Obama’s win was not a fluke, based on trends and activities underway for a number of years.
1. The USA has had positive job news generally. When unemployment dropped below 8% nationally, this was a very significant moment.
2. Unemployment has been particularly improving in important “swing” states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan: this improved Obama’s support with many middle-class families and white working class men, where he was weak
3. The 2009 auto industry bail-out of Chrysler and General Motors “saved” much of the Midwest, especially Ohio. Romney’s famous November 2008 “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” Op-Ed in The New York Times was well-remembered.
4. Obama approval rating is around 50% – and has been growing for many months.
5. Republicans lost the “we are better at foreign policy” and “making war” arguments when Obama approved the successful killing of Osama Bin Laden and other terrorist operatives through drone killings.
6. The Democrats did an excellent job at labelling Romney the successful businessman as heartless and a job-destroyer, thus neutralising his strong management career as CEO of Bain Capital, Governor of Massachusetts and saviour of Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. The Obama campaign defined him, exactly what you must not let your opponent to do. Romney had the major difficulty of not really knowing himself what he stands for, thus had a hard time redefining himself to the public.
7. The Republican Party has moved substantially to the right of the American mainstream, especially on immigration (substantial loss of Hispanic voters since 2004 – and they are the fastest growing group of voters) and abortion rights and the so-called “legitimate rape” issue, resulting in a substantial loss of women voters.
8. Democrat voter-targeting and get-out-the vote efforts appear to be better than the Republicans, who have been much better at obtaining large amounts of money. You can see that by the number of narrow wins in marginal or “swing” states – despite the massive Republican expenditure on advertising.