The most expensive presidential election in U.S. history brought the nation full circle, back to where it all began.
Thanks in part to a U.S. Supreme Court decision that unleashed untold millions of corporate dollars into the electoral process, a breathtaking $6 billion was spent on the campaigns of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, nearly twice what was spent in the divisive 2000 campaign.
But on Tuesday it ended with Obama remaining in the Oval Office, with Democrats retaining control of the U.S. Senate and Republicans holding on to the House of Representatives.
Obama seemed headed for re-election even before polls closed in California, having claimed key swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and New Hampshire, leaving Romney having to win both Florida and Ohio to have a chance of reaching the coveted 270 electoral votes.
But it was not to be. By 8:15 p.m. Pacific time, it was clear that Obama was going to win Ohio and was en route to winning re-election outright.
We have no complaints with this outcome. It's our belief that amid one of the most challenging economic downturns in this nation's history, President Obama has performed admirably and showed himself deserving of a second term. Moreover, his victory is a repudiation of Republican attempts to pin the trials of the past four years solely on him and his efforts to avert a deeper crisis.
Nonetheless, Obama remains commander of chief of a torn nation, with a divided Congress and a Republican Party dominated by staunch critics of his policies. His challenges will be greater still if the final results shows him losing the popular vote, which, as of late Tuesday, remained a possibility.
Obama's most immediate challenge, even before he takes the oath of office for a second time in January, will be to find a way to bring Congress together to avoid the “fiscal cliff” that is fast approaching at the end of December. Our hope is that, with the election behind, a compromise can be found to prevent dramatic tax increases and spending cuts that would otherwise automatically occur, potentially pushing the country back into recession.