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Americans Assess Meaning of Obama's Reelection

Kent Klein

November 07, 2012

Political analysts and experts in Washington are evaluating how President Barack Obama’s re-election might affect America’s future. Both Democrats and Republicans are looking at why and how Obama won and Mitt Romney lost, and also how they can move forward.

“For the United States of America, the best is yet to come!” said the president to cheers and applause.

The morning after Obama’s victory speech, many Americans are debating how to push his vision forward.

At the Brookings Institution, experts at a morning-after forum discussed the overall meaning of Obama’s election win, and particularly what it could mean for the Republican Party. Senior fellow Thomas Mann said the election outcome shows that Republican lawmakers’ strategy of routinely opposing the president’s policies failed in forcing Obama out of office. He said Republicans on Capitol Hill gambled and lost.

“They played an all-out opposition party. ‘We are [against] everything. We will stop it where we can. We will delay it otherwise, and if it manages to pass, we will discredit it.’” said Mann.

Mann believes some Republican lawmakers are discussing an alternate strategy in which they negotiate with the president, if Obama wants to cooperate.

“At least a dozen Republicans, I think, will be unwilling to be whipped by [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell into a filibuster opposition strategy to the president. And it seems to me there will be openings for the president as a consequence,” said Mann.

Brookings guest scholar Jonathan Rauch said he also sees a too-conservative approach as one reason for Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s defeat.

“I think Romney was done in by the fact that he could not get far enough to the center credibly enough. He had to go too far right in the primaries. And the reason for that is you have some fierce constituencies in the Republican Party that do not want the party to change,” said Rauch.

Rauch said that as he did in 2008, Obama won by appealing to a coalition of Hispanics and other ethnic minorities, young voters and women. He said Republicans did little to solicit votes from those growing segments of the U.S. population.

“You saw Hispanics increase their share, and you saw women really come out for Obama. The social issues did not help the Republicans there. I think it is now going to be clear to a lot of intelligent Republicans - like [Senator] Lindsey Graham, who has already said this - that 2012 has to be the last year when Republicans run as the party of angry white men. That is just not enough votes any more,” said Rauch.

Meanwhile, the U.S. business community, which often clashes with Obama, is setting its course for the next four years in response to the priorities the president laid out in his victory speech.

“Reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We have got more work to do," said Obama.

In a written statement congratulating Obama, the Business Roundtable urged him to focus on deficit reduction and tax reform, and to ease regulatory controls for businesses.

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