The 2012 presidential election bore many similarities to that of 2004. In both elections, there was a sitting president seeking a second term, a president who engendered strong admiration from supporters and deep loathing amongst opponents. Both times, the economy was middling, the international situation uncertain, and the challenger from Massachusetts. In both elections, the conventions didnt much alter the dynamics of the campaign, but victory for the incumbent was looking increasingly likely until the first debate, after which the polls drew nearly even. However, both challengers proved unable to build on that advantage, and the incumbent won re-election.
The main differences are that in 2012, the election did not come down to one state, as it did in 2004, and the victor in 2012 did not try to immediately claim a sweeping win or irrefutable mandate. What may prove another difference is that while Bush in his second term led his party off a cliff and drove the country into the ground, these next four years are likely to see an improving economy and international situation, and a better fiscal standing for the nation.