Nik Nanos digs beneath the numbers with CBC News Networks' Power & Politics host Evan Solomon to get at the political, economic and social forces that shape our lives.

This week: Why northern border states were part of Obama's winning coalition.

The number:


The percentage-point margin by which Obama won states bordering Canada.

U.S. President Barack Obama gets four more years in the White House thanks to a decisive victory on Tuesday night.

And a number of U.S. states voted on some very controversial social issues and made history. Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriage by popular vote. Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana.

U.S. Ambassodor to Canada David Jacobson says Tuesday night's results show the U.S. is moving to the centre of the political spectrum â€” but Nik Nanos disagrees.

"This was a straight out fight between the right, the Republican right and the Democrats," Nanos says. "We're seeing a lot of polarization, a lot of negativity, and that's probably why we had such a low voter turnout."

Republicans actually gained strength in this election and the real victory might have been in the Democrat's ground game â€” their efforts get their supporters out to the polls.

"For Barack Obama this was really a victory of organization and voter efficiency. They were able to target their vote. They were able to deliver their vote and as a result they won the election," Nanos says.

What the results mean for Canada

Although the Obama victory relied on success in drawing the hispanic vote, Nanos says the numbers show it was also based on how well Obama performed in the states bordering Canada. Obama picked up 11 of those 15 border states Tuesday.

When you take those 15 states and tally the popular vote for each candidate, Obama's margin of victory increases dramatically. Obama won 55 per cent of the popular vote in the 15 states to Romney's 46 per cent, giving Obama a 9-point margin of victory.

"Canadian-border states are punching above their weight in the Barack Obama administration," Nanos says.

"That's good for the Canada-U.S. relationship because presidents in power look at their winning coalition and where their votes are from. A lot of those votes come from places that are very close to Canada," he says.

Recognized as one of Canada's top research experts, Nik Nanos provides numbers-driven counsel to senior executives and major organizations. He leads the analyst team at Nanos, is a Fellow of the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association and a Research Associate Professor with SUNY (Buffalo).