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Battleground states help secure Obama re-election

By Katherine Hafner

Nov. 6, 2012 10:47 p.m.

President Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term as president of the United States on Tuesday, defeating Republican candidate Mitt Romney. 

Obama led Romney with 303 electoral votes to 203, as of 10:41 p.m. PST on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.

Polls leading up to the election showed a head-to-head race, with Romney and Obama tied at 49 percent of the popular vote.

In 2008, 62,438,115 people voted for Obama ““ a record number of votes for an individual candidate, according to United Press International. Obama defeated Republican candidate John McCain that year by 53 percent to 46 percent of the popular vote, and 365 electoral votes compared to McCain’s 173. 

Prior to Tuesday night, Obama had a solid 243 electoral votes in his favor, leading Romney who had 206, according to The New York Times.

A majority of 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidential election, out of a total 538 possible electoral votes that come from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

It would have been possible for the two major political party candidates to tie with 269 electoral votes each.

Before the election results were announced, Thomas Schwartz, a professor of political science at UCLA, said a tie like this has never happened under the current system, in place since the 1800s. 

“There’s a greater-than-ever-before chance of (a tie) happening this time,” Schwartz said.  

In the event of a tie, the House of Representatives would choose the president, and the Senate would vote for the vice president.

The battleground states of Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado helped push Obama over the 270 electoral votes necessary to secure the presidency.

Ground operations by candidates ““ or identifying supporters and mobilizing them to go to the polls ““ are vital for whoever winds up winning the election, Schwartz said.

“Obama excelled at (ground operations) in 2008 and simply improved it even more this time,” he said. “He probably won it through that again.”

Schwartz cited Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast last week, as another possible reason for Obama’s victory in the popular vote. 

“The electorate tends to rally around its leader in times of crisis … it just usually doesn’t coincide with an election,” he said.

Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio are key states that contributed to Obama’s victory, said Mark Petracca, a political science professor at UC Irvine, in an email statement.

“When a presidential candidate cannot win his home state ““ as Gore could not do in 2000 ““ they will have a hard time winning the presidency,” Petracca said. “Romney lost both of his home states (of) Michigan and Massachusetts.”

At UCLA, students reacted to the news of the president’s reelection at different viewing parties across campus and in Westwood.

Rahel Gebregziabher, a fourth-year biology student who attended a viewing party in Covel Commons. Gebregziabher, who voted for Obama, said she felt more nervous this time around than in the 2008 election, in which she also voted for Obama. 

“I felt like the energy that I felt four years ago is completely different than the energy I felt in this election … People weren’t as satisfied with Obama his past four years so they kind of lost trust in him,” Gebregziabher said. “But I’m happy they gave him another shot.”

Brooke Cullison, a second-year political science student who said she voted for Romney, was at a viewing party at the Los Angeles Tennis Center awaiting the results Tuesday night. Before the results were announced, she said she was pleased about her peers’ political involvement this year, regardless of the outcome.

“Either way this is going to be an election where people look back and go “˜that’s a very important election,’ so I think a lot of people are responding to that,” she said. “So I’m actually really happy about that.”

Still, the United States currently remains deeply divided, Petracca said. 

“The economy is going to improve anyway, regardless of who was elected president,” he said. “This should be a good thing for college students.”

Though she was disappointed by the results, Cullison said she is fairly optimistic.

“It’s what America wanted obviously, so I think in the end it’ll be okay,” she said.

Schwartz said he thinks Obama has the opportunity to change his leadership style to be more directly involved in negotiating with leadership in both parties on Capitol Hill.

“The interesting question is whether this will encourage (Obama) to act the same way and put emphasis on local policies, or encourage him to be more centrist and pragmatic with his policy goals,” he said.

The president will be sworn in again on Jan. 20, 2013. 

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Katherine Hafner
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