President Barack Obama’s sweeping victory in the 2012 election, his party’s wide win in the Senate, and the first ever triumph of marriage equality at the polls cemented the reality of a changed America that emerged in 2008.
The shape of that changed country was obscured by the Republican revival of 2010, but the 2012 vote means both the survival of Obama’s policy project and the clear emergence of a new demographic picture and electoral map.
The first post-baby boomer president was returned to the White House with the widest, clearest re-election win since Ronald Reagan won 49 states in 1984, yet a smaller mandate than his own his 2008 victory. And Democrats now have, in Obama, their Reagan: A figure both historic and ideological, who can carry, if not quite fulfill, a liberal vision of activist government and soft but sometimes deadly power abroad that will define his party for a generation.
Obama lacks Reagan’s sweeping victory, and presides over a more deeply divided country than when he took office. But the breadth of his accomplishments have been validated by Tuesday’s vote. ObamaCare is now a firmly rooted component of the nation’s social compact. Americans appear to have accepted his campaign’s argument that he deserves more credit for a nascent economic recovery than blame for it’s slow pace.
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