Divided we stand

Divided we stand

The motto on the Great Seal of the United States is E pluribus unum, which translates as “out of many, one.” As Election Day made clear, however, the United States is anything but one.

Out of 116 million or so votes cast, President Barack Obama defeated former Gov. Mitt Romney by a mere 2.4 million votes. (The margin is likely to narrow somewhat as absentee ballots and recounts are completed.) The president’s margin of victory was more dramatic in the Electoral College – Mr. Obama has at least 303 electoral votes to Mr. Romney’s 206, with Florida’s 29 votes likely to increase his total. (Obama leads with 46,000 votes with 100 percent of precincts reporting.)

That margin, however, merely underscores the divisions in the country. Far more counties in the United States voted for Mr. Romney on Tuesday than voted for Mr. Obama. Most of those counties, however, were rural, with far fewer voters than are found in the densely populated urban centers. Thus, the divisions in this country are less between liberal and conservative values and more between rural and urban ones.

This does not even begin to take into account the ethnic and racial divisions that are beginning to show, or the gender and age gaps. Mr. Obama’s totals came from a coalition that included blacks, Hispanics, single women, young voters between 18 and 29 years, blue-collar union workers, and well-educated whites. Mr. Romney won by 25 percentage points among white males; the president won among women by 12 points.

One of Mr. Obama’s – and the Democrats’ – strongest and most enduring groups of supporters are Jewish voters. Exit polls suggest that Democrats won at least seven out of every 10 Jewish votes cast. This was crucial in Florida, where Mr. Obama won handily in the three counties with the heaviest concentration of Jewish voters – Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade.

Out of many, Barack Obama must find a way to make one. We wish him well, and we urge both parties and their leaders to put the concerns of the people ahead of their partisan concerns.