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Le Point, France

The Three Keys to Obama’s Victory

By Michel Colomès

... young voters, Latinos and women largely contributed to Obama’s success in this marathon election ...

Translated By Laura Napoli

7 November 2012

Edited by Vic­to­ria Denholm

France - Le Point - Original Article (French)

Four years after his victory over John McCain, Barack Obama can boast that those who secured his election in 2008 have stuck with him. Despite the disappointment caused by the hard-hitting economic crisis, because they are often more vulnerable than other segments of the population, young voters, Latinos and women largely contributed to Obama’s success in this marathon election, whose outcome, until yesterday, remained uncertain.

The first poll results all showed that, wherever there were large Cuban or Mexican populations, the president carried the day, and in some cases, did so more than in 2008. This is particularly true if you look at what happened in some Florida counties. Florida proved decisive in many ways. First, because it was one of seven or eight “swing states,” and second because of the number of electoral votes (29) that were at stake. Florida was also critical on a symbolic level, since it was thanks to Florida that George Bush won in 2000.

In Florida, Mitt Romney paid for his attitude on immigration and his ambiguous calls for regularization of over 10 million Hispanics, half of whom have regular jobs. The undocumented community of naturalized Cubans and Mexicans obviously is in solidarity. Among these voters, George Bush obtained a score of 44 percent. This time, Mitt Romney didn’t even have 27 percent of the Latino vote. A considerable loss.

Youth Engagement

Obama’s second pillar was the youth vote. The President amassed 59 percent of them, compared with 37 percent for Mitt Romney. Of course, Barack Obama experienced a slight decline in support from this population, aged 18-29 years — in 2008, he got 66 percent of the youth vote. What is significant is that young people were particularly active in states where the vote really mattered. Thus, in Ohio, which Obama took in the end, Obama beat his score from the last election, racking up 29 points ahead, compared to 25 for his Republican rival.

Finally, Mitt Romney paid for his awkwardness with women, even by some of those who supported him. They undoubtedly did not forget his debate performance where he was criticized for not worrying enough about gender equality. He responded that, when he was governor, he had “binders full of women” as job candidates.

Women also did not forgive the Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, Todd Akin, who expressed doubts about the merits of abortion for rape victims. He was thoroughly beaten, but there is also no doubt that, despite the pains Romney took to distance himself from him, Akin’s comments caused Romney to lose a little credibility with women, a good portion of whom he had already alienated because of his anti-abortion stance. The result: 54 percent of women voted for Obama. Together with young voters, they were most active in states where the election might have come out differently for the president.

The youth, women and Latino communities were not the only ones who secured Obama’s victory, but they did make a large contribution to the effort.



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