Voters Chose the Status QuoBarack Obama was re-elected by a 51-47% margin over Mitt Romney. The US Senate remained in the Democrats hands, while the House of Representatives stayed with the Republicans. The numbers of each chamber remained relatively stable and Obama's coat-tails were far less significant than in 2008. Two-term presidents have become the norm, with four of the last 5 having won re-election, dating back to Ronald Reagan. A mixture of circumstances led to the outcome: Romney was not the ideal candidate to start with, but he was solid. Hurricane Sandy had some effect (and could have altered the race) according to exit polls. Voters chose "empathy" over results and who would be better at handling the economy. In the end, the status quo won the day.
Tea Party Wins Some, Loses OthersTed Cruz (R-TX) upset the establishment applecart in the US Senate primary. Sarah Palin-backed Deb Fischer came from nowhere to win a senate seat in Nebraska. But the tea party lost a number of good troops, including Allen West in a close race in Florida. In Indiana, Richard Mourdock upset Richard Lugar in the GOP primary to the joy of many conservatives, only to be George Allen-ed by the media and then losing the should-have-been-safe seat to the Democrats. (Todd Akin suffered a similar fate in Missouri, but he was not a tea party selection.) Dear GOP candidates for office: Please learn how to speak about sensitive topics effectively and appropriately. The media will not let you get away with anything. Also, while Jim DeMint resigned his US Senate seat in South Carolina, Rep. Tim Scott was selected as his replacement, giving conservatives one final positive heading into 2013.
John Roberts Bizarre Obamacare Ruling; States and Businesses Push BackChief Justice John Roberts cast the deciding vote in letting Obamacare remain law... mostly. He actually ruled that some parts were invalid, leaving a partial victory for both sides. But mostly, conservatives were scratching their heads over the logic-as-gymnastics act performed by Justice Roberts. The law will levy a number of taxes and regulations on businesses and individuals, but the court ruling also limits how much power the federal government has over state options, giving them more power to fight the law.
The large and cumbersome law is also proven to be loaded with loopholes. Many businesses have simply decided to reduce employee headcounts or hours to avoid qualifying for the law. Others will just simply pass the costs on too consumers or workers anyway.
Walker wins Recall Election (And Other Right-to-work Adventures)Scott Walker became enemy number one after winning election in 2010 and subsequently battling the state labor unions to help solve the state's fiscal woes. This led to a massive effort by the labor unions who successfully managed to force a recall vote in the middle of Walker's first term. However, it turned out that Walker's reforms were quite successful and he handily won re-election, even winning by a greater margin than in 2010. Later in 2012, Michigan passed right-to-work legislation despite union protests.
Media Mostly Remains in the Tank for DemocratsOnce again, the media obsessed over every statement by Mitt Romney and all other Republicans, while decisively dismissing negative items about President Obama and Democrats. The media had little interest in the Fast and Furious scandal or the bizarre chain-of-events following the terrorists attacks in Libya, which the administration blamed on a YouTube video for weeks. (Oh, and the media lambasted Romney for correctly stating it had nothing to do with a video on day one). During one debates, CNN's Candy Crowley did a weirdly debatable "fact-check" on Libya that actually helped give Obama credibility on the issue. In the vice-presidential debate, the moderator let Joe Biden interrupt Paul Ryan non-stop, and personally interrupted him the rest of the time.
On the upside, a number of newspapers flipped their endorsements from 2012, sensibly acknowledging that Obama had failed as a president and Mitt Romney was reasonable enough to get things done. Papers such as the Des Moines Register offered their endorsement for a Republican for the first time in decades. But, overall the largest media outlets mostly stayed to their pro-liberal roots.