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Before an enthusiastic and sometimes weeping crowd of thousands at Grant Park in Chicago, Barack Obama gave his acceptance speech as the newly elected 44th president of the United States.
“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible,” Obama said, “tonight is your answer.”
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama captured key electoral votes in states won by President Bush in 2004, fueling his decisive victory.
The former Republican “red” states of Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, Nevada and Florida were colored blue on electoral maps, signifying projected Democratic victories.
Added to the many East and West Coast states that also voted Democrat in 2004 and maintained their “blue” status this year, Obama was projected to win far more than the 270 electoral votes needed to become the next president of the United States.
In his acceptance speech, Obama talked about people waiting to vote, standing in long lines that wound around churches and schools and told the story of a 106-year-old Atlanta voter who had seen a century of change in her lifetime.
“Tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment,” Obama said, “change has come to America.”
Obama praised McCain for his bravery and service to the country, thanked his supporters and political machine and told his daughters, “You have earned the new puppy that is coming with us to the White House.”
As Obama moved the speech to its climax, he repeated his campaign mantra, “Yes, we can,” and the audience echoed back the chant.
“Tonight let us ask ourselves, if our children should live to see the next century,” Obama asked at the end of his speech, “what change will they see? What progress will we have made? This is our chance to answer that call.”
Many polls leading up to the election showed Americans favoring Obama over Republican rival John McCain, including a Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby daily tracking poll released earlier on Election Day, which gave Obama an 11.4-point lead over McCain, 54.1 percent to 42.7 percent.
The Zogby website also predicted Obama would secure at least 311 electoral votes, with a handful of battleground states outstanding.
The election results indicated that Obama will likely exceed Zogby’s estimate.
McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, said Sunday that to win, McCain needed victories in five of six key states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida and Indiana.
The first of the critical states to be called by the major television networks was Pennsylvania, based solely on exit poll data, even before precincts reported vote totals. The announcement prompted a protest from the McCain campaign.
When news networks also projected an Obama victory in Ohio, however, McCain’s chances began to dwindle. No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio.
At 9:51 p.m., former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro announced on the Fox News Channel, “It’s all over.”
At 11 p.m., CBS and Fox News agreed, officially declaring Barack Obama winner of the presidential election.
Exit polls, NBC News reports, show Obama won overwhelmingly among black voters, won the majority of female and Latino voters and carried a slim lead among white voters. He also won more than two-thirds of voters 30 years old and younger.
McCain delivered his resignation speech shortly after the announcement of Obama’s victory, acknowledging the election’s historical significance, especially for black Americans.
“I have always believed America offers opportunities for those who have the industry and will to achieve it,” McCain said. “There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.”
McCain congratulated the victor, but also took a moment to offer his sympathy over the recent death of Obama’s grandmother.
The Republican referenced his disagreements with Obama, but pledged his goodwill and assistance in leading the country forward.
“Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans,” McCain said, “and please believe me when I say, no association has ever meant more to me than that.”
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