Backed by NH, battlegrounds, Obama cruises to victory

By Lily O'Gara
On November 7, 2012

After months of fierce campaigning and a nail-biting finale, Barack Obama has been re-elected as the president of the United States. Obama defeated opponent Mitt Romney with 332 electoral votes, while Romney earned 206 votes. The popular vote, however, was nearly tied, with Obama earning 50.1 percent of the vote and Romney taking home 48.4 percent of the vote. 

This year, winning the presidency seemed to be anyone's game, as both candidates performed well at the polls in the time leading up to Election Day. 

Dante Scala, an associate professor of political science at UNH, and a UNH faculty expert in politics, predicted that Obama would be victorious. However, even Scala was surprised at the rate of Obama's success. 

"I thought Obama would be re-elected, but he seems to be performing a bit better than expectations," Scala said. 

The key states for the candidates to capture included the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. 

As of 10:30 p.m., Obama led by 10 electoral votes, though Romney held the popular vote approximately 50.6 percent to Obama's 48.1 percent. By 11 p.m., Obama led by 41 electoral votes. He needed only to win Florida or Ohio to capture the election; no Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio, and Florida routinely proves to be a challenging battleground state. 

At 11:12 p.m., news organizations confirmed that Obama had won Ohio, meaning he had captured the presidency as well. Social and television media exploded, with both sides eager to share their thoughts on the election results.

Although the state has just four electoral votes, New Hampshire played an important role as a battleground state. Throughout the years, the state has swung in both Democratic and Republican directions, though Obama won New Hampshire this year with approximately 52 percent of the state's votes. 

The town of Durham had an unprecedented voter turnout and broke its own same-day registration records. According to the Durham election results, 3,024 people registered on Election Day this year; only 1,700 voters participated in same-day registration in the 2008 election. According to a town release, Durham added more new voters in its 12-hour polling period than two-thirds of New Hampshire towns and cities had pre-registered.

Without write-ins factored in, Durham strongly favored Obama, who received 5,026 votes. Romney followed with 2,208 votes, Gary Johnson with 102 votes, and Virgin Goode with five votes. 

Students who were gathered in the Memorial Union Building's Union Court to watch the election seemed pleased with the presidential results. Several people cited student finances as a critical issue.

Matt Tobin, a freshman physics major, said, "As a student, I need as much help with student loans as possible."

Senior nutrition and dietetics major George Jumpp agreed. 

"I am very pleased because I think that, if you are a student, the right choice is Obama," Jumpp said. 

Jumpp also reported that, while he was voting at Oyster River High School today, the vast majority of people there were UNH students. He was pleased to see the campus so involved, especially because most of them appeared to be supporting Obama. 

"At least students on this campus know what they want in terms of education," he said. 

Health care and social issues were the two other top priorities for students. 

Freshman Alyssa Trickett said that she was a big fan of the Affordable Care Act, the president's health-care plan, and that the fact that Romney and his constituents opposed women's health and birth control access worried her. Tobin and Jumpp mentioned that they disliked Romney's social agenda as well. 

 "I think it [Obama's victory] is excellent news," said Max Auger, a junior. "His foreign policy is what we need, his stance on social issues is what we need." 

Both candidates delivered impassioned speeches following the election. Despite his defeat, Romney remained optimistic in his concession speech.

"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation. ... We look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics," Romney said in his speech. "I believe in America. I believe in the people of America."

Obama, too, spoke of his hopes for the nation in his victory speech. 

"Tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future. I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope," Obama said in his speech. "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."

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