Originally published 03/28/2013
James T. Kloppenberg is the Charles Warren Professor of American History at Harvard University. He has a Ph.D. in History and Humanities from Stanford and has held fellowships from the Danforth, Whiting, and Guggenheim foundations, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His 2010 book Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition explores Obama’s political philosophy and commitment to democratic deliberation.The election of 2012 is behind us. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have completed their last campaigns and given their final victory and concession speeches.It is time to reflect on the persistent themes that characterized the campaign and locate the election in relation to the parties’ trajectories in recent years. Identifying those themes might explain, better than pundits’ fascination with demography or with politics as a game of imagery and maneuver, the reasons why the president was reelected by a larger margin than many analysts predicted.