So, as it turned out, neither Ohio nor Florida really meant anything special last night. Their votes were only as important as anyone else’s, and that’s what we shouldn’t forget. Even though everyone was watching a dwindling number of “battlegrounds” last night, millions of Americans in places that didn’t matter still cast ballots. We might have assumed—rightly, it turns out—that we knew how they would collectively vote. But, just because we can, let’s spend a few minutes paying attention to their part of the world. Here’s what newspapers in places that didn’t matter last night were saying this morning. All front pages are courtesy the Newseum.
|Capital Journal — Pierre, South Dakota
What [the Founding Fathers] did understand very well was that they could set up a government based on unalienable rights that continually draws us back to our roots, in that radical sense. And the truly radical thing about America is that we can adjust; if we realize we have misunderstood freedom, we can extend the full rights of citizens to those we once left out. We trust you exercised your right to vote on Tuesday. America is still in need of such radicals, who continually go back to the root of things to protect what is good and to change what needs changing.
|The Chicago Sun-Times — Chicago, Illinois
If your man gets re-elected, we recently asked a top aide to President Barack Obama, how will he accomplish anything in the face of continued unyielding opposition from House Republicans?They’ll come around, the aide said, if only to save their own skins. Having failed in their most cherished goal, to make Obama a one-term president, they will warm to the art of compromise, fearing the wrath of the voters in 2014 if gridlock continues. They will discover their inner statesman.
As they say in church, let us pray.
|The Times-Picayune — New Orleans, Louisiana
To its credit, Louisiana’s delegation has worked across party lines to get funding for levees and restoration work. They have had some success — despite the recalcitrance of this Congress. For the good of the nation, that sort of cooperation needs to spread. President Obama must lead the way.
|Albany Times-Union — Albany, New York
Voters favored Mr. Obama’s more sober, responsible message that government can, as we’ve all seen, play a role in recovery, that people who can afford to pay more should do so for the good of the country, and that Social Security and Medicare are vital programs that should not be radically tinkered with. They agreed that we can end foreign conflicts and turn to nation building at home.So four more years it is. But please, not a rerun of the last four.
We hardly expect Republicans and Democrats to embrace each other in a post-election group hug. But we do expect them to do what Americans for generations have taught their children to do when a competition is finished: shake hands, get over it, and move on.
|Billings Gazette — Billings, Montana
The key word for businesses as well as individual taxpayers is “certainty”. This nation needs certainty. It needs leadership. The president is key, but he cannot get this job done alone. At least 60 senators and a majority of representatives must come together with a plan that averts the fiscal cliff and provides certainty to Americans and the world.
|Star Tribune — Minneapolis, Minnesota
Gone are 2008′s unrealistic hopes that Obama would usher in an era of bipartisan good feeling. What remained was voters’ sense that he sides with average Americans and is willing to employ the muscle of the federal government to improve their lives.The components of his victory included the slowly but steadily improving economy; his success in reviving the U.S. auto industry, especially in Ohio, and Hurricane Sandy’s harsh reminder that there are times when Americans need a robust federal government.
But while the wishful thinking of 2008 has evaporated, a realpolitik reality remains: Obama’s success — and the nation’s — in a second term will depends in large part on his ability to forge a bipartisan governing consensus.
|Idaho Statesman — Boise, Idaho
If there’s one point of consensus, one place where we can agree, it’s this: By Tuesday, this election season had gone on long enough.Perhaps there a few dissenters and holdouts — perhaps the same sort of people who yearn for a longer appointment at the dentist or a longer line at the grocery store. For most of us, though, the 2012 election will be not soon forgotten, but not much missed.
It was a long, cantankerous ride of an election. Costly and caustic, its tenor reflecting the tension of the times.
And reflecting our divisions.
|The Star-Ledger — Newark, New Jersey
At the start of his second term, Obama will face another round of daunting challenges, beginning with the urgent need for a deal on the national debt.Without an agreement, huge spending cuts and tax increases will take effect on Jan. 1, as agreed to during last year’s crisis over the debt ceiling. That would slam the brakes on this weak recovery, sending the nation back into recession.
The core political reality he faces is that no deal is possible without bipartisan agreement. And that has been hard to come by, given the intransigence of House Republicans the past two years.
|St. Louis Post-Dispatch — St. Louis, Missouri
[Missouri] voters sent a message loud and clear on Tuesday: They are happy in the middle.The two Democrats on the top of Missouri’s ticket, Mr. Nixon and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, won by convincing margins even as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney easily won the state over President Barack Obama.
The Missouri that had been a national bellwether showed itself in its statewide election results, the presidential race aside. Moderation won over extremism. Messages that brought people together prevailed over those that divided.
|The Dallas Morning News — Dallas, Texas
Barack Obama blew past Mitt Romney last night in a presidential contest that shows Americans still prefer Democrats to handle social and economic issues. After surging in October, Romney lost in a blow to the GOP, which has more rethinking to do after losing a second straight presidential race.Still, the big story was Obama’s re-election victory, which looked easier than predicted from late polling with so many swing-state triumphs. Americans have given their young commander-in-chief the honor of leading them again, making him the third consecutive president to win a second term.
Second terms are often treacherous, something George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even Ronald Reagan learned. But no American, including those who supported Romney, can afford to see Obama fail. Our nation’s economic challenges are too great for partisan animosity to intervene more than they have already.
|San Francisco Chronicle — San Francisco, California
Voters again have put their faith in Obama to take on the challenges of our times, albeit with a tempered expectation of what might be possible. There were many good reasons to believe that he, more than Romney, has the leadership skills and priorities that are needed at this critical time. His first term accomplishments were achieved despite a determined effort by Republicans to stymie him at every turn.The onus is on Obama, as the freshly re-elected president, to take the lead in overcoming this polarization that seems to have turned almost everything into a partisan fight in Washington.
|The Arizona Republic — Phoenix, Arizona
At times it seemed the president was running against multiple opponents. He had highly partisan fights with Republican leaders in the House over the deficit, health-care reform, job creation and taxes.And, of course, Obama became the savior of Sesame Street, securing the airwaves for Big Bird.
The weak economic recovery, especially, seemed to continually drag on his re-election chances. Yet Obama successfully identified core constituencies that turned out in amazing numbers on Tuesday, while at the same time stigmatizing Romney as a rich elitist. Strategically, the president won out.