WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama wins second term, looking to make good on his election-night pledge to move the country forward and unite Americans following a gruelling and divisive election campaign.
His second inauguration is scheduled for Jan. 20.
In a rousing victory speech early today, the president made an appeal to America's better angels, but insisted that the country was "not as divided as our politics suggest."
"We remain more than a collection of red states and blue states," Obama said in a speech that was redolent with the soaring rhetorical flourishes that were standard issue during his historic 2008 run for the presidency.
"We are the United States of America."
The president added he'd never been more hopeful about the country's future despite the profound partisan and demographic divides that were starkly exposed throughout his election battle against Republican Mitt Romney.
Obama handily won the votes of women, young Americans, African-Americans and Hispanics on Tuesday — in fact, the president got almost 70 per cent of the Latino vote, the fastest growing demographic in the United States.
In Pennsylvania, the high turnout of African-American voters — reportedly even higher than it was in 2008 — was thought to have played a critical role in the president's victory there.
Romney, meantime, won older Americans, working-class whites and those with family incomes of US$50,000 a year or more.
But many liberal Americans deeply distrusted the Republican, particularly after the emergence of a secretly recorded videotape in early September that showed him disparaging almost half of the electorate as government freeloaders.
And Hispanics never forgave Romney for remarks he made during primary season, when he said illegal immigrants should "self-deport."
Indeed, the election result has serious ramifications for the Republican party that will almost certainly include months of internal soul-searching.
The electorate decisively rejected Romney's vision for the country — one that advocated smaller government, tax cuts, looser Wall Street regulations and socially conservative policies on abortion and contraception that angered women.
Instead, they opted for Obama's message of a compassionate federal government, tax hikes for the wealthy, immigration reform and social policies that respect a woman's right to control her own health decisions.
The president avoided the pink slip even in the face of a glacially slow economic recovery and a hotly contested election that caused his supporters to fear he was doomed to the indignity of a single term.
Obama, indeed, became the first incumbent president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win a second term with an unemployment rate above 7.4 per cent.
And yet Tuesday night's congressional winners and losers were every bit as important as the ultimate White House victor. Congress, after all, is more powerful than the executive branch in terms of bringing to life — or snuffing out — a president's legislative hopes and dreams.
The makeup of Congress remained unchanged, with Republicans maintaining control of the House of Representatives and Democrats dominating the Senate.
And even though Obama pledged Tuesday night to work with his congressional opponents, he's still facing a Republican House that's no warmer to his agenda than it has been for the past two fractious years.
This is a corrected version.