Following the resounding re-election of President Barack Obama Tuesday night, both the president and his rivals in the Republican Party stare down daunting challenges ahead.
For the GOP, election night made it clear that their current voter coalition, consisting predominantly of older, white Americans, will not lead to electoral success in the future, CMU political science chairman Orlando Perez said.
“Obama won because he was able to turn out his supporters: minorities, women, younger voters. They did a very good job of getting their people out,” Perez said. “So did the Romney campaign, and it wasn’t enough. Getting Latino voters on their side is the key.”
Minority voters comprised 28 percent of the electorate, up from 26 percent in 2008 and 22 percent in 2004. They overwhelmingly sided with Obama, including a 71 percent to 27 percent defeat of Republican nominee Mitt Romney among Latinos, according to a Washington Post exit poll.
As the Latino population continues to grow in the United States, Perez said the Republican Party must make changes to its immigration policy.
“Look, George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004. If Romney got that kind of support, he’d probably be president-elect right now,” Perez said. “They have to get right on immigration. They cannot continue to talk about building a wall … or self-deportation.”
Speaking with the Post, Florida GOP strategist David Johnson echoed the fears of many top Republicans following Romney’s defeat, losses in the Senate and a series of election night victories for gay rights on several state ballots.
“We’re going the way of the dinosaurs, and quick,” Johnson said. “The meteor’s already hit, and we’re just trying to wonder what the blast zone will look like.”
Obama, Congress and the “Fiscal Cliff”
For Obama, there is little time to celebrate as the so-called “fiscal cliff” looms.
At the end of the year, all of the Bush-era tax cuts are set to expire. At the same time, around $800 billion in budget cuts to the Pentagon and domestic programs like Medicare are set to take place as a consequence of last year’s congressional “super committee” failing to reach a deal on deficit reduction.
The consensus among leading economists is that the combined tax increases and drastic spending cuts could lead to another recession.
Following his win, Obama placed calls to congressional leaders in both parties, urging them to “put aside their partisan interests” and work for a compromise, according to a White House press release.
Obama hopes to address the potential crisis by extending the Bush tax cuts on income under $250,000, while letting those at the top expire in order to raise revenue, while at the same time making cuts to certain domestic programs to bring the deficit under control.
Vice President Joe Biden told reporters Wednesday that the results of the election indicated a “mandate” for the Obama administration on tax policy.
“You guys have probably looked at the internals of the vote more than I have so far,” Biden said. “But from what it appears is that, on the issue of the tax issue, there was a clear sort of mandate about people coming much closer to our view about how to deal with tax policy.”