Woodward, Okla. —
It wasn't just the president and Congress who were on the ballot. Voters around the country considered ballot measures on a number of divisive social issues, with Maine and Maryland becoming the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote while Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana.
From the beginning, Obama had an easier path than Romney to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The most expensive campaign in history was narrowly targeted at people in nine battleground states that held the key to victory, and the two sides drenched voters there with more than a million ads, the overwhelming share of them negative.
Obama claimed at least seven of the battleground states, most notably Ohio, the Ground Zero of campaign 2012. He also got Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin, and he was ahead in Florida. Romney got North Carolina.
Overall, Obama won 25 states and the District of Columbia and was leading in too-close-to-call Florida. Romney won 24 states.
It was a more measured victory than four years ago, when Obama claimed 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173, winning with 53 percent of the popular vote.
Obama was judged by 53 percent of voters to be more in touch with people like them. More good news for him: Six in 10 voters said that taxes should be increased. And nearly half of voters said taxes should be increased on income over $250,000, as Obama has called for.
Obama's list of promises to keep includes many holdovers he was unable to deliver on in his first term: rolling back tax cuts for upper-income people, immigration reform, reducing federal deficits, and more.
A second term is sure to produce turnover in his Cabinet: Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has made it clear he wants to leave at the end of Obama's first term but is expected to remain in the post until a successor is confirmed. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama's rival for the presidency four years ago, is ready to leave too. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta isn't expected to stay on.