A little more than a week ago, President Obama was re-elected with a margin of 3 million popular votes over Mitt Romney. The race was in a statistical dead heat right up through election day. A number of important events may have influenced the outcome.
First, Hurricane Sandy terrorized millions of people along the eastern seaboard of the United States. It's hard for people to think about changing administrations when they are just about to file claims for federal relief. This point was highlighted by Governor Christy's meeting with President Obama to discuss the specifics of the disaster aid efforts. Shortly afterward, Mayor Bloomberg endorsed the Obama ticket for re-election.
Even without the hurricane, the composition of this electorate is still evolving from the World War II generation to the Vietnam war generation. People born in the roaring '20s were essentially the World War II generation. Most of the World War II generation has passed the average life expectancy of about 80 years. Very few people from that generation are still alive today, whereas many millions were alive when Ronald Reagan was elected president. Essentially, the World War II generation could be counted on to vote for large increases in the military budget.
Mitt Romney discussed building up the military. A similar argument was proposed by former President Bush in the 2000 election, and two major wars followed his election. President Obama emphasized that he was not inclined to ask for things in the military budget that the Joint Chiefs had not even requested. In addition, the president emphasized his record in ending or winding down the American involvement in two major wars. In the end, it appeared that voters were more cautious in evaluating arguments for a military buildup in this election cycle.
Once again, the Vietnam war generation is the predominant voting constituency and that generation has a history of skepticism with regard to American involvement in major wars, beginning with the conflict in Vietnam. But young people voted substantially in favor of President Obama for a number of reasons. First, it's young people who actually fight wars. Second, Obama has had some success in providing more affordable rates on student loans.