Obama's victory welcomed in Dublin
They may have been somewhat bleary-eyed from a lack of sleep but invited guests of the US Embassy gathered bright and early in Dublin’s Westin Hotel to ring in the results of the US election.
Speaking at this morning’s event, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore described the election as “great working through of a great act of democracy”.
He congratulated Barack Obama on his re-election, saying he was a “great friend of this country”. He said he remembered warmly the “very cold, windy and wet morning in May last year” when he welcomed the president to Dublin airport, and said he hoped that visit would be repeated.
“The economic success of the United States and our own economic success on this side of the Atlantic in Ireland and Europe are very much bound together,” he said.
“I certainly, on behalf of the Irish Government, look forward to...the next four years of working with President Obama, working to strengthen the already strong bilateral relations that Ireland has always enjoyed with the United States.”
Larry Donnelly of Democrats Abroad said he was delighted with the result: "Turnout made a huge difference in the election. Young people and African Americans turned out in huge numbers and obviously that made a difference in a lot of states,” he said.
“The senate is going to stay in Democratic hands, which obviously gives Obama some room but the House is going to stay with the Republicans so...it will make it more difficult for Obama in doing things in his second term. I think that is why, in his speech he was talking about reaching out across the party divide and bringing people together because one of the biggest things this election highlighted was how divided things are,” he added.
“Republicans and Democrats are going to have to put their heads together and both sides are going to have to take some hits and devise, OK how are we going to work on this.”
Republican Jane Donnelly, who still wore her Romney/Ryan badge from the night before, said she hoped Mr Obama can get everyone working together.
“I was disappointed but I know the American people will move forward as Obama said. I do think he had his opportunity in his first four years. He’s a leader, he should have brought the two parties together. Other leaders have had the same Republican majority and worked with it. I don’t think he did it successfully...but moving forward it’s critical”.
Others were much more hopeful, including a distant cousin of the re-elected president, Henry Healy of Moneygall, Co Offaly.
“I’m delighted for the president. It means that there is going to be consistency in American policy, a continuation in growth and I’m confident because of the continuation in the economic policies of the president it will boost Ireland’s chances of coming out of this recession much faster.”
Dr Jack Thompson, a lecturer with the Clinton Institute for American Studies in UCD said, while most observers expected the president to be re-elected, there was some surprise with the margin of the victory in the electoral college. “It wasn’t landslide territory but is a resounding victory considering how close it was called,” he said.
He said that there was a “legitimate concern” the president would be restricted in what he could do given the House of Representatives will remain in Republican control.
“I anticipate that for the next two years, and quite possibly for the next four, a very similar dynamic to what you had during the first term where you have Republicans holding the House of Representatives, Democrats holding the Senate and a democratic president, for the last two years that was really a recipe for gridlock and I don’t see anything changing that.
“Some people are speculating that Republicans will be forced to reevaluate their position and maybe be a bit more bipartisan. I hope that’s true but I’m not optimistic," he said. “I fully expect (Obama) to try and work across the aisle, he really did make a significant effort, certainly during the first two years, to reach across the aisle. How effective it’s going to be, as I say, I’m not optimistic.”