President Obama won re-election to the White House on Tuesday night, holding together enough of his hope-and-change coalition to repeat his historic 2008 election and surviving a sluggish economy and a fractured electorate that desired a change but failed to find Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney a credible alternative.
His renewed lease on the White House gives him a chance to see his health care law take full effect in 2014, another opportunity to push for the tax increases he declared to be part of his campaign mandate, and pressure to deliver on his promise of immigration reform.
“Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come,” a ebullient president said at his victory rally in Chicago as the clock neared 2 a.m. on the East Coast.
Mr. Obama painted his re-election as the latest chapter in America’s 200-year-old quest “of perfecting our union” and vowed to turn his attention to trying to forge bipartisan compromises on immigration, energy and the deficit.
“Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you made me a better president,” he said. “And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever.”
He and Mr. Romney combined to spend about $2 billion in their fight for the White House, essentially killing the public campaign financing system. That figure doesn’t include the hundreds of millions spent by congressional candidates or outside groups.
The presidential race was called about 11:15 EST, just minutes after West Coast states closed their polls and after Ohio was called for Mr. Obama, eliminating Mr. Romney’s path to victory.
Still, Mr. Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden enter their second terms somewhat wounded. Mr. Obama becomes only the second president in history to win a second term with fewer Electoral College votes than his first win — meaning he returns to the White House with a limited mandate.
House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the split results meant voters backed the GOP’s vision.
“We offered solutions, and the American people want solutions, and tonight they responded by renewing our Republican House majority,” Mr. Boehner said at a victory party.
He also took aim at Mr. Obama’s claim that his re-election would clear the path for tax increases on the wealthy, with the speaker saying flatly “there’s no mandate for raising taxes.”
“Now that the election is over, it’s time to put politics aside and work together to find solutions,” Mr. Reid said. “The strategy of obstruction, gridlock and delay was soundly rejected by the American people. Now, they are looking to us for solutions.”