After the celebrations last night, it seemed like there was just a sense of relief about the election as we wandered around San Francisco this morning. Obama won by a lot and there were progressive wins in other votes too. There’s even some sense of hope that things might continue to change for the better. Healthcare reforms are now safe and there’s some talk that the Democrats might become more sensible about immigration policy.
I know it’s easy to say with hindsight but I was pretty sure Obama would win. The people with the best polling are the party machines who know a long way before the election what their chances are — just watching their behaviour tells you a lot. For me there was one big giveaway from the Romney camp that they knew they were in trouble which was selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate. When a right wing party goes further right it means they’re trying to cut their losses. Elections are won in the centre ground and Paul Ryan didn’t bring them any new votes there. Hopefully the Republicans will recognise that they need to move much closer to the middle if they’re to have any hope in the future, especially as the demographics of the US will continue to shift to benefit the Democrats.
Obama has a lot to do but he’s got a pretty strong mandate now and doesn’t need to worry about getting himself elected again. Here’s hoping he’s brave and goes for some big positive changes. America is still (just about) the most important country on the planet and the President really does set the tone. If he carries through from his acceptance speech last night then I’m hopeful.