It was a convincing victory for Barack Obama, who retains his position as president of the United States.

But according to the popular vote, the US is split roughly in half, with the president only winning by a two per cent margin.

Obama will also have to face a House of Representatives that remains under the control of the Republicans.

"For the first four years, and certainly for the first two years, too many of [Obama's] supporters sat back and waited for him to deliver. They didn't understand who he was and what his admninistration represented. They interpreted too much from the speeches as opposed to the actual politics of the administration."

- Bill Fletcher Jr, a trade union activist

But it was a good night for the Democrats in the Senate. Not only did the party keep control, but key figures of the extreme Republican right were defeated.

There were also a number of significant ballot measures passed.

In Maryland, undocumented, college-age immigrants are now eligible for in-state tuition rates, rather than significantly higher out-of-state rates, as long as they meet some residency requirements

Maryland also voted to recognise same-sex marriages, as did Maine.

Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington legalised the recreational use of marijuana.

And beginning in 2013, the US will have a record number of women - 19 - serving in the Senate, including Wisconsin’s Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay woman ever elected .

"There were people pushing from the left during the beginning of the Obama administration and his chief of staff was telling them to all just shut up and get in line. And unfortunately that's what much of the Democratic Party and most of their members did."

- Rocky Anderson, Justice Party's presidential candidate

But after the most expensive campaign in American history - with $2.6bn spent by both parties - the US is left with the incumbent remaining in the White House and no change of hands in both the House and Senate.

So how much has changed? Does a chastened Republican Party begin moderating its extreme positions on social and economic policy? 

And will Obama, with his populist messages of taxing the rich and fighting inequality, now unabashedly fight for a more equitable society?

To answer these questions, Inside Story US 2012, with presenter Shihab Rattansi, joined by guests: Ryan Grim, the Washington bureau chief for the Huffington Post; Bill Fletcher Jr, a trade union activist and executive editor of; and Rocky Anderson, the Justice Party's candidate for the presidency.

"We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt; that isn’t weakened by inequality; that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.

"We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world; a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known. But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being."

Barack Obama, US president

Source: Al Jazeera