The natural question facing Barack Obama is whether he will move to the center, because the election was a close one, or double down on his aggressive attempts to permanently change the fundamental nature of the United States, because he will never face election again.
Obama would have a hard time claiming a mandate from the American people; his margin of victory was much less than in 2008. When George W. Bush claimed a mandate in 2004, he won by slightly more than 3 million votes. Obama won by roughly 2.7 million votes this year. Bush immediately tried to use his self-proclaimed mandate to try to privatize Social Security, and his failure in that attempt colored his second term. Obama may harbor the same dreams of doubling down on his policies, and it will be interesting to see exactly how much political capital he will use in order to achieve his goals.
The impression given off by the Obama Administration has been one of no compromise at all, even knowing they faced reelection; and it’s probable they will continue to be intransigent. Unlike Bush, they have a supine and willing accomplice in the media — the same media that savaged Bush when given the chance.
Whether Obama will realize that his economic policies will keep big money on the sidelines and thus prolong the economic disaster we’re already experiencing is doubtful; he is indeed an ideologue, not a pragmatist as Bill Clinton was after 1994.
Given the fact that Obama will likely ignore the closeness of the election and eschew any sort of compromise, the real question is whether the House will hold firm in its opposition.