ELECTION WATCH: A Lincoln interlude; AP analysis

Associated Press Modified: November 7, 2012 at 2:16 am •  Published: November 7, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:

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A LINCOLN INTERLUDE

On election night, when it came to presidents on television, Barack Obama had some competition. Abraham Lincoln gave him a real run for his money.

More than once on Tuesday night, movie trailers featuring Daniel Day-Lewis inhabiting the title role of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" interrupted electoral-vote tallies and political analysis. And watching the slow, deliberate movements of the 16th president, with epic music swelling in the background, you couldn't help but draw some parallels.

Neighbor angry at neighbor. Deep reservations about the union. Americans divided into clusters, feeling powerless against a government many despise or disdain.

Yet under Lincoln, somehow Americans made it through. It was bloody and ugly and perhaps almost fatal that time around, but the experiment in a democratic republic survived.

Obama hinted at that in his victory speech. "We are not," he insisted, "as divided as our politics suggest."

Yes, "Lincoln" is merely a movie about a man who lived long ago and did some things we long remember. But the uncertainties that it summons linger still, uncomfortably and across party lines, as this election draws to its weary end. A house divided against itself: Can it stand?

Says the current and future president: "The task of perfecting our union moves forward."

— Ted Anthony — Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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ELECTION ANALYSIS

AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller, who has covered the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, gives his big-picture analysis of what Washington will look like after Election Day 2012:

"President Barack Obama's victory means that everything he campaigned upon is alive and about to drive the political conversation with his adversaries. Every legacy of his first term is safe and enshrined to history.

"Yet big honeymoons don't come twice and Republicans won't swoon. If Obama cannot end gridlock, his second term will be reduced to veto threats, empty promises, end runs around Congress and legacy-sealing forays into foreign lands.

"Obama will push for higher taxes on the wealthy as a way to shrinking a choking debt and to steer money toward the programs he wants. He will try to land a massive financial deficit-cutting deal with Congress in the coming months and then move on to an immigration overhaul, tax reform and other bipartisan dreams.

"He will not have to worry that his health care law will be repealed, or that his Wall Street reforms will be gutted, or that his name will be consigned to the list of one-term presidents who got fired before they could finish. Voters stuck with him because they trusted him more to solve the struggles of their lifetime.

"America may not be filled with hope anymore, but it told Mitt Romney to keep his change."

— Ben Feller — Twitter http://twitter.com/benfellerdc

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TWO TERMS, THREE TIMES

The latest report from Michael Oreskes, a veteran political journalist since the 1970s and now The Associated Press' senior managing editor for U.S. news:

Historical trivia moment: 1816 was quite a long time ago. America was a very different place, still a fledgling country starting to push across a largely unknown continent.

Yet you have to go all the way back to 1816 for the last time that the country did what it did Tuesday. Not since Jefferson, then Madison and then Monroe (in 1816) has the United States elected three presidents in a row to a second term.

What does that mean? It is hard to argue this has been a period of calm or stable politics, though compared to the late 1960s and 1970's it does seem almost placid. After all, Lyndon Johnson was forced to abandon re-election hopes by a faraway war, Richard Nixon was impeached and driven from office, Gerald Ford then lost to Jimmy Carter in large part because he pardoned Nixon, and Carter then lost to Reagan because the economy went south and he seemed to blame Americans for it.

You could argue that Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower were the moral equivalent of three two-term presidents in a row. Roosevelt was elected to four terms but died soon after. Truman finished Roosevelt's fourth term, and was re-elected. Then Eisenhower served two terms. Then the 60s started.

— Michael Oreskes

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PARTY POOPER

The Republican National Committee's election night festivities in Washington started with an optimistic tone. Supporters milled about well-stocked buffets and bars as musical performers riled up the crowd at the Ronald Reagan Building downtown.

Within hours, the palpable excitement was neutered as news organizations called the election for President Barack Obama. A once-deafening roar subsided into a slow murmur as the crowd began to rapidly dissipate, the GOP's victory in the House of Representatives now overshadowed.

The few remaining were disappointed, but conciliatory.

"(We) still have the status quo in the House and the Senate, and (Obama's) going to have to reach out to them," said Republican Joe Hagerty of Virginia.

The party was supposed to last until 2 a.m., but the atrium was almost empty by the time midnight rolled around, save for a handful of people. One woman left shouted to no one in particular: "We live in the socialist republic of Obama!"

— Donald Borenstein

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PRESIDENTIAL ORATORY

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti's take on Barack Obama's victory speech:

It was a speech far different from the jubilant and lofty one he gave in Chicago four years ago.

With one term nearly over and the next ahead of him, a seasoned Obama talked of a resilient America — a place where people have "picked ourselves up" and fought back during tough economic times. He declared that the "best is yet to come."

And he struck a more bipartisan tone — by necessity as much as anything else given that power remains divided on Capitol Hill. He said he wants to meet with Republican rival Mitt Romney to discuss how they can work together, and he said he looked forward to working with the GOP.

Yet he also urged patience, saying progress will come in fits and starts.

— Liz Sidoti

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OBAMA'S GIRLS

Maybe they should ask for a cat?

President Barack Obama told Sasha and Malia Obama in his victory speech how proud he was of them — they were becoming strong, smart, beautiful women just like their mother, he said — but that didn't mean they were getting a second dog.

"One dog's probably enough," he said to laughter from the crowd.

Four years ago, of course, in his first victory speech, Obama had promised his girls they would have a new puppy in the White House. The First Dog soon followed, named Bo.

It was striking to see how the girls had grown since that night four years ago. Now, Malia, 14 — who wore a dress with a bright blue skirt, black top and pink belt — looked as tall as her mother, and in flat shoes, yet. Sasha, now 11, who four years ago jumped up into her father's arms on the victory stage, also looked mature in a dress with a bright green, bouncy skirt.

It was not lost on commentators that the next four years will bring renewed, intensified interest in the girls' lives, as they become full-fledged teenagers in the public eye.

— Jocelyn Noveck — Twitter http://twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

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OBAMA: DESTINY IS SHARED

In his 20-minute speech to supporters after winning re-election, President Barack Obama touched on familiar themes he has emphasized throughout his presidency. He urged people to come together and said he would work with leaders in both parties to improve education, spur innovation, reduce debt and lessen global warming.

"We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world. A nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known," he said.

He made references to victims of Superstorm Sandy and the Navy SEALS who killed Osama Bin Laden.

"This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich," he said. "We have the most powerful military in history but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities, our culture are the envy of the world but that's not what keep the world coming to our shore."

It's "the belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another."

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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