Last night, Chicagoans gathered at Thompson Center to celebrate President Barack Obama’s reelection. Although it was a significantly smaller crowd than the one that congregated at Grant Park four years ago, it was still an enthusiastic and diverse one, dominated by young faces of all colors (see video and pics). The face of America is changing, as well as its way of doing politics. If you want to understand what happened in this election, here is what you need to know in a nutshell:
Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first in the country to approve same-sex marriage, breaking a 32-state losing streak. Minnesota voted down a ballot measure that would have solidified a ban on marriage equality. Wisconsin voted in Tammy Baldwin, who will be the first openly LGBT senator.
The President won re-election in significant part because non-white and Latino turn-out were at record highs–28% of the total vote. 88% of the people who voted for Romney were white. According to the group Latino Decisions, Obama won the Latino vote by an amazing 75-23 margin. The argument can be made that this is the first time in US history that the Latino vote was nationally decisive. In general, Romney’s failure to build a broader coalition, and the 11% edge of women voting for Obama, plus big turn-out by younger voters who favored Obama, were the big difference.
Washington State and Colorado legalized recreational use of marijuana, which could set up potential issues because the DEA will still have the ability to enforce federal drug laws.
__In Massachusetts, backers of a proposal to allow physician-assisted suicide of terminally ill patients conceded defeat.
—Maryland voters approved a measure allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition, provided they attended a state high school for three years and can show they filed state income tax returns during that time. About a dozen other states have similar laws, but Maryland is the first to be approved by voters.
—In Oklahoma, voters approved a Republican-backed measure that wipes out all affirmative action programs in state government hiring, education and contracting practices. Similar steps have been taken previously in Arizona, California, Michigan, Nebraska and Washington.
—In Michigan, labor unions suffered a big loss. Voters rejected a first-of-its-kind ballot initiative that would have put collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.