Another Election Day has come and gone and the people have spoken. Barack Obama has won re-election to a second term as president, with 303 electoral votes, to 206 for his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. Florida, and its 29 electoral votes, were still up for grabs as of Wednesday morning. Florida was the last state to be decided on what was a much shorter night for election watchers than expected.
The Electoral College system was designed to give smaller states more of a voice in elections. But it that still true? In this election, most of the campaigning and ludicrous spending that accompanied it was centered on about a dozen "swing" or "battleground" states.
Romney needed to win a combination of these states, particularly Florida and Ohio to pull off an upset. About 10:15 p.m. Central Standard Time, the major television networks declared that Ohio and its 18 electoral votes would go to Obama, even though the popular vote in the state was very close. When Iowa and Oregon were declared for Obama, it put him over the 270 electoral votes needed for election, although, at that time, Romney still had a lead of about 1 million votes nationally.
While the winner of the national popular vote usually wins the electoral college, it's not a certainty. Democrats remember Al Gore in 2000? In 2000, Gore carried the popular vote by more than 500,000 votes but lost the electoral college narrowly to George W. Bush. The 2000 election was not the first time this occurred — it happened in 1824, 1876, and 1888. And, 18 times since 1824 candidates have won the presidency with less than a majority of the vote.
Yes, the electorate has spoken, but the demographics of the electorate are undergoing change. Three of the biggest determining voting blocs in this presidential election were women, Hispanics and the youthful vote. Obama was the choice of about 60 percent of the nation's younger voters. Women supported Obama by an 11 percent margin, and Hispanics supported Obama by a 3-1 margin.
Women are playing an increasingly larger role in politics at the national and state levels. There are now 20 female United States senators, including Minnesota's very popular Amy Klobuchar. The Republican party will need to make inroads with these voting groups to gain the presidency again.