In the end, America decided it didn't need any more change.
Four years ago, Barack Obama won over America with a message of hope and promise of change. On Tuesday, he convinced those same voters to stay the course and maintain faith in him and his promises for the country. And while they were less enthusiastic than they were in 2008, voters granted Obama a second term.
Left behind in the aftermath of the most expensive campaign in U.S. history was Republican Mitt Romney, who tried unsuccessfully to convince Americans that the only way to finally change their economic fortunes was to make a change at the White House.
Romney had several opportunities to wrest the presidency away from Obama given the president's inability to improve a recession-ravaged economy during his first term. But if people were disappointed in the president -- and plenty of them told pollsters they were -- they still weren't convinced that it was reason enough to make another change.
Romney nearly erased the president's lead in the polls, but Obama maintained an edge where it mattered most and, more importantly, remained personally popular with voters.
"Obama was the slight favorite all along and he's maintained that lead for the past five months and now we are seeing that result," Princeton University political science professor Sam Wang told The Washington Examiner.
Exit polls showed support for Obama closely matched his 2008 numbers. While Romney had an advantage among independent voters and white men, Obama was buoyed by others important voting blocs, including women, African Americans and Hispanics.
"I believe one of the lessons from [Tuesday] is that the GOP must make inroads with African-Americans, Hispanics, the young and women," Republican strategist Brad Blakeman told The Examiner. "We are seeing the same demographics and it works against" the GOP.
Some polls showed Romney leading just before Election Day, but his path to victory had to run through Ohio. But exit polls showed that six out of 10 Ohio voters liked the auto industry bailout that Obama backed -- and Romney opposed -- and that ultimately put Obama over the top there. Obama also managed to match Romney in Virginia and Florida, two other states the Republican needed to get to the 270 electoral votes needed to become president.
Not only did Romney fail to dent Obama's support in Democratic leaning Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, but he ended up in a fierce struggle with the Democrat over Florida, a state most handicappers had already given to Romney.
"They never really invested in the infrastructure you need here to get out the vote," University of Minnesota political science professor Larry Jacobs told the Washington Examiner. "That problem is compounded by the fact that the Republican state party is in terrible shape."