Despite the fact that many political experts and pundits predicted a close race, President Obama handily won a second term in office with 332 electoral votes and 62,176,163 popular votes. This put the President ahead of Governor Mitt Romney by 126 electoral votes and 3,350,496 popular votes. Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin – key battleground states – were all won by the Obama campaign. North Carolina was the only swing state Mr. Romney and the GOP picked up at 49.2% to 46.2%.
Click here to view electoral map – http://www.politico.com/2012-election/map/#/President/2012/
Why were the results not as close as was predicted? As always, who turned out determined the race and will very likely foreshadow the future electorate of the United States.
The 2012 Electorate
Peter Wallsten explored Romney’s lost in the Washington Post on November 7th: “If Republicans seemed to cling to a 20th-century formula that helped elect Ronald Reagan – 89 percent of Romney’s voters nationally were white – Democrats saw in Tuesday’s results the contours of their long-lasting coalition.”
Nationally, the White vote dropped by 2% from 2008 to 72%. This is consistent with recent trends around a national population with growing minority groups compromising a larger portion of the American public. Less than a decade ago (2004), White voters comprised 77% of the electorate. These voters were a substantial voting block for Gov. Romney, with 59% going his way. However, Gov. Romney failed to make gains among all racial/ethnic minority populations, as well as younger voters, who proved to be a growing and powerful portion of the voting population.
71% Hispanics/Latinos voted for the President with 27% voting for Gov. Romney, according to national exit polling by CNN.
Among African Americans/Blacks, Mr. Obama won 93% of the vote. Key, however, was where African Americans/Blacks turned out. In Ohio, for example, this group comprises 12% of the key battleground state’s population, yet accounted for 15% of votes.
CNN exit polls also show that President Obama led Gov. Romney among young people 60% to 37%.
If nothing more, the 2012 election shows that the electorate is changing as the United States grows closer to reaching the minority-majority population predicted for the 21st century. What’s more, these future dominating groups of the electorate are yielding their influence through the ballot box in record numbers.
Women in the Electorate and Congress!
As discussed in the October, 2012 Spotlight, women mattered a great deal in this election. Obama won among women by 9 percentage points. With unmarried female voters, the President beat Gov. Romney by 36 percentage points. The influence of this voting block was not only seen in the Presidential race, but also in Congressional wins across the country.
Massachusetts elected its first ever female Senator, Elizabeth Warren. Its neighboring state of New Hampshire will send an all-female delegation of Congresswoman and Senators to Congress this year. NH voters also elected a new female Governor, Maggie Hassan, to head the state’s executive branch.
The 113th Congress will have a Senate comprised of 20 female senators, the most women to ever be part of the upper chamber in U.S. history. In addition, newly elected Senator Tammy Baldwin will be the first ever openly gay Senator, and Mazie Hirono will be the first Asian American woman to be part of the U.S. Senate. The number of women serving in the House of Representatives will also break records, with 77 Congresswoman (and possibly more as close races are determined) comprising the chamber.
In Massachusetts, there were three primary ballot questions, two of which passed and one that Bay Staters voted down.
Question 1: Deals with vehicle owner and business protections in the state. More information can be found here – http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele12/ballot_questions_12/quest_1.htm
APPROVED BY 86% OF VOTERS
Question 2: Establishes an “Act Relative to Death with Dignity.” More information can be found here – http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele12/ballot_questions_12/quest_2.htm
FAILED WITH 51% VOTING NO
Question 3: Legalizes the use of medical marijuana in MA. More information can be found here – http://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/ele12/ballot_questions_12/quest_3.htm
APPROVED BY 63% OF VOTERS
In the coming weeks, we will be shinning more attention on the potential impact of these new laws through the Policy Connection’s blog postings. Question two was a controversial issue with both sides spending on political ads to sway voters. Ultimately, the measure narrowly failed.
However, question three, legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, passed with a strong majority, making Massachusetts the 18th state to legalize medical marijuana. What does this mean for the Bay State? People with serious medical illness and a doctor’s permission will be able to buy marijuana from state licensed dispensary centers beginning in 2013. Some aspects of the law we already know include:
• Patients with serious conditions will be allowed to have a 60-day supply of marijuana. They will be licensed by the state with a card to show eligibility.
• Patients may designate a caregiver, who also must be licensed and at least 21 years of age, to assist in administering the marijuana.
• There will be one treatment center per county but totaling no more than 35 statewide at first. Treatment personnel must be 21, registered with the state, and have felony-free records.
• Treatment centers may cultivate marijuana in secure facilities so patients with disabilities and in far distance have access.
Exactly how this law will be implemented and its impact will not be seen for some time. The MA Department of Public Health will draft and promulgate regulations over the next four month. Opponents of the ballot measure argued it would result in expanded use of recreational marijuana and greater access for teens, a point that Wheelock, and others strongly committed to children, youth and families, will be closely watching as the law takes effect over the next year.
Further information about the new law and how state government and municipalities are starting to grapple with its implications can be found in these two recent articles from the Boston Globe and South Coast Today.
New England Ballot Highlights
• Maine: The state became the 7th in the nation to allow same-sex couples to marry.
• New Hampshire: All three ballot initiatives failed. These questions included restricting the NH legislature from imposing any new taxes or fees on personal income; giving the legislature concurrent power to make rules governing the NH court system; and creating a constitutional convention to revise or amend the state constitution.
• Rhode Island: All seven of Rhode Island’s ballot measures won approval by voters. These questions pertained to gambling and bond issues.
• Connecticut: Questions did not appear on the ballot for 2012.
• Vermont: Questions did not appear on the ballot for 2012.