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Topics In the News
Historic Election Night: President Obama Re-elected
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 11/07/12
Last updated on: 11/08/12
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President Obama delivers his acceptance speech at McCormick Place in Chicago.

On November 6, 2012, President Barack Obama won a narrow but decisive victory, sweeping the battleground states and winning in excess of 300 electoral college votes. Central to the President's victory was his support for gay rights, including marriage equality.

Facing the prospect of being vastly outspent by Republican superpacs, the Obama campaign made an early decision to concentrate on a handful of battleground states that could lead to the magic number of 270 votes in the electoral college.

In effect, the 2012 Presidential campaign was a competition for the electoral college votes of Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, and, above all, Ohio. The President won all of them except North Carolina. (As I write, Florida has not been called by the networks, but Obama leads Romney there by several hundred thousand votes.)

In winning his victory, the President crafted a coalition of key constituencies: younger voters, African-Americans, Jewish voters, women, Asians, Hispanics, and gay men and lesbians.

The Hispanic vote was crucial in that a larger percentage of Hispanics supported Obama in 2012 than they did in 2008, and there were more of them in the battleground states.

All groups in the President's coalition were necessary. For example, had the African-American vote or the women's vote or even the smaller Asian-American demographic been depressed, he likely could not have won.

Although mainstream journalists may not emphasize the fact, the glbtq vote was also crucial. It is important to stress this because many pundits thought that when the President "evolved" to support same-sex marriage, he endangered his prospects for re-election. They thought his support for same-sex marriage would alienate potential supporters who were opposed to marriage equality.

As it turned out, however, the President's steadfast support of glbtq rights helped him to victory. Exit polling suggests that record numbers of gay men and lesbians showed up at the polls and that we represented 5% of the stotal electorate, with 77 % of us supporting President Obama.

Strong support from glbtq voters put the president over the top in the popular vote and probably was crucial in several swing states.

But not only did the President's steadfast support for gay rights assure him the support of a large majority of glbtq voters, it also energized his progressive base.

Much of the passion and enthusiasm displayed in the campaign came from glbtq people and our allies.

The President's record on glbtq rights undoubtedly inspired donors. Although the Republicans had far more large donors than the Democrats, the latter attracted far more small donors, many of which were glbtq supporters.

In addition, the President's support of marriage equality also inspired the support of young people.

The President's support of gay rights generally and marriage equality in particular also offered a stark contrast with his opponent and made him seem the candidate of the future.

Whereas the supporters of Romney disproportionately included older people and evangelical Christians, the supporters of the President tended to be younger, more modern in outlook, and more forward thinking, in part because he positioned himself on the right side of history.

The President's forthright advocacy of gay rights, displayed brilliantly at the Democratic National Convention, also contrasted with Romney's duplicity on the issue. Despite having signed on to the most reactionary positions of hate groups such as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, Romney unsuccessfully attempted to pretend that he was against discrimination. The President's record on gay rights contrasted with Romney's hypocrisy and made him seem by far the more honest and genuine candidate.

President Obama's support for gay rights may well have assured his re-election.

In the video below, the President addresses his supporters after learning that he had been re-elected on November 6, 2012. In this memorable speech, he says, "You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you put in."

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