'The president reflects this country'
Thirty-six hours after the presidential race was called, President Barack Obama’s campaign team yesterday explained why they thought he won.
“There is no doubt about the fact that the president reflects this country,” David Axelrod, Mr Obama’s senior strategist said. “He put together a broad coalition that reflected the country. At the end of the day, elections are not just about metrics; they’re about people.”
Mr Axelrod said the Republican party “has some soul-searching to do”.
Exit polls showed 56 per cent of self-described moderates voted for Mr Obama; only 41 per cent for Mr Romney.
Mr Axelrod said more than $100 million was spent in battleground states for advertising against Mr Obama during the final week of the campaign. “The heartening news is you can’t buy the White House,” he said.
“You can’t overwhelm the Congress with these superpac dollars ... If I were one of those billionaires who were funding Crossroads and other organisations, I’d be asking where my refund is.”
In 53 days, the US will reach the “fiscal cliff” – $700 billion in automatic tax increases and the first, $110 billion, tranche of automatic cuts in federal spending. If Mr Obama and Congress do not reach agreement on deficit reduction before then, economists predict it will throw the US back into recession. The stock market fell over the past two days due to investors’ concerns the issue may not be resolved.
Responding to Mr Obama’s election night appeal for co-operation in addressing debt and the deficit, the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, sent mixed signals late on Wednesday. Since Mitt Romney’s defeat, Mr Boehner is the de facto leader of the Republican party.
“Mr President, this is your moment,” Mr Boehner said. “We’re ready to be led, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. We want you to lead, not as a liberal or a conservative but as the president of the United States of America. We want you to succeed.”
Mr Boehner said Republicans would be willing to raise revenue – a first. But he also said increases would have to come from closing loopholes and tax deductions – not from raising the tax rate on the wealthiest Americans, as Mr Obama has vowed to do. And Mr Boehner said Democrats will have to cut entitlement programmes if they want Republican support for new revenue.
Both parties have claimed the election gave them a mandate for their policies. “One of the messages sent by the American people throughout the campaign was that they clearly chose the president’s view of making sure the wealthiest Americans are asked to do a little more,” said David Plouffe, a senior adviser to Mr Obama.
Six out of 10 voters polled on election day said taxes should be increased, with nearly half saying they should go up for the wealthiest. Only 35 per cent said they should not be raised at all. Mr Boehner says there’s a mandate for the parties to work together, but not to raise tax rates. Speculation has begun about cabinet changes in the new Obama administration. The Washington Post predicts a slow, rolling transition over the coming year.
The two most important figures to be replaced are secretary of state Hillary Clinton, who wants to leave by inauguration day in January, and treasury secretary Timothy Geithner.
The Massachusetts senator and 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry is favoured to replace Mrs Clinton. The present White House chief of staff, Jacob Lew, is likely to replace Mr Geithner.
Jim Messina, Mr Obama’s campaign manager, said he believed the president would be declared the official winner in Florida late yesterday, bringing his electoral college total to 332 of 538 votes.
The White House said Mr Obama returned congratulatory telephone calls from world leaders yesterday morning, including the heads of state or government of Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
The big count: how they stand
A technical glitch caused some incorrect figures to be included in our US election results map published in yesterday’s edition.
With the presidential result from Florida still outstanding, the results to date are:
Barack Obama:303 Electoral College votes from 60,602,103 individual ballots in the popular vote.
Mitt Romney:206 Electoral College votes from 57,570,901 individual ballots. Twenty-nine Electoral College votes remain to be allocated from Florida.
In the congressional election, the Democratic Party won 53 seats in the Senate; the Republicans won 45. Two seats are held by independents: Angus King in Maine and Bernie Sanders in Vermont.
In the House of Representatives, the current standing is: Republicans won 233 seats; Democrats won 193.