In a cascade of election-night wins from Maine to Washington, President Barack Obama gained a second term to finish the work he and his administration started.
“Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come,” Obama said in front of 20,000 supporters near his Chicago campaign headquarters.
The president, appearing triumphant but more subdued than at his victory speech in 2008, began his statement at 2am EST—after Republican nominee Mitt Romney called to concede the race.
In delivering brief remarks in Boston at 1am, Romney thanked his campaign team and his crestfallen supporters. “I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. And I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. This election is over, but our principles endure. I believe that the principles upon which this nation was founded are the only sure guide to a resurgent economy and to renewed greatness,” he said.
Late last night, electoral maps showed Obama nearly sweeping the major swing states, any of which potentially carried enough electoral college votes to decide the presidential race. Though he lost one swing state that he had won in 2008—North Carolina—he beat Romney in Ohio, Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin. All of the Northeastern states, from Pennsylvania to Maine, also went to Obama.
A clue to Obama’s eventual victory was indicated by key Congressional races, none more heated than the Senate battle between incumbent Republican Rep. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. In what was seen by many pundits as a referendum on the Obama administration’s handling of the financial crisis, Warren—a Harvard law professor who led the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau —handily defeated Brown, 54 percent to 46 percent, to become Massachusetts’ first female Senator.
Warren was one of two Senate seats picked up by Democrats; the other was in Indiana, a Republican stronghold. Rep. Joe Donnelly, a moderate Democrat, trounced Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock, who infamously said a child born from rape “is something God intended to happen.”
Female candidates triumphed in neck-and-neck races in Wisconsin and Missouri. Rep. Tammy Baldwin made history in becoming Wisconsin’s first female Senator and first openly gay person in the U.S. Senate, while Sen. Claire McCaskill thrashed Republican challenger Todd “legitimate rape” Akin to hang on to her Senate seat.
According to EMILY’s List, an organization dedicated to electing pro-choice women to office, a record number of women will serve in the Senate beginning next year, including Baldwin, Warren and McCaskill. Their colleagues include Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), all Democrats who won contests this year. Nebraskan voters also chose Deb Fischer, a Republican. They join current female Senators Patty Murray (Wash.), Barbara Boxer (Calif.), Mary Landrieu (LA), Barbara Mikulski (Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (NH), Kay Hagan (NC), all Democrats; and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Kelly Ayotte (NH).