Barack Obama has won a second term after the longest, most gruelling and most expensive presidential race in US history - one that cost a mammoth $3 billion.
The president lost support among white working-class men in the election, but a progressive coalition of black, Hispanic, young and women voters ensured his victory - especially in the all-important "swing states."
There were moments when a win looked unlikely, with polls showing Republican challenger Mitt Romney edging ahead. But Obama's handling of Hurricane Sandy gave his campaign an unintended but significant boost.
The endorsement he received over his management of the disaster from New Jersey's Republican Governor Chris Christie was probably worth more to Obama than six months of campaign ads.
But while it may have been a comfortable win by the electoral college votes tallied up state by state, it was a narrow one at the ballot box. The deep polarisation that cleaves US society ensures that presidential contests seem increasingly akin to battles between the New and Old Testaments, with the opportunity and potential for consensus "across the aisle" wishful thinking.
In his first term, the obstructionist stance of a Republican-controlled Congress following the mid-term elections left Obama unable to carry forward many of the reforms and policies he'd based his presidency on - illustrating the essential weakness of a democratic system monopolised by vested and corporate interests.
That monopoly was cemented by a 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United v Federal Election Commission case. That granted corporations the same right to "free expression" as people on the issue of campaign finance - corrupting the very word democracy in US political life.
It ensures that political office is bought and paid for to an extent which isn't true of any other "Western democracy."
The result has been the emergence of the so-called Super Pacs - vehicles that deliver unlimited financial support from big business and wealthy donors to political campaigns.
Significantly Obama had demobilised the massive grass-roots base which was largely responsible for his 2008 victory. After election he transformed from a "hope and change" candidate into just another machine politician. Many on the left had no doubt been blinded by the fact that he was the first black candidate with a strong chance of gaining office, projecting progressive credentials he'd never deserved on to him in the process. Obama is and has always been a centrist.
That said, his repeated campaign boast of having saved the US car industry - and millions of jobs - with 2009's $80bn (£50bn) bailout package was not idle.
The bailout was a brave move in the midst of the worst economic downturnn since the Great Depression and flew in the face of three decades of neoliberal economics.
At the time, according to the Pew Research poll, 54 per cent of US citizens were against the rescue. But this year's Pew poll on the same issue found the nation had been convinced - 56 per cent said they thought it had been good for the economy and approved.
As industry expert Maryann Keller put it in Bloomberg Business Week: "It had to be fast, it was ugly and they certainly didn't play by the rules of who were the preferred creditors. On the other hand, they saved the industry." General Motors and Chrysler are now in profit.
For this - and the fact that Romney ran on an avowedly anti-organised labour platform - trade unions had much at stake in this election.
Obama's victory will be seen as a victory for them and their millions of members. A Republican win would have seen them face a bleak future.
A Romney victory would have spelt the end of "Obamacare," as the president's health-care reforms have come to be known.
These fall well short of the kind of government-funded system that bespeaks a civilised society - they continue to ensure billions in profits for the insurance industry and private health-care providers who fleece the public. But they do preserve Medicare and Medicaid and stop people from actually being deprived of coverage.
And Obama's re-election will have met with considerable relief abroad, too, especially in places like Iran, Cuba, China and Russia. Despite the terrible crimes committed by the Obama administration - most notably the ramping up of drone attacks in the tribal areas of Pakistan and elsewhere, costing thousands of lives - the idea that there would be little difference if Romney had been elected is untrue.
Romney's statements of intent when it came to Iran alone amounted to a resurrection of George W Bush's unilateral "hard power" aggression.
It's also significant that the political right in Israel, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were clearly hoping for a Romney win.
Of course Obama has been a disappointment. To be president of the United States is to preside over a global empire that has its own dynamic and momentum.
No-one could hope to get elected to the White House without offering unequivocal support for the imperatives of empire, the essence of US "exceptionalism."
The historically low level of class consciousness in the country is a product of the compelling mythologies of the "American dream" and the "land of the free."
Their promotion of individualism has proved a bulwark against the threat of an alternative narrative of class, even during periods of extreme economic hardship as now.
But the US is a declining superpower - and one which will be tempted to rely increasingly on its overwhelming military might to maintain its global hegemony as its economy loses ground.
That by itself is cause to welcome the "lesser evil" in US presidential elections.
This is why Obama's victory should be a relief for progressives and socialists, not only in the US but around the world.
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