Obama re-elected but Congress remains deeply divided
President Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney. With results in from most states, the US first African American president has secured the 270 votes in the Electoral College needed to win the race.
Obama prevailed despite lingering dissatisfaction with the economy and a well-funded challenge by Mr Romney. From Boston where Romney has his campaign headquarters he congratulated the president in an emotional concession speech.
He said he and Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan had left everything on the field and had given their all in the campaign.
This election is over, but I believe that our principles endure, he said. I so wish that I had been able to fulfil your hopes to lead the country in a different direction.
Under the US constitution, each state is given a number of electoral votes in rough proportion to its population. The candidate who wins 270 electoral votes - by prevailing in the mostly winner-takes-all state contests - becomes president.
On Tuesday, the president held the White House by assembling solid Democratic states and a number of important swing states such as Colorado, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia and Wisconsin. His narrow victory in Ohio, a critical Mid-Western swing state, sealed the victory.
However Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives and Democrats the Senate but with insufficient votes for crucial legislation that must be resolved before the end of the year: the debt ceiling and the so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ which can turn knock the soft recovery back into recession.
In effect January first taxes will go up and outlays drastically cut if a partisan agreement is not reached by then.