Four more years: Obama claims decisive win
By Benjamin Fox
Barack Obama has been re-elected as President of the United States after claiming a close but decisive victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
With Florida the only close state yet to be formally declared, Obama had secured 303 electoral college votes to Romney's 203, comfortably above the 270 mark needed for victory.
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Florida is set for a recount with Obama claiming a narrow provisional win of around 60,000 votes, comfortably within the 0.5% which automatically triggers a recount. Meanwhile, the popular vote remains in a dead-heat, with Obama likely to win by around 1 million votes on a turnout projected to be between 125-130 million.
In his acceptance speech made from Chicago, Obama told party supporters that he would meet with Mitt Romney and Republican leaders in the coming weeks in a bid to bridge the divide between Democrats and Republicans. "The American family would rise and fall together as one nation", he said, adding that "tonight you voted for action not politics."
"Our economy is recovering, a decade of war is ending, and whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned, and will return to the White House more inspired and determined than ever," he said.
Nonetheless, Obama faces a bitterly divided America with his first policy challenge to reach a budget deal to take control of the country's national debt.
An attempt to reach a bipartisan agreement on a package of tax rises on the wealthy and spending cuts collapsed in the summer, the most obvious sign of political deadlock between the parties that became particularly acute after the Republicans claimed a shock victory in congressional elections in 2010. The deadlock in Congress could continue. While the Democrats strengthened their grip on the Senate, picking up seats in Massachusetts and Indiana, they failed to make inroads on the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
Psephologists are projecting that white voters backed Romney by a comfortable margin, with Obama set to win under 40 percent. Despite this, Obama had the changing face of America, which is estimated to cease being a white-majority country between 2040 and 2050. He took 70 percent of the Hispanic vote, and a majority of women voters, as well as an overwhelming majority of African-Americans.
Conceding defeat from his campaign headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, Mitt Romney said that "the nation is at a crucial juncture, and can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing." "Democrats and Republicans at all levels of government should put the people before the politics", he said.
Floridian Republicans had started the evening confident of victory. Among several hundred campaign workers and candidates In the Picasso ballroom of the St Petersburg Hilton, Cecilia, a local canvassing co-ordinator, was upbeat. The turnout is strong and if her "community reflects the mood of the nation then it will be a landslide" she says.
But their early optimism soon faded as Romney quickly fell behind in Ohio and Florida, both of which he needed to win to have a chance of claiming a majority in the electoral college. Privately, Republican campaigners admitted that the Democrat 'ground game' had been the determining factor in claiming Florida .
Obama's victory was quickly welcomed by European Commission president Jose Barroso and European Council president Herman van Rompuy. In a joint statement they called on the US to "unlock the unparalleled potential of the transatlantic market".
We are also ready to continue our intense cooperation in foreign policy issues and in the promotion of our common values, they added.