It's the day after. Many believed that President Obama didn't deserve a second term. They didn't want to believe he won. But he did. Here's why.
First, Obama accomplished a great deal, even with an obstructionist Congress. Second, Mitt Romney was tethered to a movement born out of deception (and rage), which colored his entire campaign. Voters, as election results demonstrate, understood both of these points.
Let's consider some of the accomplishments.
The stimulus worked: After the stimulus was passed unemployment claims subsided while the economy added more than 750,000 new private-sector jobs (which easily surpasses President Bush's first term). This has been the trend for over 30 months.
Federal spending slows to a crawl: Under Obama, growth in federal spending is at 1.4 percent, its slowest pace since the Eisenhower administration (and far better than the 7 percent to 8 percent under President Bush).
Budget deficits stabilize: While critics like to claim that Obama created record budget deficits, the reality is the policies that brought us annual trillion-dollar deficits are not his.
Auto industry story: Obama's auto bailout saved nore than 1 million jobs in America. For all of their criticism over the bailout, the Romneys invested and profited from the program (in part by shipping union jobs overseas), which Romney's campaign acknowledged.
The real issue here, though, is how most Americans understand that Obama's accomplishments happened with a recalcitrant and obstructionist Congress hanging around his neck. Most Americans get it.
Those who don't get it generally secure their news from the same source(s) and willfully ignore the following: The Republican Party always feared that George W. Bush's failures would come back to haunt them. With Bush so close to our memories, party leaders figured that the only way to defeat Obama in 2012 was to hang Bush's legacy around his neck.
Citing Robert Draper's book, "Do Not Ask What Good We Do," 23rd Congressional District challenger Terry Phillips pointed out during his only debate with Rep. Kevin McCarthy that the GOP pledged to sabotage Obama's presidency at a Republican dinner on inauguration night.
The plan, according to Draper, was to "show united and unyielding opposition to the president's economic policies." That night, Newt Gingrich even suggested sabotaging the president would sow the electoral "seeds of 2012" (a claim Gingrich hasn't denied). From there the Party of No was born.
Incredibly enough, Obama still got things done.
Obamacare: Apart from covering 32 million previously uninsured Americans, every reputable report shows that Obamacare cuts growth in health care costs, which is the primary driver behind our long-term fiscal problems.
Rising incomes: According to Forbes, during Obama's first three years, 31 states have seen a rise in income levels.
Size of government: The number of federal government workers as a percentage of the population actually decreased under Obama.
NYSE: Look at the market before Obama was inaugurated and now.
To be sure, during his debate with Phillips, McCarthy tried to deny the roadblock strategy. He even claimed that the GOP was only proposing legislation as an alternative. But he backed off when Phillips asked if Draper was lying.
And the proof is in the congressional pudding. Senate Repubulicans have consistently played games, as have House Republicans. The GOP's idea of working together has been to say no while getting the president to accept the same policies that gave us the market collapse of 2008. America saw through this.
Then we have Mitt Romney.
Romney's strategy followed a deceptive theme, which congressional Republicans worked diligently to set up: Obama didn't clean up Bush's mess fast enough so Romney should be president -- to implement the same policies that created this mess.
To be sure, Romney also shot himself in the foot by running away from his record, pushing Chrysler's executives to effectively call him a liar, losing in Massachusetts, hiding tax records, insulting his hosts during his Olympic-timed trips, showing no respect for the working class, and generally appearing out of touch.
Most Americans saw both the accomplishments and the obstructionism. This is why a sitting president with a troubled economy and record deficits won a second term.
Mark A. Martinez, Ph.D., is the author of "The Myth of the Free Market" and professor of political science at Cal State Bakersfield.