BARACK Obama won a historic second term in office as he defeated Mitt Romney in the US Presidential Election. Early indications were that the race would be extremely close, but most key battleground states - including Ohio and Virginia - were projected for Obama.
8.00am: Signing off now, but keep checking scotsman.com throughout the day for more analysis, reaction and multimedia. Thanks for reading.
7.00am: Obama currently has 49.6 per cent of the popular vote (54,071,347) to Romney’s 48.9 per cent (53,279,128). Current electoral votes stand at 303 for Obama and 206 for Romney.
6.50am: Obama still talking hope and aspiration - speech is similar to that of 2008 but more forceful, more determined.
“What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.
“I return to the White House more inspired than ever about the work to do and the future that lies ahead.
“I am hopeful tonight because I have seen the spirit of work in America.
“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours.
“Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.
“Love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.
“I believe that we can seize our future, we are greater than the sum of our ambitions.
“We remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and forever will be, the United States of America.”
6.40am: Obama’s victory speech going down a storm, as you might expect. Takes the stage with Michelle, Sasha and Malia to ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ being played on the PA.
“We are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation.
“We know in our hearts, for the USA, the best is yet to come.
“Tonight, tonight the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you [the supporters].
“I look forward to sitting down with Gov. Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.
“I want to thank my best friend for the last four years ... the best vice president anyone could ever hope for, Joe Biden.
“Thank you for believing all the way.”
6.25am: It’s nearing half past midnight at Obama HQ where crowds are chanting ‘Fired up, ready to go’ as they await President Obama’s victory speech. Obama benefited greatly thanks to near-record turnout from Latino voters, who came out in their numbers to support him over Mitt Romney. A poll released on Tuesday as an alternative to exit polls showed that Obama had won 75 per cent of Latino voters across the United States, whilst exit polls recorded 70 per cent Latino support.
6.05am: We are currently awaiting a victory speech from Barack Obama. Huge crowds have gathered at the White House, chanting ‘four more years’ whilst hundreds more are at Obama HQ in Chicago. Current results have Obama at 303 and Romney at 203, with Obama just ahead in the popular vote.
6.03am: Mitt Romney has delivered a short speech to his supporters at Romney HQ in Boston.
“I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory.
“I pray that the President will be successful in guiding our nation.
“I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead this country in a different direction.
“This election is over but our principles endure”.
5.45am: CBS reporting that Mitt Romney has called Barack Obama to concede and will make a speech at 5.55am UK time.
5.20am: A quick look at how it stands, with recent projections putting Obama on 290 to Romney’s 200.
Obama: New Mexico, Wisconsin, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, District of Columbia, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, California, Oregon, Washington, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, and Ohio.
Romney: Montana, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Idaho, Mississippi, Arizona.
5.10am: RECAP - Obama 283 Romney 203
5.07am: Mazie Hirono, the Senator-Elect from Hawaii, will become the first Asian-American woman in the US Senate.
5.00am: We are currently awaiting remarks from Barack Obama, but an aide has confirmed that Mitt Romney has NOT conceded.
4.55am: It’s nearly 11pm in Illinois and pictures from Obama HQ in Chicago show hundreds of people dancing, cheering, celebrating and in some cases, crying. Maybe with relief, maybe with joy, but there’s a definite sense of a party atmosphere.
4.50am: Some key events happened in tonight’s election: Both Maine and Maryland voted for marriage equality whilst Minnesota did not vote for banning marriage equality. The first openly gay senator was elected (Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin) and the first disabled woman veteran was elected (Tammy Duckworth, Illinois). Senators Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were ousted. Akin made comments about ‘legitimate rape’ whilst Mourdock described rape as ‘a gift from God’.
4.47am: Current overall total stands at Obama - 331, Romney 204.
4.45am: The projections continue to come in for Obama, with Nevada and Colorado both called for Obama.
4.30am: Obama is still behind in the popular vote, but could edge it due to results left to come in. Fox are also reporting that Romney is disputing the Ohio call.
4.25am: The mood in the Romney war room at his Boston headquarters is “very tense” according to CNN. Senior Republican advisers are switching between all the major TV networks on their giant TV screens but finding little to cheer, political correspondent Jim Acosta says. “Each time it flips to another network there seems to be more bad news for this campaign. Every time the channel flips the mood gets a little more sombre,” he said.
4.20am: IT’S OVER. All major networks project Barack Obama has won and will be re-elected as President of the United States.
4.15am: NBC and Fox are both calling Ohio for Obama, who has also been projected to win Oregon, whilst Mitt Romney is projected to win Missouri.
4.10am: California, Hawaii, Washington and Iowa all called for the President.
3.50am: I’ve been asked to provide a rundown on the overall total - currently Romney is leading 184-172, but a number a traditionally Democratic states are still due to declare - California has 55 electoral seats and Washington state has 12. Ohio, Colorado, and Florida are still ‘yellow’ states in that they haven’t been projected one way or the other. With 18, 9 and 29 Electoral votes respectively, it’s looking good for Obama in both Ohio and Florida as things stand. Some regional press in America are tentatively calling Colorado for Obama as well.
3.40am: Arizona called for Mitt Romney, whilst the Democrats are recording more good news on the Senate front - Claire McAskill has won a seat in Missouri.
3.35am: David Maddox: “The Democrats are getting excited about Wisconsin and Milwaukee because Obama is ahead in both despite Wisconsin being the home state of Romney’s vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan and Milwaukee where he represents a seat in Congress.”
3.30am: RECAP: Obama is projected to win New Mexico, Wisconsin, Nevada, Illinois, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, District of Columbia, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland.
Romney is projected to win Montana, Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and West Virginia.
3.16am: CNN exit poll for swing state Nevada has Obama on 51 and Romney on 45.
3.14am: Romney predicted to win Missouri. Outstanding votes in Florida suggest Obama victory and the Democrats look likely to retain control of the Senate.
3.08am: Richard Luscombe, in Miami: “Florida’s Democrats are becoming increasingly confident that the state’s in the bag. Although barely 40,000 votes separate the candidates with 15 per cent of counties still to declare, hundreds of thousands more votes have yet to be tallied in Miami-Dade, Florida’s most populous state and one that was heavily for Obama in 2008.
“If those results follow their expected trajectory, the president could extend his advantage and emerge a more comfortable victor than polls currently project.
“Officially, it’s still too close to call, but things are definitely looking good for Obama.”
3.06am: David Maddox: “Joy from the Democrats as Obama is declared winner in New Hampshire. The state has special significance for them because if Al Gore had won it in 2000 there would have been no President George W. Bush.”
3.02am: David Maddox: “The image beamed back by CNN from Chicago tells you how much things have changed for Obama even if he wins tonight.
“The picture is of a small crowd outside his HQ in Chicago a long way from the near evangelical gathering of hundreds of thousands of people from across the USA and the world in Grant Park four years ago.
“This has been a far more cynical campaign and Obama has failed to fulfil the hopes he generated in 2008.”
2.55am: It’s not looking too good for Mitt Romney. Around half of votes counted in Colorado - a potential fall-back for Romney if he loses Ohio - suggest a lean towards Obama, whilst the Florida rollercoaster suggests the President is performing well, with a number of votes still to come in from largely Democratic areas. NBC have Obama with a 15,000-vote lead with 84 per cent of votes counted. Minnesota is also being projected for Obama by various sources.
2.50am: David Maddox, in the US Embassy in London: “The Democrats now appear to be sure they have won this election. A series of cheers as different projected results come in. The Republican corner is distinctly quiet.”
2.44am: Back in Florida, the nailbiting continues - 79 per cent of votes counted, Obama ahead by 0.2 per cent.
2.35am: David Maddox: “Loud cheer from Democrats in the US Embassy in London, as Obama is projected to easily win Ohio 53-45.”
2.25am: Pennsylvania’s 20 Electoral College votes look set to stay with Obama. Romney’s visit to the state at the eleventh hour appears to have been in vain.
2.20am: A number of sources projecting Pennsylvania for Obama, who is also projected to win Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.
2.15am: 31 per cent of votes counted in Ohio, and Obama is currently at 54 per cent to Romney’s 45 per cent. It’s also neck and neck in Florida, with Obama leading by 307 votes in Florida with 78 per cent reporting.
2.10am: Quite a few sources reporting that the Republicans look set to retain control of the House of Representatives.
2.06am: CNN projecting Michigan (home of US auto industry), New York and New Jersey for Obama. Romney projected to win Nebraska, Wyoming, Kansas, Louisiana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Texas - electoral votes standing at 152 for Romney, 123 for Obama.
1.55am: David Maddox: “Just spoke to a Conservative MP who was a senior figure in George W Bush’s foreign press team in 2000. The MP was no fan of Romney because of the way he dismissed a large proportion of the electorate who do not pay income tax. She said: ‘I am a Republican but with a heavy heart I think I would have spoilt my ballot paper. If you don’t have a message for the whole country then you are not good enough’.”
1.49am: Popular vote so far, courtesy of CBS showing Romney at 9,032,428 (52 per cent), Obama at 8,266,884 (47 per cent).
1.45am: Richard Luscombe, The Scotsman’s correspondent in Miama, writes: “Former space shuttle astronaut Bill Nelson, a Democrat, was re-elected for a third term as a Florida senator by a comfortable margin, an expected result but one that will give Obama a lift in the Sunshine State where the presidential battle with Mitt Romney will be one of the night’s more vibrant dogfights.
“Nelson, who flew one mission as a payload specialist aboard NASA’s shuttle Columbia in 1986, beat out a spirited challenge from Republican Connie Mack, a Florida Congressman whose campaign ran into trouble when his history of arrests for alleged bar brawling and road rage was exposed.”
1.42am: Fox News projects that Democrat Chris Murphy has defeated former WWE CEO Linda McMahon in their Senate race in Connecticut. That’s nearly $100 million Mrs McMahon has spent over two failed Senate bids...
1.40am: Tim Cornwell: “Angus King, long time independent politician in Maine with Scots roots, is projected to win a seat in the Senate. ‘The first Angus in the Senate’ he told me.”
1.37am: 20% of votes counted in Ohio, and Obama leading 58 per cent to 40 per cent. Watch this space...
1.35am: David Maddox: “Obama camp confident but cautionary note from former defence secretary and Nato general secretary Lord Robertson, who says ‘I was here at the US Embassy when we thought Al Gore had won in 2000, so we’ll have to wait and see’.”
1.27am: RECAP: Projected wins for Obama in Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Vermont.
Projected wins for Romney in South Carolina, West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.
1.25am: Tim Cornwell: “Strong turn out in Massachusetts for Obama, as indicated in early call, which could be bad news for Scott Brown in the Senate race.”
1.15am: Next state to declare is Arkansas - former President Bill Clinton’s home state - followed by Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 88 Electoral College votes up for grabs.
1.10am: Single figures in Ohio, but Obama currently leading 62-37.
1.04am: Projected wins for Obama in the District of Columbia and seven states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island and Romney’s home state of Massachusetts. Romney projected to win Oklahoma.
12.55am: Five minutes ‘til polls close in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, parts of Florida, North Dakota, South Dakota and Texas. 172 Electoral votes in total - remember 270 needed to win.
12.47am: RECAP: South Carolina, Indiana, West Virginia and Kentucky projecting Romney win. Vermont projecting Obama win.
12.45am: South Carolina projecting a Romney win.
12.43am: Virginia exit polls are showing Obama winning in the big suburbs, 66-33 but losing in smaller ones 54-45. Romney is performing well in rural zones, 62-37. (via Neil King of the Wall Street Journal)
12.40am: David Maddox: “Jeb Bush’s claim that Romney has won Florida is circulating round US embassy party and causing a few jokes.
‘Well he would know,’ one Obama supporter said, referring to the “hanging chads” which are supposed to given George W Bush victory over Al Gore in Florida in 2000 when Jeb Bush was governer.”
Incidentally, Obama is currently leading in Florida with 51 per cent of the vote to Romney’s 48 per cent.
12.38am: NBC is projecting Romney to win South Carolina - generally regarded as a ‘safe’ Republican state.
12.35am: North Carolina reporting a dead heat - 49/49. The state was reported to be leaning towards Romney, but pollsters report a high Democrat turnout in early voting.
12.32am: Obama reported to be ahead of Romney by 3 per cent in Ohio. Meanwhile, West Virginia projecting a Romney win, putting him on 24 electoral votes.
12.30am: Tim Cornwell: “Bostonians are wary of exit polls - in 2004, John Kerry was getting his victory party ready based on early polls.”
12.25am: Obama won Virginia in 2008, recording 52.6 per cent over John McCain’s 46.3 per cent. The exit poll suggesting an even 49/49 split would mean a 3 per cent swing to Romney, making the national vote a dead heat.
12.19am: David Maddox: “The news that the key swing state of Virginia is too close to call has cheered up the Republicans Abroad contingent at the US Embassy Party.”
However, David Gergen on CNN reckons that “the news is not good out of Virginia for Mitt Romney - he is 49-49 in a state he must win.”
12.16am: Florida currently tied at 50/50, with Romney ahead by just over 700.
12.15am: Ohio is likely to be crucial in this election - the only candidate to win outright and not win Ohio since 1928 was Franklin D Roosevelt in 1944.
12.10am: All square at 49 per cent apiece in Virginia - one of the key battleground states.
12.03am: Vermont projected for Obama, Kentucky and Indiana for Romney.
11.58pm: Tim Cornwell, The Scotsman’s former Arts Correspondent is in Boston. He reports:
“Latino share of the vote holding up to 10% compared to 9% 2008, exit polls say. Early days but could be good news for Obama. 18-29 year olds share of vote holding to 17%, compares to 18% for 2008. Again early days, but promising.
“A pollster saying ‘if Obama wins in virginia, it would all be over’. Virginia polls close 7pm EST (midnight UK time). Romney needs Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida to stay in the race.”
11.40pm: David Maddox: “One Obama supporter has just told me: ‘Obama is going to knock it out of the park. The media has built it up as close but he will win easily’.”
David Maddox: “Early poll gives it to Obama 49:47 but Mike Magan, former National Security advisor to George W. Bush tells me: ‘Romney will win. This is an early poll and I think we have it where it counts.’ But he adds: ‘I might be eating crow tomorrow, but I do think we’ll win’.”
11.30pm: Exit polls from Kentucky and Indiana coming in now. Next exit polls expected from Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire, Florida and Virginia around midnight.
11.16pm: To recap: President Obama is projected to comfortably win 18 states, giving him a minimum of 237 Electoral College votes - 33 short of the required 270 to win. Mitt Romney is leading in 24 states, which give him 191 Electoral College votes and thus leaves him 79 short of victory.
With nine states undecided, and 110 Electoral College votes, Obama needs around a third to ensure victory whilst Romney needs nearly three quarters.
A YouGov poll has predicted Obama to win 66 Electoral College votes from the nine battleground states, giving him victory by 303-235 Electoral College votes.
11.10pm: David Maddox: “Four years ago I was in Grant Park in Chicago with hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters who turned up to celebrate his historic victory.
“People forget that even though he was a clear winner in 2008 on election night there was a great deal of nervousness that Obama would lose partly based on his colour and a disbelief that America would elect a black president.
“When it was clear he would win there was an enormous sense of relief in Grant Park mixed with the joy.”
10.55pm: The Scotsman’s David Maddox, who is at the US Embassy in London, reports: “There is a buzz of excitement at the US Embassy party tonight but the Democrats Abroad are definitely looking more cheerful than their Republican counterparts. Nobody yet willing to call the result but on the face of it the Obama camp looks more confident.”
10.30pm: Disputes over ballots, problems with electronic voting machines and an absence of paper trail could draw out counting in other key swing states.
Various problems have already been well-documented - in Florida, around 27,000 absentee ballots in Palm Beach County are unable to be read by voting machines due to a printing error - leading to ballots being hand-copied so the machines can register the votes.
As I reported earlier, there have been issues with machines registering Obama votes for Romney and vice versa, but perhaps the problem of most concern lies in the fact that sixteen states - including Pennslyvania and Virginia - allow votes to be cast on paperless touch-screen machines that are nigh on impossible to recount.
10.15pm: The large number of provisional ballots makes it near impossible to determine the Electoral College winner on the night.
A provisional ballot allows someone who thinks they are an eligible voter, to cast their vote. Provisional ballots are counted if the local board of elections determines that the person is eligible to vote in that state, and may be rejected if the individual is ineligible to vote. These votes are counted even if they won’t change the outcome of the election.
Ohio is likely to cause the most problems. The key battleground state could see up to 200,000 provisional ballots - a situation stemming from Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted’s attempt to impose uniformity. Absentee ballot applications were sent to Ohio’s 6.9 million registered voters, regardless of whether they had been requested. An estimated 1.3 million were sent absentee ballots after filling in the applications. But there have been reports of nearly 240,000 voters who received absentee ballots and didn’t return them. If they try to vote in person, these voters, along with others with questionable eligibility or who attend the wrong polling station, will have to fill out provisional ballots to make sure they don’t vote twice - under Ohio law, these ballots can’t be counted until November 16th at the earliest.
10.00pm: There are three main issues that could affect the election in a big way.
One issue is the effect of Superstorm Sandy
The aftermath of the superstorm that battered the eastern seaboard has had crippling effects in New Jersey, where hundreds of polling stations could still be without power or flooded and thus unavailable to use. Vote totals in the north east region of the United States are expected to be down in general and whilst many of the affected areas - such as New Jersey and New York - are reliably Democratic, President Obama could see his total national vote count take a hit. It’s entirely possible that he could lose the popular vote but be elected through the Electoral College system, which could give rise to challenges against his mandate, as seen with George W Bush in 2000.
9.45pm: In a moment, I’ll take you through a few of the potential stumbling blocks that could affect the election (apart from dodgy voting machines).
9.15pm: One thing the pollsters and politicos have been busy with is trying to ascertain which way states will vote. Some are regarded as safe Democrat or Republican states, whilst others, such as Ohio, are regarded as swing states - results could go either way. Here’s a brief rundown on how the 50 states are largely expected to vote tonight.
‘Safe’ Obama states: Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, Minnesota, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.
‘Safe’ Romney states: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia, Alaska, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Swing states: Ohio, Florida, Nevada, Iowa, Wisconsin, Virginia, New Hampshire and Colorado.
There are some states that, although not ‘safe’ by any means, are leaning towards one candidate.
Leaning to Obama: New Mexico, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
Leaning to Romney: North Carolina and Arizona.
9.03pm: Incredible story from Detroit, Michigan where a man collapsed and died in a polling station - only to be revived and ask ‘Did I vote?’ A trained nurse, Ty Houston, went to work on the man, who had no heartbeat or pulse. After Houston had performed CPR, the elderly gentleman was resuscitated, and surprised his wife and Houston by asking if he’d voted. In response to his wife’s declaration that his health was more important, the man replied that there were two things important to him: “That I love you and that I finished what I came here to do … vote.”
Which he had.
8.50pm: We’re hearing reports of a break-in at the Democratic Party’s base in Washington State. The building, in Seattle, is the state campaign headquarters for both President Obama and Washington gubernatorial (running for governor) candidate Jay Inslee. The area affected is said to house laptops and similar items, but it is not known if anything has been taken.
8.30pm: There have already been reports of troublesome voting machines, with one machine in Pennsylvania being taken out of service and ‘recalibrated’ after a voter posted a video on YouTube of it changing a vote for President Obama into one for Governor Mitt Romney. Republican voters were also reporting Romney votes being turned into Obama votes.
And in Ohio, there is suspicion over a software that was installed on electronic voting machines in 39 of the state’s 88 counties. Although the software ‘patch’ hsa been installed to apparently assist in counting votes, a voting machine security expert believes that the software could effectively allow votes to be tampered with.
James March believes that installing this particular software is ‘exactly what you’d want to do if you wanted to plant a cheat onto the central tabulator.
8.25pm: Good evening everyone and welcome to scotsman.com’s live updates from the US Presidential election. I’ll be with you throughout the night providing regular updates, comment and analysis from both sides of the pond. Feel free to have your say in the comments below.