President Barack Obama won re-election to a second term by handily beating Republican challenger Mitt Romney on Tuesday.
Obama's win ends a long and nasty race that up until the end was too close to call. Romney was unable to run the table on the swing states needed to take him above the 270 Electoral College votes needed to claim victory. He had to capture all or most of the 13 battleground states, including Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin but fell short. He managed to grab North Carolina and Indiana. Well past midnight, one percentage point separated Romney and Obama in Florida and Virginia.
Obama campaign honchos were confidence, saying they expected the "ground game" to take care of business. Ultimately, the nation's 44th president swept 11 of those states as well as the popular vote.
Avis Jones DeWeever never had any doubt about the outcome.
"I do believe that the president will win on Tuesday," said DeWeever during an interview two days before the election. "Substantial shenanigans would be the only reason he wouldn't win. I'm American and a political scientist and I don't understand why it's this close. If Romney wins, given him holding back information and blatantly lying and answering both sides of an issue, it would provide a tremendous blow to the body politic."
Ordinary Washingtonians were elated.
"I'm ecstatic, relieved that President Obama was re-elected, that's all that I can say" said Carolyn Robertson, a 50-ish Southeast resident. The people knew exactly what they were doing. A lot of women voted for Obama while [Mitt] Romney basically attacked them when he referred to the 47 percent of victims, and that's what hurt him."
Maxine Charles agreed.
"I'm glad he was re-elected. He needs four more years to carry out his plans," said Charles, 68, also of Southeast. "Things are going to turn around and it will be a slow process, but things will be better."
Romney made a gracious concession speech after it became apparent that his cause was lost.
"The nation is at a critical time, we can't continue to engage in bickering," he said. "It's time for both parties to put the people before the politics ... we have to reach across the aisle."
Romney said he did the best he could to present his vision for America but voters made another choice.
Shortly after receiving a phone call from Romney two hours after he was declared the winner, Obama addressed an adoring crowd.
At Obama's Chicago headquarters at McCormick Place, more than 10,000 jubilant supporters of all hues, ethnicities and ages swayed, sang and cheered, basking in the glow of a hard-fought victory. The crowd was considerably smaller than the massive throng at Grant Park in 2008 but they were in a party mood.
Three days before the election, Audrey Anderson spent more than four hours in a long line under a blazing Fort Lauderdale sun waiting for her chance to cast a ballot.
The British native said she came prepared with a book, bottled water and large amounts of patience on Saturday, Nov. 3.
"Most of my friends and I are for Obama," said the 44-year-old events director. "He's not perfect but he stands for something. We understand what he's saying because he speaks our language."
Anderson, a Fort Lauderdale resident, said she was struck by a barrage of electoral problems affecting South Florida such as Broward election offices running out of ballots, voters having to wait in long lines and Republican Gov. Rick Scott's refusing to extend early voting hours.
"I just think there's some serious cheating going on, but I'm confident of his victory," she said. "I'm surprised it was this close. They kept on saying that it would be but I never believed it."
Political pundits characterized Obama's victory as historic because of the masterful way a black man secured a second presidential term. His campaign team is credited with using advanced market segmentation, metrics, and micro-targeting, an army of campaign workers, a few million phone calls and an energized base along with a coalition of African Americans, Latinos, women and young people to win.
Obama, his wife Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia strolled out to meet a rapturous crowd at 1:37 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. He smiled broadly as people cheered loudly and waved small American flags.
"Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!" they chanted.
"Tonight more than 200 years after a former colony earned the right to decide its own destiny, despite the tasks that we're facing, we are moving forward," he intoned.
Obama spoke of the extreme difficulties the country has faced.
"While the journey has been hard [but] we have picked ourselves up, clawed our way out and we know in our hearts that in the United States of America, the best is yet to come," he said to loud cheers.
Obama thanked all who voted, particularly those who worked in far away, isolated places on behalf of the campaign.
"You made your voice heard and you made a difference," he said. "We may have battled fiercely but it's only because we love this country so deeply."
Obama won't have much time to savor the victory. Early on Election night, House Speaker John Boehner [R-Ohio], announced that Obama shouldn't make the mistake of thinking his win means he can raise taxes on the rich and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell [R. Ky.] – who made it clear that his primary job was to make Obama a one-term president – also threw down the gauntlet.
Political Scientist and Howard University Professor Wilmer Leon said he wishes Obama and his surrogates would do more to highlight the reality of Republican obstructionism.
Leon, 53, said Obama needs to be much more assertive and take more time to explain to the public what the opposition is doing and why.
"It's not that the president is a divider. People like McConnell have said from the outset that he planned to make the president a one-termer," he said. "The president can't change the landscape. He needs to change the way he traverses the landscape. You can't negotiate and placate people who are looking to [your] political demise. He has to confront them at every turn, use the bully pulpit to show what he feels and what his position is."
DeWeever, 44, concurred.
"With regard to the stonewalling, I'd like to see the president become more aggressive in pushing his issues, using the bully pulpit, and communicating more with the public – the modern day version of fireside chats," said the mother of two.
She said the first issue Obama faces is the 'fiscal cliff' issue. Trying to develop a compromise will be a challenge ...they may kick it down the road [but] I think they will figure out a way to make it happen."
Although voters have expressed anger about the political stalemate in Washington, D.C., the status quo remains: Republicans still control the House of Representatives and Democrats, the Senate.
"It's well known and reported that they have uniformly rejected everything," said DeWeever. "It's interesting to see if they'll [Republicans] continue to see that s a strategy if they lose."
One Houston housewife expressed frustration with the intractable infighting.
"This is done. Voters have decided and now people have to move on," said Sheila Price. "We cannot continue doing this because there are so many troubling issues that elected officials must handle. They get caught up in selfish squabbling when they should be working for the greater good, for the good of the people they have been elected to serve."