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Yet unemployment is still skirting 8 percent, though it’s closer to 15 percent when you count the underemployed, and shows no signs of falling much below that. This year’s budget deficit just rang up another $1.1 trillion in debt and is expected to climb much higher over the next four years.

The Bloomberg news service says Mr. Obama became the president “with the highest unemployment rate to win a second term since Franklin Roosevelt.”

There no doubt will be a post-election re-examination of Mr. Romney’s campaign and the larger problems Republicans need to confront if they are to broaden their party’s base.

His campaign allowed Mr. Obama to beat him up throughout the summer months without an effective response. He lost more than 70 percent of the pivotal Hispanic vote to Mr. Obama, a huge obstacle the GOP must address if it has any hope of winning the presidency again.

The Romney campaign maintained that it had one of the best ground games in the business, but it was clearly outmatched by Mr. Obama’s much larger ground forces. They should have studied George W. Bush’s superior 2004 get-out-the-vote drive that proved to be the strongest in GOP history.

There is always the unexpected in politics and this one had the ferocity of Superstorm Sandy in the final, pivotal week of the campaign. Mr. Romney was effectively cutting into Mr. Obama’s numbers, but the storm and the president’s handling of it became the dominant news story for days, halting Mr. Romney’s momentum.

The 2012 elections also turned out to be a cold shower for Republicans, who had hoped to win control of Congress this year but fell well short of that goal.

The GOP held on to its House majority, which means Mr. Obama’s tax-hiking agenda is going nowhere in the new Congress. But it suffered a string of losses in targeted Senate races, even in traditional red states such as Virginia, Montana, Indiana and North Dakota.

In the end, little has changed in Washington. Mr. Obama will stay in the White House for four more years without a mandate to do anything, Congress remains deeply divided, and it is hard to see any needed policy reforms being enacted that will move this economy forward in the ensuing years.

Tighten your seat belts because we’re in for a very long, bumpy ride.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and former chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.