Consider this: 117,348,309 votes were cast in the election [and a few votes remain to be counted]. Presidents are elected on the basis of electoral votes, and Barack Obama has an almost 2-1 lead on that count; yet the difference in popular vote between the two candidates is a mere 7 million.
The 'mandate for change' may be emphatic among the electoral college, but it has also left the United States driven down the middle -- and the fissures run deep. Yet, if the US is to work its way out of the mess it finds itself in on multiple fronts, it will take a united, almost a wartime, effort.
That sets up the first, most immediate challenge: to heal the wounds, to repair the cracks in the social and emotional fabric of the nation, so that he can get the entire country walking down the path he wants them to take.
Image: United States President-elect Barack Obama with his wife Michelle, running mate Joe Biden and his wife Jill during their election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.
Text: Prem Panicker | Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Also read: US Elections 2008