Nation hands Obama his 2nd term

Franklin County leans his direction, too

By Nancy Binac/AP, Published:

WASHINGTON (AP) – His lease renewed in trying economic times, President Barack Obama claimed a second term from an incredibly divided electorate and immediately braced for daunting challenges and progress that comes only in fits and starts.

“We have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come,” Obama said.

The president lost Kentucky’s eight Electoral College votes to Republican challenger and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney by a wide, 23-point margin. Romney got 1,087,128 votes to Obama’s 679,341.

But here in Franklin County, Obama fared better with a 190-vote win over Romney. The county went to Republican Sen. John McCain by 144 votes in 2008.

The same voters who gave Obama four more years in office also elected a divided Congress, sticking with the dynamic that has made it so hard for the president to advance his agenda. Democrats retained control of the Senate; Republicans kept their House majority.

It was a sweet victory Tuesday night for Obama, but nothing like the jubilant celebration in 2008, when his hope-and-change election as the nation’s first black president captivated the world. This time, Obama ground it out with a stay-the-course pitch that essentially boiled down to a plea for more time to make things right and a hope that Congress will be more accommodating than in the past.

Romney tried to set a more conciliatory tone on the way off the stage.

“At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering,” Romney said after a campaign filled with it. “Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.”

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, spoke of a dual mandate. “If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs,” he said.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky had a more harsh assessment.

“The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term,” McConnell said. “They have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together” with a balanced Congress.

Obama won at least 303 electoral votes to 206 for Romney, with 270 needed for victory, and had a near-sweep of the nine most hotly contested states.

But the close breakdown in the popular vote showed Americans’ differences over how best to meet the nation’s challenges. With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, the popular vote went 50 percent for Obama to 48.4 percent for Romney, a businessman-turned-politician. Romney had argued that Obama failed to turn around the economy and he said it was time for a new approach that combined lower taxes and a less intrusive government.

Obama’s re-election means his signature health care overhaul will endure, as will the Wall Street overhaul enacted after the economic meltdown. The drawdown of troops in Afghanistan will continue apace. With an aging roster of justices, the president probably will have at least one more nomination to the Supreme Court.

The most pressing challenges immediately ahead for the 44th president are all too familiar: an economy still baby-stepping its way toward full health; 23 million people out of work or in search of better jobs; civil war in Syria; a menacing standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

Sharp differences with Republicans in Congress on taxes, spending, deficit reduction, immigration and more await. While Republicans control the House, Democrats have at least 52 votes in the Senate and Republicans 45. One newly elected independent isn’t saying which party he’ll side with, and races in Montana and North Dakota were not yet called.

Votes also were being counted today in the Montana and Washington gubernatorial races.

Even before Obama gets to his second inauguration on Jan. 20, he must deal with the threatened “fiscal cliff.” A combination of automatic tax increases and steep across-the-board spending cuts are set to take effect in January if Washington doesn’t quickly reach a budget deal. Experts have warned that the economy could tip back into recession without an agreement.

Despite long lines at polls in many places, turnout overall looked to be down from four years ago as the president pieced together a winning coalition of women, young people, minorities and lower-income voters that reflected the country’s changing demographics. Obama’s superior ground organization in the most contested states was critical to his success.

Obama’s victory speech – he’d written a concession, too, just in case – reflected the realities of the rough road ahead.

“By itself the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward,” Obama said.

“But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over, and whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you have made me a better president.”

The president said he hoped to meet with Romney and discuss how they can work together. They may have battled fiercely, he said, “but it’s only because we love this country deeply.”

Romney’s short concession – he’d only prepared an acceptance speech – was a gracious end note after a grueling campaign.

He wished the president’s family well and told subdued supporters in Boston, “I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader and so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”

Obama won even though exit polls showed that only about four in 10 voters thought the economy is getting better, just one-quarter thought they’re better off financially than four years ago and a little more than half think the country is on the wrong track.

But even now, four years after George W. Bush left office, voters were more likely to blame Bush than Obama for the fix they’re in.

Elsewhere on the ballot, voters in Maine and Maryland became the first to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote while Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana.

The most expensive presidential campaign in history, at $2 billion plus, targeted people in the nine states that determined the outcome, and the two sides drenched voters there with more than a million ads, the overwhelming share of them negative.

Obama claimed at least seven of those states, most notably Ohio, seen as the big prize. He also prevailed in Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. Romney got North Carolina.

Florida was too close to call Wednesday morning. The unofficial count had Obama with a 46,000-vote lead, but Florida historically has left as many as 5 percent of its votes uncounted until after Election Day.

Overall, Obama won 25 states and the District of Columbia. Romney won 24 states.

It was a more measured victory than four years ago, when Obama claimed 365 electoral votes to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 173, and won 53 percent of the popular vote.

Preliminary figures indicate fewer people participated this time. Associated Press figures showed that about 118 million people had voted in the White House race, but that number will rise as more votes are counted. In 2008, 131 million people voted, according to the Federal Election Commission.

State Journal staff writer Kevin Wheatley contributed to this report.

HOW FRANKLIN COUNTY VOTED

Obama: 11,535, 49.4%

Romney: 11,345, 48.6%

Others: 457, 2%

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  • I was against Mitch after his third term & like Chandler, he needs to be shown the door also. How are Kentuckians benefiting by having Mitch in a ranking position. There probably was a time that a senator in his position meant something but now it only swells the senators head! I'm all for TERM LIMITS!

  • 1713 you are something else. I would comment on what you say but that would lower me to your standard. Back to the real debate. I also would like to vote out Mitch. I do agree that he has been in the senate to long,he is out of touch.

  • I can go along with getting rid of Mitch. 24+ years is waaay to long for anybody to be in Washington. We have term limits for the president, why not the representatives and senators. D, you really need to quit questioning peoples intelligence based on their opinions. I would also submit that we put Rachel Maddow and Rush Limbaugh in to a box and leave them.

  • It says a lot about you if Rachel Maddow is your source.

  • It is time for the right to leave the bubble...as only Rachel can tell it. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26315908/vp/49736294#49736294

  • bodeen, you're right that we shouldn't keep electing the same people over and over again.........So let's vote out obstructionist Mitch McConnell at the first opportunity.

  • L!!!O!!!L!!! At least, Chase has the right idea. Mach, I believe you're on to something about 1713.

  • Former Sen. Rick Santorum said it best when he addressed the Conservative Values Voter Summit in Washington DC recently. "We will never have the media on our side, ever in this country (except for FOX News). We will never have the elite, smart people on our side." You know, ol' Rick "Don't Google My Last Name" Santorum is on to something there. He is right, it is high time that the GOP stop trying to appeal to smart people, and letting Rick Santorum in front of a microphone on TV is a great place to start.

  • How smart do you have to be to vote for a shape-shifting, high functioning autistic like Willard, who has been on both sides and in between of every major issue during the last 18 months? Which of his many Etch-A-Sketch positions did you like the best? He certainly had one for everybody. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ For those of you who proudly voted against the President, weren't you actually voting for the man in the empty chair that Clint Eastwood was yelling at? Hint: he wasn't real.

  • Chase is right. He is also one of the more respectable posters that I've seen on this forum. We need to start holding our congressmen accountable like we did with chandler. Chandler & his specialists can blame Obama for his loss if it makes them feel better but a lot of Barr voters, voted for Obama! I believe Chandler lost because he simply got out of touch. That is what happens when we keep on electing the same ones time & again.

  • Sewell, you said it all. I too believe we need to stop arguing and start solving our problems. The first thing (in my opinion)is to start teaching people American history so that more of them will know why this country was born.

  • 1713 you show how much education you have by comments that you have made latley. At least when you quoted stats I thought you actually were a legitimate debater.Your acting just like the people you are demening.The way your posting you seem to be just like the picture of KING Obama looks.Thinking your opinion is the only one that is right.

  • I voted for Obama, but I would never say that those who voted for Romney are stupid. They simply did not believe that the president was doing, or could do the job. I believe that Romney is capable of doing the job, just not the way that I would like. Those who judge others based on their decisions in political elections are just as foolish as they claim their opponents to be. This is why nothing ever gets done. It's not the president by himself making all the decisions. Congress and the nation as a whole need to decide what they want this country to be and compromise when necessary to make it happen. People in general are so busy discussing why they are different then trying to fix what is wrong. That is all...

  • I kinda figured you would take a slap at those who had a different opinion. The election is over...back to work.

  • Most people in this great nation and this great county of ours are pretty smart. As for those folks who live in the Confederacy and the rest of the state of KY...not so much.