The day after the presidential election was a time to discuss numbers, coaltions and political strategies, but for Blair County Democratic Chairman Frank Rosenhoover, it was also a time to ask questions about what happens next.
President Barack Obama was able to beat back a strong challenge from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, but just winning an election doesn't necessarily address the bigger issues the nation faces, Rosenhoover said.
The presidential election focused on the economy, jobs and the slow recovery from the recession, but it also put the spotlight on Romney's view of the American Dream, working hard and, as an individual, achieving personal and financial success versus what is happening in today's world economy.
Rosenhoover depicted the Republican standard bearer as someone who wanted to go "back" to a different time, an era of the "rugged individual" fostering the growth of industry and jobs.
But in the world economy we now live in, there is a need to train people for jobs in areas such as the health care and technology fields for positions in a complex, worldwide economy, Rosenhoover said.
To accomplish this, the politicians - Republicans and Democrats - must reach across the aisle to work together and avoid the constant friction between the two sides, he said.
To Blair County Republican Party Chairman A.C. Stickel, the Republican message was that Romney, a man extremely successful in business and other endeavors he undertook in his working life, had the experience to lead the nation and bring about growth in jobs.
That message - Romney was capable of bringing the nation's economy back and that he was not the plutocrat as depicted by the Democrats - apparently didn't get across, Stickel explained.
The president won re-election, but didn't get a mandate - with the House still Republican and the Senate Democratic - so the president needs to come to the House and work out a deal, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, said Tuesday at the Blair County Chamber Breakfast Club.
He didn't do that during his first term, when 30 bills that passed the House died in the Senate, Shuster said.
It's critical for him to do it now, however, because of the "fiscal cliff" that is coming at the end of the year when expiring tax cuts and "sequestration" withholding of funds would be disastrous, he said.
"We need to deal with it," Shuster said.
The restoration of taxes would burden the economy at the worst time, while the sequestration withholdings would be "very clumsy" - using "an ax instead of a scalpel," he said.
Ultimately, the problem is too much spending, and ultimately, the solution needs to come from reforming Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, he said.
Along with debt service, they account for 70 percent of spending, Shuster said.
Without a deal, the nation may end up looking like financially crippled Greece, he said.
Another key is stimulating the economy, he said.
"We can grow our way out of this," Shuster said.
When it came down to it, the election was extremely close, the unofficial count giving Obama more than 60 million votes to almost 58 million for Romney, a 2 percent margin.
Dennis Plane, a political science professor at Juniata College in Huntingdon, said that the 2012 election wasn't much different than what occurred in 2008 when the president was initially elected.
Obama was able to keep his coalition - including support from young people, women and minorities - together to weather the Romney storm, Plane said.
He pretty much won the same states as he did in 2008, although Romney did take Indiana and North Carolina, two states Obama won four years ago.
The basic strength of the Republican vote came from white males, but Plane said that may not be enough in the future to carry the party to victory, noting the dwindling percentage of that segment of the population.
Republicans probably could have done better if they realized that Pennsylvania was in play as a swing state at an earlier time, Plane said. Pennsylvania, while having a Democratic majority, is very much a toss-up state, he said.
Both Plane and Stickel, pointed out how the voters in the state, which has a very complex economy, two years ago supported a Republican sweep that included the election of Gov. Tom Corbett, while on Tuesday supported a Democratic sweep of major statewide offices.
Voter turnout was down in this year's election, according to Blair County election officials.
In 2008, 54,751 - or 64.87 percent - of the county's 84,402 registered voters turned out. It was down to 57.18 percent on Tuesday, with 48,784 of 85,324 registered voters showing up at the polls.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468. Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.