A gender gap worked in Obama’s favor. He won 55 percent of women to Romney’s 44 percent, while Romney carried men 52 percent to the president’s 45 percent.
For all the challenges the economic meltdown Obama inherited created for his re-election campaign, his stewardship of the automobile industry bailout provided an important advantage for him, particularly in Ohio, where one in eight jobs is auto-related.
Obama hammered Romney -- the son of an auto executive -- for having opposed sending federal money to Chrysler and General Motors in 2009, at a time when economists and politicians in both parties acknowledge they wouldn’t have survived without it. Hoping to neutralize the issue in the closing days of the race, Romney’s campaign began airing television advertisements in Ohio accusingObama of having “sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China,” a charge quickly branded “inaccurate” by the company’s chief executive and local newspaper editorial boards.
Voters made their own judgment; exit polls showed that more than half of Ohio voters approved of the auto bailout -- and three-quarters of those backed Obama.
Obama got a late-breaking boost from another development outside his control. The superstorm spawned by Hurricane Sandy battered the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic a week before Election Day, affording the president a chance to play the high-profile role of crisis manager-in-chief just as many voters were making their final decisions.
As the storm froze the presidential race in place and forced both candidates off the campaign trail in deference to its victims, Obamawas drawing positive reviews for his management of the devastation, including from New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, a top Romney surrogate.