Carries 53.3 percent of the Oregon vote
It was an early night, after all.
Daniel Johnston/VANGUARD STAFf
Students Dave Coburn, Chris Dollar, LIam Leaf Zuk and Spencer McNett respond to the news that Obama has won on Tuesday night.
Although many people were bracing for a rehash of the 2000 presidential election—lawyers, litigation and recounts in tow—President Barack Obama won a second term with a clear victory of 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206, with Florida still too close to call.
As of Wednesday morning, the president held 50 percent of the popular vote to the former Massachusetts governor’s 48 percent, with more than 2.6 million votes separating the two.
Shortly after networks projected that the president would carry Oregon, the crucial battleground state of Ohio finally broke for the incumbent, confirming a final result that seemed increasingly likely as the night wore on and swing states were projected as slim but decisive victories for the president.
The final outcome was largely consistent with recent state-level polls, said Portland State political science professor Chris Shortell. “Obama held small but significant leads in battleground states. Romney had a very narrow path.”
Other PSU professors agreed with that Obama’s reelection was predictable.
“Despite the rhetoric of a close election, the polls didn’t show that,” communications professor Lee Shaker said, adding that he puts credence in the mathematics of the polls.
Both professors credit youth turnout as an essential component of the president’s victory.
“There was a lot of talk about whether or not young voters would be persuaded to come out,” Shaker said. Exit polls showed that turnout percentage for voters between the ages of 18 and 29 was up from 2008.
“This speaks to a youth demographic that is taking politics seriously, that feels it is impacted by national politics,” Shaker said.
Voters under 30 broke for Obama 60 percent to Romney’s 36 percent.
“I think that young voters made up a very important part of Obama’s voting coalition,” Shortell said.
In Oregon, 81 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots, according to the office of the secretary of state—higher than the national average. Obama carried 53.3 percent of the statewide vote to Romney’s 43.5 percent—a margin that, while commanding, is noticeably smaller than his 16-point victory in the state four years ago. Third-party candidates received roughly 3 percent of the total vote.
Obama’s lead was enormous in Multnomah County—75.6 percent of voters cast their ballots for the president. Romney received 21 percent of the vote, and third-party candidates received 3 percent—1.4 percent for Green Party candidate Jill Stein and 1.1 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson. Fifty-seven percent of registered Multnomah County voters turned in their ballots.
Obama’s victory could be partially credited to a well-organized campaign, some Portlanders said.
“What you really saw was a systematic and thorough organizing, county by county. It was the mobilization of voters,” Shaker said.
Local Democrats expressed a view that voters were responding to a contrast between the two candidates.
“The American people as a whole respond to a message that tells them what you plan to do. I think the Romney campaign did not tell us that. We don’t like to vote for unknowns,” said Susan Hagmeier, a spokeswoman for the Multnomah County Democratic Party.
“President Obama laid out a vision of not only wanting to be president but explaining why he wanted to be president,” Hagmeier said.
Professors pointed to the challenges facing Republicans as they moved forward.
“Solving the difficulties with young voters and Hispanic voters is critical to the future success of the Republican Party,” Shortell said. “I expect that the social issues are pretty substantial to winning over young voters, in particular.”
Warning signs for the Republican candidate cropped up as soon as battleground returns began coming in around 6:30 p.m. States crucial to Romney’s victory, such as Florida, Virginia and Ohio, remained too close to call for most of the night, while states Romney hoped to turn red, such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, trended clearly in the president’s direction. Although North Carolina, which Obama won in 2008 by less than a percentage point, eventually broke for Romney, it was not enough to reach the magic number of victory—270 electoral votes.
Conservative organizations and students expressed disappointment, noting that the status quo remained unchanged.
“I just have to wonder how the electorate can vote so nothing changes—the same president, the same House, the same Senate,” senior Michelle Reed said. “Unless someone makes a positive move, I’m afraid it will be business as usual. Somebody has to humble down.”