Reporting Tim Kephart
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Barack Obama overcame the nation’s high unemployment rate, sluggish job growth and economic recovery, and did it while actually expanding the base of voters from 2008 to 2012.
The electorate in 2008 was considered to be one of the most diverse and Democratically-friendly in years. In 2010, a violent shift back to the right laid the foundation for what many pundits believed would be a smaller electorate supporting Obama than in 2008.
But, exit polling released after Tuesday’s election showed that Democrats had a six point turnout edge over Republicans in 2012. According to the Washington Post, Democrats had a seven point turnout advantage in 2008.
What was crucial for President Obama and devastating to Republican Mitt Romney was the electorate was less white (dropped 2 points), more Latino (increased to 10 percent), more female (increased 1 percent), and low-income, all while maintaining the same number of African-American voters (13) pecent), according to the Post.
The ground game Obama put together through two campaigns was unrivaled and was largely the reason that the President is expected to take the state of Florida in the end. Obama had a 46,000 vote lead in the Sunshine State as of noon Wednesday.
While Obama capitalized on the electorate, Republicans were left with a perplexing problem going forward.
The party has traditionally been the party of the older, white male voter. But, with that demographic shrinking and the GOP not making inroads elsewhere, and in many cases pushing those voters further away, Republicans had hit a crossroads.
Democrats are likely to seize on this internal conundrum and try to push immigration reform early in the next Congress. By pushing the issue to the forefront, it will once again put Republicans into an uneasy position of opposing much of the reform, but not wanting to anger the Latino base.
According to the Post, Latinos gave Obama 71 percent of their vote on Thursday. That was up four percent from 2008 and is the second-highest total ever garnered by a candidate, just behind Presidnet Bill Clinton’s 72 percent.
Republicans may have an answer for this in Senator Marco Rubio, who will vault to the top of the list of 2016 presidential contenders.
Still, Romney ran a campaign that seemed on the edge of pulling off the historic upset up until the final days of the campaign to some pollsters. But, many underestimated the difficulty in unseating a sitting president.
It’s only happened twice since 1976, once when Ronald Reagan knocked off incumbent Jimmy Carter and again in 1992 when Bill Clinton beat President George H.W. Bush. But, Reagan and Clinton were two politicians who largely transcended their parties and pulled together large bases.
Romney and the Republican Party weren’t able to do that on Tuesday. Now, Republicans must figure out which way they want to take the party.