President Barack Obama was ushered into a second-term Tuesday night, defeating Republican Mitt Romney in a series of close battleground state contests, according to network projections.

Some prizes–Florida, Ohio and Virginia–were still too close to call, but there were encouraging signs for Obama because of still-to-be counted votes in Democratic strongholds there.

In Florida, Obama clung to a narrow lead, but Democrats were encouraged that the votes remaining to be counted come from South Florida counties where the president enjoys his strongest support.

Exit polls give Obama the win in Ohio, but it was the most closely contested state in the election, Obama had a slight lead with many votes still to be counted in the urban areas where he is strongest.

Romney had a lead in another battleground state, Virginia, although the Democrats held onto the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D.) Former governor and senator George Allen (R) conceded the race to another former governor, Tim Kaine, shortly before 11 p.m.

In early results, Obama won his home state of Illinois as well as Massachusetts, where Romney was governor and the place he still calls home. Maryland and the District of Columbia were put in Obama’s column as soon as polls there closed.

Romney was winning across the South, plus West Virginia, Indiana and Oklahoma — traditional Republican states in the presidential contest.

Democrats were having a good night in Senate results, where it appeared likely they would hold onto their majority in the chamber. Democrats in early returns picked up two seats and had the possibility of a third.

In the high-profile race in Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren defeated
Republican Sen. Scott Brown. Democrats also picked up a Republican seat in Indiana, where Rep. Joe Donnelly prevailed over state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Mourdock had defeated six-term incumbent Sen. Richard G. Lugar in the May Republican primary, but his controversial comments about rape and abortion changed the tone of the general election campaign. In Missouri, Democrat Claire McCaskill held onto her Senate seat by defeating Republican challenger Todd Akin after he made controversial remarks about rape and abortion as well.

In addition, former Maine governor Angus King, an independent, won the Senate race there. He has not said which party he will align with, but Democrats spent money to oppose King’s Republican challenger.

After more than $2 billion in campaign spending, unprecedented hours of television ads and a record number of voters who cast their ballots before Tuesday, Election Day 2012 was told in timeless tableaus of lines outside schools, volunteers waving signs and Americans emerging with “I Voted” stickers attached to their jackets.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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