For four more years, Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, will remain commander-in-chief of the United States, working at least the next two with a divided Congress.
As he did in 2008, Obama carried Loudoun County and the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2012, taking 51 percent of the local vote to Republican Mitt Romney’s 47 percent in a high-turnout election.
The president’s second term was shored up after the always-crucial 18 electoral votes of Ohio were projected to fall in Obama’s favor, just after 11 p.m. More than an hour later, around 12:20 a.m., Virginia’s 13 electoral votes went to the incumbent as well, and Obama was poised to lock 270 electoral votes necessary to remain in the White House.
With the Democratic victory in Virginia, Old Dominion was ingrained as a true battleground. In 2008, Obama was the first Democrat to win the commonwealth since President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But following that historic election, Republicans swept statewide races in 2009 and voted in only Republicans to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in 2011.
Those circumstances considered, the spotlight was shone on Loudoun County and Northern Virginia as one of the marquee swing regions in the nation. President Obama and the first lady, and Mitt and Ann Romney, all headlined rallies in Loudoun during the final months of their campaigns.
“Tonight, Loudoun County proved that a call to citizenship, and a call for everything that is great about America will carry the day,” Evan Macbeth, chairman of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, said late on election night.
Speaking candidly, Macbeth said two months ago he wouldn’t have expected a four or five point victory for Obama in Loudoun.
“But in the last four weeks, I witnessed the Obama ground game in person. And it is second to none,” Macbeth said. “More people in Loudoun turned out than anyone expected. And they chose progress for the future.”
Obama, a former U.S. Senator from Illinois who first made a national name for himself with one of the most powerful political speeches of the 21st century, given at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, has been caught among a starkly divided Congress since 2010.
In his first term, Obama led one of the most substantial overhauls of the nation’s health care with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The program, which was upheld as law after a review by the U.S. Supreme Court, aims to provide health coverage for a greater number of Americans while driving down insurance costs once fully implemented by 2014.
Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the health care reform effort, often referenced as Obamacare, given it’s a key legacy issue for Obama; fighting against the Affordable Care Act was indeed a common talking point for Romney.
Millions of Americans – notably opponents of the president – have been quick to lay blame on Obama for the frail economy. Over the past four years, unemployment has climbed as high as 10 percent. Only in the months immediately before the 2012 election did unemployment dip below 8 percent, where it was when Obama first took office.
Still, the 44th president campaigned on a message that the nation was moving in the right direction, though not as quick as anyone hoped. The president pointed to drawing down troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, rescuing the American auto industry from collapse and pulling the nation back from the brink of a severe depression as major achievements in his first term.
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