income of the middle class has dwindled. He won 59.6% popular vote and 303 Electoral College vote (270 is required to win), 29 not yet assigned as the time of writing.

His lead was steady and consistent after the storm Sandy, and he was boosted on Election Day by strong turnout from core constituencies despite suggestions that his supporters could suffer from weakened enthusiasm the second time. His volunteers had ensured voters big turn out on the election day.

There are many reasons for his victory and some of them deserve mention as follows:

First, his core constituencies are poor, women, younger people, Hispanic, Afro-American, Asian and automobile workers. Statistics show 60% of the poor, 71%of Hispanic, 87% of women including 96% of black women, and 60% of young voted for Obama, while 62% white men, 56% of white women and 56% of older people voted for Romney.

Second, the results demonstrate many dramatic changes, particularly demographic and ideological ones in Obama’s America . The new generation is liberal minded, open to new ideas, averse to racism and thinks in global terms. Democratic Party is seen as their party through which they can give expression to their values and beliefs. The President is himself is a symbol what an individual can achieve in America with competence and skill, irrespective of where an individual is born or raised. The fundamental principle of equality among individuals in America is underscored and it provides hope and confidence in everyone.

Third, in a campaign notable mostly for its negativity, the historic storm provided Obama with a commander-in-chief moment a week before Election Day. The president gained a rare moment of bipartisan praise, with Democratic and Republican governors alike commending the performance of the federal government.

Several high-ranking Republicans lauded the White House’s performance. Republican Governor Christie of New Jersey was the most vocal, saying at a news conference that the president’s response had been “outstanding” and that working with the administration had been “wonderful.” Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, chair of the Republican Governors Association and a leading Romney surrogate, said the federal response was “incredibly fast and we’re very grateful.”

McDonnell described Obama as “direct and personal” in his approach to the disaster, adding that during natural disasters, “partisanship goes out the window.”

The storm put on hold Mitt Romney’s all the momentum in the campaign. Issues such as fiscal deficit, slow down of economy, high rate of unemployment, less income for middle class which are vital for Republican nominee were put into back burner during that time. Sandy was a game-changer for Obama, a God’s gift at the right time.

Fourth, within the practice of politics, no shift seems more dramatic than the role reversal between the two parties on campaigning competence, tact and strategy. Democrats have proved themselves better—more disciplined, rigorous, serious, and forward-looking—at nearly every aspect of the project of winning elections. Democrats are mastering the techniques that give campaigns the ability to understand what actually moves voters

Fifth, all the political faus pas made by Mitt Romney added to the advantage of Obama. Romney comments in the video that there are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what, , who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing and don’t pay income tax. Romney said that his role “is not to worry about those people”. This was the most damaging comment for a section of voters.

Critics of Romney’s “47 percent” remarks noted that many of those who don’t pay federal incomes taxes pay other forms of taxes. More than 16 million elderly Americans avoid federal income taxes solely because of tax breaks that apply only to seniors, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center reports. Millions of others don’t pay federal income taxes because they don’t earn enough after deductions and exemptions. It reflected Romney’s out of touch sentiment with the poor and elderly.

Sixth, the Republican Party needs some soul-searching after defeat of Romney. The Party underestimated the popularity of Obama and thought that he became the President in 2008 by “fluke”. The party needs to reach beyond white and rural base.

Some analysts believe that it has gone too far right. The Tea Party movement has gained influence in the Republican Party. The Americans who have joined the Tea Party movement are overwhelmingly white, middle-aged conservatives, Christian rights, who are furious with Obama’s liberal ideas of governance and beliefs. This anti-Obama attitude is one shared by the heroes of many tea partiers, including the former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin.

Former Republican governor Mike Huckabee said on Fox News on 6th November night that Republicans have done a “pathetic job of reaching out to people of colour, something we’ve got to work on. It’s a group of people that frankly should be with us based on the real policy of conservatism. But Republicans have acted as if they can’t get the vote, so they don’t try. And the result is they don’t get the vote.”

“It is a rude awakening,” says Blaise Hazelwood, who served as political director of the Republican National Committee during Bush’s re-election and worked this year as part of Mitt Romney’s targeting team.

To many observers the Republicans will only continue to cause deep divisions throughout the country if
they continue their current trend toward the radical right and too favourable for the rich. If they want a solid mandate, the Republicans must find a more moderate position and make it evident that they’re working for the benefit of all Americans, given the demographic change.

Bangladeshi expatriates in the US have cheered the victory of Obama. But some business leaders in Bangladesh expressed concerns about the United States ‘ stance on outsourcing. Obama criticised outsourcing during the presidential campaign, arguing in favour of creating jobs in the United States .


We all hope that both parties have a period of reflection and have the will to compromise to get the major legislations enacted for the good of the people. While some will want to blame one party over the other, the reality is that building ladders of opportunity for people who want to work hard and play by the rules and take responsibility should be the goal of both parties.

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid

Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva .

Source URL: https://priyoaustralia.com.au/articles/2012/why-did-president-obama-win/