, WASHINGTON, Nov 7 – President Barack Obama swept to re-election Tuesday, forging history again by transcending a slow economic recovery and the high unemployment which haunted his first term to beat Republican Mitt Romney.
The 44th US president, and the first African American to claim the Oval Office, was returned to power after a bitter election campaign when television networks projected he would take Ohio and his spiritual political home of Iowa.
“This happened because of you. Thank you,” Obama tweeted to his 22 million followers on Twitter as jubilation erupted at his victory party in Chicago.
Obama became only the second Democrat to secure two White House terms since World War II, but exit polls revealed a deeply divided electorate and seemed to ensure a renewal of the polarization that has gridlocked Washington.
Large crowds suddenly materialised at the White House, chanting “Four more years” and “Obama, Obama” as drivers cruising the streets of Washington honked their horns.
Supporters awaiting the president’s victory speech at a Chicago convention center, said they could not find words to express their joy.
But once the euphoria fades, the president will face a tough task enacting his second term agenda, after Republicans, who have thwarted his every step, retained control of the House of Representatives.
Democrats kept the Senate but fell short of the 60-vote super majority needed to pass major legislation over Republican blocking tactics.
With a clutch of swing states, including Florida and Virginia still to be declared, Obama already had 290 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed for the White House, and he looked set for an even more comfortable victory.
There was no immediate concession from Romney, who remained out-of-sight in a Boston hotel, where he was expected to address disappointed supporters.
Obama paved the way to victory with a staunch defense of Democratic bastions in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, at which Romney had taken a last minute run when he saw more conventional paths to victory blocked.
The win in Iowa will be especially sweet for Obama, as the heartland state nurtured his unlikely White House dreams way back in 2007 and a tear rolled down his cheek as he held his last ever campaign rally there late Monday.
His victory in Ohio represents a delayed repayment for his gutsy call in 2009 to mandate a federal bailout of the auto industry, on which one in eight jobs in the state depend and which Romney opposed.
Obama, who took power as a prophet of hope, won re-election with a fiercely negative campaign, as he branded Romney, a former multi-millionaire corporate turnaround wizard as indifferent to the woes of the middle class.