WASHINGTON — Barack Obama has won the 2012 presidential election, overcoming a determined challenge from Mitt Romney and the worst Election Day unemployment rate since World War II.
For the 51-year-old Democratic incumbent, gaining a second term during a weak economic recovery proved even more difficult than his historic selection as the nation’s first African-American president.
The re-election drive bore only a faint resemblance to the “hope and change” campaign that brought him to power in 2008, a time of deepening financial crisis and voter dissatisfaction after eight years of a Republican administration in Washington.
This time, Obama effectively abandoned his high-minded appeal in favor of a pre-emptive, bare-knuckled attempt to disqualify his Republican challenger. Throughout the summer, the president and his super PAC allies unleashed a relentless attack on Romney’s character, his reluctance to more fully disclose his personal taxes, his career as a private-equity executive at Bain Capital and his conservative stance on abortion rights and contraception.
Gary Johnson (L) 2%
Barack Obama (D) 36%
Mitt Romney (R) 62%
*Bartholomew County results
Independent fact-checkers judged more than a few of Obama’s charges as whoppers, including his claim that Romney, as governor, outsourced jobs to China, and an inflated figure for the annual cost to seniors of Romney’s Medicare overhaul plan.
In this year’s campaign, national security played no significant role at all. Republicans were unable to go after Obama with one of their most reliable anti-Democratic themes — weakness on defense policy. The president had essentially inoculated himself with a successful gamble: ordering the military mission that killed al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in 2011.