Ohio still held some surprises: Around midnight, Mitt Romney briefly took a small (0.5 point) lead in the perennial battleground state with its crucial 18 electoral votes after lagging behind Obama all evening. The lead quickly returned to Obama, however.
The Republicans also saw their hopes of ending Democratic control of the U.S. Senate fade, with a string of losses in some high-profile contests. The GOP will retain control of the House of Representatives, Fox News projected earlier in the evening.
In the presidential race, Ohio, Florida and Virginia lived up to expectations. Soon after midnight, Florida and Virginia were two of just three states yet to be called by Fox News for either candidate (The other one was Alaska).
Obama was leading by just 0.7 percentage points in Florida (29 electoral votes), and by 0.4 points in Virginia (13). The Commonwealth had been in Mitt Romney’s column all evening, but his lead steadily evaporated.
Of the other electoral-rich states, Obama won California (55), New York (29), Pennsylvania (20), his home state Illinois (20) and Michigan (16), while Romney took Texas (38) and North Carolina (15).
“You made this happen,” Obama said in a message to supporters, posted on his campaign website at 11:17 p.m. “I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.
“But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place. Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests,” he said. “There’s a lot more work to do. But for right now: Thank you.”
In the 435 U.S. House races, the Republicans as of midnight had won 201 seats and the Democrats 147. The House makeup before the election was 242 Republican, 193 Democrat.
Republicans saw a series of disappointments in some of the 35 Senate contests, with Elizabeth Warren (D) beating incumbent Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R); Tim Kaine (D) beating George Allen (R) in the race for the Virginia seat held by retiring Sen. Jim Webb (D); Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (D) defeating Rep. Connie Mack (R); Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) beating state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) in Indiana; and incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) seeing off a challenge in Missouri from Todd Akin, whose comments about abortion and rape sparked an uproar over the summer.Democrats have controlled the Senate 51-47 (with two independents), and as of the early hours of Wednesday the Democrats were up 51-44.