President Barack Obama Elected to Second Term
The final vote count for the presidential election of 2012 is still being tallied, as absentee votes and overseas military votes are late in arriving and being included in the election results. As of November 25, President Obama won a second term in office with 50.8 percent of the popular vote and 332 electoral votes. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney won 47.4 percent of the popular vote and 206 electoral votes. With a margin of victory in the national popular vote, currently reported at 3.4 percent, the president secured a second term by reaching out with a hyper-local voter-engagement operation of neighbors and friends to maintain much of the diverse coalition who voted for him in 2008.
According to exit polls, whites accounted for 72 percent of the vote. Obama received 39 percent of that white vote, compared with 43 percent in 2008. Women, African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, voters under 45, liberals and moderates, those living in the Northeast and the West, and urban dwellers gave a majority of their votes to the president. Romney lost with a narrower and less diverse support mostly of men, voters 45 and older, conservatives, Southerners, evangelical Christians, and people who are married. In 2012, women were 10 points more likely to support Obama than men were, versus in 2008 when women were seven points more inclined than men to vote for Obama. Unmarried women, however, voted for the president by 23 points over married women, which is up from 18 points in 2008. Men shifted more Republican in the 2012 election, with Romney winning among men by an eight-point margin, 54 percent to Obama's 46 percent.
Obama won 80 president of the non-white electorate. He captured 93 percent of the African American vote, 71 percent of the Hispanic vote (up from 67 percent four years ago), and 73 percent of the Asian vote (up from 62 percent in 2008). Only 11 percent of the Republicans' total vote came from non-whites versus the 44 percent of all Democratic votes from non-whites.
Democrats Keep Control of the Senate — GOP Holds onto House
Democrats will retain control of the Senate in the 113th Congress, having gained two Republican seats (Massachusetts and Indiana), held seats of targeted incumbents (Florida, Montana, and Ohio), and picked up open seats that were presumed to be unwinnable (North Dakota, Wisconsin). The Democrats were seen as in trouble with retaining control as they came into the 2012 race with the seats of 21 Democrats, plus two independents who caucused with the Democrats, up for election. The Republicans only needed to pick up a handful of seats to take back the majority. The recruitment of strong candidates helped Democrats keep the Upper Chamber.
While the House Democrats won a narrow plurality of the popular vote — a day after the election analysis found that 53,952,240 votes were cast for Democrats seeking House seats, while just 53,402,643 votes were cast for Republicans — Republicans held onto their majority, keeping the gavel in the hands of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Because of the structural advantages created by Republicans through their control of state-based redistricting processes, the Democrats did not just need to win a majority of the votes, but they would have needed to win 55 percent of the national vote, a net gain of 25 seats, to earn a House majority. The last time the majority party in the House was unable to receive a plurality of the popular vote was in 1952, when the GOP kept the House for similar reasons.
The Republicans, retaining a solid majority control of the House that they seized with the Tea Party-fueled wave election of 2010, picked up 10 Democratic seats in the House. The Democrats defeated 12 GOP incumbents. There are at least 79 new members of the House. While the Republicans had a handful of Tea Party losses, philosophically the House Republicans may not be very different from the current one, pressing for lower taxes, federal spending cuts, a reduction in the growth of entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and repeal of Obama's 2010 health care overhaul law. Already politically polarized, the House also will be demographically polarized: Women and minorities for the first time in US history will hold a majority of the Democratic Caucus's House seats (expected to include 60 women, 43 African-Americans, 27 Latinos, and 10 Asian-Americans), while Republicans will continue to be overwhelmingly white and male.
Busy Lame Duck Congress
With the election out of the way, Congress returned November 13 to begin year-end deliberations after a six-week election lull. Lawmakers are focusing on a number of issues through the end of the year such as stalling looming tax changes and discretionary spending cuts. Any immediate plan likely will provide the basis for a longer-term tax overhaul plus another required increase in the federal debt limit — and will open up possible talks on beneficiary and provider changes for the Medicare and Medicaid programs. A meeting with the White House and Congressional leadership November 16 focused on these issues.
FROM THE STATES . . .
2012 State Election Results
Democrats took complete control of five additional state legislatures, while Republicans added a governorship and control of three additional state legislatures. All told, Republicans will have 30 governors and control of 24 state legislatures next year, compared to 19 Democratic governors and 18 Democratic-controlled legislatures. The remaining eight state legislatures are split or tied.
Multi-Million-Dollar Initiative Addressing New Jersey's Nurse Faculty Shortage
Many of those GOP governors are philosophically opposed to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the idea of expanding Medicaid. Due to the Supreme Court's ruling, states will be able to decide whether to broaden the program in their states. So far, six GOP governors, all of whom remain in power, have said that they would not expand the health program for the poor. Others have been waiting for the results of the election to decide. For those governors who have not committed, what to do about Medicaid will likely figure high on their agendas come January.
In a November 19 hearing, New Jersey state legislators heard that the New Jersey Nursing Initiative (NJNI) has made progress in addressing the state's staggering 10.5 percent nursing faculty vacancy rate, but that more needs to be done to avert the projected shortage of more than 23,000 nurses in New Jersey in less than two decades. Health, business, and academic leaders testified at the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee hearing, several years after NJNI's sponsors — the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation — announced the initiative at a hearing of the same committee.
Since the initiative launched in 2009, NJNI's Faculty Preparation Program has supported 61 New Jersey Nursing Scholars who are pursuing (or have completed) master's or doctoral degrees that qualify them for nurse faculty positions. NJNI developed the Nursing Academic Resource Center of New Jersey, an online tool for graduate-level nursing students; and supported the Nursing Centralized Application System, to streamline the nursing school application process for prospective students and monitor the availability of slots in nursing programs. NJNI also launched WeTeachNursingNJ.com
, a website dedicated to nursing faculty career information.
Current data show that the nursing population is aging, with only 8 percent of New Jersey nurses younger than 30. The average age of the state's nurses is 51, and the average age of nurse faculty is 55. A recent study projects that by 2030, there will be a shortage of 23,358 nurses in New Jersey, indicating that NJNI's work and similar efforts are crucial to ensuring that enough nurses can be trained to meet future health care needs.
NJNI has awarded $21.5 million to a group of institutions of higher education to support the New Jersey Nursing Scholars with full tuition and fees, a $50,000 annual stipend, and a laptop computer. Last year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reauthorized NJNI through 2016, funding scholarships for 10 additional New Jersey Nursing Scholars to pursue PhDs.