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President Obama is escorted by his family in Chicago to deliver his 2012 victory speech.

By Chelsea Schilling and Jerome Corsi

American voters have voted to keep President Barack Obama in the White House for four more years, as Obama collected at least 303 Electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to win.

After calling Obama to congratulate him, Republican challenger Mitt Romney declared, “This is a great time of challenges for America, and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation.”

He added, “I believe in America. I believe in the people of 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, but the nation chose another leader and so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.”

Obama gave his victory speech in Chicago just after 1:30 a.m. Eastern, saying, “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 have to fix that — whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone, whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voices heard.”

“You reaffirmed the spirit that we are an American family and we rise or fall as one nation and as one people,” he added. “For the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”

The states called for Romney include: West Virginia, Kansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Texas and South Carolina. Romney won the battleground state of North Carolina.

The states called for Obama are: Vermont, Virginia, Rhode Island, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, New Mexico, Washington, Hawaii, California, Iowa, Oregon, Nevada and Washington, D.C. Obama also won the coveted battleground states of Michigan, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

According to exit polls released by the Associated Press, six out of 10 voters have listed the economy as the top issue this election. Only four in 10 believe the economy is improving, while more said the nation’s financial situation is worsening or stagnating.  Only one-quarter of voters said they are better off now than four years ago.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, reacting to Obama’s lead, declared, “I just cannot believe, though, that the majority of Americans would believe that incurring more debt is good for our economy, for our children’s future, for job creators. I cannot believe that the majority of Americans would believe that it’s OK not to follow the Constitution and not have a budget. And I can’t believe that the majority of Americans would say it’s OK to rely on foreign sources of energy instead of drilling and mining our own natural resources.”

Both candidates had campaigned at the last minute today in Ohio, a crucial battleground state.

Romney is welcomed by massive crowds in Pittsburgh (WND photo by Jerome Corsi)

WND senior staff reporter Jerome Corsi had been traveling with the Romney campaign and was with the team on Election Day.

Upon seeing throngs of supporters in Pennsylvania today, Romney said, “Just getting off the plane and seeing those people there, cheering as they were, connected emotionally with me.”

As Americans were headed to the polls, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh warned voters to cast their ballots judiciously.

“Liberty versus tyranny is on the ballot today, and I’m not exaggerating an iota,” he declared. “Vote for your freedom today. Vote for your liberty today. But just vote.”

Limbaugh also cautioned, “Today is the absolute last chance to stop Obamacare.”

WND's Jerome Corsi along with reporters on the Romney campaign plane (WND photo by Jerome Corsi)

Just hours before the election, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod said the campaign had projected many routes to 270 electoral votes, and “all those pathways are intact.” He predicted Obama would win both the Electoral College and the popular vote.

While economic issues dominated the election year, the religious vote came out in force.

Rev. Billy Graham appeared in full-page ads urging Americans “to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.”

Meanwhile, strategists were focused on the following key battleground states:

Ohio

In 2004, George W. Bush won Ohio but lost some of the state’s largest cities – Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Akron-Canton – and barely carried Cincinnati. On Monday, Romney’s internal polling showed his campaign up by one point in Ohio and tied in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Ohio’s 18 electoral votes are at stake. According to Romney campaign data, Ohio’s absentee and early vote activity was more than 17 percent higher in counties McCain won in 2008 compared to counties Obama won. Overall, early voting turnout in Ohio was up 2.44 percent in the state (down by 4.1 percent in Obama counties and up 14.39 percent in Bush/McCain counties).

Florida

Before Election Day, Romney held a five-point lead in the critical swing state of Florida, according to a poll from the Times-Union and Insider Advantage.  A whopping 29 electoral votes were at stake in Florida, the state with an 8.7 percent unemployment rate. Obama won Florida in 2008 by 3 percentage points, but former President George W. Bush carried it by five points in his successful 2004 re-election bid.

Colorado – Obama wins

Colorado, a state with nine electoral votes, has experienced polling station problems in Jefferson County, the swing county considered likely to determine which presidential candidate wins the state. Some voters were turned away when poll workers claimed their names were not on registration lists.

In 2008, Obama beat McCain by nine points, becoming the third Democratic presidential candidate to win Colorado since 1952. In early voting this year, Republicans slightly outnumbered Democrats by 688,503 to 653,450.

Iowa – Obama wins

In Iowa – the state that launched Obama’s historic run for the White House – an estimated 40 percent of ballots were cast before Election Day. The state’s six electoral votes were at stake. In Iowa, Democrats have carried five of the last six presidential elections. In 2008, Obama won Iowa with 53.9 percent of the vote. Obama’s campaign spent more than $22.6 million on ads in Iowa, compared to $14.7 million spent by the Romney campaign.

Nevada – Obama wins

In Nevada – a battleground state with six electoral votes at stake – Obama has been consistently leading in the polls. In 2008, he carried the state by 12 points. Fox News reported that 48,000 more Democrats than Republicans during Nevada’s two-week early voting period this year. Democrats have mobilized big unions in the state. The Culinary Union Local 226 alone has registered 70,000 likely Democrat voters.

However, the Romney campaign is confident about its prospects there. The state has the highest rate of home foreclosures and the highest unemployment rate in the nation – 11.8 percent. Nevadans’ median income has also plummeted by $9,900 since 2008.

North Carolina – Romney wins

In North Carolina, Romney competed for the state’s 15 electoral votes. Going into the election, Romney held a slight lead over Obama. Obama carried the state by a very narrow 14,000-vote margin in 2008, which was the first Democrat win in 32 years.

Virginia – Obama wins

In 2008, Obama won Virginia’s 13 electoral votes (53 percent to 46 percent over John McCain)  – the first time a Democrat had done so since the 1964 landslide of Lyndon Johnson over Barry Goldwater.

Wisconsin – Obama wins

Wisconsin, a state with 10 electoral votes, is the home of Romney’s vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan, who was born and raised in Janesville. In 2008, Obama won the state by 14 points, and Republicans have been suffering a 28-year losing streak in presidential elections.

Michigan – Obama wins

In 2008, Obama celebrated a landslide 16.4-point victory in Michigan, a state with 16 electoral votes. In this strong union state, Democrats have been victorious in the last five presidential elections.

Pennsylvania – Obama wins

The Los Angeles Times observed, “In 64 years, no Democrat has won the White House without winning Pennsylvania.” In 2008, Obama won the state, which has 20 electoral votes, by 600,000 votes after strong Democratic turnouts in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.


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