President Barack Obama has edged Republican opponent Mitt Romney by a sliver to win reelection to his second term in the White House, according to projected election results. The news came just after 11 p.m. Tuesday as news agencies called the pivotal state of Ohio for President Obama.
A few minutes later, Yahoo! News reported that Obama “handily defeated” Romney in the election contest, but the numbers belied a different reality: By midnight, the president led Gov. Romney by less than 1 percent in Ohio—a crucial swing state with 18 electoral votes.
The president was leading by an even smaller margin in Florida: 49.9 percent to Romney’s 49.3 percent. That state represented the biggest swing state prize: 29 electoral votes. Even as the president tweeted to claim victory (“This happened because of you. Thank you. Four more years.”), Romney led the popular vote and declined to concede Ohio until all votes in the battleground state had been counted.
Obama’s projected win comes at the end of an election campaign that seemed to shift toward Romney in the final moments. After defeating the president during the pair’s first televised debate, Romney continued to gain momentum: At a Sunday rally in Ohio, the Secret Service estimated that 30,000 people filled a Romney rally. About 15,000 attended an Obama event two days later.
A few hours after polls closed, researchers were still compiling data that will reveal more about the groups of voters that gravitated toward each candidate, and what blocs might have given Obama an edge.
Meanwhile, at least one conservative group was already heaping disdain—on Romney, not Obama. Within an hour of Obama’s projected win, the group Tea Party Patriots released a statement calling Romney “a weak moderate candidate, hand-picked by the Beltway elites and country-club establishment wing of the Republican Party.” It added, “The [GOP] presidential loss is unequivocally on them.”
In Chicago, Obama prepared to address a crowd at a victory party already pulsing with the news of his win. In Boston, Romney was shelving the 1,118-word victory speech he personally wrote for the evening and was presumably preparing different remarks for a dejected crowd gathered at the Westin Hotel. Earlier in the day, he told reporters that he had no regrets when it came to running for the presidency: “I feel like we put it all out on the field. …”