What Are They Saying About Obama's Victory?

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Obama won a second term! And just as with every other point in the election, the nation's pundits are already telling us what it means. Here are all their takes as they come in.

The nation didn't unite, but the win was an endorsement of Obama's policies — Editorial Board, The New York Times

[The re-election] was not a sign that a fractured nation had finally come together on Election Day. But it was a strong endorsement of economic policies that stress job growth, health care reform, tax increases and balanced deficit reduction — and of moderate policies on immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage.

This means voters want hope over experience — Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

Given that second Presidential terms are rarely better than the first, this is best described as the voters doubling down on hope over experience. Mr. Obama's campaign stitched together a shrunken but still decisive version of his 2008 coalition—single women, the young and culturally liberal, government and other unions workers, and especially minority voters. He said little during the campaign about his first term and even less about his plans for a second.

Obama's win secures real change for the nation — Ezra Klein, The Washington Post

On their own, passing and implementing any of these laws [Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, tax increases] would be a huge achievement for a presidency. The three of them together are a record and pace of domestic change unmatched by any recent administration. But they were an odd sort of change: Change that wouldn’t happen until — and arguably unless — Obama secured a second term. Tonight, he did that. 

Republicans gambled in the extremes and lost — Jonathan Chait, New York magazine

Fed up though the voters may be with bitter partisanship in Washington, and angry though they may be with the painfully slow recovery, they were never eager to hand the keys back to the Republicans. Conservatives would not make the ideological sacrifices needed to reposition the party in the center. They gambled that discontent with Obama alone would be sufficient to propel them back to power.

This win was a weak endorsement — Glenn Thrush, Politico

The victory seemed too narrow and too rooted in the Democratic base to grant him anything close to a mandate — much less the popular support needed to break the deadlock of Washington partisanship as he promised during the campaign.

Obama won because Romney is weak — Erick Erickson, Red State

Like when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, we now know what happens when a candidate so weak anybody can beat him meets a candidate so weak he cannot beat anybody. Americans vote for the status quo. $6 billion later, Americans voted for the status quo.

Obama won the class war along with the presidency — E.J. Dionne, The Washington Post

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama got themselves involved in a class war, and Obama won. ...attacks on “class warfare” politics turn out to be ineffective, because a majority thinks there is a class war, and that the wealthy are winning it.

Americans chose Obama because they know he's moderate — Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast

[This election] has revealed that Fox News, Drudge, and the rest have been engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to create an alternative reality and get the rest of us to go along. But this president has never been a radical; he has always been a moderate. ...Americans saw this. They were not fooled. And they made the right call, as they usually do.

It's okay; Obama's a moderate Republican, anyway — William Saletan, Slate

You might have serious issues with [Obama's] Supreme Court justices or his moves on immigration or the Bush tax cuts. But you probably would have had similar issues with Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, or Gerald Ford. Obama’s in the same mold as those guys. So don’t despair. Your country didn’t vote for a socialist tonight.

Republicans were caught in the past — Amy Davidson, The New Yorker

One argument now will be about which aspect of the Republican party’s agenda hurt it the most—that having to do with women, taxes, social programs, inequality. We now have an answer about the Presidential race—about the choice between two men—early in the evening, for a race that some thought could be headed for a recount. But we have had an intense debate about politics in the last few months—about policies, about priorities, about death and taxes. How that turned out is what we’re learning the most about tonight.

This is a victory for the Democratic ideal — Joan Walsh, Salon

President Obama’s re-election represents a victory for the Democratic ideal of activist government and a mandate for more of it. From the stimulus through the auto rescue through Obamacare and finally, Hurricane Sandy, Americans saw the Democratic president making a difference in their lives.

Liberals really won this one — Greg Sargent, The Washington Post

It looked perfectly possible that the Congressional GOP’s strategy of obstruction at every turn could be rewarded by voters, possibly with a return of the GOP to one party rule. The Obama experiment appeared headed for failure, and the prospects for the future of progressive reform were teetering on the brink. Instead, Obamacare survived.

Obama made it look like the timing was wrong for Romney — Beth Reinhard, National Journal

Elected on hope in a season of despair, President Obama won his first term by being the right guy at the right time. He won his second term making Mitt Romney the wrong guy. Obama turned what could have been a stinging referendum on his economic stewardship into a pass-fail test on Romney’s character. 

The improving economy is what screwed Romney — Daniel Gross, The Daily Beast

The [jobs] report was important: psychologically, economically, and politically. Most savvy pundits thought Ohio would be President Obama’s firewall. But it was really the uemployment data that turned out to be his impregnable fortress. ...In the end, the economy helped keep the race close. But I believe the steady, persistent improvement throughout 2012, even if it came a little late, helped President Obama.

Neoconversatives lost this election — Philip Weiss and Alex Kane, Mondoweiss

One thing seems clear from tonight's election results: the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party, which wanted a war against Iran, has been thumped with Romney's defeat. Sheldon Adelson and Dan Senor had been successful in politicizing the question of striking Iran; Obama hedged that bet, and he won.

Obama's win killed election myths — Jonathan Alter, Bloomberg View

Until the end, polls gave Mitt Romney much better marks than Obama on the question of which candidate would better handle the economy and create jobs. It turns out that voters placed a greater premium on other qualities and picked the candidate they thought would be “on the side of people like me” and would “be better for the middle class.”

Liberal policies could move in more smoothly — David Firestone, The New York Times

The House will reject further financial reform, environmental regulation, campaign finance laws, etc., but a Senate and White House that are more closely aligned might be able to make the case for an agenda more forcefully than was seen in the first term. It may be just a fantasy, but for now it’s a pleasant one.

Romney was not enough to beat economy's slight improvement— Jennifer Rubin, The Washington Post

The auto bailout and the improved economic condition in the state spelled defeat for Mitt Romney. Romney proved to be a better candidate than many expected, but he was not able to shake the conviction of enough voters that things were getting minimally better.

Voters knew the economy wasn't Obama's fault — Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast

A very clear majority of Americans saw the truth about the past four years. Exit polls showed that voters still blamed the economic problems on George Bush’s administration. They thought Obama tried hard and did a pretty good job (no, he hasn’t done a great job yet), and they notice the change and improvement recently.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.