The lame-duck Congress has just weeks to jump to the rescue of an economy moving closer and closer to the so-called fiscal cliff — a $600 billion cluster of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes due to hit at year's end.
Analysts and reporters focused on the dip in optimism from the election four years ago. But at virtually no point did they appear to entertain the idea that President Obama may have won voters' trust on a personal level, identified policies that voters found appealing, or notched any worthwhile accomplishments.
Some who supported Barack Obama in 2008 said their celebration was markedly different from what they experienced four years ago, upon the historic election of the nation's first African-American president.
The battle for the Senate was a proving ground for the new Citizens United politics. Outside groups unleashed heavily funded barrages of attack ads meant to help elect candidates while letting them keep their distance from the nastiness. In Ohio and Virginia, the tactic failed in rather dramatic ways.
Election Day brought the usual reports of malfunctioning voting machines, and voting-rights lawyers said they received reports from Pennsylvania that some residents were erroneously being told they needed photo ID. But even in battleground states, there were few reports of major problems by late evening.
By holding the "Midwest firewall" — including Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan — the president handily defeated challenger Mitt Romney. Obama won seven of the eight battleground states and is ahead in Florida, the final battleground.
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