As he tried to make himself more palatable after his base-securing primaries campaign and his “47-per-cent” video blunder, Mitt Romney earned praises for recasting himself as a moderate during his televised debates against President Barack Obama.
But whatever gains the Republican nominee managed to make wasn’t enough because the Democrats retained enough support in their core demographic groups, with women, younger voters, Hispanics, the less wealthy and Jewish voters siding clearly with Mr. Obama.
It was not as broad a coalition as in 2008 as he was less popular with men and white voters but the president held on to a diverse base to clinch another mandate.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try,” Mr. Obama said in his victory speech.
Exit polling showed that Mr. Romney didn’t score well with segments of the population who were expected to be turned off by the perception of him being an out-of-touch millionaire spearheading a party with outdated ideas on women’s healthcare and rape and an unfriendly attitude towards immigration.
More women voted Tuesday (a 53 per cent share of the ballots) and more of them voted for the President, by 55 per cent, an 11-point margin over the Republican challenger.
The Obama campaign’s emphasis on rallying Latinos and young voters was equally profitable.
A majority of Americans under 39 supported Mr. Obama, with 60 per cent of those between 18 and 24 voting for the President. Turnout numbers for first-time voters, women and minorities were reported to be very high.
Mr. Obama also solidified his support among non-white voters, with increases of 11 percentage points among Asians and 4 points among Hispanics, a fast growing demographic segment in key states like Florida and in Republican strongholds such as Texas.
The President acknowledged that new demographic reality in his victory speech when, while listing his priorities, he mentioned economic matters and “fixing our immigration system.”
At the same time, black voters, who suffered greatly from the economic downturn, didn’t drift significantly toward the Republicans. They still voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic incumbent, with a 93 per cent support level, compared with 95 per cent four years ago.
The economy was a key issue but voters seemed to accept that the President was handed a bad hand of cards by his predecessor and Mr. Obama managed to hold on to the American industrial heartland.
The lower the income, the more likely voters were to cast their ballots for the incumbent. Two-thirds of those earning less than $50,000 a year voted for Mr. Obama.
In the battle for the middle ground of the electorate, although Republicans claimed 50 per cent of those registered as independent voters, those who described themselves as moderates (a 41 per cent chunk of respondents) were more likely to vote for Mr. Obama, by a 15 point margin.
The results also put to rest the idea that American Jews would turn against Mr. Obama because of his difficult relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Republican accusations that the President was soft on Iran – 69 per cent of Jewish voters cast their ballots for Mr. Obama.
The exit polling was compiled by Edison Research for the National Election Pool, a consortium made up of the five major broadcasters and the Associated Press.