The Common Core-approved, multi-media American History apps that today's schoolchildren download to their taxpayer-provided tablet computers will tell them that President Barack Obama's 2008 election victory is the high point of American politics as it "saw a Black man overcome a racist population by lifting the spirits of the disenfranchised with a promise of hope and change". But I'm guessing that real historians and political scientists of the future will consider Obama's 2012 re-election as the greatest miracle in the history of US politics.
2008 was a layup for Democrats. Voters--angry with the collapse of the economy caused by their own deep plunge into debt--were not going to elect any Republicans that year. But with an approval rating of less than 50%, a still sour economy and the supposed rise of the Tea Party as a "major political force", President Obama was still able to cruise to victory in 2012. And the Democratic electoral disasters that have surrounded the 2012 win make that day all the more miraculous.
Now that we are a couple of years out, we can see start to see how it happened. In 2012, President Obama still had something to promise enough of the American people to win--and that was "full implementation of the Affordable Care Act". Up until November of 2012, all the ACA had done was treat 26-year olds like children and require insurance companies to take on people with pre-existing conditions--no matter how much that would cost other policyholders. So the "hope" of 2008 was still there yet--we were "so close" to having "access to health care" and it was worth it--to enough people--to give the President a second term.
And then came October of 2013--when the ACA actually did go into full effect. And people found out that the magic elixir of "access to health care" turned out to be just plain old insurance. And like everybody who had it before them, the new enrollees soon found out that unless you get really sick, having health insurance really isn't that life-changing. It didn't get them a job if they were unemployed, it didn't put more money in their pockets if they were poor and uninsured before, and it didn't suddenly make all of that consumer debt go away. So in 2014, those who had helped President Obama pull off his second-term miracle stayed home--and did not support those who promised to protect the "benefits" they voted for in 2008 and 2012.
Supporters of Mary Burke should have known the campaign was in serious trouble when they invited President Obama to stump on her behalf in the final few days before the election. You'll notice the President didn't come to Green Bay or Appleton or Oshkosh or La Crosse or any of the other "swing areas" where Burke needed to do well to have a chance yesterday. Instead, the rally was held in a predominantly-black ward in Milwaukee that had seen 99% of all votes cast in the 2012 Presidential election go for Obama. They were hoping for one final miracle--knowing that pretty much everybody else around the state had given up on the "hope and change" idea.