Rusk County reacts to Obama re-election

Despite taking Texas and Rusk County by an overwhelming majority, Mitt Romney’s quest to unseat incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama came up short last week.

Obama won the national popular vote and Electoral College by a strong margin, much to the chagrin of many area voters who felt Romney would perform much better in the battleground states.

“I knew it was going to be close, it almost always is,” said Sharon Cooper of Henderson. “But I really thought [Romney] would at least get a share of them [the battleground states] and split either Ohio or Florida with Obama […] it’s a real disappointment.”

Obama finished with 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206, and over 61 million popular votes (or 50 percent) to Romney’s 58 million (or 48 percent). The president also took all but one of the “battleground” states that pundits said could turn the race for one candidate or the other.

“It’s not really a clear majority to win by, something like 50 to 48 percent,” said New London native Jake Hill. “But it’s enough I guess, it’s a lot more than I thought he’d win by […] I really felt like most people, Republican and Democrat, were tired of him in office. I guess I was wrong.”

Romney took Rusk County by a much wider margin than nationally, besting Obama 13,924 votes to 4,451.

Beth Phillips was one of those 4,451 Rusk County voters who cast her ballot for the president and, while she’s excited that her candidate won, her optimism is guarded.

“I’m glad [Obama] won, but he’s certainly got his work cut out for him […] it’s going to be even tougher now than it was when he began,” she said. “I’m hoping for the best, but kind of fearing for the worst, if you know what I mean.”

Gregg Bowles of Joinerville shares Phillips’ concerns, which is why he voted for Romney.

“I feel like we really missed out on a great opportunity, to get someone with some real business and management experience,” he said. “I figured the choice was obvious, no matter what your party […] but they got their guy for another four years and I hope they’re satisfied.”

Romney performed strongly among middle-aged and older white males but lost almost every other demographic, prompting some Republican leaders to suggest the party re-examine its place in an increasingly diverse U.S. population.

“I don’t think it’s the party that needs to change what it believes,” said self-described “lifelong Republican” Sam Brock of Henderson. “But I do think Republicans need to better voice how we stand for middle class workers and families […] I think if the party communicated its values better, more groups would see how voting Democrat is voting against their interests.”

But Tatum resident Becca Gutierrez said some “soul searching” just might help the GOP in the long run.

“I think the message [from Republicans] is clear, and their party’s stance on women and immigration just doesn’t work in the real world,” she said. “The issues that worked in previous elections aren’t going to be as effective in years to come […] their support is dwindling with each election.”

Jordan Yates, 19, of Henderson cast his first ever presidential ballot on Tuesday and said he cast it for Obama, but he admits to having some second thoughts.

“With just what’s happened in the last couple days […] with the stock market going down and this fiscal cliff thing happening, I don’t know,” he said. “I just don’t know.”

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