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Nov 7, 2012

Live blog: Barack Obama’s road to victory

Barack Obama will serve as President of the United States for another four years after a decisive win. Crikey captures all the colour and results that matter as election night unfolded.

Amber Jamieson — Freelance journalist in New York

Amber Jamieson

Freelance journalist in New York

ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES (270 of 538 needed)
Barack Obama: 290
Mitt Romney: 203

Barack Obama has just been re-elected as President of the United States for another four years after a decisive win. Crikey is live all day as polls close, exit polls are released and the votes are counted. Read the latest updates and the best of the US coverage and social media buzz …

6.25pm EDT (2am in DC): It was 12.38am by the time Obama took to the stage at Chicago’s McCormick Place to address his supporters. He strolled out with Michelle, Sashia and Malia (no matching outfits this year) to the tune of Steve Wonder’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered. The crowd chanted “four more years” before Obama began.

“Tonight more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward,” declared Obama.

“It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you re-affirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression. The spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair the great heights of hope … We are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation and one people.

“Tonight in this election you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up. We have fought our way back. And we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”

Obama also made note of the long waits at polls around the country: “I want to thank every American who participated in this election … Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we’ve got to fix that.”

He also gave a hearty thanks to everybody who engaged with the election, regardless of who they supported: “Whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference.”

Obama congratulated both Romney and Paul Ryan on “a hard fought campaign” and said that he plans to sit down with Romney and discuss how they can work together: “We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future.”

Vice President Joe Biden also got a thank you, with Obama calling him “America’s happy warrior”. Then it was time for the obligatory wife thank you, with Michelle Obama getting thunderous applause: “Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you too as our nation’s first lady.” (Michelle a possible candidate for 2016? You heard it here first).

His kids Sashia and Malia got a thanks as well. Back in ’08, Obama used his victory speech to confirm the girls could get a new dog. Not so lucky this year: “I will say that for now, one dog is probably enough.”

It was the Obama supporters and volunteers that got the lengthiest thank you: “Some of you were new this time around and some of you have been by my side from the very begining. But all of you are family..,” said Obama. “Thank you for believing all the way. To every hill, to every town. You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you have done and all the incredible work that you’ve put in.”

The President also addressed those who dismiss politics (clearly the non-Crikey fans). “I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly,” he said. “And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics who tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests.”

Obama then listed the types of people who inspire him (and also helped him get re-elected):

“You’ll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organiser who is working their way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity … You’ll hear the deep patriotism of the voice of a military spouse to know that no one who fights for this country never has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home. That’s why we do this. That’s what politics can be. That’s why elections matter. It’s not small, it’s big. It’s important. Democracy and a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions, each of us have deeply held beliefs.”

He noted that US citizens hold fierce and passionate opposing opinions and that “These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. And we can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations, right now, are risking their lives to argue about issues that matter. For the chance to cast their ballot like we did today.”

Obama spoke often regarding “despite our difference, most of us share certain hopes for America’s future”, reeling off jobs, debt, education and climate change as key issues.

“That’s where we need to go. Forward. That’s where we need to go. We will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how we have to get there.

“A long campaign is now over. And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the Whiter House more determined and inspired that ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

“Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out to leaders from both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”

He named taxes, debt and a reliance on foreign oil as the issues that will require bipartisanship. But he noted that it wasn’t just reliant on politicians: “The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America is never about what it does for us, but what can be done by us, together.”

Obama declared “love and charity and duty and patriotism” as the things that make America great. Cue the crowd going absolutely ballistic.

He then spoke of meeting the father of an 8-year-old girl with Leukaemia, and how that family would have lost everything without Obamacare. And he brought up his favourite word: “hope”, noting that it wasn’t just about blind optimism but about hard work.

“And tonight, despite all the hardship we’ve been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I’ve never been more hopeful about our future. I’ve never been more hopeful about America. I ask you to sustain that hope.”

To end it all, Obama reeled off nearly every minority possible: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, abled, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.

“I believe we can seizes this future together. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We’re greater than the sum of our individual ambitions and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states, we remain forever the United States of America.”

And with a round of “God bless the United States”, the victory speech was over. The crowd went wild, Bruce Springsteen started playing and Biden got up on stage with Obama.

This also signals an end to Crikey‘s live blog today. Thanks for playing along and sorry for all the typos. See you all in 2016.


5.30pm (1.30am in DC): Fascinating tweets from Tammy Baldwin, the newest senator for Wisconsin and the first openly-gay US senator.

UK PM David Cameron is joining in the overseas leaders offering up their congratulations to Obama via Twitter:

Move over Obama and Romney, the 2012 election is old news now. The New York Times are already talking about possible Democrat nominees for the 2016 election. Will it be Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley or even VP Joe Biden? asks Jeff Zeleny.

5.15pm (1.15am in DC): Prime Minister Julia Gillard has just tweeted her congratulations to Obama:

And an interesting look at how Obama won the votes from tomorrow’s NY Times editorial:

“White men voted for Romney; he won among those who said they opposed gay marriage, wanted to outlaw abortion, or favored mass deportation of illegal immigrants. None of those are majority positions in this country anymore.”

Obama has left his hotel and is on the way to McCormick Place in Boston to give his victory speech.

Meanwhile, this wonderful photo gallery from TV Tonight shows what Australian TV networks were playing at the moment that Obama was re-elected president. Spoiler: most channels were on the election, but Ten stuck with Huey’s Kitchen.

5.10pm (1.10am in DC): A peek at tomorrow’s New York Times front page, via journalist Jodi Kantor on Twitter:

Maria Shriver, Arnie’s ex, has just tweeted a picture of her election celebrations:

Obama to take to the state in Chicago shortly, stay tuned.

5pm EDT (1am in DC): Over at the Boston Convention Centre, Mitt Romney just took to the stage to address the faithful and concede defeat. He announced that he had called President Obama “to congratulate him on his victory”.

“This is a time of great challenges for America and I pray that the president will be successful at guiding our nation,” said Romney.

He thanked his vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, declaring: “Besides my wife Ann, Paul is the best choice I’ve ever made.”

Romney also did the obligatory wife-thank you, noting that “She would have been a wonderful first lady”.

The former presidential candidate thanked the Republican party and his team, noting that: “I don’t think there has ever been an effort in our party that can compare with what you’ve done over these past years”.

He also noted that with the country and the US economy in its current state, both sides of politics need to put aside partisan bickerings: “We call on Democrats of all kinds to put the people before the politics.”

“I believe in America,” said Romney. “I believe in the people of America. I ran for office because I’m concerned about America … Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign. I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction.”

4.30pm EDT (12.30am in DC): This just in from Crikey‘s Guy Rundle:

“Good god Virginia has come back into the Democrat camp — Obama leading by 30,000 votes, and the media already calling it for Dems.

That would mean that Romney has most likely taken only North Carolina, Indiana, the foregone conclusion and the Nebraska second district. An absolute disaster of a result for the GOP.”

And in further support for Nate Silver’s incredible prediction abilities, this graphic shows how accurate his picks have been:

Pop queen Beyonce has been a loud and proud supporter of Obama since ’08. Her letter to Obama has been doing the rounds of the internet this morning, but shortly after Obama’s re-election she uploaded this photo to her Tumblr:

One of the most fascinating videos to pop up from the TV networks coverage tonight (and no, it’s not CNN’s virtual reality Senate) is this clip of Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly walking down the hallways of the newsroom to visit the electoral analysts after Republican Karl Rove challenging the figures that Fox News were using (click through to view this one, it’s not embeddable):

This picture of Obama riding a unicorn shooting rainbow lasers out of his hands seems to be doing the rounds of social media.

Meanwhile, the popular vote is still tight, with both at 49%. Romney had the lead, but Obama has crept ahead by almost 40,000 votes.

4pm EDT (12am in DC): Vanity Fair outlines the big winners from the US election (apart from, you know, Obama):

“Nate Silver, who will get to keep his job as president and vice president of math; Elizabeth Warren, who defeated former Cosmopolitan centerfold Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race; all those who ran against old white dudes who publicly said f-cked up things about r-pe and abortion (cf., McCaskill, Claire; Donnelly, Joe); bizarrely unenthusiastic former Democratic National Committee chairman Tim Kaine; and, as always, Candy Crowley’s hair stylist.”

Here’s how American news outlets reported Obama’s win …

Politico: “President Barack Obama has won re-election, the Associated Press projects, defeating Republican Mitt Romney after a savagely negative and historically expensive race fought against a backdrop of near-8 percent unemployment.”

NY Times: “Barack Obama was re-elected as president on Tuesday, the television networks projected, defeating Mitt Romney after a long, hard-fought campaign that centered on who would heal the battered economy and on what role government should play in the 21st century.”

Washington Post: “A sharply divided America worried about the nation’s economy gave President Barack Obama a second term Tuesday, choosing him over Republican Mitt Romney, according to network projections.”

LA Times: Barack Obama has won the 2012 presidential election, overcoming a determined challenge from Mitt Romney and the worst election-day unemployment rate since World War II.

Salon: “President Obama’s re-election represents a victory for the Democratic ideal of activist government and a mandate for more of it. From the stimulus through the auto rescue through Obamacare and, finally, Hurricane Sandy, Americans saw the Democratic president making a difference in their lives, and after a campaign that was stunning in its ugliness, they gave Obama a second term and sent Mitt Romney home, wherever that is.”

Donald Trump is still expressing his displeasure at Obama’s win:

3.35pm EDT (11.35pm in DC): The Obama campaign after party in Chicago, Illinois is playing some Aretha Franklin — Respect being the first song played once an Obama victory was declared. It looks nearly as pumping as the US embassy election party in Canberra today, with this Twitpic showing Chris Johnston from the Canberra Times and Adam Gartrell from AAP sampling the ales in the foreground there:

This HuffPo map breaks down the states vote. Take a moment to think about these voters in Nevada who are still lining up to vote …

Obama took to his website to deliver a message to supporters:

Meanwhile, vocal Republican supporter Donald Trump isn’t too happy about the result:

Political wonk fact: this is the first time three two-term presidents have been elected in a row in 200 years.

3.20pm EDT (11.20pm in DC): It seems Barack Obama has been re-elected as president for the United States for another four yearsNBC and CNN are now calling it a victory for Obama, with 274 electoral college projected votes compared to Romney’s 203 votes.

3.05pm EDT (11.05pm in DC): Thanks to a whopping 55 electoral votes from the state of California, Obama has just taken a dramatic jump to 244 electoral votes, with Romney sitting at 193, says HuffPo. CNN reports that Obama has 238 votes, compared to Romney’s 191. NPR has Obama at 234, compared to Romney’s 193. Politic has 174 for Obama, with Romney at 186. NY Times puts Obama at 148, compared to Romney’s 160.

Obama is expected to easily win California, Wisconsin (although it’s vice president nominee Paul Ryan’s home state), Washington, Hawaii, Idaho and Montana. Oregon remains too close to call, with exit polls predicting a slight Obama victory.

The Daily Mail‘s homepage already declares Obama re-elected:

2.50pm EDT (10.50pm in DC): This just in from Crikey’s Guy Rundle:

“It’s all over for the Republicans in the Senate. Claire McAskill has officially been called as defeating Missouri senator Todd Akin, 51% to 42%, 530,000 votes to 430,000. Akin was notorious for claiming that r-ped women don’t conceive, because ‘the body has ways of shutting that thing down’. It’s a measure of where the GOP is now that Akin has become known as the leader of the ‘r-pe caucus’.

“In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren has defeated Republican Scott Brown, 52% to 47%, 1.06 million to 940,000 votes.

“Whoever occupies the White House is going to have to contend with the Harry Reid massive.”

A look at the electoral college votes shows Obama at 173 and Romney at 174, says HuffPo and Fox News. CNN is reporting 169 to Romney, 157 to Obama. NPR reports 163 to Obama, 174 to Romney. Politico reports 148 to Obama, 170 to Romney.

It’s still neck and neck in Florida, with Obama maintaining a slight lead, but that’s enough for former vice president Al Gore:

Wish that you were there partying with the winning president? You can stream live footage from the Obama headquarters here and the Romney HQ here. Both seem a little quiet at the moment, but the Obama one has a bit more of a party atmosphere (which also reflects the counted votes):

2.30pm EDT (10.30pm in DC): In Florida,  Obama currently has the lead at 50% over Romney’s 49% with around 75,000 votes between them. Over 87% of the vote is counted, Meanwhile in Ohio, which has 57% of the votes counted, Obama is holding on with 50% of the vote compared to Romney’s 48%.

If Obama wins Florida and Ohio, then it’s all over for Romney. As ABC’s Antony Green explains:

Let’s just take a little look around the social media world as we wait for more of those figures to come in. Here’s a look at the Rockefeller Centre, where workers are painting the US map on the ice skating rink depending on who won the state:

The Project’s Charlie Pickering is in the States, and offers this take from inside a Chicago newsroom:

Here in Oz, Democrats Abroad are still getting votes in for their guy.

Meanwhile, the real winner from this election seems to be Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight, whose predictions seem to have been clearly the most accurate. As fellow NY Times contributor Christoph Neimman tweeted:

Plus, two unnamed Crikey employees were very insistent that I put this photo gallery of small-faced Mitt Romney in the live blog. Click through at your own risk …

2.15pm EDT (10.15pm in DC): This just in from Crikey‘s Guy Rundle:

“A few early Senate results. In Florida, Democrat Ben Nelson has seen off a challenge from a bloke named Connie Mack. In Connecticut, Chris Murphy has won Joe Lieberman’s seat back for the Democrats against a challenge by wrestling billionaire Linda McMahon which cost (together with a previous challenge) close to $80 million. In Maine, independent Angus King has won retired Republican Olympia Snowe’s old seat easily, and will caucus with Democrats. In Indiana it looks like Richard “a baby is god’s consolation prize for rape” Mourdock has lost a once-solid Republican seat to the Democrats, and in Wisconsin, former conservative Republican governor Tommy Thomson has lost to Tammy Baldwin, now the most prominent out lesbian in the Senate, a cultural revolution indeed. That’s a Democrat hold, but the Maine and Indiana results are a gain of two …”

2.10pm EDT (10.10pm in DC): FiveThirtyEight‘s Nate Silver reports a strong showing for Obama in Ohio:

“In Ross County, Ohio, home to the town of Chillicothe, Obama trails Mitt Romney by only one percentage point with about 80 percent of the vote counted. Obama lost the county by eight percentage points to John McCain in 2008.

“Obama also leads so far in Pike County and Scioto County, two counties south of Ross County that he lost in 2008, though they have counted less of their vote at this point.”

Romney, a Mormon, won Utah. Iowa, Montana and Nevada are currently too close to call.

Meanwhile, HuffPo has Obama at 158, Romney at 163. CNN has Romney at 158, Obama at 143. Fox News has Obama at 157, Romney at 156. NPR has Obama at 148, Romney sitting on 160. Politico has Obama at 142, Romney at 153.

This picture from the West Wing Report Twitter account is a winner, regardless of who sits there next Jan.

Plus, it’s not just about the presidential race, as HuffPo‘s Arianna Huffington reminds us:

Todd Aiken, the Missouri Republican who spoke out against women who have abortions after they’d been r-ped and said “If it’s a legitimate r-pe, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down”, has lost his seat.

1.45pm (9.45pm in DC): This just in from Crikey‘s Guy Rundle:

“It’s 9.30pm in DC, and the votes are starting to come in thick and fast. And as they do a whole series of Republican fantasies are crumbling. The first to go was Pennsylvania, which we were assured was going to be close to the wire. But unless something bizarre happens, that’s already an Obama win — he’s leading 63% to 36% with close to 20% of the vote counted. Fox was the first to predict that Obama would hold Wisconsin — projecting from 5% of the vote, but based on the counties reporting. And New Hampshire is now being put in the Obama camp, the vote holding at 55% to 45%.

“With Obama leading in Ohio, 55% to 45%, and Florida tied with 400 votes difference on millions counted, Mitt Romney’s path to victory are narrowing very rapidly.”

Just this morning Romney was in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, yet it fell easily to Obama.

Current numbers has Obama at 158 electoral votes and Romney at 154, according to HuffPo. CNN has Romney at 152 and Obama at 143. Here’s a look at how the states are currently lining up, with that classic red (Republicans) wash in the centre of the US and blue (Democrats) around the sea, from HuffPo:

1:30pm (9.30pm in DC): Just 636 votes between Obama and Romney in Florida, with the leader changing regularly.

1.15pm EDT (9.15pm in DC): Key state Florida remains on an absolute knife edge with both Obama and Romney having 50% of the vote and just over 1500 votes between them.  Over 75% of the Florida vote is in.

Latest CNN results have Obama at 152 electoral college votes and Romney at 123. NPR has Obama at 110 and Romney at 154, while HuffPo has 124 to Obama and Romney at 154. NY Times has 109 to Obama and 139 to Romney. Obviously each media outlet is trying to project states and be the first with the news, but it makes for confusing reading!

Fourteen states have just closed, meaning a pile of exit polls have just been released. New Mexico has Obama at 52%, Romney at 43%. In Wisconsin, exit polls have Obama at 52%.

Polls are now likely to stay open in Virginia until midnight due to lengthy lines and delays. Similar issues have been happening in Florida, which have created a #stayinline Twitter hashtag. Basically, if voters are already in line when the poll closes, they still have a legal right to vote.

And while the Stevie Wonder classic Signed, Sealed, Delivered has been a classic for the Obama campaign in both ’08 and ’12, it seems the Romney camp have co-opted it.

12.45pm EDT (8.45pm in DC): Latest news from NPR has Obama with 65 electoral college votes and Romney with 88 (as usual, there’s a slight difference between news networks on who has called what yet). CNN has Obama at 73, Romney at 64. Crikey‘s Guy Rundle is already declaring the incumbent the winner:

“I’m calling it for Obama. He’s leading 51-48% in Florida with 50% of the votes counted, and 58%-40% in Ohio, 700,000-400,000 with 25% of the votes counted. New Hampshire is a lock for Obama, leading 70-30%, 22,000 to 12,000 in a small electorate. North Carolina is neck and neck 51-48% 1 million – 970,000 for Obama, and only Virginia looks like a lock, Romney 58-42% with 25% counted. If the Virginia result proves to be the fulcrum then the thing will reverse and Romney will win, but it’s looking the other way at the moment.”

Romney currently leads Obama in Virginia. The Virginia vote is critical for the Romney camp, as Gerald Seib at The Washington Post explains:

“Put simply, Romney may well need to win Virginia’s 13 votes first for Ohio to matter later. Let’s assume, for example, that Romney wins North Carolina, Florida and Ohio as well as the swing states of New Hampshire and Colorado. He would still come up four electoral-college votes short of the 270 needed to win without Virginia.

“He then would need a win among some states that don’t look quite as friendly to him, such as Iowa, Wisconsin or, in a real long shot, Pennsylvania. The Romney path to victory really is Virginia first, then Ohio.”

Seib also outlines the other four things we should be paying attention to on election night: how big the turnout is, how many white voters there are, how college towns go and keeping a watch on the key counties of Ohio. Here’s a look at the voting lines from Tuscaloosa, Alabama via Twitter:

12.10pm EDT (8.10pm in DC): A stack of new state results have just flooded in, taking Obama to 64 electoral votes and Romney to 56, with each candidate requiring over 200 more electoral college votes to secure the presidency, according to CNN and Politico. Meanwhile HuffPo have the stats at 61 Obama to 56 Romney.

Obama has won Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, DC and Illinois. Romney has got Oklahoma, Indiana, Kentucky, South Carolina, West Virginia and Georgia. These states are yet to be officially called, but are trickling in: 51% to 49% for Obama in Florida, over 42% of the vote is in. In Virginia, which has 12% of the vote in, Romney has secured 59% of the vote. National popular vote currently has Romney slightly ahead at 52%, with Obama at 48%.

11.50am EDT (7.30pm in DC): It’s now 33 electoral college votes for Romney, and just three for Obama. Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and South Carolina have all been called for the Republican nominee. Battleground state Florida now has Obama at 51%, with around a third of the vote counted. Romney sits just behind at 48%. Florida has a whopping 29 electoral college votes.

11.30am EDT (7.30pm in DC): CNN are now calling it as 24 electoral college votes for Romney, three for Obama. However, Politico, HuffPo and the NY Times are still recording only eight votes for Romney, three to Obama.

Ohio exit polls see 51-48% to Obama. Florida seems neck and neck, with current numbers seeing Romney at 50% and Obama at 49%, obviously far too early and too close to call that one yet, but it might be an interesting battle. Both Florida and Ohio are battleground states. Counting is now going on in Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire and Florida. West Virginia and Kentucky are both already being counted as Romney wins, Vermont is counted as an Obama win.

Also, before everyone cracks open the booze to celebrate/commiserate, a big shout out to Melbourne brewery Moon Dog for knocking up a batch of White House Honey Ale for the Crikey newsroom. For anyone looking for the official presidential recipe, you can find it here (trust us, it’s pretty tasty).

11.15am EDT (7.10pm in DC): Finally we’re getting some concrete results. Kentucky has been officially called for Mitt Romney, Vermont has been called for Barack Obama. That gives three electoral college votes for Obama, and eight for Romney. Early results from Florida are (surprisingly) beginning to trickle in, showing a lead to Obama: Obama 55%, Romney 45%. Preliminary exit polls from Virginia show an interesting break down in demographics, reports HuffPo:

“Romney leads among men, 52% to 45%, while Obama leads among women, 52% to 47%. Romney also won 63% of white voters, while Obama took 94% of the African-American vote. Lower-income voters favoured Obama 60% to 38%, while those making more than $100,000 went 55 to 42 for Romney.”

But the Bloomberg White House correspondent says we’re unlikely to hear from Obama until after midnight (4pm EDT time):

Romney sounds confident, at least to a gaggle of press reporters, as he arrives at the Boston Convention Centre where his election party will take place:

11.05am EDT (7.05pm in DC): Viriginia exit polls show a dead heat — 49% to both Romney and Obama, according to CNN.

11am EDT (7pm in DC): Updated results: Romney has 60% of the vote in Indiana, Obama has 38%. Exit polls showed 55% to Romney, 43% to Obama so let’s watch how that plays out in Indiana with the counting.

In Kentucky, Romney maintains his strong lead at 68%, compared to Obama at 30%. Viriginia and much of Florida’s voting booths are just about to close, and exit polls and initial counts should begin to filter out from those states soon (although not all of Florida will close yet, so there may be little info about one of the biggest battleground states for another hour at least).

Washington Post has rounded up some of the voting irregularities from this campaign, including huge amounts of provisional ballots (used when a voters eligibility is uncertain) in Philadelphia, a voting machine in Colorado that switched Obama votes to Romney, automated callers telling District of Columbia voters the election was on Wednesday and other screw-ups (there’s a lot of them).

The TV news networks are trying to outdo themselves when it comes to slick election stunts, with CNN lighting up the Empire State Building in red, white and blue (and the lights will change as more votes come in, making the building more “red” or more “blue” depending on where the ballots go) and NBC taking over the Rockefeller Centre in the same manner. Here’s a look at the Empire State building via Instagram:

And the Rockefeller Centre (apparently renamed Democracy Plaza for, although that sounds a little Democrazy to us), via Reddit:

Meanwhile, for those who want to view more than the usual 10-a-month freebies, The NY Times is dropping its paywall for election day, reports Poynter. And for an alternative perspective, The Onion is running a thoroughly excellent live blog.

10.15am EDT (6.15pm in DC): The first results are now slowly trickling in. CNN is reporting that early counts in Kentucky has a 69% lead to Mitt Romney, with Obama holding just 25.2%. In Indiana, Romney has 59% of votes compared to 39% for Obama. (if you want to follow along, both Politico and Huffington Post are offering minute-by-minute counts online). Both states were expected to be easily held by Romney.

New Hampshire, one of the battleground states, is reporting 65.1% to Obama, 32.6% to Romney with less than 1% of the vote counted. New Hampshire’s polling booths haven’t closed yet.

And it seems Obama dealt with the stress the best way he knows how: a little game of high profile b-ball. As AAP reports:

“US President Barack Obama on Tuesday burned off his election-day nerves in traditional fashion, with a game of basketball with close friends, as millions of Americans went to the polls. Obama gathered an all-star line-up including Chicago Bulls great Scottie Pippen, his brother-in-law Craig Robinson, who is a college basketball coach, White House chef Sam Kass and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.”

10am EDT (6pm in DC): We’re waiting for exit polls to start being reported, but as Huffington Post explains, all the TV networks have the exit poll data, they just won’t announce it until polls closed.

“The major TV news networks agreed to shield early exit poll data suggesting who is leading in a state until the state’s polls close. That means no tweeting exit polls, posting on Facebook, or re-tweeting figures reported by others. ‘We will not either project or characterise a race until all the polls are scheduled to have closed in that state,’ said Sheldon Gawiser, director of elections for NBC News.”

But as Washington Post journo Sarah Kliff reminds everyone, we mustn’t get too overexcited about exit polls:

“Early surveys administered at about 1,000 polling locations across the country. At their best, exit polls give election junkies an early sense of how the American electorate is leaning. At their worst, their data can be incomplete and misleading. Early exit polls don’t always capture the full picture of who is voting; supposed ‘leaks’ are often inaccurate.”

Kliff notes that exit polls are likely to favour Obama more than the overall vote, since Obama supporters are likely to have voted earlier. At 10am (i.e. right now) the first polls (including Kentucky and Indiana) will close. If Ohio is close (and as critical as some political pundits think it will be) and a recount is needed, then a presidential result may not be known until December. This is partly due to provisional votes, since provisional votes aren’t allowed to be counted until November 17 under Ohio law. As John Broder explains in The NY Times:

“What sets Ohio apart is the large number of provisional ballots — those that election officials could not verify on Election Day for any number of reasons: because the voter had a new address, did not provide proper identification, did not appear in the state’s computerized voter registry or had requested an absentee ballot and turned up at the polls on Election Day. Under federal law, voters whose eligibility cannot be verified at the polling place must be allowed to cast at least a provisional ballot; such ballots must be counted if election officials later confirm that the voter is legitimate.”

Vice president Joe Biden gets excited at the polling booth:

Meanwhile, Obama has re-appeared on Reddit (he gave a lengthy Q&A there earlier this year, delighting internet nerds) asking Redditors to get out and vote.

And Al Jazeera journalist Alan Fisher gives a behind-the-scenes look at the Romney headquarters media pack:

For those affected by hurricane Sandy last week, the actual process of voting was a difficult affair, reports The NY Times:

“Just after daybreak in Bay Head, N.J., Shelly Coleman and her husband, Terrance, bundled up in winter jackets, left their sodden, water-damaged home and headed to the Bay Head firehouse, where a makeshift polling place had sprouted — literally overnight. The couple walked through the sand-blown and mucky streets, sidestepping the occasional dead fish that lay on its side, a lifeless eye staring up at them. The firehouse, powered by an industrial-size generator that rumbled like the engine of a jet airliner, was one of the few places with heat in the tiny seaside borough, just below Point Pleasant Beach.”

9.30am EDT (5.30pm in DC): Incredible video from a voter attempting to use a voting machine today. Whenever they click on “Barack Obama”, “Mitt Romney” is selected.

Romney used some familiar rhetoric more associated with the Democrats when he spoke to the media today in Ohio, calling it “a big day for big change”:

Romney headed back to his home state of Massachusetts to cast his vote this morning. Obama had already voted by postal vote (there’s been a large push for postal votes by both sides this election) a few weeks ago.

Obama today paid tribute to the Romney campaign and encouraged everybody to get out and vote:

“I also want to say to Governor Romney, congratulations on a spirited campaign … I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today. We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win, that it’s going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out. And so I would encourage everybody on all sides just to make sure that you exercise this precious right that you have that people fought so hard for, for us to have.”

There may have been more hype in ’08, but there’s more cash in ’12. The total cost of the election is estimated at $6 billion, beating the previous campaign by $700 million. Ironic really, that the economy and government spending has been one of the hot topics of the election.

Ok so this image is doctored, but it’s rather entertaining (found via @lapuntadelfin). You can see the original here.

CNN are announcing the first exit poll results are due at any moment. To compare, this is a look at the 12 national polls from this morning, via FiveThirtyEight:

9am EDT (5pm in DC): Most of the polls have Obama with a small lead, but perhaps that doesn’t take in to account the power of group prayer. Yes, the “Romney Mega Prayer” movement has got a lot of online traction in the last 24 hours, with Romney supporters calling on each other to use group prayer to land their man in the White House. Their tag line “Pray Hard. Save America. Make History.” is nearly as slick as their website:

The New York Timeshas a brilliant infographic on their site that illustrates all the outcomes for the election for those who prefer their scenarios in pictorial form:

In rather odd news, here’s 37 tweets collected by Buzzfeed of people who are planning to move to Australia if Obama wins:

Perhaps no one has told them that Australians overwhelming support Obama (as this BBC graph shows)?

In social media news, it seems that Romney is trailing Obama in the Facebook and Twitter mentions:

8.30am EDT (4.30pm in DC): Welcome to election day! It’s time for the world’s most expensive and media-covered presidential campaign to finally come to an end. Will Barack Obama or Mitt Romney be the next president of the US of A? Polls are still open in some US states, and will close in the next few hours.

Keep your eyes today on a few key states: in particular Ohio and Florida, but also North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. It’s looking like it could be close.

Politico is already saying a tie is likely: “The final Politico/George Washington University Battleground Tracking Poll of 1,000 likely voters — onducted Sunday and Monday — shows Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama each claiming 47% nationally.” Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s highly regarded wonk blog at The New York Times, thinks that Obama has a slight edge:

“All of this leaves Romney drawing to an inside straight. I hope you’ll excuse the cliché, but it’s appropriate here: in poker, making an inside straight requires you to catch one of 4 cards out of 48 remaining in the deck, the chances of which are about 8 percent. Those are now about Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast. As any poker player knows, those 8 percent chances do come up once in a while. If it happens this year, then a lot of polling firms will have to re-examine their assumptions — and we will have to re-examine ours about how trustworthy the polls are. But the odds are that Obama will win another term.”

Guy Rundle broke down the likely scenarios for Crikey yesterday (we expect to be referencing this a lot today). Will it be The Southern Comfort that brings Obama home or the The Pittsburgh Tugboat that seals Romney’s victory? Rundle explains the election possibilities:

“Obama victories

  • Obama Slam: Obama takes Florida and Ohio. If that happens Romney can’t win, even with all the other swing states – and a Florida victory would make a win in the “dark horse states” virtually impossible.
  • The Cleveland Steamer: Obama loses Florida, takes Ohio, and enough of the smaller states – most likely Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire — and precludes a Romney victory, even with Virginia, Colorado, etc.
  • The Southern Comfort: Obama loses Florida, Ohio and even Colorado, but wins Virginia, Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire. Depends on turning out the urban Democrat vote in the northern Virginia suburbs.
  • The Ring of Fire: Obama loses Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Iowa, but Obama takes Nevada, Colorado and New Hampshire. Obama still wins by a whisker.
  • These Colours Don’t Run: Obama loses Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Iowa and New Hampshire, but takes Nevada, Colorado and North Carolina, due to a huge Latino and black turnout. Very unlikely, but that’s how it would happen, if it happened.
  • The Omaha Turtlehead: see below.

Romney victories

  • The Three, Two, One: the strategy the GOP have been working on – Florida (plus NC and Indiana, the three); the two (Ohio and Virginia) and one of Colorado, Iowa and (unlikely) Nevada.
  • Ohio Impromptu: without Ohio, Romney has to win everything else to squeak in. Also, the Improbability Drive: without Florida, Romney has to win everything, including Wisconsin. Both of these are staggeringly improbable.
  • The Pittsburgh Tugboat: Romney drags in a win in Pennsylvania – or Michigan and Minnesota (where Republicans haven’t been campaigning). Winning Pennsylvania would allow him to lose Ohio and New Hampshire, and still prevail, or win with Florida, Ohio and Virginia alone. Once again, once we leave the Florida/Ohio double, Romney’s chances become very small indeed.

The tie There are 16 possible ways for the candidates to tie. Several of them involve Obama winning NC or Virginia but not Ohio, which is unlikely. So too is Obama losing Nevada and New Hampshire, but taking Colorado. However, if Obama won Ohio, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, and lost the others – a quite plausible scenario – then there will be a tie.”

Place your bets on the likely outcome in the comments below.

How will this pan out today? Charles Richardson in Crikey yesterday went through the key times for Australians today.  At 10am polls close in Kentucky and Indiana: “… if the networks don’t call Indiana for Romney immediately that could be a sign that the Democrat vote is holding up better than expected,” writes Richardson. At 11am polls close in Virginia and most of Florida. At 11.30am, polls close in Ohio and North Carolina. By midday, all of Florida has closed, as has New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and 16 others.

As Richardson explains: “… if one or more of those large key states is very close, it could be four or even five o’clock before we know the winner.”

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5 thoughts on “Live blog: Barack Obama’s road to victory

  1. Madonna

    All those wanting to move to Australia if Obama wins have no idea what’s on offer in our political area to date!

  2. Shaniq'ua Chardonnay

    Nice to see Todd Aiken kicked out. Twit.

  3. The Pav

    What is it with the Right.

    Trump’s comments are ridiculous.

    No wonder the nation is divided if people don’t accept the law.

    His rejection of a legitimate results is on a par with Abbott’s rejection of a minority govt

  4. Damon Wee

    Download the winning Obama email signature…

  5. pritu

    According to Trump and Abbott (and shonky News Ltd), only right wing victories are legitimate.