WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama won re-election last night despite a fierce challenge from Republican Mitt Romney, prevailing in the face of a weak economy and high unemployment that encumbered his first term and crimped the middle class dreams of millions.
"This happened because of you. Thank you," Obama tweeted to supporters as he secured four more years in the White House.
How the North Shore Voted: President
The president sealed his victory in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado, four of the nine battleground states where the two rivals and their allies spent nearly $1 billion on dueling television commercials.
Ultimately, the result of the brawl of an election campaign appeared likely to be the political status quo. Democrats won two more years of control of the Senate, and Republicans were on track to do likewise in the House.
Romney was in Massachusetts, his long and grueling bid for the presidency at an unsuccessful end.
The two rivals were close in the popular vote.
Romney had 45.2 million votes, or 49 percent. Obama had 45 million, also 49 percent, with 65 percent of precincts tallied.
But Obama's laser-like focus on battleground states gave him the majority in the electoral vote, where it mattered most. He had 284, or 14 more than needed for victory. Romney had 200.
Yet to be settled were battlegrounds in Florida, Virginia and Nevada.
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.
The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 percent of voters surveyed as they left their polling places. But more said former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for current circumstances than Obama did after nearly four years in office.