WASHINGTON, November 5 – Democrat Barack Obama took an early lead in the historic presidential race, including the big prize of battleground state of Pennsylvania, according to US media projections.,
US networks ABC and NBC called the vital eastern state’s 21 electoral votes for the Democrat, but McCain appeared to parry back, with Georgia, a traditionally Republican state that slipped into toss-up status in recent weeks, and its 15 electoral votes going to the Republican, according to Fox and MSNBC.
Obama won 10 other states and the capital District of Columbia to give him the lead in the first waves of results amid heavy voter turnout.
Among them was the symbolic northeastern prize of New Hampshire, as well as Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and his home state of Illinois, media outlets including CNN, Fox, and CBS also reported.
McCain has won eight states — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia — most considered safe Republican bastions, they said.
Losing Pennsylvania is a major blow for McCain, who had criss-crossed the state in recent weeks in an effort to strike an upset in one of the major battleground states.
The tally puts Obama ahead 103 electoral votes to 69 in the projections.
The networks were citing rolling official state results along with exit polls conducted in several polling locations across the states.
Other key battlegrounds Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia were declared "too close to call" as polls closed in at least 16 of the country’s 50 states and the city of Washington.
Each state in the country has a winner-take-all system for calculating presidential votes for the states, which means most are either solidly Democratic (blue) or Republican (red).
The candidate who reaches the threshold 270 out of 538 electoral votes nationwide is declared the winner.
It has been widely predicted that McCain must win either Pennsylvania, Virginia or Ohio if he wants any shot at the presidency.
In the south side of Chicago, there was joy and disbelief that an African American candidate seemed to be on the threshold of the presidency.
"I think that we’re gonna get him," said 92-year-old Roby Clark as he waited to vote for Obama at a Baptist church in Chicago.
"Through God’s blessings, I think we’re gonna get him," said Clark who vividly remembers being forced to sit at the back of a bus in the segregated southern United States.
In Christianburg, Virginia, Norma Jean Lundis said she voted for McCain because he "stands for what I believe in — less government, lets me control my money, the right to bear arms, life begins at conception, marriage between man and woman."
McCain, a former Vietnam war prisoner would be at 72 the oldest president inaugurated for a first term if elected.
Obama, the son of a black Kenyan father and white mother from Kansas, would become the first African American president after a stunning rise to the pinnacle of US politics.