Barack Obama was re-elected Nov. 6 for his second term as president of the United States.
Obama won over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with 50 percent of the popular vote and 303 electoral votes; 270 electoral votes are needed to win a presidential election. Republicans maintained their majority in the House of Representatives with 233, seats and Democrats maintained control of the Senate with 53 seats.
With majorities maintained in Congress and the President re-elected, the big question is: What will change? Christian Hunold, an associate professor of political science at Drexel University, predicted, “The first instinct of the House Republicans will be to dig in their heels.”
Hunold admitted he’s not overly optimistic about the two sides’ ability to overcome partisan gridlock this term, but he expects that House Republicans may be under pressure to make some compromises.
William Rosenberg, a professor of political science, said, “It takes two sides. [Obama] extending the olive branch only works if the other side is going to extend as well. The American public chose Barack Obama, not Romney, so his version of the future won out. We have to recognize at the House level the return of a majority of conservative Republicans so they have their place as well, and both have to work together.”
Rosenberg acknowledged that with each party becoming less moderate, voters often choose “the lesser of the two evils,” and Obama appealed to students, many of whom are first-time voters.
Obama’s re-election has ensured that the Affordable Care Act, his signature legislation that was signed in 2010, will come into full effect. Without a Republican president to repeal it, Americans will now be required to purchase health insurance, and insurance subsidies will be given to millions of citizens. This legislation is extremely important to Drexel’s College of Medicine, which has a larger medical school enrollment than any other private institution.
Shayne Sebold, a student in the College of Medicine, acknowledged that she and her peers will be the first generation of American doctors working in a system of universal health care. While Sebold knows that her peers have valid concerns, she said, “I, however, feel proud that my patients will no longer be put in the situation where they would need to choose an MRI or a meal.”
Within the health care legislation, “there’s also the issue about contraception being provided through health care, which college students are receptive to,” Rosenberg said. Obama also supported women’s reproductive rights when it comes to abortion. Melanie Jeske, a pre-junior majoring in economics and environmental studies, said that women’s rights played a role in her decision to vote,
“I believe options are important. In the 21st century, women have come a long way in a battle for equality. And to be completely honest, I don’t think that a male should tell me what my choices are in this debate” Jeske said.
Aside from health care and women’s rights, Drexel students considered other issues such as the economy, unemployment and education.
Zachary Pashko, a third-year business major, explained that the job market was one of his top concerns when deciding for whom to vote,
“Being aware of the job market is important to me because I’m going to be venturing into the real world during the current president’s term. … Finding a job is so necessary, and I think that everyone needs to find the best position for themselves,” Pashko said.
Pashko believes that Drexel will adequately prepare him to enter the job market and that Obama’s administration will provide the best opportunities for him. He added, “I have gained a lot of insight during college thus far and have already seen that knowledge begin to pay off as I have begun to involve myself in entrepreneurial business endeavors.”
Jeske also trusts that the Obama administration will give her the best opportunities, believing that Obama cares about understanding students on a level that he hasn’t necessarily experienced. Jeske values her scholarship and financial aid, and Obama has made promises to make college more affordable. Notably, he has removed banks as the “middleman” in the loan market so students may receive them at lower rates. But Jeske also recognizes the necessity of self-motivation.
“Even though I avidly support Obama, in the end it’s what we put into our education. If you take advantage and take control of your education and ultimately career destiny, you should be confident in having opportunities in a good market. But at the end of the day, that falls on the student, not the president,” she said.
Alex Paluzzi, a junior education major, is optimistic about Obama’s education system,
“As a future educator, I have to be. I have to believe that the students of the future will be better prepared and smarter than the students of the past. It has to be this way in order to keep up,” he said.
Paluzzi is optimistic and applauds progress made in the education both in higher and primary education such as university tuition costs and financial aid, reform of No Child Left Behind legislation, and implementation of common core standards, but he believes there is still room for improvement.
“We will never have a truly great education system unless we give all students an equal opportunity to learn and succeed,” Paluzzi said. He believes that given the choice between Obama and Romney, Obama will provide the best chance for that opportunity. Obama has made promises that have instilled hope in students that Romney could not have made.
“One of the challenges that Romney faced was that he took a variety of positions which young people aren’t in support of. He took positions against marriage equality, which most young people are not opposed to. He took a conservative position on reproductive rights. … He wanted to get rid of Roe v. Wade. While those positions may pay better on the overall population, I don’t think he was positioned well in terms of young people,” Rosenberg said.
Hunold also noted “the stunning sophistication of the Obama campaign’s voter outreach,” as reflected in the polls leading up to the election. While there were fewer T-shirts, buttons and Obama paraphernalia this year than there were in the 2008 election, the polls were a tool that accurately motivated and predicted voter turnout. While perhaps less overt than the 2008 election, the Obama administration still managed to capture the imagination of students.