At home in Chicago, the president all but claimed victory. “This happened because of you. Thank you” he tweeted to supporters.
Romney was in Massachusetts after a long and grueling bid for the presidency. He led in the national popular vote with 41 million votes, or 50 percent. Obama had 40 million, or 49 percent, with 59 percent of the precincts tallied.
But Obama led in the competition for electoral votes, where it mattered most.
His triumph in Ohio as well as in Iowa and New Hampshire, two other battlegrounds, gave him 265 electoral votes of the 270 needed for victory, Romney had 200.
The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government — whether it occupies a major, front-row place in American lives or is in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship.
In Maine, independent former Gov. Angus King was elected to succeed retiring GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe. He has not yet said which party he will side with, but Republicans attacked him in television advertising during the race, and Democrats rushed to his cause.
Polls were still open in much of the country as the two rivals began claiming the spoils of a brawl of an election in a year in which the struggling economy put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions.
The president was in Chicago as he awaited the voters‘ verdict on his four years in office. He told reporters he had a concession speech as well as victory remarks prepared. He congratulated Romney on a spirited campaign. “I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today” as his own, he added.
Romney reciprocated, congratulating the man who he had campaigned against for more than a year.