WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama rolled to re-election Tuesday night, vanquishing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and triumphing despite a weak economy that plagued his first term and put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions.
"This happened because of you. Thank you" Obama tweeted to supporters as he celebrated four more years in the White House. Romney telephoned the president to concede.
After the costliest - and arguably the nastiest - campaign in history, divided government seemed alive and well.
Democrats retained control of the Senate with surprising ease. Republicans were on course for the same in the House, making it likely that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Obama's partner in unsuccessful deficit talks, would reclaim his seat at the bargaining table.
At Obama headquarters in Chicago, a huge crowd gathered waving small American flags and cheering. Supporters hugged each other, danced and pumped their fists in the air. Excited crowds also gathered in New York's Times Square, at Faneuil Hall in Boston and near the White House in Washington, drivers joyfully honking as they passed by.
With votes counted in 75 percent of the nation's precincts, Obama held a narrow advantage in the popular vote, leading by about 25,000 out of more than 99 million cast.
But the president's laserlike focus on the battleground states allowed him to run up a 303-203 margin in the competition for electoral votes, where the White House is won or lost. It took 270 to win.
Obama captured Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada, seven of the nine states where the rivals and their allies poured nearly $1 billion into dueling television commercials.
Romney was in Massachusetts, his long and grueling bid for the presidency at an unsuccessful end.
He won North Carolina among the battleground states.
Florida remained too close to call, a state where there were long lines of voters kept the polls open in some areas well past the appointed poll close time..