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Why Americans voted Obama again and dumped Romney

Last updated on: November 7, 2012 13:12 IST

Obama always enjoyed the benefit of the doubt

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George Joseph in New York

Rediff.com's George Joseph lists some of the reasons that prompted American voters to re-elect President Barack Obama and dump Mitt Romney.

President Barack Obama's victory was not unexpected. Other than emotional reasons for some, there were no compelling reasons for most people to oppose Obama.

No wonder, his staunch opponents were hardcore Republicans, Tea Party right-wingers and those who disliked an African American in the White House.

The voters did not forget the Bush-Cheney era and how it pushed the nation to endless wars and financial crisis. It was not the making of Obama, they knew it very well. They also understood the struggle of Obama to bring up the economy from the depths it has fallen to. If he could not replicate the days of Bill Clinton, who left the presidency with a balanced budget, voters still understood it was not his fault alone. In a sense he always enjoyed the benefit of the doubt.

People also felt the polarising actions immediately after the election of Obama in 2008, on the lines of race, such as forming of the Tea Party and the rhetoric of the likes of Sarah Palin, who was the vice presidential candidate last time. When the right-wingers showed their anger, they failed to understand the change that had taken place in the electorate with many immigrants and a dominant Latino community.

People knew Obama's style of functioning, while they were not sure how Romney will perform as president. They still had the memories of Bush-Cheney era and preferred a 'known devil to an unknown one.'

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Image: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney greets President Barack Obama at the start of the first 2012 US presidential debate in Denver
Photographs: Michael Reynolds/Reuters

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Immigrants doubtful about the motives of Republicans

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The immigrants were not happy with Obama for not doing enough, especially introducing a comprehensive immigration reform. They were even furious that more undocumented people were deported under his watch. Yet they were doubtful about the motives of the Republicans and the stand of Romney, who said he will not even continue Obama's programme to give limited legal status for those youth who came in as children.

Many undocumented youngsters did not apply for the programme fearing a Romney win.

But in a recent interview, Obama promised to bring in legislation for comprehensive immigration reform in the first months of his second term, which was noted by the immigrant communities.

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Image: A woman holds an American flag during the naturalisation ceremony for new citizens in New York.
Photographs: Shannon Stapleton/Reuters
Tags: Obama , Romney

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'Obamacare' was a major achievement

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Healthcare reforms were a major achievement of Obama and most of the people were with him on that. Romney termed it as 'Obamacare' during the debates and promised to end it. He did not think of the elderly and poor, who viewed that statement with much heartache. Obama's healthcare reform allowed more people to use the programme and it also imposed restrictions on companies taking advantage of sick people. It prohibited companies from denying coverage to those with prior medical problems.

Then the women electorate was intimidated by the Republican platform which opposed abortion even in situations like rape. Even those women who opposed abortion, felt against curtailing or losing a freedom existent for long. It was one of the issues that polarised the women electorate.

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Image: US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC
Photographs: Reuters

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People liked Obama's approach on foreign affairs

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Though the evangelicals and a section of Catholics supported Romney, a Mormon, he was not acceptable to many Christians, who consider Mormons are not Christians. On the other hand, Obama always highlighted his Christian beliefs, though many still consider him a closet Muslim. Many Christians did not like him, too, because of his support for abortion and gay marriage.

On matters of foreign affairs, people liked the approach of Obama who tried to befriend other nations, though it did not succeed always. They also noted his efforts to end the Iraq and Afghan wars. The world may not have become a safer place under him, but it has become a little better than earlier days -- they felt. The failure to close down Guantanamo (controversial detainment camp) was overlooked.

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Image: US President Barack Obama greets troops at Fort Campbell in Kentucky
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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Obama is a media darling

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Of all the things which favoured Obama, the role of the media deserves first place. A few media outlets unabashedly supported the right-wing and trashed Obama, but for the majority of the media Obama was the darling. They supported him even overlooking the shortcomings

The Obama presidency has not brought the country to great heights in any area, but nor has it let it down too, many felt. It did not face a crisis as the Jimmy Carter Administration faced when the United States embassy in Iran was taken over by revolutionaries who made the embassy staff prisoners for months. President Carter failed to secure their release for long and it became a major issue in the election too.

The Republicans tried to equate the Libyan crisis and the death of the US ambassador in Benghazi to the Iran crisis of the Carter era, but it did not work.

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Image: US President Barack Obama speaks at an election campaign rally in Columbus, Ohio
Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters

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