While it was still too eary to begin calling the election, CNN on Tuesday night projected 64 electoral votes for US President Barack Obama and 56 for Republican Mitt Romney in the race so far, as polls closed in a handful of states along the East Coast. In order to win the presidency, a candidate needs 270 electoral votes.
Obama and Romney kept up their battle for votes in the final hours of the 2012
presidential campaign, even as their long war of words and visions was drawing
to a close.
Romney on Tuesday added two last-minute stops in Cleveland, Ohio, and
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – crucial swing states that could decide the victor –
after casting his vote near his Belmont, Massachusetts home.
meanwhile, took to the airwaves with a round of interviews encouraging
supporters to vote, as his reelection chances largely hinged on turnout. He
spent the day in his old Chicago neighborhood and played his traditional
election-day basketball game.
Jewish voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania and
fellow swing state Florida were poised to help determine the outcome, given the
high voter participation rates despite their small size. The campaigns have
stepped up their outreach to the Jewish community in the waning days of the
All together, at least 120 million people were expected to
render judgment on whether to give Obama a second term or replace him with
Romney. Voters will also be weighing in on the balance of power in the House and
Senate, as well as local and state races throughout the country.
decision will set the country’s course for the next four years on government
spending, taxes, healthcare and foreign policy challenges, such as the rise of
China and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
National opinion polls show that
Obama and Romney are virtually in a dead heat, although the Democratic incumbent
has a slight advantage in several vital swing states – most notably Ohio – that
were expected to give him the 270 electoral votes needed to win the state-by-state contest.
Romney, the multimillionaire former head of a private
equity firm, would be the first Mormon president and one of the wealthiest
Americans to occupy the White House.
Obama, the country’s first
African-American president, seeks to avoid being relegated to a single term,
something that has happened to only one of the previous four occupants of the
Whichever candidate wins, a razor-thin margin might not bode
well for the clear mandate needed to help break the partisan gridlock in
Romney voted at a community center near his home in a Boston
suburb, before dashing off for the pair of last-minute stops.
great about Ohio,” he said when asked about a state that is considered a
must-win for him.
In a strange convergence of campaign planes that
underscored the importance both sides have pinned on Ohio, Vice President Joe
Biden made a surprise landing in Cleveland just minutes after Romney touched
down, in what looked like an attempt to steal the Republican’s
Romney stayed on board until the Biden motorcade cleared the
tarmac, which soon became even more crowded when running mate Paul Ryan’s plane
landed to join him on the Cleveland visit.
Settling into his hometown of
Chicago, Obama made a final pitch to morning commuters in toss-up states that
have been an almost obsessive focus of both campaigns, and made a surprise visit
to a local field office staffed with volunteers.
“Four years ago, we had
incredible turnout,” Obama told a Miami radio station in a pre-recorded
interview. “I know people were excited and energized about the prospect of
making history, but we have to preserve the gains we’ve made.”
a hip-hop music station in Tampa, Florida, in a final outreach to African-American supporters, telling listeners that voting was “central to moving our
Fueled by record spending on negative ads, the battle
between the two men was focused primarily on the lagging economic recovery and
persistently high unemployment, but at times it also turned personal.
Americans headed to voting booths, campaign teams for both candidates worked the
phones feverishly to mobilize supporters to cast their ballots.
Polls closeed in Indiana and Kentucky at 6 p.m. EST (11 p.m. GMT) on
Tuesday, with voting ending across the country over following next six hours. Ohio
closed at 7:30 p.m. EST.
The first results, by tradition, were tallied in
Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, both in New Hampshire, shortly after
midnight (5 a.m. GMT). Obama and Romney each received five votes in
Dixville Notch. In Hart’s Location, Obama had 23 votes to nine for Romney and
two for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.
The close race raises the
prospect of a disputed outcome similar to the 2000 election, which ended with a
US Supreme Court decision favoring George W. Bush over Al Gore after legal
challenges to the close vote in Florida.
Both the Romney and Obama
campaigns have assembled legal teams to deal with possible voting problems, challenges or
The balance of power in Congress will also be at stake in the
Senate and House of Representatives races that could impact the outcome of
“fiscal cliff” negotiations on spending cuts and tax increases, which kick in at
the end of the year unless a deal is reached.
Obama’s Democrats are now
expected to narrowly hold their Senate majority, while Romney’s Republicans are
favored to retain House control.
Despite uncertainty about the
presidential outcome, US stocks climbed on speculation the election would
produce a clear winner.
World stock exchanges also rose, but the election
kept trading subdued.
“It’s a relief that hopefully the election will be
over,” said Fred Dickson, the chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson
& Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Despite the weak economy, Obama
appeared in September to be cruising to a relatively easy win after a strong
party convention and a series of stumbles by Romney, including a secretly
recorded video showing the Republican writing off 47 percent of the electorate
as government-dependent victims.
But Romney rebounded in the first debate
on October 3 in Denver, where his surefooted criticism of the president and
Obama’s listless response started a slow rise for Romney in polls. Obama seemed
to regain his footing in recent days at the head of federal relief efforts for
victims of superstorm Sandy in the New York-New Jersey area.
presidential contest is now likely to be determined by voter turnout, although
weather could be a major factor. Much of the nation was dry and mild, though
rain was forecast later on Tuesday in the Southeast, including
In the closing act of the 2012 election drama, both men
expressed confidence in winning. But Obama hedged slightly, saying, after the
Chicago campaign office visit, that “it’s going to depend ultimately on whether
those votes turn out.”
Like the divided electorate itself, Eoin O’Shea
and his wife, Ann Marie, a South Philadelphia couple, split their vote. Both are
39 years old. He went for Obama.
She supported Romney.
love and respect each other,” he said.
But some voters saw the choice in
“It’s about worrying about what is going to happen if our
country is led by the wrong person,” said Obama supporter Sylvia Zaal, 38, after
voting in Milwaukee.
Voting appeared to go smoothly in most
But thousands of voters in storm-struck New York and New Jersey
encountered frustration, confusion and long lines as they tried to cast ballots.
Election officials face unprecedented challenges because polling stations were
among the thousands of buildings damaged by Sandy eight days ago.
and Romney raced through seven battleground states on Monday, courting the last
remaining undecided voters.
Obama focused on Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa,
swing states that, barring surprises elsewhere, would ensure he reached the 270
electoral votes needed to win. Romney visited Florida, Virginia and Ohio before
finishing in New Hampshire.
Obama wrapped up his tour in Des Moines,
Iowa, on Monday with a speech that hearkened back to how the state helped launch
him toward victory in his 2008 “hope and change” campaign.
He wiped away
tears as he reflected on his political journey.
Romney, a former governor
of Massachusetts, ended Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire, where he started
his campaign last year.
“We’re one day away from a fresh start,” he told
Obama ridiculed Romney’s claims to be the candidate of change
and said the challenger would be a rubber stamp for a conservative Tea Party
agenda. Romney argued that four more years of Obama could mean another economic
The common denominator for both was Ohio.
18 electoral votes, the path to victory is very narrow for Romney. No Republican
has won the White House without winning the state.
Polls have shown Obama
with a small but steady lead in Ohio, due in part to his support for a federal
bailout of the auto industry, which accounts for one of every eight jobs there.
That undercut Romney’s central argument that his business experience made him
uniquely qualified to create jobs.
Romney’s aides also hoped an 11th-hour
visit on Tuesday could boost his chances in Pennsylvania, a Democratic-leaning
state that he has tried to put in play in recent weeks.
Obama fought back
through the summer with ads criticizing Romney’s experience at the private
equity firm Bain Capital and portraying him as out of touch with ordinary
That was part of a barrage of advertising from both candidates
and their party allies, who raised a combined $2 billion. The rise of “Super
PACs,” unaffiliated outside groups, also helped fuel the record spending on
Obama planned to follow his election day ritual of playing
basketball with friends. He voted in October using early voting procedures – as
have up to 35%-40% of voters nationwide, either by mail-in ballots or in
Biden stood patiently to cast his ballot in his home state of
Delaware. Asked if this would be the last time he voted for himself, he said
with a grin, “No, I don’t think so.”
The 69-year-old former senator, who
twice ran unsuccessfully for the White House, has not ruled out a 2016