News, Politics

Barack Obama Wins Second Term As President Of The United States

Image: Pete Souza
Barack Obama in his official photographic portrait. Image: Pete Souza

Barack Obama won yesterday’s U.S. election, becoming the President of the United States for the second term in a row.

It was a close and hard-fought election. In the end, Obama and his Democratic party won about 50 per cent of the popular vote, to rival Mitt Romney’s approximately 49 per cent. Romney is the leader of the Republican party. 

Obama comfortably won the electoral college* votes he needed to retain his presidency. By early Wednesday morning, with votes still trickling in, the Democrats had won 300 electoral college votes. Two hundred and seventy were needed (out of 538) to win the election. Romney had 206 of the electoral college votes.

In the days leading up to the election, opinion polls in the U.S. showed Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama as neck-and-neck. It wasn’t clear who would win.

According to exit polls (informal surveys taken from people on their way out of the polling station after they’ve voted), the main issue on people’s minds was the economy. They wanted to know that their next president would improve the economy and create new jobs for Americans. Healthcare was also a big issue in the campaign.

Image: Greg Skidmore
Mitt Romney seen here in December, 2011. Image: Gage Skidmore

The election itself was a bit of a rollercoaster ride, as Republican leader Mitt Romney and Democratic leader Barack Obama took turns being most popular with Americans. 

During the campaign, Romney made a number of blunders that seemed likely to trip him up with the voters. However, during the first of three presidential debates, Romney shone, with Obama seeming lacklustre in comparison. Obama bounced back in the second debate and the two essentially tied in the third.

Some people wondered where the fiery, inspirational leader they had elected in 2008 had gone. Obama gave a rousing acceptance speech last night. Here is some of what he said.

Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy, and messy, and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us have deeply-held beliefs. and when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs up passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments that we have are marks of our liberty.

Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better president. With your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do.

Long line-ups plagued this year’s voting, with some people waiting up to six hours to vote. Voting was especially difficult in the major U.S. city of New York, which was hit hard recently by Superstorm Sandy. In his speech, Obama pledged to fix the voting problems for next time.

*The “electoral college” process is key to the way federal elections work in the United States. There are 538 electors in the electoral college so just over half, or 270, are required to win the election.  Each state has a certain number of electors; when people vote in the U.S., they vote for a party or presidential candidate, but they are actually voting for “electors” in their state. It’s a system that’s difficult to explain here but this U.S. government website has more information and details on it.

Related link
In October, the BBC surveyed nearly 22,000 people in 21 countries to find out which US presidential candidate is preferred by countries other than the U.S. Scroll down to see the interesting bar graph in the BBC article. (Note: The BBC website is not designated as specifically “kid-friendly.”)

By Jonathan Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
Are you surprised by the results? How do you think the election results will affect America, Canada, the world?

Reading Prompt: Point of View
Write a short retell of today’s story from a Republican or a Democrat point of view.

Identify the point of view presented in a text and suggest some possible alterna- tive perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Identify a range of presentation strate- gies used in oral texts and analyse their effect on the audience (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives (OME, Reading: 1.9).

Grammar Feature: Word choice
The words a writer chooses to use communicate their ideas, thoughts, feelings. They also communicate a writer’s style. A writer will sometimes use a thesaurus (a book that lists  synonyms–words that mean similar things) to find which words or expressions to use. Use a thesaurus or an online thesaurus to replace the word(s) in parentheses.

1. “Healthcare was also a (big) __________ issue in the campaign.”

2.”Voting was especially (difficult) ______________ in the major U.S. city of New York, which was hit hard recently by Superstorm Sandy.”

3. “During the first of three presidential debates, Romney (shone) _____________ with Obama seeming (lacklustre) _______________ in comparison.”