What we’ve just endured might be called a strategist’s election, and Mr. Obama’s strategists were victorious.

The president didn’t run on his record or a vision or a plan for the next four years. His campaign consisted of using policy favors to lock up the support of his party’s interest groups—liberals, labor, environmentalists, feminists, minorities—and dehumanizing his opponent, Mitt Romney. It worked.

The Obama campaign exposed the myth of the unenthusiastic Democratic voter. The idea was that millions who backed Obama in 2008 would be too dispirited to show up to vote on Tuesday, and a surge of Republican voters would elect Mr. Romney. I bought this notion and figured the Republican would win. Alas, the unenthusiastics voted, thanks in part to an Obama get-out-the-vote effort as effective as it was in 2008.

The Obama approach to winning re-election was very old-fashioned. It was time-tested. All that mattered was winning. Mr. Obama’s share of the vote declined from 2008, his rhetoric was far less soaring, and he neither did nor said anything to make it easier to tackle the fiscal crisis his presidency must now confront. Partisan and ideological polarization lives on in Washington.