Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Decision Day in America

At the Wall Street Journal, "Obama and Romney Battle Down to Wire":

After more than one million television ads, countless appearances and three contentious debates, the 2012 presidential election remained on a knife's edge with both candidates seeking to shore up support in states crucial to their chances Tuesday.

President Barack Obama cheered on backers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa on Monday, evidence that his campaign aimed to build a firewall in the Midwest to try to block his Republican rival. He plans to await the election returns at his base in Chicago.

Mitt Romney swooped through four battleground states—Virginia, Florida, Ohio and New Hampshire—where the Republican needs to do well to secure a win. His campaign organized two additional stops on Election Day, at campaign offices in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Mr. Romney is hedging his bets with a last-minute push in Pennsylvania before he returns to Boston to monitor the returns.

National polls are essentially tied while polls in some battleground states showed Mr. Obama with narrow leads. Both campaigns said their internal data show their candidate would win.

Voters are set to determine whether $6 billion in advertising and other campaign spending would bring a new era to Washington—with a Republican White House and administration—or extend the status quo of a Democratic White House and split Congress.

The result will answer some questions that have lingered since Mr. Obama's historic 2008 victory. The president was sent to the White House by a coalition comprising segments of the electorate—African-Americans, Hispanics and young voters—as well as women. The president's aides spent much of the past four years working to keep that group together, one that if it remains viable could be a lasting strength for Democrats.

With the margin of victory for the winner expected to be narrow, a likely outcome is a political system as split as the country. It isn't clear either party would be positioned to emerge Wednesday with a clear mandate for tackling some the nation's biggest problems—including the looming tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff.

The tightness of the race sparked speculation about the possibility of unusual outcomes, such as an Electoral College tie or the winner failing to capture a majority of the popular vote.