Schoen: A Decisive Win For Obama, But Trouble Awaits

Wednesday, 07 Nov 2012 01:59 PM

By Doug Schoen

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Doug Schoen's Perspective: Barack Obama was re-elected on Tuesday just over an hour after the last polls closed. Indeed, this was a decisive victory for the president and a tough defeat for the Republicans.

The American people — a people that have been desperately looking for change in this election — clearly dismissed Governor Romney, and the GOP’s, negative strategy. Romney’s one good debate performance was not enough to make up for a campaign where neither the party nor the candidate offered a positive vision, much less a vision for the future.

The Republicans need to go back to the drawing board. The brand is in trouble and all the money spent on attack ads did nothing to help and, arguably, hurt the Republican brand — which unfortunately stands for very little these days.

Their divisive approach must be thrown out in favor of a pro-active message on growth and job creation. We failed to see this at any stage in the campaign and it would have surely made a difference in the outcome.

The exit polls showed that 70 percent of Americans want bipartisanship and conciliatory government. To be sure, they are unlikely to get it.

Democrats have no incentive to compromise given their class based campaign and neither do House Republicans who will be emboldened by their results. Though they did not take the highest office, they retained their seats, a victory of smaller but significant magnitude.

It is my expectation that Senate Democrats will stand with the president.

They are likely to be emboldened by the result and unwilling to compromise given Obama’s victory. Similarly, Republicans with their solid victory in the House and the world view of their caucus are also unlikely to extend an olive branch to a president who they correctly believe has governed in a divisive fashion and who appears to have gotten less than 50 percent of the vote — and to have won by a razor thin margin in the popular vote of somewhere between 0 to 1 percent.

Further, and deserving of more comment, the Republicans have little if anything to offer African-Americans and Hispanics and are in danger of isolating themselves as the party of an aging white America — a segment of the electorate that is getting smaller and smaller with each election.

I had predicted that this would be the outcome and that we would be seeing four more years of President Obama. The real question is what will the president — and the legislature more broadly — choose to do with it.

We face tremendous challenges going forward. Indeed, the impending fiscal cliff and solving our debt and deficit crisis are atop the agenda.

Both sides have paid lip service to dealing with these issues on a bi-partisan basis. We have seen no evidence that this will happen as neither party has taken on the Simpson-Bowles framework or offered a vision for a similar plan.

The American people have been clear. They are not interested in divisive politics. This is a time when people want consensus, conciliation and common sense governance. I remain skeptical that there are going to get it.

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