The 2012 election results were neither close nor a surprise. The hype preceding the election was apparently meant to create a bandwagon effect (Republicans) and mobilize voters (Democrats), besides helping achieve high television ratings. As explained by Nate Silver on a NYT Blog a few days before the election, for Romney to have won, the state polls must have been statistically biased in favor of Obama over an extended period of time. Clearly, they were not.
There are many reasons to welcome Obama’s re-election. On the domestic front, the additional four years provide the opportunity to consolidate the reforms already introduced – regarding health care, the regulation of the financial market, tax reform and job creation – and commence with those still outstanding – regarding education, energy policy, the environment and infrastructure planning.
Agreeing on a budget (and budget deficit) for 2013, thus avoiding the so-called ‘fiscal cliff,’ is the first challenge. This is no big deal, unless the Republicans decide to flex their muscles once again, but, even then, the consequences are unlikely to be as grave as presently portrayed.
Internationally, Obama’s re-election will strengthen multilateralism with respect to both economic and foreign policy. Under Obama, America’s push for European expediency on economic issues is likely to end up backing Angela Merkel’s thrust for strengthening the political dimension of the European Union, thus European federalism. In the Middle East, in Asia and also in Russia, it will be more difficult to ignore the ongoing processes of democratization.
Finally, the election results will hopefully shake the Republican Party out of its angry white man sullenness. The United States are undergoing a major societal transformation in terms of demographics, internal migration, and socio-economic development. In parallel, there is evidence for the occurrence of a silent political revolution towards post-materialist values as described by Ronald Inglehart back in 1977.
Among else, this means that the number of voters likely to be swayed by populist slogans and expensive political advertising is on the decline. Movements such as the Tea Party and Super-Pac financing engines might finally be losing their relevance.