What Obama's Win Means
Regroup, rethink and re-brand.
Those are the Republican Party’s three next steps, according to an informal poll of Atlanta residents.
“The Republican Party needs to rebrand and get more in touch with what conservative Americans find important,” said Democrat Jenny Monroe, one of 20 people interviewed at Emory Commons in Decatur on Monday.
Likewise, defense contractor and Independent Rolando Smith, who supported Obama, said the ongoing shift in demographics is going to require the Republican Party to do some self-evaluating.
“Many people are realizing that this country is changing in terms of demographics,” Smith said. “It is no longer white and black. Change is inevitable. You need to change to move forward.”
Democratic Party affiliate and student Sarah Pittman said she was proud of the outcome of the election.
“It shows how far we’ve gotten as a country that we are willing to accept change and diversity,” Pittman said.
Kitchen designer and Obama supporter Lisa Hudson said the Republican Party did not acknowledge this change in diversity before establishing their platform and needed a “reality check.” Similarly, Independent Kim Rickert did not predict a steady future for the party.
“I think they are in trouble,” Rickert said. “I think they need to find some candidates that people are going to vote for. I don’t think the white middle class man is going to do much anymore.”
On the other side, looking at the impact of this election on the Democratic Party, many saw this election as a signal to stop gridlock and let the Democratic Party move the country forward.
Obama supporter Glenn Tuitt said this election was the appropriate push for the president to implement necessary policies.
“The American people want to give Obama a little more time to fix it,” Tuitt said. “I thought he did a pretty good job when he first came in and he just needs more time.”
A few interviewees, on the other hand, did not foresee that this election would change much when it came to party polarization.
“I feel that here is always this constant push and pull between the two [parties],” Monroe said. “I don’t know if this is going to make or break anything.”
Monroe especially felt this impact election will not be impact Congress, who has left many people frustrated, she said.
“Congress seems to be this messy blend of something going on,” Monroe said. “And I don’t know that this will change anything honestly.”
That attitude seemed to be widespread. Professor and Democrat Ralph Gilbert said he saw “Republican obstructionism paralyze the House” last year. Smith said he had a very “negative view” of Congress.
“If it wasn’t for Congress, Obama’s first term would have been more successful,” Smith said. “If I don’t do my job I’m fired. They don’t do their job every day. They are not patriotic because they don’t care about the country. They care about getting a guy out of office.”
Hudson expressed similar views but hopes for the best with this election.
“I think my opinion is guarded,” Hudson said. “My hope is that they will all be able to put on their big boy and girl pants and work together. But, you know, as is the tradition in politics. There is a lot of hissing matches.”
The views of the people polled reflect Decatur’s status as a stronghold for Democrats and can’t be extrapolated to reflect all of metro Atlanta.
Much of this subset leaned Democratic this election because of specific issues such as the economy, women’s rights, same-sex marriage rights, the environment and health care.
“He was right for the fiscal direction of this country,” Smith said. “He had a balanced approach. I am all for social programs in a responsible manner.”
Independent Eeshaun Garner said that, while Romney seemed unprepared and inexperienced, “Obama had a plan from day one.”
Others cited Obama’s overall character as the reason they voted for him.
“He was a person who has walked in my shoes,” Smith said. “He had to work and get his hands dirty just like me. He knew what it was like to struggle. When he said he supported the middle class, I believed him.”
Smith was not the only one who spoke of this link between Obama and the middle class.
“Obama will do a good job taking care of lower socioeconomic groups and middle class,” Monroe said. “We have a great guy in the White House.”
Several people used the word “sincere” or “balanced” to describe the president.
“Obama was sincere as opposed to Romney who had good ideals ... but wasn’t really in touch with the middle class,” Tuitt said. “If he came into office, I would honestly feel like we would be starting over.”
A small portion did not have particular passion for Obama but simply did not want to vote for Romney.
“Romney didn’t have diplomacy,” Hudson said. “He said some bungling things that concerned me that he wouldn’t have the ability to speak internationally.”
Leslie, a Romney supporter who did not want to provide his last name, said that people hype up all elections right after they are concluded — and this one was no exception.
“It’s politics as usual,” he said.