Barack Obama won re-election Tuesday over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, securing a second term as president of the United States of America.
With 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 206 electoral votes, Obama won by a narrower margin than his victory in 2008. Obama’s advantages in the swing states proved to be the deciding factor.
Romney raced to Ohio and Pennsylvania for Election Day, but it wasn’t enough to change his fortunes in the key states. Obama won the states by a margin slightly less than in 2008.
Earlier Tuesday, Romney expressed confidence in his chances.
“We fought to the very end, and I think that’s why we’ll be successful,” he said, adding that he had finished writing a speech anticipating victory.
But Romney was instead forced to concede in the early morning hours Wednesday as Obama mounted an insurmountable lead in electoral votes.
Obama was in Illinois on Election Day, making calls and playing his traditional basketball game with friends.
He congratulated his rival on a spirited campaign.
DFL party reacts
The DFL celebration in St. Paul quickly became a victory parade as the night went on.
Victor after victor came to the podium to rally the crowd, each of them confident that Obama would pull out a second term.
Rep. Betty McCollum lauded DFL volunteers for their work on the presidential campaign.
“You worked so hard to keep him in the White House working for us,” McCollum said.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak told a story of six years ago when he and others rallied to get community support for an Obama presidential bid in Minnesota.
“The state that’s known for community organizing sent a community organizer to the White House,” he said.
While all the speakers drew applause, the loudest cheers of the night were yet to come.
Before the speakers were all done, an eruption of applause outside the main room signaled what the crowd had been hoping and waiting for all night: an Obama victory.
After the race was called for Obama, Gov. Mark Dayton talked about an earned victory for the president.
“I think people came to realize that he inherited a disaster, and we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “So, great confirmation for the president and a victory hard earned.”
As Romney gave his farewell speech, many in the DFL crowd waved him goodbye.
The Republican election party had a decidedly different tone.
After the race was called for Obama, the house band that had kept spirits alive throughout the night played a somber rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Environmental science senior John Eloranta, who was at the party at the Bloomington Hilton, held out hope that Romney could still win before the race was called.
“It’s not over ’til the last vote’s in,” said Eloranta, who spent this year’s election season campaigning for Minnesota GOP candidates. “I want a job when I graduate. Under Obama, that’s less likely than Mitt Romney.”
Grant Engelman, 47, also at the party, said he was disappointed with the results and would be interested to see which areas Romney fell short in.
Larry Jacobs, a political science professor at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, questioned Romney’s strength as a candidate.
Jacobs said the nomination process for the Republican party made Romney lose sight of moderates.
“I think the problem for Romney was the nomination process that pushed him too far to the right,” Jacobs said.
David Schultz, a law professor at Hamline University, said the election results might be more about Romney’s weakness as a candidate than Obama’s strength.
“Romney couldn’t beat him,” he said. “And that really attests less to how strong Obama was and more to how weak Mitt Romney was as a candidate.”
Road to victory
Obama’s victory was paved by triumphs in the swing states. Just like in 2008, Obama won in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida.
Schultz said the polls got the presidential race exactly correct in the swing states.
“The polls were suggesting that Obama was going to win in the swing states,” Schultz said. “That’s exactly what’s turned out to be the case. Obama won all the critical areas in all the swing states.”
Earlier Tuesday, Schultz said if Obama won Virginia, the election was all but decided. Obama ended up winning the commonwealth and the election.
Jacobs said it’s rare for a president with a troubled economy to win re-election.
“Not since the Great Depression has a president been able to overcome the depressed economic circumstance that our economy is in today to win re-election,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs referenced former President Jimmy Carter as an example.
College students were out in full force Tuesday to vote for the next president.
Students had many reasons for choosing to re-elect Obama.
“Foreign policy and health care is why Obama has my vote,” said political science sophomore Luke Plutowski.
“Looking through what Obama promised four years ago, I think he’s followed through on enough of them to get another four years,” said ecology sophomore Ihab Mikati.
Other students said their votes were moreso against Romney than for Obama.
“I wish I could have voted for [Green Party candidate Jill Stein],” said liberal arts student Hanna Kjeldbjerg. “But I figured if Romney won, I’d be really disappointed in
Carleton College political science senior Meghan Keane was at the DFL party and was thrilled upon hearing Obama won.
“I’m really happy. I was campaigning all day and really glad it paid off,” Keane said.
-The Associated Press
contributed to this report.