With Florida’s votes counted at last, the results of the 2012 presidential election are just about final. President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney 332-206 in the electoral college, and as of Monday morning the president leads the popular vote 51 to 48 percent, with 62,088,847 votes to Romney’s 58,783,137.
The president’s 3-point popular vote win comes as a surprise to most pundits. Although some (such as Democracy Corps’ Stan Greenberg) predicted a comfortable Obama win, many others believed that Romney was likely to tie or even win the popular vote, even if he lost the electoral college.
Despite facing a far more difficult campaign, Obama did not fall far short of his 2008 results The president carried every state he did in 2008 with the exceptions of North Carolina and Indiana, and — although his 3-point popular vote win does not match his 7-point drubbing of John McCain — with 51 percent of the popular vote, Obama joins Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan as the only presidents in the past century to win over 50 percent twice.
By contrast, although Romney came slightly closer to winning, he actually won fewer total votes in 2012 than McCain won in 2008 (a reflection of the higher turnout four years ago).
Democrats also won the popular vote in the races for the House of Representatives, by a 50.3 to 49.7 percent margin. Although Democratic candidates won more total votes than their Republican opponents, aggressive redistricting in the past two years allowed Republicans to maintain a comfortable 233-194 seat majority.
Republicans were not as lucky in the Senate; despite being favored to win a majority just weeks ago, Democratic candidates nearly swept the competitive races en route to a 53-45 seat majority.
Taken together, the results add up to a resounding Democratic victory — and it appears that Republicans know it. As Jonathan Weisman and Jennifer Steinhauer report in the New York Times, House Speaker John Boehner told his caucus on a conference call last week that their party “lost, badly,” and that the Congressional Republicans “had to avoid the nasty showdowns that marked so much of the last two years.” According to Weisman and Steinhauer, the members on the call “murmured words of support,” in sharp contrast to their open revolt when Boehner tried to persuade them to compromise on a payroll tax cut extension last year.
So, while it’s highly unlikely that we’ve seen the last of Republican obstruction, it’s clear that President Obama and the Democrats have earned some political capital — and Republicans seem to be coming to terms with the fact that they intend to spend it.