The College Democrats celebrated at Quixote’s, and the College Republicans morosely left GOP headquarters to mourn their loss.
Jacob Dean, president of the College Democrats, said this was exactly the result he expected.
“I’m not surprised we won,” Dean said. “I’m surprised by how big it is. This just shows that America’s behind the president.”
But, though the president has been decided, the future of the nation is still undetermined.
“I think we’ve got a lot of obstacles ahead,” Dean said. “We have to get rid of the debt, so that’s one of the things he’s going to tackle. Another thing we need to tackle is tax reform. It’s not right for Romney to pay 13 percent taxes and his secretary pay 30 percent. It’s just not fair, and it’s not conducive to a strong middle class.”
William Franko, political science professor, said that, although the candidates campaigned on economic platforms, the president doesn’t actually have much power over finances, which will make it hard for him to create reforms.
“A lot of people question how much power the president actually has over economic conditions, so if we look at the economy from a macroeconomic perspective, a lot of people say it’s really hard to influence these trends in economic growth and cycles in the economy in general, but one thing the public still comes back to is the idea that the president can influence economic conditions,” Franko said.
Economics professor William Stern agreed that the president doesn’t have much influence over the economy, but the market may indicate the public’s general confidence in the government.
“The market’s usually a better judge of things than we are because it’s an aggregation of information and opinions, as opposed to one person’s opinion,” Stern said. “This morning the market was very unhappy.”
Stern said many stock investors may be wary of a gridlock in the Legislature, along with layoffs due to defense cuts and a possible rise in tax rates after Dec. 31.
“Dow’s down over 200 points and bond yields went way down, which means prices went up, so more people are buying bonds,” Stern said. “That’s what people do when they perceive near-term risk because the bonds have fixed-term values, while the stocks go up and down, so perhaps they see that these near-term fiscal issues may not be well resolved. It’s the fiscal cliff, so to speak.”
Stern said many hope Obama will emulate President Bill Clinton in his cooperation with a dominantly Republican House, which will help him push legislation that could help the economy.
“In Bill Clinton’s second term he worked a lot with the Republican House, and most people look fondly on economic conditions in the second half of the ‘90s,” Stern said. “You notice Obama campaigned with Bill Clinton practically glued to his hip the entire time. Is he trying to signal to the population that he’s going to be more emulative of Bill Clinton’s style? I don’t know. He doesn’t face re-election any more, so I guess he can behave however he wants.”
Franko said cooperation between parties is something Obama has not done well, which may affect his performance this term.
“One thing people have been calling for President Obama to do is have better relationships with people in Congress, especially for people on the other side of the aisle,” Franko said. “That’s going to be the real challenge, I think, dealing with this divided government.”
Stern also said that Obama’s isolated nature may cost him, though it does help him stay above some of the partisan politics that continue to go on.
“He’s very much a loner,” Stern said. “He has almost no relationships with the members on Capitol Hill in either party.”
However, Franko said Obama did do well at making informed decisions.
“Coming into his first election in 2008, he was known for having a strong understanding of all the policies he’s been involved with, really getting into the ins and outs of these various policies,” Franko said. “In terms of understanding the details of economic policy and what needs to be done to strengthen the economy long-term, I think he’ll do a fine job.”
Dean said he hopes Obama’s re-election will give Obama more confidence in his role as president.
“He has the ability to do some things that are in the best interest of the country, but not in the best interest of the polls the next day,” Dean said. “Hopefully, not having to run again for office will alleviate some of those concerns he may have about what to choose and how to proceed because we’re going to have a tough next couple of years.”
Dean said he is optimistic about Obama’s second term.
“This just represents to me the continuation of the promise (Obama) made, and we hope that, as we move forward, Republicans will work with us in a bipartisan manner to make sure we make progress in this country,” Dean said.