Four more years

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, wins reelection while Republican numbers shrink in both houses of Congress.


Susan and I first heard the news straight from the mouth of Stephen Colbert. It was a moment past 23.30 on election night and the television networks were making their call: Mitt Romney had lost in Ohio, cementing the 270 votes in the Electoral College that President Barack Obama needed to win another term in the White House. The audience erupted in applause and cheers.

On 10 November, the winner of the vote in Florida was determined, bringing to a final, conclusive end the 57th quadrennial presidential election: Barack Obama had been reelected with 65,907,213 votes—51.1% of the popular vote—and 332 votes in the Electoral College. Mr. Obama and his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, won the vote in 26 of the states. Oh, and in the District of Columbia, which is so overwhelmingly Democratic, and the outcome of its vote so obvious, that it’s hardly worth mentioning that Mr. Obama won there, too.

Mr. Obama’s new official portrait, for his next four years in office.
Mr. Obama’s new official portrait, for his next four years in office.

Mr. Obama officially received his party’s nomination at the Democratic National Convention held in my hometown, Charlotte, in September. Though the Democratic nominee eked out a win in North Carolina four years ago [note 1], he was not to repeat it: the state that hosted the Democratic convention reversed course from 2008, as did Indiana, and went for the Republican, Mitt Romney, this time around.

Barack Hussein Obama, born in Hawai‘i [2] to a mother from Kansas and a father from Kenya, made history when, on 20 January 2009, he became the first mixed-race president of the United States. Susan and I were there on the cold, sunny day that it happened. I was standing on the West Lawn of the Capitol—my friend Matt Homer had secured tickets from a member of Utah’s congressional delegation and offered one to me—while Susan was among the more than 1 million people on the National Mall. It is a day we will never forget.

Though Mr. Romney didn’t win the election, he made history in his own right. When he accepted the Republican party’s nomination at its convention in Tampa, Florida, in August, he became the first member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to run as a major party’s candidate for president. That moment, too—that Mormon Moment, as many came to see the 2012 presidential campaign—is something that many Church members will never forget.

On 17 December, as required by the Constitution, the Electoral College met and formally reelected President Obama and Vice President Biden. In the new year Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court’s first Latina justice, administered the vice presidential oath of office to Mr. Biden, following which the chief justice of the United States, John Roberts, administered the oath of office to Mr. Obama. The oaths of office were administered in private ceremonies to fulfill the constitutional requirement that they take place on 20 January, which this year was on a Sunday. The public inauguration was held on the west steps of the Capitol on Monday, 21 January, marred only by a silly controversy afterwards over whether Beyoncé and the United States Marine Band performed the National Anthem live. [3]

The presidential election, of course, wasn’t the only election that took place on 6 November. In the United States House of Representatives, the Republicans’ majority fell from 242–193 to 234–201. The number of Republicans in the Senate also fell as the Democrats strengthened their majority from 51–47 to 53–45 [4]. Our U.S. representative, Nydia M. Velazquez (D), and our U.S. senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, won reelection [5]. So did our representative in the New York State Assembly, Vito Lopez (D), though we voted against him because of staffers’ accusations of sexual harrasment. In other races we watched, Pat McCrory (R), the former mayor of Charlotte, became governor of my home state, while Elizabeth Warren (D) won a U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts. Voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington approved measures to legalize same-sex marriage in their states—the first time gay marriage has been legalized by popular vote in the United States.

A visual look at the results of the 2012 presidential election.
This graphic appeared on page 15 of Issue 9 | January 2013.


NOTES

  1. Mr. Obama received 49.7% of the state’s popular vote versus John McCain’s 49.38%, a difference of only 14,177 votes of the more than 4.3 million cast.
  2. Despite what the so-called “birthers” say, Mr. Obama really is, as the Constitution requires presidents to be, a natural-born citizen of the United States.
  3. As it turns out, they didn’t. Beyoncé lip-synced and band members played along with prerecorded music. But, honestly, who cares?
  4. These numbers don’t add up to 100, the total number of senators, because there have been two independent senators in each Congress: Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut in the 112th Congress and Mr. Sanders and Angus King of Maine in the 113th. They do, however, caucus with the Democrats.
  5. Only one-third of the seats in the U.S. Senate are up for election every two years; our other U.S. senator, Charles Schumer, was not up for reelection.

This article will appear in Issue 9 | January 2013.

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