Though the words “Florida: Too close to call” are enough to make anyone who lived through the 2000 election shudder, this time it doesn’t matter that the Sunshine State could see a recount. Despite speculation that the presidential race could drag on into the wee hours of the morning, or even end in an electoral college tie, by 11:20 p.m. networks were confirming that the dream of an odd couple Romney-Biden administration was dead. President Obama took nearly every battleground state, including Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado, and fended off his opponent’s late play for Pennsylvania, while Romney only claimed North Carolina. With votes still being counted early on Wednesday morning, Obama had a one percent lead in the popular vote, winning 57.8 million votes to Romney’s 55.8 million. Though Obama’s victory was far more decisive than many predicted, his lead was much narrower than in 2008, when he scored 53 percent of the vote and McCain took only 46 percent.
The key to Obama’s win was support from women, young voters, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Relentlessly pandering to women and avoiding candidates who make offensive remarks about rape seems to have paid off. According to Politico, exit polls show that Obama won among female voters by 12 percentage points, down one point from 2008. Obama’s lead among 18- to 29-year-old voters dipped to 24 points from 34 in 2008, but turnout was up among young voters. The president also saw a significant increase in his share of Hispanic voters. He was up four points among Latinos, taking 69 percent of the vote compared to Romney’s 29 percent. Latinos made up 10 percent of the electorate for the first time ever, which definitely supports Frank Rich’s theory that this is the last election in which we’ll hear Republicans talking about self-deportation and constructing fences along the border.
Obama’s support among Hispanic voters made a difference in Colorado and may help him take Florida, though Mitt Romney has captured much of the state’s large senior population. When Obama remarked during his acceptance speech that we have to fix the problem of long lines at polling places, it’s likely he was picturing Florida. Some voters in Miami-Dade county were still waiting to vote when the election was called for Obama, and officials said the county wouldn’t report its full election results until Wednesday afternoon. As it stands, Obama has a razor-thin lead in the state, with 49.8 percent of the vote to Romney’s 49.3 percent. Since the state requires an automatic recount if the margin of victory is less than .5 percent when all votes are counted, it’s unclear if we’re in for more squabbling over irregular Florida ballots. However, since Obama managed to secure 303 electoral college votes before the night was through, the election is still officially over — which is good, because judging from Bronco Bamma girl, the nation couldn’t take much more.