CHICAGO – President Barack Obama won his second term in the White House, which he said in a speech to supporters would be one where both parties need to come together to solve the various issues the country faces.
Obama gave his victory speech after midnight in Chicago’s McCormick Place, where supporters had been waiting since 7 p.m. to hear him speak. While they awaited the results of the presidential election, onlookers cheered as other races across the nation were going their way.
When he took the stage, Obama told the country with a message that he will address the problems the country has and work to ensure the nation continues to grow.
“Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you’ve made me a better president,” Obama said. “And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.”
His message of hope reappeared in his speech tonight, although he noted the difference between “wishful idealism” and the hope inside people that encourages them to fight for a better future.
“I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests,” Obama said. “We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.”
Shortly before Obama spoke, former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., conceded in a speech to his supporters in Boston, thanking them for their hard work during the campaign.
He emphasized given the country’s problems, politicians cannot “risk partisan bickering and political posturing” and encouraged the country to stand with Obama in his effort to make the country stronger.
“I believe in America,” Romney said. “I believe in the people of America. And I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. … 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.”
The presidential election saw few surprises and went as the polls described it would, according to University of Wisconsin life sciences communications professor Dietram Scheufele.
The typically conservative states went to Romney, and Obama performed well in the reliably liberal states, he said. Obama had a strong showing in the Midwest and also took a number of swing states, not even needing Ohio and Florida to be called by the time he gave his speech.
The Democrats remained in control of the Senate, and the Republicans are still the majority in the House of Representatives.
UW journalism professor Michael Wagner said Obama would need to work with Republicans on issues like growing the economy as well as tax and entitlement reform. He added like many second-term presidents, Obama may make a push for significant reforms early, but given the split in Congress, this may not be possible.
“Obama is going to be facing a divided government,” Wagner said. “He’s going to have to try to find a way to compromise in a very polarized environment to keep the fragile recovery going forward.”
In Wisconsin, Obama led Romney 53 percent to 46 percent, while in the Senate race, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., defeated her Republican opponent, former Gov. Tommy Thompson, by a similar margin, according to The Associated Press.
Both presidential campaigns spent a significant amount of time in the state, and Romney’s vice presidential pick, Rep. Paul Ryan, is from Wisconsin.
Ryan, one of the leading voices in the Republican Party, is known for his strong conservatism. The Republicans’ loss may lead to the party shifting back to the center, Scheufele said.
“If Paul Ryan couldn’t carry Wisconsin, I think that says a lot about the viability of that ticket,” Scheufele said. “He was brought on to be a very conservative voice and carry the Midwest and epitomize the concerns of the Midwest. … If Paul Ryan can’t deliver his own state, the Republicans really need to rethink their strategy. “
A big reason behind Obama’s win, Scheufele said, was his innovative campaign strategy of micro-targeting and giving distinct messages to different voters.
Given the country’s Electoral College system, he said Obama “very clinically and very surgically” went through every state and targeted different voters in a variety of ways.
“He has beaten a whole bunch of odds,” Scheufele said. “For a long time, no president has won with an unemployment rate so high and approval rating this low. He really beat them by surgically going through every state. He simply outplayed the Republicans at a game that ultimately comes down to mathematics.”
Rich Parker, a 29-year-old from Brooklyn who recently received a graduate school degree, was at McCormick Place and said Obama was “forward-looking” on many issues, especially job creation and training.
He also described Obama as somebody who could understand the average youth voter’s struggles, and more personally, he talked about how Obama and him were raised in similar situations.
“His background is similar to mine,” Parker said. “I grew up in a single parent household. I had to struggle to get by. Things weren’t handed to me, and I had to work and pull myself up. Personally, his story is similar to mine. But he is relatable. He is somebody who really empathizes with us youth and wants us to move forward and be that next great generation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.