The world watches on as America goes to the polls. In what is predicted to be the closest election in recent memory, a deeply divided country must choose between Mitt Romney, the Republican former moderate peddling a more conservative vision for America, or Barack Obama, the beleaguered incumbent who wants four more years to reverse the disappointment of his first term.
In an election with global consequences, Huff Post UK brings you every twist and turn from what promises to be an historic night in American politics.
HuffPost's Andrea Stone reports:
WASHINGTON -- Exit polls indicate that President Barack Obama received 69 percent of the Jewish vote Tuesday. Partisans have just begun to argue whether that was an overwhelming endorsement or the latest evidence that one of the Democratic Party's most reliable constituencies is becoming less so with every presidential election.
Read the full story here.
HuffPost's Tyler Kingkade reports:
NEW YORK -- Mitt Romney lost the youth vote by a huge margin, and with it, he lost the presidency.
Sixty percent of young voters who cast ballots chose to reelect President Barack Obama, against the 36 percent who voted for Mitt Romney. That's a six point slide in youth support for Obama from 2008, but still nearly triple the margin of victory for the youth vote that John Kerry won over George W. Bush in 2004.
An analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University found that had the youth vote been split 50-50 for the presidential race in just four states -- Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia -- Romney would have been elected president. In each of those four crucial swing states, exit polling shows young voters made up 16 to 19 percent of the electorate.
According to the National Journal, Republicans had counted on the youth vote to be held to just 15 or 16 percent of the electorate in order to secure a Romney victory.
But CIRCLE estimates 22 to 23 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 nationwide voted this election. Exit polls show voters ages 18 to 29 made up 19 percent of the electorate, a 1-point increase from 2008.
"It is because [Romney] lost the youth vote pretty decisively that he will not be the next president of the United States," said CIRCLE's director, Peter Levine.
Read the full story here.
Hours after President Barack Obama declared that the nation needs to fix the problem of long lines at the voting booth, a survey by Hart Research, commissioned by the AFL-CIO, found that minorities and Democrats were more likely to experience long wait times than others.
Nearly a quarter of blacks -- 24 percent -- and Hispanics -- 22 percent -- reported waiting in line more than 30 minutes, compared to 9 percent of whites. Obama voters were nearly twice as likely as Romney voters to face long lines, at 16 percent to 9 percent.
-- Dan Froomkin
|@ jonathanweisman : I hear Berg concedes to Heitkamp at 2:45ish CDT. With Angus King, Dems go up 55-45 in Senate. If nothing else, they have a cushion for 2014|
Both members of the only married couple in Congress lost their races last night. Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) was defeated in his U.S. Senate campaign against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Mack's wife, Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) lost her bid for reelection to Democrat Raul Ruiz by 4,500 votes.
Bono Mack was first elected to Congress in a 1998 special election following the death of her first husband, Rep. Sonny Bono (R-Calif.). She was seen as the frontrunner to hold the Palm Springs area seat, having defeated her previous Democratic challengers by large margins. She married Connie Mack, a four-term congressman, in 2007. It is her third marriage and his second.
-- John Celock
With North Dakota's U.S. Senate race still undecided, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp's narrow lead over Republican Rep. Rick Berg is the best showing by a Democrat statewide in North Dakota this year. Current results show Heitkamp, a former state attorney general, holds a 3,000 vote -- or 1 percentage point -- lead over Berg in the contest to replace retiring Sen. Kent Conrad (D).
The next closest Democratic performances in the state this year occurred in the races for Congress and public service commissioner. In the congressional race, Republican Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer defeated Democrat former state Rep. Pam Gulleson 54 percent to 41 percent. In the public service commissioner race, Republican Randy Christmann defeated Democrat Brad Crabtree 54 percent to 41 percent. Crabtree was one of the most outspoken candidates in North Dakota, using the race to campaign for ethics reform and what he believed to be moral lapses at the Public Service Commission. In the governor's race, Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) easily defeated state Senate Minority Leader Ryan Taylor (D-Towner), 63 percent to 34 percent.
If elected, Heitkamp would be the first woman elected to represent North Dakota in Congress and the second woman to serve the state in Washington, D.C. Former Sen. Jocelyn Burdick (D) represented North Dakota in the Senate for three months in 1992 following the death of her husband, Sen. Quentin Burdick (D). Jocelyn Burdick was appointed to her Senate seat by then Gov. George Sinner (D).
-- John Celock
|@ NBCNews : NBC News declares Steve Bullock as the projected winner in Montana - Governor. #NBCPolitics|
Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) is expected to lose his reelection bid to Democrat Patrick Murphy, although the race has not yet been fully called. Until it is, West's campaign isn't pleased that people keep saying he's out, according to a statement posted on his Facebook page Wednesday morning:
Our race is far from decided and there is no rush to declare an outcome. Ensuring a fair and accurate counting off all ballots is of the utmost importance. There are still tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district. Late last night Congressman West maintained a district wide lead of nearly 2000 votes until the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections “recounted” thousands of early ballots. Following that "recount" Congressman West trailed by 2,400 votes. In addition, there were numerous other disturbing irregularities reported at polls across St. Lucie County including the doors to polling places being locked when the polls closed in direct violation of Florida law, thereby preventing the public from witnessing the procedures used to tabulate results. The St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections office clearly ignored proper rules and procedures, and the scene at the Supervisor’s office last night could only be described as complete chaos. Given the hostility and demonstrated incompetence of the St. Lucie County Supervisor of Elections, we believe it is critical that a full hand recount of the ballots take place in St. Lucie County. We will continue to fight to ensure every vote is counted properly and fairly, and accordingly we will pursue all legal means necessary.
Murphy is leading in votes, according to exit polling, with 160,328 to West's 157,872. The district is the only House race in Florida that has yet to be called.
-- Elise Foley
More than 55 percent of Latino voters thought the Romney campaign was hostile toward them -- a good indication of why he may have lost them so badly -- and 18 percent believed he had no interest in reaching out to them, according to an impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll released in full Wednesday morning.
The "election eve" poll was taken from Nov. 1 to Nov. 5, surveying Latinos who had either already voted or said they were certain they would do so. Results from 11 states were released late Tuesday evening and into early Wednesday.
ImpreMedia-Latino Decisions found that a record proportion of Latinos, 75 percent, supported President Barack Obama, while only 23 percent voted for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who conceded the election after losing the electoral college by more than 100 votes. National exit polls put Obama at 71 percent support from Latinos and Romney at 27 percent.
Obama likely fared better among Latinos in part because he seemed more interested in reaching out to them: 66 percent of those polled said they felt Obama truly cares about them. Twenty-three percent said Obama was hostile toward Latino voters.
Immigration reform proved pivotal, even though it wasn't the highest-ranking priority, with 57 percent of Latino voters polled saying they were less enthusiastic about Romney based on his positions on the issue.
See the full results here, including state breakdowns in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.
-- Elise Foley
Mitt Romney and California's John Frémont have something in common: both presidential candidates lost their home states by historic margins.
According to Smart Politics, only Frémont -- one of the nation's first Republicans, in 1856 -- suffered a greater defeat from his own constituents in California than Romney did Tuesday in Massachusetts. With more than 95 percent of the vote counted in the state, Romney trailed Obama by a 23.4-point margin, Smart Politics reported.
Read more here.
The leader of the Republican Party in Manhattan called newly reelected Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) a "lapdog" for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in an interview with City & State on Wednesday. The move comes the morning after Gillibrand defeated Republican Wendy Long.
Manhattan Republican Chairman Dan Isaacs told the website of the state political publication that his opinion was formed when the two clerked together for a federal judge.
“It’s an example of why we are where we are as a country that we don’t have people of substance who really can step up. It’s a joke," Isaacs said, according to City & State.
- John Celock
Minnesota residents voted against an amendment on Nov. 6 that would have defined marriage as being between a man and woman in the state's constitution -- though it isn't likely to end the local debate over which couples should have legal access to marriage rights.
With the rejection, the state became the first in the country to shoot down a constitutional amendment limiting marriage equality, reports the Duluth News Tribune.
Gay marriage remains illegal in the Minnesota. However, without the constitutional amendment, making it legal in the future will be easier for pro-equality advocates.
Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) took a victory lap on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.
"This has just been amazing," she said of her victory. Warren ran against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in the state Senate race.
Of her supporters, Warren said, "They saw this race as a race about what kind of people we are and what kind of country we're going to build … I have to say, this is democracy."
Asked about what she would do in Washington, she said, "I come there not just to be a senator."
"This is for all the people who are out there -- we play by the rules, we just want a chance to have a little economic security," she said.
"This isn't about parties, I'll work with anyone," Warren said.
Warren is greeting commuters in South Boston on Wednesday morning.
"The bond between Europe and North America, based upon the shared values on which our alliance was founded over 60 years ago, remains as strong, and as important to the preservation of Euro-Atlantic peace and security as ever. President Obama has demonstrated outstanding leadership in maintaining this vital bond." --NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
For more world reaction to the 2012 election, click here.
|@ BreakingNews : Bill Clinton was the first person President Obama called after receiving concession call from Mitt Romney, campaign official says - @NBCNews|
|@ breakingpol : Republican Michele Bachmann defeats hotelier Jim Graves to win 4th term in expensive Minnesota House race - @AP|
|@ Reuters : FLASH: California Democrats say win supermajority in California State Assembly|
Democrats appear to have retaken control of the Colorado state House of Representatives. Local station 9News reports that Democrats will unseat three Republican legislators to regain control of the chamber they lost in 2010. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee has declared victory in the state.
State House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver) is poised to become the state's first openly gay speaker of the House with the victory. Earlier this year, Ferrandino saw a bill he pushed to allow civil unions in the state blocked by the state House Republican leadership. Ferrandino would be the fourth openly gay individual in American history to preside over a state legislative chamber.
Democrats control the Colorado state Senate and the governor's office.
The race for the U.S. Senate in North Dakota was deemed too close to call Wednesday morning, but Democrat Heidi Heitkamp declared on Twitter that her 3,000 vote edge would hold.
"I am confident I am going to be the next United States Senator from North Dakota," she tweeted.
Heitkamp was leading Rep. Rick Berg (R) 160,752 to 157,758 votes, but the results had not been certified. North Dakota is the only state that does not require voter registration, and anyone who can show they've been living in the state for 30 days is allowed to vote.
Democrat Brandon Whipple, who was attacked by the Tea Party over the weekend for not having children, has won a seat in the Kansas House of Representatives. Returns published by the secretary of state show Whipple defeating Republican Rick Lindsey 58 percent to 42 percent in the newly created Wichita district.
On Saturday, campaign literature created by Kansans for Liberty, a Tea Party group in Wichita, asked, "Can someone with no children really understand your family's needs?" about the Democrat.
Whipple, 30, noted that he and his wife, Chelsea, have been trying to have children and told HuffPost that the ad, which included other attacks, took the race to "a different level." The literature included other attacks on Whipple, which the Democrat said were false.
Craig Gabel, the head of Kansans for Liberty, told HuffPost that the piece was meant to point out issues about Whipple and ask if he could address children's issues if he wasn't a parent. Whipple's opponent, Lindsey, also didn't have children. Gabel said a similar piece was not created against Lindsey, since Lindsey was in agreement with Tea Party principles.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D) landslide victory over Republican Wendy Long also appears to give her claim to the having won the largest percentage of the vote in New York state history. Gillbrand received 72 percent of the vote in unofficial returns, higher than Schumer's 70.6 percent victory in 2004 over Republican Assemblyman Howard Mills.
Gillibrand's victory showed her capturing 60 of the state's 62 counties, losing only Allegany and Wyoming Counties to Long, a judicial activist. Schumer captured 61 counties in his 2004 campaign, landing him in a tie with former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who won 61 counties in 1988.
Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul -- the western New Yorker who galvanized Democrats by winning her 2011 special election on an anti-Paul Ryan platform -- lost her reelection bid to Republican Chris Collins in a heavily gerrymandered district.
Hochul, a former Eric County Clerk, set the tone for Democrats in 2012 by winning her special election, largely on the strength of a save-Medicare message that repudiated Ryan's plans to turn the program into a private, voucher-based system.
She was the first Democrat to win the district in decades, but the new map gave it the largest Republican voter base in the state. Still, Hochul nearly beat Collins, falling less than 6,000 votes short, losing 49.3 to 50.7 percent.
Republican Mia Love has conceded her house race against Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Matheson to represent Utah's 2nd congressional district, Fox 13 reports.
Reports are coming in that riots are brewing on the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, Mississippi.
Photos show huge group of people on the campus, some even lighting Obama-Biden signs on fire in response to the presidential election results.
Read the full story here.
Republicans know that they lost a major opportunity Tuesday, and Sen. John Cornyn, the Texan who runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said it was time for the party to look in the mirror.
"It’s clear that with our losses in the Presidential race, and a number of key Senate races, we have a period of reflection and recalibration ahead for the Republican Party," Cornyn said. "While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight. Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead."
But he also warned Democrats not to get too cocky, and while calling for bipartisanship, got in a dig at President Barack Obama.
"While the Democrats had a good night, they should not over-read their mandate as reflected by the almost evenly divided popular vote," he said. "It’s important to observe that nothing that happened tonight changes the very serious challenges confronting our country –- a trillion debt, year-after-year of massive deficit spending, unsustainable entitlement programs, and a tax code that picks winners and losers while discouraging economic growth and job creation.
“Solving these very serious problems will take real presidential leadership," Cornyn added. "This is something we unfortunately did not see in the president’s first term, but that all of us hope for in his second.”
-- Michael McAuliff
Final votes from the Kansas City, Mo. area have given state Rep. Jason Kander (D-Kansas City) an apparent victory in the race for Missouri secretary of state. Final returns show Kander leading state Rep. Shane Schoeller (R-Willard) 48.8 percent to 47.5 percent. Kander's lead is just over 33,000 votes, with over 2.5 million cast statewide in the race.
The Kansas City-area votes, the last to be counted in the race, pushed Kander past the seven-point lead that Schoeller had maintained most of the evening. Kander, an Afghanistan War veteran, pushed an ethics reform agenda in the race, calling for caps on campaign contributions in the state. Kander, who has made ethics reform a top issue as a state legislator, also promised to use the office to promote economic development. Kander highlighted his Afghanistan experience in multiple ads in the race.
Schoeller made voter identification a key issue in the race, which saw him receive a last minute infusion of 5,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee. Schoeller received backing from businessmen Rex Sinquefield and David Humphreys, who provided large campaign contributions, along with free billboards from the state's billboard lobby. A key issue in the race was the writing of the state's ballot initiative language, an issue that Sinquefield has pressed with his interest in pushing statewide referendums on several issues.
Kander and Schoeller were competing to succeed retiring Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D).
-- John Celock
Republican Mike Coffman has been projected as the winner of his Colorado House race by the AP.
Democrats Ron Kind and Gwen Moore and Republicans Sean Duffy and Reid Ribble were projected the winners of their respective Wisconsin House races by the AP.
Republican Steve Scalise and Democrat Cedric Richmond have been projected the winners of their respective Louisiana House races by the AP.
Republicans John Carter and Randy Weber and Democrat Pete Gallego have been projected the winners of their respective Texas House races by the AP.
Mitt Romney has been projected the winner of Alaska, according to the AP.
Republicans Trey Radel, Vern Buchanan and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrats Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Joe Garcia, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel have been projected the winners of their respective Florida House races by the AP.
Democrat Nick Rahall is the projected winner of his West Virginia House race by the AP.
In a major blow to Michigan unions, voters rejected a proposal Tuesday that would have amended the state's constitution to guarantee public and private-sector employees the right to organize and collectively bargain. Proposal 2 failed 58 to 42 percent with 70 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press.
The measure was meant to be a preemptive tactic by unions to protect bargaining rights in light of recent legislation in other states limiting such powers.
Read more here.
Republicans Mike Grimm, Christopher Gibson, Chris Collins, Richard Hanna, Thomas Reed and Peter King and Democrats Steve Israel, Daniel Maffei, Paul Tonko, Brian Higgins, Louise Slaughter, Bill Owens, Nydia Velasquez, Sean Maloney, Nita Lowey, Hakeem Jeffries, Eliot Engel, Joe Crowley, Jose E. Serrano, Charles Rangel, Yvette Clarke, Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Gregory Meeks, Grace Meng, Carolyn McCarthy and Timothy Bishop have been projected the winners of their respective New York House races by the AP.
Republicans Joe Heck and Mark Amodei and Democrats Dina Titus and Steven Horsford have been projected the winners of their respective Nevada House races by the AP.
Republican Steve Pearce and Democrats Ben R. Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham have been projected the winners of their respective New Mexico House races by the AP.
Republicans Chris Smith, Scott Garrett, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Leonard Lance and Jon Runyan and Democrats Albio Sires, Rush Holt and Frank Pallone have been projected the winners of their respective New Jersey House races by the AP.
Kevin Cramer was projected to be the winner of his North Dakota House race by the AP.
Republicans Jeff Fortenberry and Adrian Smith have been projected the winners of their respective Nebraska House races by the AP.
Given the state's mail-in voting system, Washington's final tally won't be official for the next few days. But the Seattle Post-Intelligencer found that support for Referendum 74 was leading 51.8 percent to 48.2 percent in the final hours of Nov. 6.
Republicans Richard Hudson and Robert Pittenger have been projected the winners of their respective North Carolina House races by the AP.
Republican Kansas state Senate candidate Steve Fitzgerald, who told a Kansas City group last month that Catholics could not be Democrats, appears to have defeated state Sen. Kelly Kultala (D). Returns on the secretary of state's website show Fitzgerald leading Kultala 52 percent to 48 percent.
Fitzgerald had told the Polish American Club that Catholics could not be Democrats, because the party platform did not mesh with Catholic teachings. Fitzgerald later told HuffPost that part of his message was for Catholics to help fix the Democratic Party to make it stronger.
The Kultala-Fitzgerald race was one of several competitive races where Democratic incumbent senators were targeted for defeat by conservatives. Kultala, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010, faced a barrage of mailers tying her to President Barack Obama on such issues as the economy and health care reform.
-- John Celock
|@ edhenryTV : Fox News has learned that immediately after getting the concession call from Romney, President Obama called .... former President BClinton|
|@ aterkel : NH is run by ladies now -- all-female congressional delegation, woman in the governor's office.|
Carol Shea-Porter has been projected the winner of her House Race in New Hampshire by the AP.
An Iowa state senator who died last month from breast cancer received the most votes Tuesday to represent Iowa's Senate District 22, The Waukee Patch reports.
Pat Ward, a Republican who was seeking reelection at the time of her death, led Democratic candidate Desmund Adams, according to unofficial results.
The state's Republican Party has until Nov. 13 to submit a candidate to appear on the Dec. 11 special election ballot in the place of Ward.
John Ward, the late state senator's husband, announced last week that he intends to seek the nomination.
-- Ian Gray
Republicans Blaine Luetkemeyer, Billy Long, Vicky Hartzler and Ann Wagner and Democrats Emanuel Cleaver, Jo Ann Emerson and Lacy Clay have been projected the winners of their respective Missouri House races by the AP.
Republican John Kline and Democrats Tim Walz and Collin Peterson have been projected the winners of their respective Minnesota House races by the AP.