(Sky News) Barack Obama has won a second term as US President after beating Republican challenger Mitt Romney following a bitter and costly election campaign.
Mitt Romney on his plane - Getty images
The Democrat sealed victory by winning in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Wisconsin, Virginia and Colorado – six of the nine key battleground states.
With Florida still too close to call, Mr Obama has 303 electoral college votes to Mr Romney’s 203 and is well over the crucial threshold of 270.
The President was also ahead in the national vote, with the country-wide exit poll putting him on 50% – two points ahead of his Republican challenger.
Jubilation grew through the night in Chicago, where Mr Obama is due to address a victory rally shortly, as it became clear he was going to win.
Before appearing in person, the President addressed his supporters on Twitter, saying: “This happened because of you. Thank you.”
He added: “We’re all in this together. That’s how we campaigned and that’s who we are. Thank you.”
In a third post, he said simply: “Four more years” and posted a picture of him hugging his wife Michelle.
He also wrote an email to his supporters where he promised to “spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started”.
“Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests,” he said, adding: “There’s a lot more work to do.”
Romney campaign staff in Boston were shocked as Democrat victories piled up and Republican supporters looked increasingly devastated as they realized their dream was over.
The candidate, who was watching the result in the city, rang Mr Obama to concede and then addressed the crowds.
“This is a time of great challenges for America and I pray that the President is successful in guiding our nation,” he said.
Romney supporters absorbing the result in Boston
The Republican thanked his running mate Paul Ryan and his family, calling wife Ann “the love of my life” and saying “she would have been a wonderful first lady”.
He added: “Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given everything to this campaign. I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in another direction but the nation chose another leader.”
Mr Romney had earlier revealed he had written a 1,118 word victory speech and had not prepared anything in case he lost.
Until last month, the Republican was considered to have little chance of ousting Mr Obama after his campaign was damaged by a string of gaffes.
This was despite the president’s popularity slumping and criticism that he had failed to deliver on the hope and change he had promised in 2008.
However, a lackluster performance by Mr Obama in the first television debate turned the race on its head and Mr Romney surged back in the polls.
The incumbent was much stronger in the second and third debates but it was not enough to derail the Romney campaign.
Better than expected employment figures last week helped bolster the Democrat and then fate also played a hand when Hurricane Sandy roared in.
The superstorm forced Mr Romney into the shade as campaigning was suspended and Mr Obama returned to presidential duties but the pair were still neck-and-neck going into the final day.
In the other votes, the Democrats won two more years control of the Senate and the Republicans were on track to do the same in the House of Representatives.
Two Republican Senate candidates, Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin in Missouri, both lost their seats after making controversial remarks about rape during the campaign.
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Source: Sky News