Law student Blake Rider summed up the feelings of many Democrats late Tuesday night:
"I can finally sleep again," he said.
President Barack Obama was was re-elected with 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 206. In a race that seemed too close to call until the votes were tallied, Americans ultimately chose four more years.
Even though voters indicated to pollsters that their financial situation is the same or worse than it was four years ago, they put their trust in the president.
Obama "got off to a semi-rocky start, but I think that with another four years, we have a good chance," said Brian Anderson, who celebrated Obama's victory in the streets of Washington. "We have a foundation now. ... We can only go up from here."
"His re-election ... will allow me to stay in school and have health protection," agreed Atlanta college student Cydney Fisher. Like Fisher, many Americans considered health care when voting; exit polls had its importance second only to the economy.
Mitt Romney supporters were obviously disappointed with the results of the close election, but they were comforted somewhat by the House of Representatives remaining under Republican control.
"Hopefully Obama can turn it around," wrote CNN.com commenter otacon7272. "At least he won't be able to make things that much worse with the GOP in control of the House."
Others weren't quite so optimistic.
"I'm sorry, but what I see ahead for America is what we see in Third World countries now," said Kathi Cordsen of Fullerton, California. "Everyone is poor except the government; everyone relies on the government for everything."
Members of both parties were quick to weigh in on what they'd like to see in the next four years.
"Let's see some action this time," said Dina Boyer of Palo Alto, California. She's an Obama supporter, but hopes the president's policies will have a more concrete effect on her life in the next four years, such as allowing her to make a living wage and stop using food stamps. "I would also like to see a New Deal of sorts, more money put into rebuilding states and cities hit by disaster or economic ruin."
"I want to see Obama get spending under control," said Romney voter Elizabeth Lauten. The D.C. resident had hoped that Romney would cut the deficit if he won. "I think (Obama) believes he wants to increase taxes on the wealthy. I don't agree with that, but there has to be a solution."
And some questioned whether the election would make much of a difference to the country at all.
"I see little being accomplished unless members of Congress and the president finally start talking with one another, find where they can agree and do what is right for we, the people," said Republican Mark Ivy of Farmersburg, Indiana. "I am not sure if either Republicans or Democrats will be that willing to compromise. Once elected, we expect our officials to lay aside the party hats and work for all Americans. I am afraid they won't."
But Rider -- the sleepless Obama voter who can finally get some rest -- disagrees.
"I think it has a profound impact," he said. "I just think (it) is a fundamental question of which direction we want to take -- there is symbolism here."
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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