Washington(PTI): Barack Obama today clinched a resounding victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney to earn a second term as US President braving economic woes and straightaway promised bi-partisan politics after a deeply polarised election.
A votary of strong ties with India, 51-year-old Obama, the first black American to occupy the White House, scored what turned out to be a comfortable victory over his feisty rival after a bitter and costly campaign.
Disproving predictions of a narrow victory in a very tight race, the incumbent virtually swept battleground states of Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and New Hampshire after a neck-and-neck race in the initial stages.
He secured 303 electoral votes against 206 of Romney in a college of 535 votes plus three of District of Columbia. A candidate has to get at least 270 votes to become President.
Verdict in the other key state of Florida, which had in 2004 elections wrecked the chances of popular choice Democrat Al Gore in a controversial election against George W Bush, remained unsettled. Counting in Florida, which has 29 votes, has been suspended till tomorrow, with Obama having a slight advantage.
Notwithstanding doubts over his ability to revive economy from the effects of the crisis, the worst after the Great Depression of 1930s, and an anxious future, voters appeared to have chosen status quo leaving Democrats with control of the Senate and Republicans the House of Representatives.
What tilted the race in Obama’s favour was the massive swing he got from the victory in California, which has the largest number of 55 electoral votes, and Ohio with 18. Till California was called Romney had led over Obama.
Pollsters had even apprehended a tie after the Presidential debates and surveys, but in the ultimate analysis Obama got over 300 votes but not anywhere near his 2008 score of 349.
After the networks declared Obama the winner, 65-year-old Romney called him and congratulated him. “This is a time of great challenge for our nation. I pray the President will be successful in guiding our nation,” he told his supporters.
The President reciprocated his sentiments and congratulated him on a hard-fought campaign.
Praising his rival, Obama said he looked forward to sitting down with Romney to talk about “where we can work together to move this country forward”.
“And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign soil. We have got more work to do,” he said in his speech which had nothing about the Administration’s foreign policy.
Earlier, Obama tweeted to his supporters after his victory: “This happened because of you. Thank you.”
Obama, born to a white American mother and Kenya-born Harvard-educated economist father on August 4,1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, becomes only the second Democrat after Bill Clinton to secure two White House terms since the World War-II.
The President paved the way to victory defending Democratic bastions in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Obama, who romped to power four years ago as an agent of hope and change, secured his second term on the back of a fiercely negative campaign.
He branded former Massachusetts Governor Romney as elite and indifferent to the middle class after the businessman-turned politician surprisingly outperformed him in the first of the three high-stake presidential debates.
The President campaigned offering a “fair shot” to the middle class and to fulfil his pledge to end the war in Iraq.
Now, Obama will have to perform on the promise of his historic reforms of health care and Wall Street. He is also likely to look abroad, especially the issue of thwarting Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Obama may have also been helped at the last minute when superstorm Sandy devastated the US East Coast, bringing out his skills in tackling the aftermath.