CHICAGO — When NBC projected President Obama had been re-elected at 10:12 p.m. Central, the convention floor here at McCormick Place exploded. It is bedlam here.
Live Coverage of Election Day
Americans went to the polls on Tuesday and Times reporters around the country will be providing live updates, analysis and results throughout the day.
Helene CooperThe Crowd Goes WildDamon Winter/The New York Times
Michael D. ShearObama Re-elected, Networks Project
President Obama has won re-election to a second term, according to projections by several television networks.
The president’s official Twitter account quickly posted a message: “This happened because of you. Thank you.”
CBS News, CNN and NBC News all projected that Mr. Obama would defeat Mitt Romney after concluding that he would win the necessary 270 electoral votes.
The decision gives Mr. Obama another four years to put in place policies that he had argued would continue to move the country along to economic recovery.
Mr. Romney and Republicans had implored the country to change course, saying that the president had failed to turn the economy around quickly enough.
The president’s victory was hard-scrabble and nowhere near as easy as it appeared to be four years ago. But an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising and voter turnout efforts gave him the win.
Mr. Romney’s campaign closed strong, coming extremely close in the final weeks, after a listless debate performance by the president and an increase in Mr. Romney’s favorable ratings among independent voters.
Katharine Q. SeelyeCelebration at Warren HeadquartersWhitney Curtis/Getty Images
BOSTON — The Warren campaign victory party — no doubt one of the biggest and happiest redoubts of Democratic supporters in the country Tuesday night — exploded with cheers and shouts of joy when Mr. Obama was projected the winner by television networks.
“Yes we can!” they chanted, “Yes we can!”
Several supporters of Elizabeth Warren, among thousands gathered in a ballroom at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel, started dancing.
Michael D. ShearKaine Wins in Virginia Senate RaceLuke Sharrett for The New York Times
Tim Kaine, the Democratic former governor of Virginia and the chairman of the Democratic National Committee under President Obama, was elected on Tuesday to the United States Senate.
George Allen, the former Republican senator from the state, conceded to Mr. Kaine after one of the most closely watched and negative Senate races, according to multiple news reports.
Mr. Allen had hoped to reclaim the seat he once held in the Senate. He lost the seat in 2006 to the Democrat Jim Webb. Mr. Webb decided to retire after one term, paving the way for Mr. Kaine’s campaign.
From the beginning, Mr. Allen portrayed Mr. Kaine as a liberal who is close to Mr. Obama and would raise taxes if he got a chance to serve in the Senate. In the last weeks of the campaign, Mr. Allen also accused Mr. Kaine of supporting a Congressional deal to cut defense spending, hoping that would scare voters in parts of the state where many military voters live.
Mr. Kaine portrayed Mr. Allen as out of step with the burgeoning suburban communities in Northern Virginia, especially when it comes to issues of importance to women.
The race was a marquee one from the start, in part because of Mr. Kaine’s closeness to the president and the assumption that the race would be very close.
It stayed true to form for much of the year, with polls suggesting repeatedly that the race was virtually tied. It quickly became one of the most expensive races in the country, with third-party groups pouring money into the state, especially on behalf of Mr. Allen.
But in the end, Mr. Kaine won in a state that is rapidly changing. The suburbs near Washington are becoming much less white and tend to vote Democratic. That helped Mr. Kaine and hurt Mr. Allen’s chances of redemption.
Mr. Allen’s fall from grace began six years ago, after he called a young man of Indian descent “macaca.” A video of the comment went viral and helped to doom his re-election campaign. Mr. Webb won by a narrow margin.
At the time, Mr. Allen vowed to bide his time, and he spent the next six years planning his attempt to reclaim his seat. On Tuesday, that effort failed.
Helene CooperWest Coast Returns Cheer Chicago Crowd
CHICAGO — The West Coast returns begin to come in, and as CNN shows President Obama surging ahead of Mr. Romney in the Electoral College tally the crowd here goes wild.
Was this a surprise? Not even close, but that’s how highly strung and nervous people are. California, Washington State and Hawaii go into the blue column, eliciting a standing ovation.
But still, no projection yet from the big three: Virginia, Florida and those Buckeyes in Ohio.
Jonathan WeismanMcCaskill Wins Missouri Senate Race
Claire McCaskill, once considered the most endangered incumbent in the Senate, won re-election Tuesday, beating the Republican Representative Todd Akin, who sank his campaign when he said women who were victims of “legitimate rape” would not get pregnant.
Republicans had considered Ms. McCaskill’s seat in their pocket earlier this year as they mapped out a path to control of the Senate. Missouri was trending Republican, and her votes for President Obama’s health care law and stimulus plan were considered insurmountable obstacles to a second term.
Then came Mr. Akin, the most conservative of three candidates vying in a Republican primary to compete with Ms. McCaskill in the general election. Republicans in Washington considered him the weakest of the three, a poor fund-raiser prone to voicing positions too far to the right even for conservative Missouri. But his conservatism helped him secure the nomination, especially when Ms. McCaskill ran a last-minute round of ads declaring him too conservative, ads that featured diatribes against President Obama that were clearly appealing to the Republican primary electorate.
Just weeks after his victory, Mr. Akin uttered a now-infamous explanation for his opposition to abortion even in the case of rape: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said.
In the ensuing uproar, the National Republican Senatorial Committee begged him to leave the race, vowing to not help finance his campaign. American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, the deep-pocketed Republican groups co-founded by Karl Rove, declared they would not finance his run either.
But backed by Christian conservatives, Mr. Akin stayed in the race, running on little money but a conviction that Missouri Republicans would rally around him as a bulwark of opposition to President Obama. They didn’t.
With more than a third of the state reporting, Ms. McCaskill was cruising to victory, 11 percentage points ahead of her rival.
Nate SilverDeep Red States Go to Romney by Large Margins
The differences between national polls, which often showed a very tight race for the popular vote, and polls of swing states, where President Obama usually maintained an advantage, were a source of intrigue this year. It could be that Mitt Romney’s performance in strongly red-leaning states, which were sparsely polled this year, accounts for much of the difference, allowing him to rack up votes without helping himself in the Electoral College. Read more on FiveThirtyEight …
Mark MakelaVoter Portraits: Sheridan Township, IowaMark Makela for The New York Times
“I don’t know if Romney’s the man either, but I’m going to give him a chance. In four years Obama should have been able to make something happen, and it’s just gotten worse.”
Name: Dennis Wilkening
Supporting: Mitt Romney
Location: Sheridan Township, Iowa
Occupation: Corn and soy farmer
Concerned About: Economy
Helene CooperAt Obama Headquarters, All Eyes on OhioDamon Winter/The New York Times
CHICAGO — The Obama campaign election night rally is showing a video — Road to November 6 — that seems particularly apt right now as the nervous crowd waits for results from the swing state to end all swing states.
“Ohio, I still believe in you!” a full-throated President Obama is yelling into the microphone on the screen during one of his umpteen trips to the Buckeye State this year. In the background, soaring music is playing. “And I need you to keep believing in me!”
The crowd is rapt, every eye on the screen. The tension is fierce. Everyone keeps saying Mr. Obama is up in Ohio, and the wide belief in the crowd is that if the president wins Ohio, he wins the presidency.
But the networks still have not called Ohio.
“This is a great time to pray,” Bishop Vashti McKenzie, of the A.M.E. Church, says from the podium.
Graphics DeskExit Polls: Independents in New Hampshire
Exit polls show that New Hampshire voters who identify as independents favored President Obama, but much less than in 2008.
Graphics DeskNew Hampshire Called for President ObamaExplore the electoral combinations below:Dem. leads Rep. leads
Romney has ways to win.
Obama has ways to win.
scenarios result in a tie.
Calculations are based on both candidates winning where they are strongly ahead in polls.
Katharine Q. SeelyeWarren Wins in MassachusettsEvan McGlinn for The New York Times
BOSTON — Elizabeth Warren, a darling of the left, won a hard-fought race in Massachusetts for the Senate on Tuesday, according to network projections, recapturing for the Democrats the seat held for almost half a century by Edward M. Kennedy.
The networks began calling the race for Ms. Warren shortly before 10 p.m., first CBS and then CNN and NBC. Whoops went up in the hotel ballroom here where Ms. Warren was holding her victory party.
The Senate seat had slipped into Republican hands when Scott P. Brown, a state legislator, won it in a special election in 2010 after Mr. Kennedy’s death. Taking it back was a Democratic priority.
Ms. Warren, 63, a professor at Harvard Law School, will become the first woman to win a Senate seat in Massachusetts. Her victory was fueled by a forceful appeal to female voters, who supported her in lopsided numbers, while men overwhelmingly backed Mr. Brown.
She cast herself as a fighter for the middle class and a champion of women’s causes, particularly equal pay for equal work, health insurance coverage for birth control and abortion rights.
It was a message that resonated with Elizabeth Lear, 46, a book reviewer in Waltham, who said she voted for Ms. Warren because “she cares about the financial concerns of everybody and most importantly about women’s reproductive rights, the freedom to choose.”
And, Ms. Lear added, “I feel she’s pretty scrappy and I really like that about her.”
Mr. Brown cast Ms. Warren as a partisan and inflexible ideologue who would march in lockstep with the Democratic Party.
The combined spending on the race totaled more than $68 million, making it the most expensive Senate race in the country in this election cycle and one of the most expensive ever. With the help of progressive groups that bolstered her candidacy early, Ms. Warren raised a stunning $39 million, which put her among the top five most successful Senate fund-raisers of all time. The money was all the more remarkable considering that Ms. Warren was a first-time, and untested, candidate.
“We raised money from more donors than any Senate campaign in the history of the United States,” Ms. Warren said in a statement about an hour after the polls closed Tuesday. She added, “We knocked on more doors and made more phone calls than any candidate in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Trip Gabriel and Ashley ParkerIn Boston, From Upbeat to AnxiousMatthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images
BOSTON — As of about 30 minutes ago, when television screens showed Mr. Romney jump from a 100,000-vote deficit in Florida to a 12,000-vote lead, the mood outside the ballroom at the Boston Convention Center where Mr. Romney is holding his party suddenly ticked up.
People cheered, breaking off their conversations. But there was little exuberance.
“I still think it’s a tossup,” said Jeff Dusault, who is in the recycling business.
Michelle McCarthy, a mother of three, said she felt hopeful, but “you’re on the edge.”
A friend, a freelance writer who did not want to give her name, said, “I want to see Virginia, and then we’ll start celebrating.”
The dress code is Big Night, with women in cocktail dresses and men in suits. Guests sipped Sam Adams and nibbled R-monogramed chocolates as they watched the television monitors tuned to Fox News above the large central bar.
Inside the ballroom, where the floor was about two-thirds filled, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, one of Mr. Romney’s most loyal surrogates, addressed guests by phone, his image on large monitors. After he recited figures for various Ohio counties in a voice that sounded a bit downbeat, he signed off with, “Thank you for letting me be a part of this amazing journey.” There was only the smallest ripple of applause.
The cover band launched into Hall & Oates’s “You Make My Dreams Come True.”
But as more state results rolled in, the mood in the ballroom at Mr. Romney’s victory party slowly began shifting from optimistic to anxious.
“It doesn’t look good,” said an attendee. His wife shook her hand back and forth, in so-so gesture.
Earlier, the half-full ballroom had stood dead silent as Fox News called Michigan — Mr. Romney’s native state, where his late father, George, was a three-term governor — for President Obama.
At 10 p.m., the music stopped and the volume returned to Fox News, the network of choice here. The anchors called New Hampshire and Pennsylvania for Mr. Obama.
One or two people in the audience booed, lightly.
There did not appear to be enough energy for anything more.
Steven YaccinoA Soggy Viewing Party in Chicago
CHICAGO – Early results flashed across a giant screen at the edge of a plaza as a crowd of mostly Obama supporters, many huddled under umbrellas, gathered for what was expected to be a long and rainy election night.
The outdoor viewing party, sponsored by CNN, was staged just a couple of miles from President Obama’s indoor election night event, held at the McCormick Place convention center downtown.
But for some, this soggy communal gathering was a meager replacement for the grandeur of Mr. Obama’s last election party, which packed Grant Park with thousands of supporters four years ago.
“There was a lot of love in the atmosphere,” remembered Tiana McEntee, 36, who attended the outdoor celebration in 2008.
On Tuesday night, Ms. McEntee and her family sat in lawn chairs, wrapped in winter coats and blankets, barely talking. “Everybody is just concerned now,” she said, adding that she expected the crowd to grow larger as the night went on. “There’s a little nervousness right now.”
Others who felt as if they had missed out on the 2008 celebration were just happy to be there and eager for their own lasting experience.
“It’s a historic event,” said Joseph Hill, 28, who drove from a western suburb of Chicago to stand in the crowd. “I wanted to be in the city, downtown, to absorb it.”
Mark MakelaVoter Portraits: CincinnatiMark Makela for The New York Times
“Romney said we can create lots of jobs, but he sent a lot of jobs overseas, made a lot of money off that.”
Name: Reggie England
Supporting: Barack Obama
Occupation: Master barber
Concerned About: Economic Inequality
Robbie BrownAlabama Republicans Celebrate Second Amendment
HOOVER, Ala. — At the Alabama Republican Party festivities on Tuesday night, the top raffle prize is a Glock pistol. Guests are encouraged to bring firearms. And gunfire can be heard over the television coverage of the election.
Here in the reddest of red states, the Republican Party is gathering at a shooting range and weapons store in this Birmingham suburb. While state parties in other states gather in hotel ballrooms, Alabamians are packing into the Hoover Tactical Firearms.
The location was chosen for its 52,000-square-foot facility, said Bill Armistead, the party chairman. But it is also a gesture of support for the Second Amendment.
“It makes total sense being here,” said George Singleton, a longtime Republican from Birmingham. “Republican or Democrat – but especially Republican — most people in Alabama support gun ownership.”
Attendees could bring guns, but not ammunition. Extra security was hired. And the range dropped its prices for the night to $13. “It’s going to be very, very safe,” said Mr. Armistead, who brought a Glock and a .38-caliber pistol. “We’re checking everyone’s guns as they come in.”
About 400 people – only a handful of them armed – attended the celebration, which was hosted by a former Miss Alabama, Amie Beth Dickinson Shaver. Most gathered around televisions and picked at snack food. But a few ventured onto the shooting range until it closed at 8 p.m.
“There’s no other way my parents could have gotten me to come to this,” said Andrew Rogers, 14, wearing a Romney T-shirt as he left the shooting range with a target full of holes. “This definitely makes politics more fun.”
Graphics DeskThe Times Calls Pennsylvania for President ObamaPennsylvania had been leaning Democratic throughout the campaign, but Republicans made a last-minute advertising push here, and Mitt Romney visited the state on Sunday and earlier today.Pennsylvania20 E.V.ObamaRomneyPennsylvania1441540270 to win
Helene CooperMood Swings in ChicagoDamon Winter/The New York Times
CHICAGO — All night the crowd gathered here for Obama election night rally has been jamming to the campaign’s familiar musical playlist — Al Green, Jennifer Hudson, Brooks and Dunn. But the mood has veered crazily back and forth.
The early cheers come when the networks called Michigan for President Obama. The Florida vote count, which has shown the president inching up to tie Mr. Romney, elicits cautious clapping. And then the networks call Pennsylvania for the president and and the crowd goes wild.
But then things quiet quickly, when one of the monitors shows the race remains undecided. The big three — Ohio, Florida, Virginia — remain too close to call.
Interestingly, House Democrats and Senate Republicans are having an equally tearful night, perhaps even within the same states.
The New York TimesPolls Close in Iowa and Nevada at 10 p.m. Eastern
Michael D. ShearObama Wins Wisconsin, Networks Project
President Obama has won Wisconsin, according to several television networks, ending hopes by Mitt Romney’s campaign of an upset in the state.
Fox News, NBC News and CBS News each said Mr. Obama had won the state.
Mr. Obama had been leading in the state for much of the campaign. But Republicans were hopeful in the last days that the race was tightening and that Mr. Romney might have a chance there.
Both candidates and their surrogates scheduled late trips to the state, each hoping to sway the last undecided voters and to motivate their supporters.
Republicans had put faith in the fact that they had won a recall battle last year over whether to end the term of the Republican governor, Scott Walker, early. Democratic efforts to oust the governor lost that battle. Also boosting Republicans’ hopes was the presence of Representative Paul D. Ryan, a native son, on the ticket.
But Mr. Obama’s victory in the state means that Mr. Romney was unable to capitalize on the same Republican fervor in the state that helped Mr. Walker.
Micah CohenThe Florida Bellwether
In every presidential election since 1960, the candidate who prevailed in Florida’s Hillsborough County, home to Tampa, has also prevailed in Florida. There is no guarantee that the pattern will hold in 2012, but the Tampa region is critical in carrying the Sunshine State (which is a reason the Republican Party held its national convention there this year). Read more on FiveThirtyEight …
Nate SilverGrowth in Non-Cuban Hispanics Helps Obama in Florida
Florida has a significant Cuban-American population, and those voters tend be more Republican-leaning than other Hispanics. In this year’s exit poll in Florida, 50 percent of Cuban-American voters said they voted for Mitt Romney, 47 percent for Barack Obama. Mr. Obama had a two-thirds advantage with non-Cuban Hispanics in the exit poll, however. Read more on FiveThirtyEight…
Michael D. ShearObama Wins Pennsylvania, Networks Project
President Obama has won Pennsylvania, according to three television networks, despite a strong, late push by Mitt Romney’s campaign to claim the state amid polls that showed the race tightening.
Fox News, CBS News and NBC News all said that Mr. Obama had won the state, a big prize that carries 20 electoral votes.
In the waning days of the campaign, Mr. Romney visited the Keystone State, and his campaign and its allies poured millions of dollars into television ads there.
The Obama campaign mocked the effort, saying that it was a fool’s errand and that Mr. Obama would win there. Even some Republicans worried that the party often tries to win Pennsylvania, without any luck.
The president’s victory in Pennsylvania puts added pressure on Mr. Romney to win in Ohio. Some Democrats said last week that Mr. Romney’s campaign was turning to Pennsylvania because it saw Ohio slipping away.
Without Pennsylvania’s electoral votes, Mr. Romney needs Ohio’s 18 electoral votes to get to 270, both sides say.
Brian BlancoVoter Portraits: Sun City Center, Fla.Brian Blanco for The New York Times
“I’m a Republican and that’s the way I’ve always been and that’s all I know really. Don’t see any reason to change anything now.”
Name: Gene Gardner
Supporting: Mitt Romney
Location: Sun City Center, Fla.
Occupation: Retired school principal
Concerned About: Economy
Michael D. ShearObama Wins Michigan, A.P. ReportsOzier Muhammad/The New York Times
President Obama has defeated Mitt Romney in the state where the Republican candidate was born and where his father served as governor, The Associated Press said.
Mr. Romney had spent plenty of time in Michigan during the early part of the campaign, declaring himself to be especially fond of the state where he grew up.
But the race between himself and Mr. Obama did not last long in Michigan, where polls showed the Democrat leading for months.
Mr. Obama’s campaign hammered voters with ads about Mr. Romney’s opposition to the bailout of the automobile industry, and exit poll surveys suggested that the ads took their toll on support for the Republican candidate.
That may sting for Mr. Romney. Michigan was the state where his father was governor. The elder Mr. Romney also ran an auto company in Detroit, a fact that Mr. Romney often cited in trying to rebut the charges by Mr. Obama.
Toward the end of the campaign, some strategists for Mr. Romney suggested that the president might be vulnerable in Michigan, where polls showed the races tightening.
But in the end, Mr. Obama won the state, adding its 16 electoral votes to his total.
The New York TimesSenate Race Update: Indiana
The race is considered a tossup, after comments during a debate hurt Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party favorite who defeated the six-term Senator Richard G. Lugar in the Republican primary.
Graphics DeskRace Update: VirginiaWith 45 percent reporting, Governor Romney holds a lead in Virginia, but some key counties have not reported results.Virginia
Candidate Votes Pct. Romney 826,284 53.8% Obama 687,388 44.8%45% reportingTop Candidate's
Share of VoteMargin of VictoryChange in vote from '08
Graphics DeskThe Times Calls Michigan for Barack ObamaMichigan has been reliably Democratic, but Mitt Romney and conservative groups made a last-minute push in the final days in the state where Mr. Romney was born.Michigan16 E.V.ObamaRomneyMichigan1101390270 to win
Graphics DeskRomney Gains Ground, but Obama Keeps
Lead in Key CountiesPresident Obama is holding a lead in three of four Florida counties that supported President George W. Bush in 2004 and switched to Mr. Obama in 2008.
County 2008 Margin 2012 Margin Change from 2008Hillsborough61% reporting Obama +7.1 Obama +4.9 Romney +2.2Pinellas98% reporting Obama +8.2 Obama +5.5 Romney +2.7Osceola20% reporting Obama +19.7 Obama +23.7 Obama +4.0
Dead silence in Romney ballroom when Fox News announces that he lost Michigan, his native state where his late father was governor.
Michael D. ShearNo Big Surprises Yet as More States Are Called
President Obama won the states of Maryland and Maine, according to The Associated Press. The two are locations along the Eastern Seaboard that his campaign expected to win.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has won three Southern states: Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, The A.P. reports. All three are part of the base of states that Republicans have come to expect will be in their column.
Damon WinterSlide Show: Backstage at Obamas Election Night Event
Members of the news media arrived in Chicago at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center where President Obama’s election night event will be held Tuesday. Go to Slide Show »
Graphics DeskPolls close in Colorado and Wisconsin, two battleground states, at 9 p.m. Eastern. President Obama won Colorado in 2008, but it chose a Republican in eight out of the previous nine presidential elections. Wisconsin has voted for a Democrat in the last six elections, but it is also the home state of Mitt Romney's running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan.
Michael D. ShearExit Polls: Blaming Bush
One of the central arguments of the 2012 presidential election has been who should be blamed for the country’s economic situation.
Nearly four years after George W. Bush departed office, a majority of voters still believe he is the answer to that question.
Mitt Romney repeatedly argued that President Obama should bear the burden of an economic recovery that has been tepid at best.
Mr. Obama strenuously argued that the country’s economic struggles were a result of the disastrous situation Mr. Bush left him. He said Mr. Bush and the Republicans “drove the country into a ditch.”
And the president said again and again that Mr. Romney’s policies would take the country back to the ones that Mr. Bush followed.
Preliminary exit poll results suggest that Mr. Obama’s argument has carried the day with more voters. Half of all voters said that Mr. Bush was more to blame for current economic problems, while only 4 in 10 blamed President Obama.
As expected, Democrats were far more likely to blame Mr. Bush for the country’s problems. Republicans were more likely to blame Mr. Obama for the economic woes.
But independent voters — a key group — said they, too, believed Mr. Bush deserved more of the blame for the country’s woes, suggesting that Mr. Obama’s arguments have been more successful.
Among independent voters, half said that Mr. Bush should be blamed for the problems. Less than 4 in 10 said that Mr. Obama deserved that blame.
The same holds true for moderate voters. Two-fifths of voters identify themselves as moderates. Among these voters, a clear majority (6 in 10) blame Mr. Bush for economic problems, while only 3 in 10 blame Mr. Obama.
Michael S. SchmidtAt a Polling Place, an Oasis of Nonpolitical Talk
PERRY, Iowa — Election Day for a reporter, particularly in a swing state, can be an overwhelming mix of political operatives telling you how great they’re turning out the vote, repetitive advertisements choking the airwaves and the fear that you are missing some huge voter issue.
After a long day here, I have discovered that there is a safe house of sorts where you can get away from all of this and just be around people who are quietly chatting with one another: a polling place.
As much as polling places are where Americans come to have their voices heard, most people – perhaps out of respect for the process, fear of being thrown out for trying to persuade another voter, or just fatigue after the monthslong election — say nothing about politics while waiting.
In an hour that I sat in the lobby of a Masonic lodge here where votes were being cast, I heard nothing about whether Bain Capital had shipped jobs overseas, 47 percent, “You Didn’t Build That” or the first debate.
I didn’t even hear the names Obama or Romney.
Instead, old friends reconnected and asked about each others’ spouses. A woman talked with a friend about a new program her company was planning to put in place. And one man confided with a friend that he had just been suspended from work for being late too many times.
As nice as it was inside the polling place, I couldn’t forget that I was in a swing state. And as it was getting closer to the polls closing at 10 p.m. Eastern, I thought it was a good time to check in with an analyst here to get some last-minute thoughts on what would affect the state’s vote.
So from the parking lot of the polling place, I called Dennis J. Goldford, a professor of political science at Drake University in Des Moines.
Mr. Goldford has been studying how Iowans vote since the 1980s and said there were three things that would most likely determine whether the state goes for Obama or Romney.
Not surprisingly, the first factor was how independents break. In 2008, he said, they went for Obama and it was unlikely they would do so this time because there was far less enthusiasm toward him.
To make up that difference, Mr. Goldford said, Obama has to have a larger turnout of Democrats than Republicans. The Obama campaign in Iowa, he said, was more organized than Romney’s, so it was conceivable that the Obama campaign could turn out more voters.
The second issue, Mr. Goldford said, was the impact of down-ballot votes at the state level on same-sex marriage. The issue tends to galvanize conservatives, he said, and if many decide to vote based solely on that issue, it will most likely help Mr. Romney as it did President Bush in 2004.
Last, Mr. Goldford said it would come down to the accuracy of the polls. Mr. Obama had been polling well in the final days of the campaign, but Mr. Goldford said that Mr. Obama had not broken through the 50 percent mark. This left Mr. Goldford to believe that the electorate had not cemented its view.
“I would rather have Obama’s numbers coming into today, but it is still very close, there are two outs in the ninth inning and it’s 2-1 Obama,” he said.
Graphics DeskRace Update: FloridaWith 31 percent reporting, Governor Romney holds a narrow lead – but early votes tend to be Democratic, and some key counties have not yet reported.Florida
Candidate Votes Pct. Romney 2,208,091 49.7% Obama 2,196,507 49.5%31% reportingTop Candidate's
Share of VoteMargin of VictoryChange in vote from '08
The New York TimesVideo: First-Time Voters Reflect
Michael D. ShearNo Surprises as Obama Wins Several Blue States
President Obama has won a series of unsurprising victories in states that his campaign was counting on as he builds toward 270 electoral votes.
The president won Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware and the District of Columbia. All are deeply blue states.
Nate SilverSwing State Exit Polls Show Party ID Edge for Democrats
One source of debate this year was the charge that polls “oversampled” Democrats, meaning that they had more voters who identified as Democratic in the surveys than some conservatives expected would actually turn out to vote. So far, however, Democrats also have an edge in the party identification numbers in the exit polls. More on FiveThirtyEight.
Dalia Sussman and Michael D. ShearExit Polls: Broad Support for Auto Bailout in OhioMichael F. McElroy for The New York Times
If President Obama wins the state of Ohio, it could be his bailout of the auto industry — which is very popular there — that helped pave the way.
The federal government’s aid to United States automakers wins broad support from Ohio voters, according to early exit poll results. About 6 in 10 of the voters say they approve of it. Just over a third disapprove.
That provides some help for Mr. Obama in the state, with about three in four voters who support the auto industry bailout backing his candidacy. Mr. Romney is supported by the overwhelming majority of those who disapprove of the bailout.
Mr. Romney’s campaign has long complained that the news media and the Democrats have misrepresented his position on the auto bailout. In an opinion article in The New York Times, he argued for a managed bankruptcy that would help the companies restructure.
But in the article — and later — Mr. Romney also opposed government funds at the beginning of the bankruptcy process, a position that critics said would have forced the companies into bankruptcy.
Kim SeversonVoting Winding Down, Parties Heating Up
As the polls began to close in Atlanta, where African-Americans make up about 54 percent of the city’s population, the postelection parties were just beginning.
Students at traditionally black colleges like Morehouse and Spelman were heading to celebrate what they hoped would be a victory party for President Obama.
At the Indigo Bar near the Old Fourth Ward, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s old neighborhood, early party-goers posed for pictures in front of cutouts of the president and first lady. The Fox Sports Grill was hosting a “Yes We Did” party with a red carpet for supporters to stroll and a wall of photos of Mr. Obama with African-American celebrities. The V.I.P. reservation list for the election party at Halo, a midtown nightclub that promised “hookahs and bottles,” was filled before the day was out.
And $20 bought a ticket to the Presidential Prosperity Party at Paschal’s, where leaders of the civil rights movement often met to discuss strategy. The party Tuesday featured a couture fashion show inspired by Michelle Obama.
Of course, not everyone would be spending the evening with a crowd. With less certainty that Mr. Obama would win this election, many Obama supporters in Atlanta weren’t sure they were in the mood to party.
“The first time around was very emotional in a very specific way. This feels entirely different,” said Jamillah Simmons, 39, who works as a makeup artist. “There’s just more at stake in a way for African-Americans.”
Michael D. ShearA.P. Reports: Romney Wins Indiana, Oklahoma and South Carolina
Mitt Romney has won the states of Indiana and South Carolina, The Associated Press said, two conservative-leaning states that his campaign had expected would be in his column.
Together, the states add another 20 electoral votes to Mr. Romney’s total.
Mr. Romney has also won Oklahoma, which has seven electoral votes, The Associated Press reported.
Tanzina VegaDigital Coverage for Latinos in English and Spanish
A quick glance of what some Spanish-language news outlets and news Web sites dedicated to creating content for Latinos in English are doing with election coverage online:
NBC Latino leads its election coverage with a live “social blog” that includes user-generated photos and short blog posts from staff members on topics like first-time voters, whether Latinos could tip the scales in the race between Elizabeth Warren and Senator Scott P. Brown in Massachusetts, and, of course, Ohio.
CNN en Español led its Web site with a slideshow of Election Day photos and a “minute by minute” article updated with election results, state by state, as projected by CNN.
MundoFox, the newest addition to the Spanish-language broadcast set, did not dedicate all of its home page to election coverage but offered a microsite for users that included a live stream of its broadcast, a Facebook widget for user comments, and a series of interactive graphics including a map with election results and an explanation of the American voting system.
Fox News Latino, the English-language site for Latinos, included a series of articles related to the election including how voters were voting after Hurricane Sandy. The site also carried a large yellow banner advertisement promoting an analysis of the election results in Spanish at 9 p.m. Eastern with Rick Sanchez, the journalist who was fired from CNN in 2010 for calling the comedian Jon Stewart a bigot.
HuffPost Latino Voices led its election coverage with a series of political cartoons by Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican illustrator, academic and radio host.
Michael CooperWith Voters Still in Line, Virginia to Delay ReportingLuke Sharrett for The New York Times
With some voters in Virginia still standing in line after the polls closed at 7 p.m. — and therefore still able to vote — the state announced that it would delay reporting the results so as not to influence voters.
“In consultation with officials from both the Republican and Democratic Party, the Virginia State Board of Elections has agreed to pause reporting until 8:00 p.m. to ensure voters are not unduly influenced by preliminary results,” the board said in a statement. “Results will commence shortly thereafter.”
Graphics DeskEarly Indiana Returns Show Rural ShiftIn 2008, Barack Obama won an economically devastated Indiana by a 1 percent margin, a 22-point swing from President George W. Bush’s 2004 victory. This year Indiana was expected to be solidly in Mitt Romney's corner, and several networks have called the state for him.Indiana
Candidate Votes Pct. Romney 225,929 57.2% Obama 161,203 40.8%13% reportingTop Candidate's
Share of VoteMargin of VictoryChange in vote from '08
Travis DoveVoter Portraits: Durham, N.C.Travis Dove for The New York Times
“I had cancer in ’06, and as a business owner now, I cannot get health insurance. I was shocked at first of this news. Then while in chemo talking to others, my story was one of many.”
Name: Terri Klosterman
Supporting: Barack Obama
Location: Durham, N.C.
Concerned About: The lack of affordable health care
Katharine Q. SeelyePacking the Polls in MassachusettsMatt Campbell/European Pressphoto Agency
BOSTON — For those trying to read the tea leaves in the highly competitive Massachusetts Senate race, turnout may provide a clue.
So many people have jammed the polling stations that officials here are predicting a record turnout in Massachusetts of 73 percent — higher, even, than the 3.1 million people who voted in the 2008 presidential race.
Generally, Democrats benefit from higher turnout in a state like Massachusetts, where they outnumber Republicans, 3 to1. If more people are coming to the polls, the reasoning goes, more of them are likely to be Democrats.
But with high turnout comes long lines, and on a cold autumnal night like this one, a long line can discourage people who are not dedicated voters. Voting at some spots took more than an hour.
This is why Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic challenger, who had nothing on her public schedule Tuesday, ended up making a mad dash to at least eight polling places as the day wore on. Senator Scott P. Brown, the Republican incumbent, visited numerous sites as well.
“As the sun goes down and it gets colder, we’ve got to try to keep people in line,” said Doug Rubin, a senior adviser to the Warren campaign.
They do this by deploying volunteers to serve hot coffee to voters as they stand in line. They will also send elected officials and other local notables to polling places to chat with voters and encourage them to stay.
No one wants to lose an election because their voters got to the polls, saw long lines, then turned around and went home.
The New York TimesVideo: Brown vs. Warren
The Massachusetts Senate race between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren is one of the hardest fought and certainly most expensive Senate races in the country.
Michael D. ShearRomney Wins Kentucky, Obama Takes Vermont
Mitt Romney has won Kentucky’s eight electoral votes and President Obama has won Vermont’s three electoral votes, according to The Associated Press, an unsurprising start to a night of accumulations.
Mr. Romney’s victory in Kentucky was anything but a surprise, and early returns showed him with a wide, double-digit lead over the president in the conservative state.
The same goes for Vermont, a deeply Democratic state that everyone in both campaigns expected to go in the president’s column.
Michael D. Shear and Janet L. StreicherExit Polls: A Portrait of Virginia Voters
If the nation is just about evenly divided about who should be president — and it seems to be — the state of Virginia is a microcosm of the country.
Preliminary exit polls from the state show a tied race and an electorate whose characteristics closely mirror those in the rest of the country.
Early exit polls in Virginia, one of the most watched battleground states, show that more than 6 in 10 voters say that the economy is the most important issue facing the country. Far fewer cite health care and foreign policy issues as important issues.
When it comes to the economy, more than 4 in 10 report that unemployment is the biggest economic problem facing people like them, with rising prices being the next biggest problem.
Mitt Romney rates somewhat better on being able to handle the economy. And voters are split on whether Mr. Obama or former President George W. Bush is to blame for the current economic problems.
Turning to the national economy, about a third rate it as excellent or good. Looking to the future, voters in Virginia are more positive: more than 4 in 10 say the national economy is improving and a third say it is getting worse.
Virginia voters are split when it comes to their own financial situation. Compared with four years ago, about one third said their family’s situation was “worse today,” another third saying it was “about the same.”
Over all, Virginia voters see Mr. Obama’s policies favoring the middle class and poor, and Mr. Romney’s policies favoring the rich followed by the middle class. The contrast becomes more striking when looking at voter preference.
Among Mr. Obama’s supporters, 8 in 10 say his policies favor the middle class while 9 of 10 say Mr. Romney’s policies favor the rich.
Virginians are divided on the 2010 health care law. Those saying some or all of the law should be repealed have the edge over those preferring that the law be expanded or left as it is.
Mr. Obama is seen as better able to handle Medicare..
Virginia voters are split on taxes. Almost half say taxes should be increased only on those with incomes over $250,000, and another third said taxes should not increase for anyone. Three-quarters of Mr. Obama’s supporters said that taxes should be increased only on those with incomes over $250,000, while about two-thirds of Mr. Romney supporters favor no increases for anyone.
Feelings about the Obama administration align with voter preference. Early exit polls suggest overwhelming majorities of Romney supporters are dissatisfied or angry, while 6 in 10 Obama supporters are enthusiastic and another third are satisfied.
Ms. Streicher is a senior vice president at Citi and a polling analyst for the Times.
Christoph NiemannVideo: State of the Art
The math behind the Electoral College, as illustrated in M&Ms.
Graphics DeskPolls close in Ohio and North Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Ohio has voted for the winning candidate in the last 12 presidential elections, and both sides have been campaigning heavily there. View our three-minute preview of the state »
Nicholas ConfessoreExit Polls: Government Trying to Do Too Much
A central theme of Mitt Romney’s campaign was the need for government to play a lesser role — and private business a greater role — in the life of the country, from repealing the postcrash financial regulations to overturning President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the national health care law.
Preliminary exit polls show that the Republican argument has made inroads with voters since the dark days of 2008, when voters elected Mr. Obama amid a severe economic crisis.
In a change from 2008, when just over half of voters said that government should do more to solve problems, more voters now say that government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals.
Voters’ partisanship has helped fuel these views: A broad majority of Democrats said they favored more government and a large majority of Republicans disagreed.
What helps tip the scales? Independents voters, most of whom said government was doing too much.
Graphics DeskGame: Paths to the White HouseSelect from the battleground states below to explore election outcomes.Dem. leads Rep. leads
Romney has ways to win.
Obama has ways to win.
scenarios result in a tie.
Calculations are based on both candidates winning where they are strongly ahead in polls.
Mark MakelaVoter Portraits: Athens, OhioMark Makela for The New York Times
“I watched the debates, the first and third. There was misinformation of things and things were taken out of context. It seemed like Obama was doing anything he could to make Romney look bad.”
Name: Megan Dean
Supporting: Mitt Romney
Location: Athens, Ohio
Concerned About: Employment
Nicholas ConfessoreExit Polls: A Closer Look at Taxes
There were few differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney more stark then their proposals on taxes, with Mr. Obama proposing to raise them on wealthier Americans to help close the deficit and Mr. Romney seeking reductions in overall tax rates at every level, along with the elimination of never-specified loopholes.
Broadly speaking, most voters are wary of raising taxes to lower the nation’s budget deficit: When asked if taxes in general should be raised to help cut the deficit, more than three-fifths of voters oppose this idea.
But when asked if taxes should be increased only on income over $250,000 — a proposal similar to one of Mr. Obama’s — almost half of all voters said they were supportive.
Exit polls suggest that Mr. Obama’s arguments about tax fairness may explain some of the difference: A majority of voters say the U.S. economy favors the wealthy, and nearly two-thirds of these voters support raising taxes on income over $250,000.
Voters’ own income — and self-interest — do not appear to have much of an effect on their opinions about tax fairness. All income groups are about even in their support.
Jess BidgoodA Polling Place Party
BOW, N.H. — By Tuesday evening, the community center here felt more like a block party than a polling place. Voters streamed in, many with their children, stopping to catch up with their neighbors or fill out a free raffle ticket for the local gardening club.
“Is everybody registered?” Selectwoman Colleen Hunter said to a pair of teenage girls, taking them under her wing as if she were a party host introducing new guests to old ones. “Do you have an ID with you?”
Frank Jones, a teacher and part-time police officer here, chatted with friends outside the polls. After years of voting Republican — including for John McCain in 2008 — he had recently registered as a Democrat, and he spoke effusively about President Obama.
“If you were to ask me, am I better off than I was four years ago, I have to say, absolutely,” Mr. Jones said. “I think we’re a stronger nation. Obama managed to make significant progress. He inherited a mess.”
Tom McCoo, a state worker who votes independently, said he had also voted for Mr. Obama, in part because he preferred the president’s stance on women’s issues to that of his challenger, Mitt Romney. “I have four daughters,” Mr. McCoo said. “Their right to choose is important to me. That was one of my biggest concerns.”
Inside, Sheila Labounty, an independent voter who works for the state’s pharmacy board, said she was anxious about the outcome of the race. “I’m glad it’s going to be over,” she said. “I think it’s a tight race all around — I’m hoping Romney comes out on top.”
Ms. Labounty made her choice, she said, in part because of concerns about the national debt. “If it’s going on the way it is now, they’ll have to start a new program to teach us all Chinese,” she said. “And then we’ll be even more in deficit.”
And at seven years of age, Ali Sargent was over the moon about having voted with her mother, Sandy.
“When I put the voting thing in the chomper machine,” she said, grinning at her mother, “that was fun!”
Barry M. FeinbergExit Polls: A Portrait of Ohio Voters
Early exit poll data in Ohio suggest that voters for President Obama have very different perceptions of the state of the national economy compared with those who supported Mitt Romney
Ohio voters who supported Mr. Obama are about evenly split on whether the economy is in good or excellent shape compared with those who think the economy is not so good or is poor. But Mr. Romney’s voters almost unanimously say the national economy is not so good or poor.
Looking to the future, some two-thirds of Mr. Obama’s voters say the national economy is getting better and about 4 in 10 say their family’s finances are better today than four years ago.
Those who backed Mr. Romney see things differently. Close to two-thirds of Mr. Romney’s voters say the economy is getting worse, and over half say their family’s financial situation is worse than four years ago.
Who is to blame for the current economic situation? About three-quarters of Mr. Romney’s supporters say it is Mr. Obama; some 90 percent of those who preferred Mr. Obama say it is former President George W. Bush.
Voters who choose Mr. Obama see health care reform, Medicare and the legality of abortion very differently from those who support Mr. Romney.
Over three-quarters of Mr. Romney’s voters would like to see the 2010 health care law either repealed in part or in total. Almost all of them think that Mr. Romney would better at handling Medicare. Voters who preferred Mr. Obama say the opposite. Some three-quarters of them say they think the health care law should be left alone or expanded; almost all of them say Mr. Obama would handle Medicare better.
Abortion is also an issue that separates the two groups of voters. Over three-quarters of Obama voters said abortion should be legal in most or all cases. Some 6 in 10 of Mr. Romney’s supporters said the opposite – that it should be illegal in most or all cases. This preliminary exit poll data show, however, that among Mr. Romney’s voters, about a third have views similar to those who backed Mr. Obama in that abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
The New York TimesVideo: Instagrams From the Campaigns Final Days
Ashley Parker narrates a tour through her Instagrams from the final days of the Romney campaign.
Graphics DeskMost polls close in three battlegrounds — Florida, New Hampshire and Virginia — at 7 p.m. Eastern. (Some polls in Florida close at 8 p.m., and some in New Hampshire at 7:30 and 8 p.m.) What to look for in these and other key states »
Michael D. ShearExit Polls: A Narrow Majority for Obama Job Approval
Mitt Romney’s campaign repeatedly sought to undermine President Obama’s handling of the economy and other issues during his four years in office. Preliminary exit poll results suggest that the campaign failed to convince a majority of voters.
Early results show a narrow majority of voters approve of the way Mr. Obama is handling his job as president. Similarly, about half of all voters express positive views of the Obama administration over all.
Top strategists to Mr. Romney believed throughout the campaign that struggling Americans would become angry at the president and would take out that anger on Election Day.
But among those who have already voted, more of those with negative views of the Obama administration said they were merely dissatisfied but not angry (3 in 10). Only 2 in 10 said they were outright angry. (Those with positive views were split evenly between the enthusiastic and the merely satisfied.)
Nearly two-thirds of all voters say that Mr. Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy was a factor in their vote for president. Two-fifths of all voters said that it was an important factor.
Slightly more voters trust Mr. Obama to handle an international crisis than trust Mr. Romney. A majority said Mr. Obama would better handle the issue of Medicare than would Mr. Romney. Regarding the economy and the deficit, however, a narrow majority said Mr. Romney would be better.
Ashley ParkerOne Last Campaign News ConferenceStephen Crowley/The New York Times
Just hours before the polls closed, Mitt Romney came back on his private plane to chat with his traveling press corps one final time. He was by turns nostalgic, confident and at peace. Here is the complete exchange of Mr. Romney’s 50th news conference — and his last one as a candidate:
Q: How did it feel to see your name on the ballot?
ROMNEY: That was quite a moment. We’ve been working for this a long, long time, and to be on the ballot for the president of the United States Is very humbling. It’s a great honor, and I hope that I have the chance to serve.
Q: Are you thinking of your father?
ROMNEY: You know, I think about my dad from time to time and my mom. I sure wish they were around to be a part of this. It’s one of the inevitable parts of life that we lose the people we care most about, and I hope they’re able to watch in their own way.
Q: Governor, what does it feel like getting off the plane in Pennsylvania and seeing that, for someone who has no idea what you’re going through, what does it feel like to be you today?
ROMNEY: You know intellectually I’ve felt we’re going to win this and have felt that for some time, but emotionally just getting off the plane and seeing those people standing there — we didn’t tell them we were coming, we didn’t notify them when we’d arrive — just seeing people there cheering as they were connected emotionally with me and I not only think we’re going to win intellectually, I feel it as well.
Q: What is your assessment of your campaign? Are you proud of every moment out there? Do you have any regrets? Is there an argument that you wish you could have made better?
ROMNEY: You know I’m very proud of the campaign that we’ve run, to tell you the truth. No campaign is perfect. I’m sure like any campaign, people can point to mistakes. But that’s the mark of anything that’s produced by human beings. Our team has been very solid. We have not had the kind of infighting that’s reported to have occurred in other campaigns. We’ve worked well together, our campaign team. And we’ve gotten our message across. I am very pleased. I feel we have put it all on the field. We left nothing in the locker room. We fought to the very end. And I think that’s why we will be successful.
Q: Do you have two speeches written for tonight?
ROMNEY: I just finished writing a victory speech. It’s about 1,118 words. And, uh, I’m sure it will change before I’m finished, because I haven’t passed it around to my family and friends and advisers to get their reaction, but I’ve only written one speech at this point.
Q: Looking back over the last two years, how has this experience changed you as a person?
ROMNEY: You come away with a much greater appreciation for the depth of character of the American people. Despite our great differences in location and background, we have some characteristics of greatness that inspire and give you confidence that the future can be brighter than the past.
Q: But what about you? How has it changed you personally? Did you surprise yourself in any way over the last two years?
ROMNEY: I expected to be more tired given the number of events and the hours. And I think I got energy from the people that I spent time with, whether at the rope line or the rallies. You know when you have 10,000 people cheering you, you get a real boost from it. And so I have not been tired by the process. And frankly have enjoyed it a good deal. It’s very exciting. I think the general election campaign is particularly invigorating as you see people come together and support the effort.
Q: What’s it been like to campaign with Ryan? What difference has he made?
ROMNEY: Oh, it’s fun to be with Paul. It’s too bad that we have to divide to be able to hit all of the places we want to go to. Likewise with Ann. She’s off on her own day after day. But being with Paul is a real plus. I think we both enjoyed that a great deal.”
Q: What are you most looking forward to doing as a noncandidate?
ROMNEY: You know, assuming I win, my mind will immediately focus on the transition, the work that has to be done, the gathering of the people to carry out the work that we have. And I can’t imagine that I’ll be able to unwind. I think instead it’s winding tighter. So I don’t look postelection to be a time of regrouping. Instead it’s a time of forward focus. And the prospect of losing, I don’t give that a lot of thought. I know it’s possible and, because there’s nothing certain in politics, but I have of course a family and a life that are important to me, win or lose.
Q: I heard you were thinking about getting a puppy?
ROMNEY: If, assuming I win, one of the benefits would be to get another Weimaraner.
[Starts to walk away, then turns back around]
ROMNEY: Thanks you, guys. … I thought you had bigger seats back here.
Q: Don’t you wish you had spent more time back here?
ROMNEY: I know what the result of that would have been. More things to regret. [Laughs]
Michael D. Shear and Dalia SussmanExit Polls: Most Voters Decided Before Debates
The first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney is widely believed to have been a turning point in the presidential contest.
Mr. Obama delivered what his aides now concede was an uninspired performance.
But the debate — along with three more face-offs, including the vice-presidential candidates, and millions spent on campaign ads in the final month — may have come after most of the country had already made up their mind about who to vote for, according to preliminary exit poll results.
A wide majority of voters – about 8 in 10 – say they decided which candidate to support before October. The first debate between the two presidential candidates took place on Oct. 3.
Indeed, about 7 in 10 made up their minds well in advance – even before September, when the campaigns are said to really kick into high gear. Nearly 1 in 10 said they decided in September and another 2 in 10 said they made up their minds in October or in the last week.
That suggests that in the final weeks, the campaigns were increasingly fighting over a smaller and smaller number of potential supporters in the country.
Michael D. ShearExit Polls: Romneys Policies Would Not Favor the Poor
Sometimes in politics, there are moments that stick.
In February, just after winning the Florida Republican primary, Mitt Romney said on CNN: “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.”
The campaign argued — with some justification — that the broader context of his comments were immediately ignored. But it didn’t matter — Democrats pounced, saying the comments were further evidence that Mr. Romney’s policies would benefit the rich alone.
Now, preliminary exit poll results suggest that the comment helped shape opinions about the Republican nominee.In the surveys, a tiny percentage said they believed that Mr. Romney’s policies would favor “the poor.”
That result was probably also affected by the millions of dollars in negative ads that Mr. Obama spent accusing Mr. Romney of being a corporate raider who shipped jobs overseas.
But it is striking that 10 months after the “very poor” comment, voters seem to remember.
Helene CooperA Full Day at School for Malia and Sasha
CHICAGO–Malia and Sasha Obama didn’t let Election Day interfere with their schoolwork.
The White House says the first daughters flew into Chicago, along with their grandmother Marian, to join their parents — having put in their time at school Tuesday first.
The Obama family will have dinner together alone. Afterward, they will be joined by the first lady Michelle Obama’s brother Craig Robinson and his family, and the president’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family.
Then they will presumably watch election returns. Well, the White House didn’t say that, but what else would they do?
Travis DoveVoter Portraits: Cary, N.C.Travis Dove for The New York Times
“I have a strong desire to get back into the work force. I’m not happy being unemployed. I have value to give and going back to the biblical principle, you need to work. And I want to work.”
Name: Bob Murray
Supporting: Mitt Romney
Location: Cary, N.C.
Concerned About: Unemployment
Stephen CrowleyThe Caucus Click: Romney and Ryan Thank VolunteersStephen Crowley/The New York Times
John EligonIn Missouri, a Tough Choice
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. – Patty Fogertey represents the hope and concern for both candidates in the Missouri Senate race.
Ms. Fogertey, 58, left the St. Louis County Library here on Tuesday saying she decisively cast her vote for Mitt Romney because she wanted “less government, less socialism,” a repeal “of some of Obamacare — not all — and less regulation.”
But when it came time to check the box for either the incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill or her Republican challenger, Representative Todd Akin, she hesitated.
“That was tough,” she said.
Speaking of Mr. Akin, she said, “He’s maybe too extreme in some of his beliefs in order to represent the people.”
At the same time, however, Ms. Fogertey said, “I have a lot of issues with Claire McCaskill.”
“I think that she has taken financial advantage of her position,” she said.
One of the most promising paths to victory for Mr. Akin, who upended his lead in this race in August with his infamous “legitimate rape” comment, is if Romney supporters automatically check his name down the ballot. Mr. Romney has polled well ahead of President Obama in Missouri.
But Ms. McCaskill has sought to inject in Missouri voters just the kind of hesitation that Ms. Fogertey expressed. Time and again, Ms. McCaskill has said that Mr. Akin was “too extreme” for Missouri voters, with the hope that some of those who favored Mr. Romney would split the ticket and vote for her.
Soon, we will know which strategy was most effective.
In Ms. Fogertey’s case, she went with Mr. Akin.
Trip GabrielRyan Pops by a Victory CenterJosh Haner/The New York Times
HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Have you wondered what happens at a campaign field office on Election Day? It’s as brutally efficient as the three-sentence script used by volunteers to call identified Republicans or Republican-leaning independents from a “Victory Center” here, where Representative Paul D. Ryan paid a surprise visit.
After identifying themselves as calling from the Republican Party of Virginia, volunteers, reading a single question, “Have you voted in today’s election?”
If the answer is yes, the scripted response is: “Fantastic! Thanks for your support.”
If the answer is “no, not planning on voting,” the volunteer says: “This election could come down to the wire. I’d really encourage you to vote sometime today.”
In the event the voter is an Obama supporter, the script is simply blank, suggesting either speechlessness or the need to not waste time and move to the next call.
Mr. Ryan, who scheduled his visit to this crucial state only late Monday, stayed for less than 10 minutes in the windowless, all-business office. In truth, his remarks also had a bit of a formulaic feel.
“I don’t want to take too much of your time because we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Mr. Ryan told about 40 volunteers, including teenagers from Benedictine College Preparatory, a Roman Catholic secondary school.
“We’ve got to run for the tape,” he said, adopting the voice of a coach he has used at recent rallies. “We’ve got to leave it all on the field.”
He told the volunteers that a Republican victory was important because it would confer “a mandate to fix the country’s problems.”
“Thank you for the hard work, for turning this thing around, getting our country on the right track,” he added.
“This is a great effort, keep it up, go at ‘em and let’s wake up tomorrow knowing we did everything we could.”
A young man shouted, “Help us get rid of Biden!’’
Mr. Ryan did not directly respond. He thanked the volunteers once again. “Let’s get it done,” he said. “I don’t want to take any more of your time.”
And with that he posed for a few pictures, returned to his motorcade and headed back to the Richmond airport for his final campaign flight of 2012 to Boston.
Jess BidgoodIn New Hampshire, Disillusioned With the Ads
PEMBROKE, N.H. — For some voters here, the walk to the polls was a weary one, an anticlimactic coda to a campaign that has flooded airwaves, telephone lines and mailboxes with relentless advertising.
“Thank God the ads are over,” said Cody Favata, a 20-year-old independent voter. “It’s nice to have the freedom to vote, but those ads can really get to you.”
“They don’t really talk about their own ideals,” said his friend, Sean Bonin, 18.
“You just learn how to trash talk — that’s not good,” Mr. Favata agreed.
The negativity had also worn on Barbara Nobrega, a retiree in this town of nearly 7,000, leaving her unenthused about her choice for president.
“I was disillusioned with all the political ads,” Ms. Nobrega said. “I thought they were dishonest, biased and out of context.”
Ms. Nobrega had voted for Mitt Romney for president, but she was not particularly happy about it. “I chose him as the lesser of two evils,” Ms. Nobrega said. “I preferred Ron Paul. I did not believe he was trying to please anyone — both of these candidates,” she said, referring to Mr. Romney and President Obama, “are going to say anything to get a vote.”
Jack Lewis, who runs a towing company here, was equally ambivalent as he left the elementary school that served as a polling place. “Totally confused,” he said, of his mind-set. “I’m voting for which is worse — I don’t think Obama has got business going like he should have. Unemployment’s terrible.”
Although Mr. Lewis hinted that he had voted for Mr. Romney, he had choice words for him, too. “I just don’t trust the man,” Mr. Lewis said. “He’s for big business, not small business.”
Brian BlancoThe Caucus Click: Decked Out for RomneyBrian Blanco for The New York Times
Romney says if he wins, he will "immediately focus on the transition." Rather that unwind, he adds, he'll be "winding tighter."
Allison Kopicki and Michael D. ShearExit Polls: State by State, Economy Varies
The nation’s economy was a focus of the presidential campaign. But the race between Mitt Romney and President Obama played out state by state, where the strength of the economy varied.
Preliminary exit poll results suggest that voters were affected by the economic situation where they live.
Iowa, New Hampshire and Virginia all have unemployment levels under 6 percent, well below the national unemployment average of 7.9 percent, while Nevada is facing the highest unemployment in the country, at 11.8 percent.
Florida’s unemployment is still a high 8.7 percent, and 1 in every 318 housing units in Florida was in foreclosure in September, the highest rate in the country, according to RealtyTrac, which follows foreclosure activity.
Despite these conditions, about 4 in 10 voters in both Florida and Nevada expressed some optimism, saying the nation’s economy was getting better, while about 3 in 10 said it was getting worse or staying the same.
In Iowa, more voters cited rising prices as their biggest economic problem, over unemployment and the housing market, while in Virginia, more voters said that unemployment was the biggest economic problem. In Florida, unemployment and rising prices vied for the top economic problem, according to early exit poll results.
Voters were divided over which candidate could better handle the economy, with Mr. Romney having a slight edge in Florida and Virginia. In Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, voters were nearly evenly divided over whether Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama would better handle the economy.
In closely watched Ohio, where the unemployment rate has fallen to 7 percent, nearly 4 in 10 voters said the economy was getting better. And in Ohio, voters were essentially divided whether Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney was the candidate better able to handle the nation’s economy.
Allison Kopicki and Michael D. ShearExit Polls: What Voters Want From the President
The presidential candidates clashed on the economy, health care, the federal budget deficit and foreign policy. The economy was cited as the top issue by most voters.
But the electorate is more divided on which candidate quality mattered most to them in deciding how to vote for president, with about 3 in 10 saying they wanted someone with a vision for the future and about as many looking for a candidate who shares their values.
President Obama spent months during the summer airing negative commercials about Mitt Romney, suggesting that the Republican candidate does not share the values of the middle class.
Early results in exit polls find Mr. Obama with an edge on empathy, with somewhat more voters saying he is more in touch with people like them. And a plurality of voters say his policies generally favor the middle class, while more than half say Mr. Romney’s policies favor the rich.
About 2 in 10 say they want someone who cares about them, while about as many are looking most for a strong leader. That plays to the case that Mr. Romney tried to make, repeatedly suggesting that the president had failed to lead while in office.
Mr. Romney most often made that case on foreign policy, accusing the president of a listless, rudderless approach to foreign affairs.
Brian StelterNew Faces on Tonights Broadcast Coverage
Dozens of news and opinion Web sites will offer essentially live coverage on election night, some with TV-like newscasts and others with live blogs.
The New York Times will stream live video on its home page throughout the night. But just as in past elections, the largest audiences are expected to flock to the big three broadcast networks, ABC, CBS and NBC, and the big three cable news networks, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.
The cable networks have been live all day. The broadcasters will kick off live coverage at 7 p.m. Eastern and will keep going until at least 2 a.m.
Four years ago, Brian Williams was the anchor on NBC, Charles Gibson on ABC and Katie Couric on CBS. Mr. Williams is back for his second presidential election night as anchor, but Mr. Gibson, who retired three years ago, will not; heading the coverage instead will be the pair who sat alongside him in 2008, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. Ms. Couric, now of ABC, will join them from time to time with social media reaction. On CBS, Scott Pelley will anchor his first presidential election night.
It is also the first time for Rachel Maddow, who will be the co-host with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, and Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly, the co-hosts on Fox News. On PBS, Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will make up national television’s first two-woman anchor team on election night.
A pack of smaller channels — like CNBC, Fox Business, Bloomberg, TV One and HDNet — will also have hours of live election talk.
Comedy Central will have special live editions of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Michael D. Shear and David JonesExit Polls: Economy the Key Issue
President Obama and Mitt Romney each framed his case for being president as an argument about confronting the nation’s economic struggles.
That seems to have been the right message, according to voters, who said the economy is the No. 1 issue on their minds.
Of those selecting the economy as their top issue, most — 4 in 10 — said that unemployment was the biggest economic problem, flowed closely by prices — 1 in 3 voters.
Mr. Romney had argued for months that voters would blame Mr. Obama for unemployment that had remained over 8 percent for much of the president’s term. The rate dropped to 7.8 percent in September and stayed at 7.9 percent in October.
Voters express a mixed view of the state of the economy over all. While three-quarters of voters rate the national economy as not so good or poor, only 3 in 10 say the economy is getting worse, and 4 in 10 say it is getting better.
Half of all voters said that President George W. Bush was more to blame for current economic problems, while only 4 in 10 blame President Obama.
Voters give a narrow edge to Governor Romney when asked which candidate would better handle the economy.
One-third of voters said they felt their own family’s financial situation had deteriorated. This is slightly better than in 2008, when 42 percent of voters said their family’s financial situation was worse than it was four years prior.
A majority of voters said they felt that the United States economic system generally favors the wealthy. Only 4 in 10 said it is fair to most Americans.
Looks like it's shaping up to be a long night, but speaking to reporters on his plane, Romney seemed both confident and at peace.
Mark MakelaVoter Portraits: ClevelandMark Makela for The New York Times
My brother is gay. People are going to look stupid in 40 years. People should be able to live their life without others interfering.
Name: Gretchen Klaber
Supporting: President Obama
Occupation: Student at Ohio University
Concerned About: Gay Rights
Michael D. ShearExit Polls: Majority Says No Repeal of Obamacare
The Republican position on health care — led by Mitt Romney and embraced by nearly all the members of the party leadership — is to repeal the entire health care law passed by President Obama and the Democrats.
But that is not the opinion of the majority of voters, according to preliminary exit poll results. The survey shows that just a quarter of the people who voted in the election want to repeal all of Mr. Obama’s law.
About the same amount want to repeal only some of the law. And the rest want to leave the law as it is or expand it.
Republicans have argued for years that the health care law would be an albatross around Mr. Obama’s neck as he seeks re-election. They said the law’s broad scope would be seen by voters as job-killing regulations.
But the exit poll results back up claims by Democrats that some provisions in the law are very popular, and that voters would react negatively to the Republican push to repeal it.
The always precise Mitt Romney, in his final press conf as candidate: "I just finished writing a victory speech. It’s about 1,118 words. "
Michael D. ShearFour-Hour Waits Reported in Virginia
In Prince William County in Virginia, where Mitt Romney and President Obama are battling for votes, voters are waiting in lines of up to four hours long, election officials said.
Betty Weimer, the general registrar for the county, said that voters were waiting for three and a half to four hours at a precinct in the county’s eastern end.
“If they are in line at 7, they can vote,” she said.
Ms. Weimer said that scene was being repeated across the state, although she had not compiled the numbers to know whether turnout would be greater than 2008 or not.
“We have some precincts that have some very long lines,” she said.
Jennifer SteinhauerFive Senate Races to Watch
If you have followed the battle for the Senate for even a few minutes this election cycle, you probably know that Elizabeth Warren and Senator Scott P. Brown are locked in a tight race in Massachusetts, that comparing Senator Claire McCaskill to a dog appeared not to be additive to Representative Todd Akin’s bid to unseat her in Missouri and perhaps have pondered with the rest of the United States Senate which party, if elected, Angus King of Maine would choose to caucus with.
But below we have highlighted five races that may not have been given as much attention but that deserve a little look-see as we await returns.
Republicans assumed, with good reason, that the retirement of Senator Jon Kyl would mean a loss of a senior lawmaker for Arizona, but not of a seat for their party in the Senate. But a tough Republican primary left their nominee, Representative Jeff Flake, a well-known and well-established Republican, broke, bruised and in need of more help than his party expected to give. Democrats in the meantime got the best candidate they could have hoped for in Richard H. Carmona, a former surgeon general in the Bush administration, a Vietnam war hero and a Hispanic well known around the state. Mr. Carmona has occasionally closed in on Mr. Flake, though Republicans still count this in their column. A victory by Mr. Carmona seems unlikely but, both sides say, not impossible. This race also offered perhaps the most comic ad war, when Mr. Carmona released a television ad that featured glowing remarks from Mr. Kyl and Senator John McCain, delivered during Mr. Carmona’s 2002 confirmation hearing. Neither Mr. Kyl nor Mr. McCain, who have endorsed Mr. Flake, were amused.
Oh Indiana, what a story you have provided this year. First the state treasurer, Richard Mourdock, picked off the longtime and respected Senator Richard G. Lugar in a Republican primary, and seemed poised to coast to victory in this usually reliably Republican state. Democrats maintained hope that Mr. Mourdock’s Tea Party imprimatur and fondness for saying that compromise means Democrats doing what Republicans want, might end up hurting him. Instead, he was dinged during a recent debate when he said that “when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” Representative Joe Donnelly, a Democrat, who has run this campaign as a moderate and does not support abortion rights, saw a door opening after that debate, and his party helped him push on it. Mr. Donnelly may now be well on his way to crossing the Rotunda.
A third-party candidate has turned this always-a-question-mark race into the ultimate nailbiter. Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat and a rancher, managed to narrowly win his 2006 race in a state as he worked his just-folks image and occasional voting independence into a strong brand. Even though President Obama is a significant liability for him this year, he imagined that ticket splitters would pull the lever for Mitt Romney but then choose him over his Republican opponent, Representative Denny Rehberg. But that calculation did not factor in Dan Cox of the Libertarian Party, who has not made a major dent in the polls but could be a factor in a razor-thin margin.
Republicans were convinced they could pick up a seat here when Senator Ben Nelson, the two-term Democratic incumbent, decided not to run again, and for months that is exactly how it looked. Democrats recruited Bob Kerrey, the state’s former governor and two-term senator who returned to his native Nebraska after a decade in New York City and scrambled to put together a campaign without so much as a place to hang his hat. Mr. Kerrey, however, did not get the opponent he wanted in State Senator Deb Fischer, who became the Republican nominee after winning a three-way primary. Nebraska has gotten a lot more conservative since Mr. Kerrey last served, and his double-digit deficit in the polls all fall seemed to presage defeat. However in the last few weeks, Mr. Kerrey has seemed to be gaining ground and landed the big endorsement by a former senator, Chuck Hagel, a Republican and fellow wounded Vietnam War veteran, who overlapped with Mr. Kerrey in the Senate. Mr. Kerrey’s surge may be too little too late, but he is within the margin of error in some polls, which makes this a race to watch.
The retirement of Senator Herb Kohl, a four-term Democrat, excited Republicans and Democrats equally, because each side knew a strong candidate in a presidential year would have a shot at a seat. Republicans were particularly emboldened by the failed effort to recall Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, which they believed was a vote of confidence for their party. What’s more, they got the candidate they wanted in Tommy Thompson, the state’s former four-term governor. But Mr. Thompson has struggled against Representative Tammy Baldwin, the Democratic candidate, who would be the first openly gay senator should she be elected. Mr. Thompson has been dogged by his lobbyist past, and Ms. Baldwin appears to be benefiting from Democrats coalescing. This is a pure toss-up, tied strongly to partisan turnout.
Amy ChozickIn Romney Office, Clear Eyes Slogan Remains
BEDFORD, N.H. — Slogan-gate continues even as the final hours of the presidential campaign wind down.
Signs all over the walls of the Romney Victory office here use the famous slogan of NBC drama “Friday Night Lights.” In red, white and blue ink, the signs taped up around the office read: “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose,” the phrase, echoed by the heroic Coach Taylor to his underdog team before a football game.
It’s an inspiring message for a volunteer operation that needs some last-minute inspiration as supporters face polls that place Mr. Romney with a slight disadvantage in the battleground state of New Hampshire. The only problem is that “Friday Night Lights” creator Peter Berg sent a terse note Mr. Romney last month accusing him of plagiarizing the slogan and asking him to stop using it on campaign materials. “Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series,” Mr. Berg wrote.
He said the only comparison between Mr. Romney and “Friday Night Lights” was in the wealthy, smooth-talking car salesman character Buddy Garrity “who turned his back on American car manufacturers selling imported cars from Japan,” Mr. Berg wrote.
Regardless of who wins on Tuesday, Mr. Berg can rest assured that the signs will finally come down this week.
Below is a full copy of the letter, first published on The Hollywood Reporter:
I created the TV show “Friday Night Lights” and came up with the phrase “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose.”
I was not thrilled when I saw that you have plagiarized this expression to support your campaign by using it on posters, your Facebook page and as part of your stump speeches. Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series.
The only relevant comparison that I see between your campaign and “Friday Night Lights” is in the character of Buddy Garrity – who turned his back on American car manufacturers selling imported cars from Japan. Your use of the expression falsely and inappropriately associates “Friday Night Lights” with the Romney/Ryan campaign. Mitt, we all wish you and your family all the best. We are grateful for your support of our beloved show, but we are not in any way affiliated with you or your campaign. Please come up with your own campaign slogan
Eric LichtblauChilly Temperatures and Long Lines in VirginiaJim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency
FAIRFAX, Va. — In Northern Virginia, voters suffered through frosty temperatures, computer glitches and unusually long lines to cast their ballots. Both Republicans and Democrats shared one sentiment: relief that the long campaign was finally over.
“Commercials, campaign signs, five calls a day at home – I’m just glad it’s all over,” Lori Recher, a Democratic supporter, said after casting her ballot at an elementary school in Fairfax with her son in tow.
Fairfax County favored Mr. Obama overwhelmingly in the 2008 election and helped propel him to a key victory statewide. Democrats were eager for a repeat Tuesday, but Romney organizers saw a chance to steal a win as they pointed to polls showing a statewide race that was very close.
“For us to be this close in this area really says something,” Monica Cameron, a precinct leader for the Romney campaign in Northern Virginia, said as she staffed a table outside Mantua Elementary School in Fairfax. Standing beside an American flag and a table draped in red, Ms. Cameron offered voters coffee and glazed doughnuts – but only after they had voted so as not to be accused of trading votes for doughnuts.
A computer glitch at some precincts in the region forced delays of several hours, and some would-be voters who showed up at the polls before 7 a.m. gave up and left in frustration, only to return later in the day once the computer problems were fixed. Many voters opted to use paper ballots because they said it was quicker.
“We’ve just been trying to calm people through the long wait,” said Rod Bubeck, who coordinated the voting at the Mantua site. “It’s working out.”
By midmorning, the wait time was down from about two hours to 5 or 10 minutes, he said.
Tram Nguyen, associate director for Virginia New Majority, a liberal advocacy group that sent members to monitor polling stations, said it received ‘’numerous complaints across the state” about precincts failing to provide the required provisional ballots to residents who were not found on registration lists.
The group was also examining several isolated complaints of possible voter intimidation.
In the Richmond area, a heckler who Ms. Nguyen said appeared to be aligned with the Tea Party heckled voters for about an hour, making derogatory comments as they entered a polling place in a primarily black neighborhood, she said.
In Fairfax County, Ms. Nguyen said that her group received a complaint that a group of people outside a polling place in the Lorton area approached an elderly registered voter of Asian descent and told her, erroneously, that she needed to show her “naturalization papers” at the voting place under a new state law.
“She got so disturbed by this that she just got in her car and left without voting,” Ms. Nguyen said.
Jennifer SteinhauerHouse Races to WatchLeft, Mary Bono Mack Campaign, via Associated Press; right, Ruiz Campaign, via Associated Press
Thanks to the powerful force of gerrymandering, the vast majority of the hundreds of races around the country are anticlimactic, with the party registration numbers in each Congressional district dictating the outcome. Republicans appear poised to hold their majority in the House and may even pick up a few seats, although Democrats are desperately hoping that states like California will deliver enough to give them a modest gain.
Many races have mirrored the fight for the presidency — tight, exciting and riddled with tough advertisements. While there are more than 10 competitive races, some of them even closer than the ones we have listed list here, these House races are 10 worth watching.
California’s 36th District
For eight terms, Representative Mary Bono Mack, the Republican incumbent, has won in this largely blue state, and redistricting seemed to favor another good outcome for her. But she found herself in a scrappy fight against the Democrat, Dr. Raul Ruiz, an emergency room physician. Latinos make up nearly a third of the district’s voters, and Ms. Bono Mack, one of the most moderate Republicans in the House, may have boo-booed when she said on the campaign trail that she would reach out to Latinos “after the election.” Twist: If she loses, and her husband, Representative Connie Mack of Florida,fails in his Senate bid, they will be a married Congressional couple out of work.
Colorado’s 6th District
As goes this district, so likely goes the presidential candidate in this western bellwether state. Representative Mike Coffman, a favorite of the Tea Party movement, is known for his colorful statements, including calling into question President Obama’s American-ness, and his path to a third term narrowed after political mapmakers redrew his overwhelmingly Republican district to include near-equal amounts of registered Republican, Democratic and independent voters. His Democratic rival, Joe Miklosi, a state lawmaker, has struggled to raise money for his own campaign and has had to rely on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to keep afloat.
Florida’s 18th District
Representative Allen B. West is one of the few nationally known freshman Republicans, a former Army officer who in 2010 became one of only two black Republicans to be elected to the House since Reconstruction. A Tea Party favorite who works the talk-show circuit and is a fund-raising powerhouse, he is in a too-close-to-call contest with a wealthy construction executive, Patrick Murphy, and Democrats would love to see Mr. West go. This race has also featured some of the nastiest ads, in a year with a high bar for that.
Iowa’s 3rd District
This race was the war of the nice guys. Iowa lost a seat after the 2010 census, and two veteran incumbents — Representatives Leonard L. Boswell, a Democrat, and Tom Latham, a Republican — found themselves facing off in a new district made up of a nearly equal number of Republican, Democratic and independent voters. The cash advantage went to Mr. Latham, who received a ton of fund-raising help from his B.F.F., the House speaker John A. Boehner. But more of the district is currently held by Mr. Boswell, and Mr. Obama enjoys a narrow edge in the state.
Kentucky’s 6th District
Republicans have long sought to remove Representative Ben Chandler, first elected in 2004, but it seemed that he would escape the liability of President Obama at the top of the ticket. Mr. Chandler, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition who voted against Mr. Obama’s health care law, gained a slight edge through redistricting and could still protect the seat he has held since 2004. But in the last few weeks, Democrats have been forced to spend money to defend Mr. Chandler against Andy Barr, a lawyer, who came back for more after losing to Mr. Chandler in 2010 by just 648 votes, and who Republicans now believe is going to have his day.
Massachusetts’s 6th District
So, an openly gay Republican member of the House from Massachusetts? Get ready, as it could happen. Representative John F. Tierney, an eight-term Democrat, should have cruised to re-election, but he has been dogged with nagging questions about his in-laws’ illegal offshore gambling enterprise. His opponent is the former State Senator Richard Tisei, an openly gay Republican who supports abortion rights, and polling shows Mr. Tisei heading into the last month of his campaign with a strong lead.
New York’s 27th District
There are many close races in New York, and a few involving freshmen, but the first-term incumbent Representative Kathy Hochul is considered among the most vulnerable Democrats in the country. Ms. Hochul, a former county clerk, won her seat in a closely watched special election in a conservative district in the Buffalo area last year in a race that was viewed nationally as a referendum on a Republican proposal in Washington to overhaul Medicare. This year, redistricting has given her an even more Republican district than the one she had, and her well-known Republican opponent, Chris Collins, the former Erie County executive, has gotten a lot of help from his party.
Pennsylvania 12th District
Redistricting hurt Democrats in this state but nowhere more than here, where a member-on-member primary put a dent in their prevailing incumbent, Mark Critz who toppled Jason Altmire’s moderate independence with his labor muscle in that primary. Republicans believe that they now have the Democratic opponent they want to face their candidate, Keith Rothfus, a lawyer and Tea Party favorite who lost by two percentage points to Mr. Altmire in 2010. The question will be: can Mr. Critz’s labor fans outman Mr. Rothfus’s in get out the vote operations and deliver him another victory, or will Mr. Rothfus succeed in painting him as too liberal for this new district.
Tennessee’s 4th District
You should not even be reading about this race. Representative Scott DesJarlais, the Republican incumbent, was as safe as one can get. Then it was revealed that the anti-abortion Mr. DesJarlais appeared to have pressured a mistress to terminate a pregnancy. Things got less optimal for Mr. DesJarlais when Lloyd Daugherty, chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union, said that Mr. DesJarlais, a doctor, should find a new line of work, saying: “He got elected on the same issue that he obviously does not have the same personal commitment to. It’s the hypocrisy.” It is still way uphill for the Democrat in the race, State Senator Eric Stewart, but watch it.
Utah’s 4th District
Representative Jim Matheson, one of the last remaining Blue Dogs, is used to winning in a district and state where the Republican nominee for president always prevails. But this time, Mr. Matheson is in a battle against Mayor Mia Love of Saratoga Springs, who is looking to become the first black woman to join the House of Representatives as a Republican. Ms. Love is sure to have big coattails from Mitt Romney to ride, and her party is giving her strong support, but incumbency is not without its benefits, even in this district.
Michael GrynbaumFree Beer and a Few Hiccups in MilwaukeeKirsten Luce for The New York Times
MILWAUKEE — When the biggest problem is a bar handing out free beers, you know Election Day is going well.
Officials in Wisconsin, who are predicting a 70 percent turnout for their hotly contested state, said on Tuesday afternoon that voting had so far gone relatively smoothly, with few disputes or broken machines.
In fact, the state’s Government Accountability Board took time to chastise Badger State businesses that have offered free or discounted refreshments – including a cold pint of brew – to anyone sporting an official “I Voted!” sticker.
“While this has not been a widespread problem, it is illegal under Wisconsin law, and businesses should not do it,” election officials said in a brief statement.
There have been a few hiccups. In Milwaukee, a handful of precincts ran out of ballots or experienced equipment malfunctions, including one jam-up caused by an “I Voted!” sticker that slipped into the machinery. Most of the problems were fixed within an hour.
At two polling sites here, observers were asked to leave the premises after ignoring directions from local inspectors. The problems stemmed from technicalities, like standing too close to a voting table, rather than any evidence of intimidation or registration challenges, said Neil V. Albrecht, executive director of Milwaukee’s election commission.
Mr. Albrecht said that Milwaukee’s polling stations received “a significant volume of voter turnout” on Tuesday morning, and the city could be on track for a record. But rain and snow are expected across the region in the final hours of voting, which may discourage some residents.
Milwaukee’s mayor, Tom Barrett, stopped by the city’s French Immersion School after lunch, “just checking to make sure everything’s moving smoothly,” as he told a poll worker. The site had briefly run out of ballots toward the end of the morning rush; the inspector said that more arrived after a 30-minute delay. “That’s a half-hour too long,” the mayor said. “We need to call that in more quickly.”
Still, with observers from opposing political groups seated near one another at polling stations, tensions did arise. Some suburban residents traveled into predominantly African-American areas of Milwaukee to serve as observers. At the French school, when confusion broke out in the morning over proper placement of some ballots, tempers flared and local lawyers arrived to sort out matters, according to an observer at the site.
By noon, the polling station was peaceful once again.
Travis DoveVoter Portraits: Cary, N.C.Travis Dove for The New York Times
“The last four years have scared me to death. I want a president that’s proud to be an American.”
Name: Dick Harlow
Supporting: Mitt Romney
Location: Cary, N.C.
Occupation: Management (Broadcasting)
Concerned About: The economy
Amy ChozickOptimism Fills a Romney "Victory Office" in New HampshireCheryl Senter for The New York Times
BEDFORD, N.H. — “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose,” read several signs hung up around the Romney Victory office, the same slogan used by the inspirational Coach Taylor in the NBC drama about Texas football, “Friday Night Lights.” Volunteers noshed on sandwiches and potato chips as they cranked out last-minute calls. Stacks of empty Dunkin’ Donuts boxes and cartons of coffee lay on folding tables. Fox News played on a big-screen television in the background.
If there was one sentiment across the office, aside from the obvious, “Vote for Mitt,” it was to heck with political polls.
Romney volunteers said on-the-ground enthusiasm trumped recent polls that mostly show the battleground of New Hampshire slightly favoring President Obama. “I don’t believe the polls,” said Dana Lydstone, 61 and a small business owner. “No one I’ve talked to has even thought about going one way or the other. And no one screams that they’re voting for Obama.”
(Highlighting the last-minute rush and partisan sensitivity in this part of the state, Mr. Lydstone and other volunteers joked with this Times reporter that interrupting their calls to conduct interviews was part of a “liberal media” plan to distract voter outreach.)
Mr. Lydstone said he had never been involved in a political campaign before, but he said he felt as if this is the most important election of his lifetime.
“The president wants to fundamentally change the country, to take us in a socialist type of direction,” he said on a quick break from cranking out calls. “I was one of those people who thought when he got elected that he had a dynamic opportunity to do something good and he went in the opposite direction,” he said of Mr. Obama.
A nearby volunteer from Londonderry, N.H., agreed. “Our base is much more enthusiastic this year than they were four years ago,” he said. “The polls are wrong.”
Dylan Stanford, a 22-year-old volunteer, predicted that Mr. Romney would win nationally with 274 electoral votes and would win New Hampshire by two percentage points. “All the polls in 2004 showed Kerry up by four points in Ohio and then the magic happened and Bush pulled it off by two,” Mr. Stanford said. He added: “Polling is an inexact science. You can find a poll anywhere that makes you feel good.”
But ultimately, Mr. Stanford said, it’s not about getting out the vote but that “this election comes down to who has more people stay at home.”
The New York TimesWhat Will Swing the Swing States?
Michael S. SchmidtOne Immigrants Barrier to Voting: CitizenshipCharlie Neibergall/Associated Press
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — As Jesus Castro stood behind the counter of his small grocery store here and began to talk about the election, he took out a small red box that almost instantly answered the question of why he would not vote yet again this year.
The words “Civics Flash Cards” were printed across the front of the box. Below those words was the seal of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“I try and study when I’m at work but then someone comes up to the counter and I have to put them down,” he said in an interview in Spanish.
Mr. Castro, 47, has never voted in his life.
He never voted before he left Mexico in 1983.
And despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes he said he has paid and the three children he has had here, he said he had not participated in any of the eight presidential elections that have occurred since he came because he is not a citizen.
“I want to vote because I want to help Mexicans and Hispanics,” he said.
Mr. Castro, who said he had a Green Card, can’t vote because he has not taken the civics test, which is part of the process of becoming a citizen.
Although he can’t vote, he had a stack of Obama pamphlets in Spanish at the counter.
He said that the Obama campaign had made a lot of effort to reach out to Hispanics. And, like many of his friends, he believes that President Obama understands the needs of Hispanics.
“Obama’s doing more for Latinos,” he said. “He’s fighting for health care. He is thinking of all the people who come here, who pay taxes like me.”
Mr. Castro said that he had a difficult time relating to Mr. Romney because he was so much wealthier than him. And Mr. Castro said he was offended by the fact that Mr. Romeny’s father, who was born in Mexico to American parents, did not consider himself Mexican.
“If you are born in a country, you are a citizen of that country,” he said. “Why wouldn’t he want to call himself Mexican. My kids who were born in the United States are American citizens. He is lying about his roots.”
Mr. Castro said that he planned take the civics test before the next election and finally cast his first vote at the age of 51.
“But I have always been in this situation,” he said.
Brian StelterAt Empire State, Red if Its Mitt, Blue if Its Obama
In November 1932, a bright searchlight atop the Empire State Building signified that Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected president of the United States.
Eighty years later, CNN’s taking the idea a big step further, lighting up the building in red and blue as the presidential election results come in.
On Tuesday night, according to the cable news channel, a “meter” running up the building’s spire will show the electoral votes that President Obama and Mitt Romney are projected to win. The gimmick will be televised on CNN from time to time via a camera on an nearby rooftop. NBC similarly showed the electoral vote count on the side of Rockefeller Center in 2008, and will do so again this year.
For decades the Empire State Building has been lit in different colors depending on the occasion. It’s been used to recognize holidays, charitable events, corporate anniversaries and other events.
The partnership with CNN is an opportunity to show off a new lighting system that will allow the building’s facade and mast to change colors in real time. “When CNN projects a winner of the presidential election, the tower lights of the Empire State Building will change color to all-blue or to all-red,” the channel said in a news release.
Travis DoveVoter Portraits: Durham, N.C.Travis Dove for The New York Times
“They talk about the rich and the middle class. What about the poor people? Don’t nobody say nothing about the poor people. And I consider myself as being a poor person.”
Name: Jimmy Mitchell
Supporting: Barack Obama
Location: Durham, N.C.
Concerned About: Medicaid and Medicare
Dan FroschDemocrats Look to Mobilize Hispanic Voters in ColoradoMarc Piscotty/Getty Images
DENVER — Colorado’s Hispanic vote will almost certainly be critically important in determining which candidate wins the coveted swing state.
With polls leading up to Election Day showing President Obama and Mitt Romney in a dead heat here, Democrats were especially hopeful that Colorado’s sizable Latino demographic, about 20 percent of the state’s total population, would turn out en masse at the polls on Tuesday.
“I would say at the beginning of the election season there was a lot more apathy,” said Liz Hamel, lead organizer for Rights For All People, a local immigrant rights group that has been working with other local organizations to mobilize the Hispanic vote in and around Denver.
“A lot of folks were skeptical about the voting process. But now towards the end, we’re seeing a lot more excitement. And a lot of the groups on the ground are connecting the issues being discussed by the candidates with Latinos,” she said.
Efforts to reach Colorado’s Hispanic voters have intensified during the last few days, especially in the city of Aurora, which has a growing Latino population. Matt Inzeo, spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, said he was hopeful that implicit support for the president would translate at the polls on Tuesday.
At Barnum Elementary School, in a primarily Hispanic area of Denver dotted with taquerias and Mexican restaurants, a sprinkle of voters came to cast their ballots during lunchtime.
“I’m for Obama. I think he connects more with lower-income people,” said a 29-year-old housekeeper, Elaine, who did not want to give her last name.
Elaine said this was her first time voting, and that she had been motivated by Mr. Obama’s support for health care reform in particular.
“He hasn’t had time to finish the job,” she added. “He hasn’t had time to finish making that change he talked about.”
She flashed a smile. “It feels good to vote,” she said. “I feel like I’m a big girl now.”
Ashley ParkerAn Unexpected Crowd for RomneyStephen Crowley/The New York Times
MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Mitt Romney landed here at Pittsburgh International Airport Tuesday afternoon to an unfamiliar sight: More than a thousand supporters who had spontaneously gathered to greet his arrival, lining the decks of a parking garage that overlooked the airport hangar.
Though Mr. Romney’s campaign almost always sends out a press release with the details of all of his flights, Election Day was the first time any real crowd had turned out to watch him land and walk off his plane.
A visibly touched Mr. Romney walked over to the chain-link fence separating him from the voters, and paused for several moments, waving to the crowd as they cheered and waved back. He then offered a thumbs up, and later placed his right hand over his heart — an appreciative gesture he also did after the first presidential debate.
Asked how the impromptu crowd made him feel, Mr. Romney turned back to a group of reporters and said: “Well, that’s when you know you’re going to win.”
Manny FernandezJudge in Texas Extends Voting Time
A state district judge in Galveston County signed an order Tuesday extending the voting time by two hours, in response to widespread delays earlier in the morning at polling sites, county officials said.
Judge John Ellisor of the 122nd Judicial District Court ruled that county residents could cast their ballots until 8:54 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Those who are in line by 7 p.m. will have their votes counted in the traditional fashion, but those who show up between 7:01 p.m. and 8:54 p.m. will vote by provisional ballot, officials said.
“I think it’s the right thing to do,” said the county’s top elected official, County Judge Mark Henry. “We would have liked for it to have gone perfectly and flawlessly, but that’s not always possible when you’ve got so much technology involved.”
County election officials said that some of the 45 polling sites were unable to begin accepting votes at 7 a.m., and experienced a delay of up to an hour before they were fully operational. The problems stemmed for the most part from poll workers failing to allow enough time to set up the electronic voting machines and the process of preparing the machines taking longer than anticipated, county officials said.
Local Democratic leaders accused county officials overseeing the election of disenfranchising voters and failing to properly plan and prepare. Lloyd Criss, the chairman of the Galveston County Democratic Party, said it was possible that a couple thousand people were unable to vote in the morning because of the problems, and left the polling sites because they had to get to work.
“How do we know who they were, and how do we get a hold of them to let them know time was extended?” Mr. Criss said. “It’s just a mess. It’s a mess. I’m irritated about it.”
Mr. Criss said that he was considering filing a lawsuit against the county clerk, Dwight D. Sullivan, whose office oversees the administration of the election. Mr. Criss said at one polling site he visited, there were about 150 people in line at 7 a.m., and he watched many of them leave and head to their cars after waiting.
He added: “I asked them, ‘Did you vote?’ And they said, ‘No, I couldn’t, I have to go to work.’ They’re working-class people. They were minorities. Hispanics, blacks, some whites. It happened all over the county. It didn’t just happen in one precinct.”
“Whether it’s on purpose or incompetence, the end result is people were disenfranchised, and I am really upset about it,” he said.
Lizette AlvarezAn Undecided Voter in Florida
MIAMI – Standing in line to vote, Debbie Gomberg gave no hint of her power. She is that mythical creature in the United States – the undecided voter – a class of person that is so rare, so elusive, that, when the people waiting next to her heard the news, they gasped.
“I’m one of those people,” Ms. Gomberg said, almost under her breath as she bided her time in line in Miami’s southern reaches.
“There’s pros and cons to both parties,” she said, referring to her mental back-and-forth between Mitt Romney and President Obama. “I think Romney is a business man who will be able to be more helpful to bring the economy where it needs to be. But his social policies….” She trailed off.
In a swing state that has been bombarded with political ads, Ms. Gomberg’s indecision is unusual. At this point, political positions in Miami-Dade County, which voted for Mr. Obama in 2008, are sharply drawn. This year, the race for president here will be closer and an Obama victory is far from a given.
But back to Ms. Gomberg, who is 56 and is the director of safety for a management company. As soon as her neighbors in line (who are also her neighbors in real life), realized she still did not know what bubble to mark on the ballot, they made their pitch.
“You’re a mother, do you feel that good about the state of things,” asked Bonnie Williamson, 59, a Romney supporter. “He’s a socialist,” she said of Mr. Obama. “I’m scared to death.”
“He’s going to redistribute the wealth,” said her husband, Tom Williamson, 64. The Williamsons mentioned, with foreboding, the film “2016: Obama’s America.”
“But things change,” Ms. Gomberg said.
A short while later, it was over.
“Bonnie told me to vote my heart,” she said, about her neighbor. “So I did. I voted for Obama,” Ms. Gomberg said. “It was really a toss-up.” Her husband, she said, is voting for Mr. Romney, so, in the end, there will a balance, of sorts. “I think this race will be very close.”
Jon HurdleVoting Machine Fixed After Reports of Malfunction
A Pennsylvania voting machine that appeared to automatically switch a vote for Barack Obama to one for Mitt Romney was fixed after the malfunction and is now working normally, an official said.
A video widely circulated on the Internet appeared to show a voter trying three times to select the option for Mr. Obama on the machine’s screen, and being automatically redirected each time to Mr. Romney.
Ron Ruman, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, said the machine, in Perry County, central Pennsylvania, was found to be malfunctioning when one voter tried to use it. It malfunctioned only once, for just one voter, and was then recalibrated and made available to other voters, Mr. Ruman said.
“It was brought to the attention of election officials who turned the machine off and recalibrated it,” Mr. Ruman said.
“It happened one time,” he said. “It has been returned to service.”
The New York TimesVideo: A Face More Careworn
The photojournalist Damon Winter reflects on covering President Obama’s two campaigns.
Monica DaveyOhio Voters Are Ready to Exit the Spotlight
CINCINNATI – Whatever else the election outcome will mean, voters in battleground states like Ohio confessed on Tuesday that they felt relieved at the prospect of an end to a campaign that has felt the longest in places like this. A halt to all those political phone calls around the dinner hour each night, to the daily piles of direct mail, to the constant commercials that seem, by now, to fill every momentary pause on local television.
“We haven’t had the ringer turned on on the telephone since July,” said Matt Fleger, a firefighter, as he emerged from a voting place in Wyoming, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. The flood of attention, these voters said, had been both the blessing and the curse of being in a state the presidential candidates need the most.
In many cases, voters here said they felt fortunate to have had so much attention, and said they felt both better educated about the issues than they otherwise might have been and more obliged than ever – given all the focus on Ohio — to turn up to vote. Still, after all this, at least one voter here compared casting her ballot to finally getting a hot shower, washing off all the layers the long campaign had left behind.
Though George Tscheinr, 91, complained that his household received “10 calls a night, at least” and that the whole system “was crooked anymore,” he still dutifully appeared at a library branch in Westwood to cast his vote for Mitt Romney. And though Robert Robinson, 47, said he thought it was wrong than any one set of voters should seem to matter more than others, he made sure to appear before noon to vote for President Obama, who he said had done a good job despite very trying economic circumstances.
As he headed to his truck, Mr. Fleger, the firefighter, declined to say whom he had chosen for president. But he said he was a longtime Republican voter and a member of a labor union – qualities that made him a central target on both sides and ensured that the piles of campaign leaflets mailed to him have been huge.
“When it comes down to it, I have found both candidates frustrating,” said Mr. Fleger, 38, who said his family has had to cut expenses for home repairs and entertainment to get through the economic downturn and carry two mortgages when one house failed to sell. “These politicians can’t speak with a message that most Americans can relate to. Everything is so extreme. Americans know what it’s like to scale back. But with these people, if you want to scale back defense spending, you’re called a hippie. And if you want to cut human services, you’re accused of starving the poor. I wish someone would talk about things in the middle so we could solve something.”
Matthew StaverVoter Portraits: Byers, Colo.Matthew Staver For The New York Times
“I’m a pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps kind of person. I don’t want people telling me what to do and how to do it. I find the Democrat Party is about bigger government making your choices for you.”
Name: Kathy Morris
Supporting: Mitt Romney
Location: Byers, Colo.
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Concerned About: Unemployment
Stephanie SaulA Few Hiccups Before Finally Casting a BallotIsaac Brekken for The New York Times
LAS VEGAS – Naiby Almaguer voted in an American election for the first time Tuesday. It was not entirely without glitches.
An immigrant from Cuba, Ms. Almaguer, 30, works as a housekeeper at the Bellagio. She became a citizen in 2009.
A week ago, she had surgery. Her doctor ordered her not to drive, so to get to the polls, she called the Latino organization Mi Familia Vota, which has been working in Las Vegas to register voters.
A volunteer from the organization picked her up at her apartment on Tuesday morning and drove her to the polls. But they went to the wrong place.
It turned out that Ms. Almaguer had registered to vote at her old address. Sofia Sanchez, the Mi Familiar Vota volunteer, drove Ms. Almaguer across town.
“I’m excited because it’s my first time,” said Ms. Almaguer after she cast her ballot at Valley High School. “I hope Obama wins. I like Obama. He’s a nice guy. He’s not such a bad president.”
Jon HurdleJudge Orders G.O.P. Watchers Inside Polling Places
PHILADELPHIA — A judge here ordered that all Republican poll watchers be allowed into polling places, after reports that they were being excluded from some locations by Democrats.
The district attorney’s office said early Tuesday afternoon that Judge John M. Younge issued the order allowing all “certified minority inspectors” access to polling places. The judge said sheriff’s deputies would be sent out to enforce the order.
In heavily Democratic Philadelphia, “minority inspectors” is code for Republicans who may not have had any presence as poll watchers in previous years. With the addition of some G.O.P. watchers this year, they may not be recognized by established Democrats who have been staffing the polling places for years.
Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia district attorney’s office, said in the early afternoon that her office had received 11 calls complaining that G.O.P. poll watchers had been excluded from some polling places.
Meanwhile, some voters are finding their names are not on voter lists when they show up to vote, according to the Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan election watchdog for Philadelphia.
The Committee said it had received “numerous reports” of the problem, which it said seems to apply to any voters whose registrations were processed after Oct. 23. “An issue seems to be whether these new, late-processed registrations made it to the polling place on time for Election Day,” the organization said in a statement.
Ms. Jamerson of the district attorney’s office said registered voters whose names do not appear on the voter rolls would be allowed to cast provisional ballots. But the Committee of Seventy said it is hearing of some polling places where judges are declining to allow voters to vote provisionally, and has alerted the city commissioners.
The committee also reported that both voting machines at one polling place had broken down. Voters are being told to cast provisional ballots but at least 30 have just walked away, the group said.
Ms. Jamerson dismissed media reports that Black Panthers had been intimidating voters at some polling places. She said the district attorney’s office had received 30 phone calls by 10 a.m. alleging such intimidation but that officials had found only one member of the militant group at a polling place, and that person was holding the door for voters, she said.
The New York TimesInteractive Graphic: 512 Paths to the White House
Explore the routes through the electoral battleground and plot victory for either side. Go to feature »
Michael D. ShearA Closer Look at Virginia
If Mitt Romney loses Virginia tonight — and perhaps the presidency with it — Republicans might be wondering, what in the world happened?
The answer might be as simple as the drastic changes that have taken place in Loudoun and Prince William Counties, two suburban counties that once were mostly rural and mostly white and mostly conservative.
They are not anymore.
The changes are documented in two maps published by The New York Times that track the changes in voting and demographics. They provide what may be the clearest evidence of the challenge that Republicans like Mr. Romney face in the future.
In 2000, George W. Bush won Loudoun County by 15 percentage points over Al Gore. Eight years later, Barack Obama won the same county by eight percentage points over John McCain, a 23-point swing in less than a decade.
A fluke? In next-door Prince William County, Mr. Bush won by eight percentage points over Mr. Gore. In the 2008 election, it was one of Mr. Obama’s best counties. He defeated Mr. McCain by 16 percentage points, a 24-point turnaround.
The second map tells part of the story. In the years between the two elections, Loudoun and Prince William Counties were drawn into the Washington orbit, growing dramatically and becoming less rural. And in striking fashion, they became far less white.
Take Prince William: From 2000 to 2010, the county’s population grew by nearly 50 percent. But nearly all of that population growth was among minorities. The number of African-Americans increased by about 50 percent while the number of Hispanics and Asians jumped by almost 200 percent each.
What had been a sleepy county that had once fought over development around Civil War battlefields now is a place gripped by the national debate about illegal immigration.
In Loudoun County, the changes are similar, but even more significant. For years, Loudoun had been home to the horse-riding set, but by the end of the decade, thousands of town homes had sprung up along its eastern edge, filled with government workers willing to fight the traffic into Washington.
The population of Loudoun almost doubled from 2000 to 2010. And minorities drove that growth. The number of Hispanics in Loudoun grew by nearly 300 percent. The number of Asians in the county increased by even more — 400 percent.
The demographic shifts alone do not necessarily guarantee victory for Democrats. But the trends are unmistakable, especially among Hispanic voters, who have tended to vote for the Democratic Party in huge numbers in the past several years.
If Mr. Romney manages to make inroads in Prince William and Loudoun today, he may win Virginia and the presidency. But if not, there’s a good chance that the state’s 13 electoral votes will go to President Obama.
Unfortunately for Republicans, that would be a sign of things to come, and a warning that once-reliable parts of the country are beginning to change.
Kirsten LuceVoter Portraits: Lake Anna, Va.Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
“I have 15 guns, I just like shooting. I’ve also got a boat that sucks a lot of gas and I’m enjoying life right.”
Name: Gene Wilson
Supporting: Mitt Romney
Location: Lake Anna, Va.
Occupation: Cosmetic car repair and refinishing
Concerned About: Gun Ownership
Steven YaccinoWisconsin Votes to Leave Endless Election Season BehindSharon Cedaka/The Post-Crescent, via Associated Press
APPLETON, Wis. – Inside St. Bernard Catholic Church, voting seemed a festive occasion. Christmas lights lined the lobby wall above voting booths and winter snowflake decorations dangled from the wood-planked ceiling.
By midday on Tuesday, a line stretched out the door as people waited to cast their ballots. “Four years ago there was a line to the street,” said Medith Phillips, the head election official for the polling site, where more than 2,500 voters were registered.
As in years past, voters had started arriving outside the church at 6:30 a.m., said Ms. Phillips, adding that nearly 500 early absentee votes in her wards may contribute to smaller lines this year. Still, she darted around the room helping a dozen other volunteers answer questions as voters trickled through.
No one seemed to mind the delay.
Wisconsin voters have endured a double dose of television attack ads and campaign calls in recent months — not just from the presidential race, but from a nail-biting senate contest that only got nastier as Election Day neared.
“I don’t think the sleaze is any greater,” said John Stroebel, 40, who took the day off to vote with his wife and then go out for lunch to celebrate what they hoped would be an Obama victory. “I just think the volume has been getting louder.”
Factor in the divisive recall election that failed to unseat Gov. Scott Walker in June, and Wisconsin voters seemed relieved to finally put election season – and the onslaught of partisan messages that has clogged their airwaves for most of the year – in the past.
“I can’t wait until tomorrow and watch a full show without seeing a political ad,” said a Green Bay resident, Amy Thurber, 42, who has been recording television programs and skipping over the commercial breaks.
In Appleton, others were just happy to finally cast their ballot.
Leaving the polling site, Carrie Huth, 18, an Obama supporter, smiled as she thanked the people who stopped to congratulate her on her first trip to the voting booth.
Her mother, Dorothy, seemed calmed to have finally picked a candidate after dithering for weeks. On the drive over to the polling site, she was still undecided — torn between her belief in fiscally conservative principles and dislike of the direction the Republican Party leans on social issues. “For me, it wasn’t an easy choice,” she said, declining to reveal her final decision as she returned to the car.
Sarah WheatonBiden Votes and Hints at 2016Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times
There was no misty-eyed nostalgia for Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as he emerged from a polling booth in Greenville, Del., on Tuesday morning.
Just weeks shy of 70, Mr. Biden grinned when a pool reporter, Mike Memoli from the Tribune Company, asked if this was his last time voting for himself.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mr. Biden replied. Naturally, the remark immediately reignited speculation about his 2016 ambitions.
But Mr. Biden was still focused on the 2012 race when he arrived at his polling place, Alexis I. duPont High School, just after 7 a.m. The vice president waited in line for about 11 minutes – declining an offer to cut from a woman in front, according to the pool report. Once he got into the booth, it only took him 20 seconds.
Mr. Biden’s political career is longer, by far, than that of anyone else on either presidential ticket: he was 29 when he won his first U.S. Senate election. Today’s vote felt as good as that first one, he told the pool reporter.
“I tell you what, you know, every time I do it – this is the eighth time that I’ve run statewide in the state of Delaware – it’s always a kick, it really is, to see people out here,” Mr. Biden said.
Then Mr. Biden headed to the airport, got on his plane and made an unannounced stop in Cleveland – landing within sight of Mitt Romney, who was waiting on the tarmac to hold an event with Representative Paul D. Ryan in Ohio – where he dropped in for coffee and conversation with the mostly black clientele at the Landmark Diner.
Helene CooperObama Congratulates Romney on Spirited CampaignDoug Mills/The New York Times
CHICAGO — President Obama took a moment from the relentless pounding his campaign has been dishing out to congratulate his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, on Tuesday, as the two men began their final countdown to finding out which one of them will be sitting in the Oval Office next year.
During a stop at a local campaign office to thank volunteers, Mr. Obama gave Mr. Romney “congratulations on a spirited campaign.”
“I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today,” the president said. “We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win, but it’s going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out.”
Mr. Obama spent the morning making calls to volunteers to thank them. Because he already voted early two weeks ago — the better to set an example since his campaign has been depending heavily on early vote turnout among supporters — Mr. Obama couldn’t take advantage of the traditional Election Day photo-op of the president going to his polling location to cast his ballot.
He did plan, however, to take part in another tradition, the Election Day basketball game, which he and friends have played on the day of each one of his elections.
The president was surrounding himself with friends, familiar faces and old campaign hands from his 2008 glory days. On this Election Day in Chicago, Team Obama was uniformly presenting a picture of cautious optimism. They all seem to think the president is going to win. But none of them is sure enough about it to avoid offering a caveat that Mr. Romney could pull it off somehow, even during private conversations with the news media.
Robert MackeyObama Mural Covered After Image Appears on Twitter
A judge in Philadelphia ordered poll workers to cover up a mural depicting President Obama at a school on Tuesday, after a photograph posted on Twitter, showing voting machines set up in front of the president’s image, spread rapidly across the social network.
Valerie Caras, the communications director for the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, drew attention to the image, taken by one of the party’s volunteer election monitors at the polling place for Philadelphia’s 5th Ward, 18th Division, inside the Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.
Just an hour later, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, Tim Miller, posted an image on his Twitter feed, showing the order to have the mural covered, which was issued by Judge John Milton Younge, a Democrat.
The mural appeared to pay tribute to President Obama’s 2008 campaign, featuring the words “hope” and “change” on either side of his image, and a quote from a speech he gave during the Democratic primary campaign that year, on Feb. 5, 2008, in which he said: “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Mark MakelaVoter Portraits: Athens, OhioMark Makela for The New York Times
“There’s too wide a gap between rich and poor. Obama has more compassion for poor people.”
Name: Emily Lai
Age: Over 65
Supporting: President Obama
Location: Athens, Ohio
Occupation: International grocery store owner
Concerned About: Economic inequality
Ashley ParkerFor Romney Camp, Enthusiasm and Exhaustion, With One Exception, Age 7
CLEVELAND — Hours after the polls opened, Stuart Stevens was on the attack.
Mr. Stevens, Mitt Romney’s senior strategist, prowled the aisles of Mr. Romney’s private plane, Nerf gun in hand, aiming it at unsuspecting reporters. Then, something out the window caught his attention.
Peering out on the tarmac here, where Mr. Romney had just landed — one of two last-minute stops on the final day of the election — Mr. Stevens observed the vice president’s plane, Air Force Two, also idling on the runway.
“I thought they said that it was panic that we were campaigning today,” Mr. Stevens deadpanned.
Just after noon on Election Day, the mood on the Romney campaign was lighthearted, and even upbeat. Mr. Romney was joined on his final swing by Bob White, a close confidant whom he jokingly calls his “wing man”; Garrett Jackson, his personal assistant; Kevin Madden, a senior adviser; Rick Gorka, the campaign’s traveling press secretary; and his oldest son, Tagg, as well Tagg’s oldest son, Joe.
Mr. Romney’s aides seemed relaxed if exhausted. Mr. Madden told reporters that he had hardly slept; the campaign had arrived back at their hotel late Monday night after a huge rally in New Hampshire, and he’d had to get up in the predawn dark for a TV appearance. Mr. Gorka wandered to the back of the plane holding a “Gorka doll” — a miniature replica of himself that a member of the campaign’s finance team had ordered after Mr. Gorka had a foul-mouthed explosion in Poland, during Mr. Romney’s foreign trip.
Both Mr. Madden and Mr. Gorka said they were eschewing Twitter for the day. Nothing good, they joked, could come from monitoring tweets on Election Day.
Upon landing in Ohio, Mr. Romney waited on his plane until his running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, arrived on his plane — “The Flying Badger.” Mr. Ryan boarded Mr. Romney’s cabin to applause.
And then the two men were off, heading to a “Victory Center” — basically a campaign phone bank and office where volunteers are trying to turn out every last voter — to greet supporters.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ryan’s three young kids — Liza, Charlie and Sam — filed off their plane and onto the tarmac, where they were joined by a coterie of cousins and Mr. Ryan’s wife, Janna, to toss around a football.
By the time Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan headed to grab lunch at Wendy’s, most of the Ryan clan had tired of football. But Mr. Ryan’s youngest son, Sam, 7, was still giddy with energy.
From the window of the room where the traveling press corps was waiting, he could be seen below, running around — and around — in circles.
Dan SaltzsteinThe First 'Social Media Election'?
Is this the first “social media Election Day”? Judging by the number of posts and photos being uploaded to Twitter, Instagram and other platforms, it certainly looks that way.
Depending on how you slice it, about half of the top-10 trending topics on Twitter at the moment are election-related (one is a promoted hashtag, #VoteObama; Halo 4 and the Cypher Kids Club have also made appearances). The Times asked readers to let us know about their election day experiences with the tag #tellNYT (specify where you voted, what you saw and how it felt) and early reports are flowing in. (We are sharing a selection on the nytimes.com homepage.)
Some are noting long waits and some chaotic conditions, often in frigid weather:
Others avoided waiting in line altogether by voting early.
— Kenny Walker (@kennycwalker) November 6, 2012
Still others made sure to get up bright and early.
On Instagram, where we asked users to use the hashtag #NYTelection — a selection can be found here — photos are showing a combination of long lines, elaborate signage, first-time voters, and, in some cases, individual ballots. (Readers should take care on that last category, since, as a a report by ProPublica notes, it is illegal to share your ballot or photograph inside a polling station in some states, including Hawaii, Colorado and Michigan.)
Amy ChozickShowing ID in New HampshireDarren McCollester/Getty Images
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Frank Dubisz, a 72-year-old registered Independent, played a joke on his polling administrator when he cast his ballot for Mr. Obama at the Bishop Leo E. O’Neil Youth Center near downtown Manchester.
When the administrator, a neighbor he’s known for years, asked for his photo identification, he thumbed through a giant wad of cards in his wallet, finally settling on his Sam’s Club membership card. “She said ‘That’s good!’” he said. “It’s one thing if she didn’t know me, but I’ve voted in this ward for 50 years.”
Stephen B. Stepanek, a conservative state representative seeking re-election to New Hampshire’s Hillsborough District 6, stood outside his polling location in Manchester’s Ninth Ward. He wore a button that said “NObama” and held a Romney-Ryan sign. He said the state’s new law that requires voters to present photo identification or sign a sworn statement is “a great thing and a long time coming.”
According to his local survey, at least 40 to 50 homes in Manchester have residents listed as registered voters who no longer live in the state. “I know a guy who hasn’t lived in this district in 35 years and he’s still registered,” Mr. Stepanek said. “You need a photo ID to cash a check. You should need one to vote.”
When asked about the Obama campaign’s concerns that the law could scare away voters who hadn’t previously participated in the political process, Mr. Stefanik said, “That’s just an excuse because they’re scared they’re going to run out of Democrats.”
Barbara E. Shaw, a Democrat seeking her seventh term as a state representative for Hillsborough District 16, voted against the law. “If there was evidence of fraud, it’d be different,” she said. “There are always people who will try to do something sneaky but most people just want to vote.”
Kirsten LuceVoter Portraits: Lexington, Va.Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
“I don’t think people should have to lose their homes because they can’t afford health care.”
Name: Dr. Avtar Robert Moore
Age: Over 65
Supporting: President Obama
Location: Lexington, Va.
Occupation: Doctor of osteopathic medicine
Concerned About: Affordable health care
Jess BidgoodSick of Fighting
KENSINGTON, N.H. — This 2,200-person town is a bucolic enclave, nestled just north of the Massachusetts border. It is a swing town, in a swing county, in a swing state. As Lee Veader headed to the polls on Tuesday morning, he was hoping the day would bring relief from what he said was the most acidic election he can remember, with partisanship as rife in his own social circles as it has been on cable television.
“There’s really people that we’re close with that are willing to let politics end relationships — we’re talking friends that you’ve been friends with for years that all of a sudden can’t get past not sharing the same viewpoint,” said Mr. Veader, a registered Republican who lives here and works in sales. “People really feel strongly how they stand nowadays. It’s not as gray as it used to be — because of that, it just gets personal.”
Mr. Veader, who voted for Mitt Romney for president, said he had tried to be quiet about his choice so as not to provoke tension — which has been exacerbated, he said, by people’s ability to share their political views over social media. “With everyone having access to Facebook, Twitter, they’re saying things I don’t think they’ll be able to take back.”
Alia Elwy, a 19-year-old student at the University of New Hampshire, said social media had given her pause over the course of the campaign, too. Ms. Elwy said she had been shocked by what she described as racist comments by acquaintances and classmates here about the election posted to Facebook. “I never really realized how much racism there was here,” she said. “They’re just repeating the same things — Obama is a terrorist, he’s in cahoots with Al Qaeda — things are so out there, they don’t even make sense.”
“I’m glad it’s over. I’m sick of fighting, I’m sick of political ads, phone calls, all these things,” added Ms. Elwy, who voted for President Obama.
Diane Chigas, an independent voter, also planned to vote for Mr. Obama as she rushed into the polling place here on her lunch break from her job as a receptionist at a law firm. It is the Affordable Care Act, she said, that came to the fore of her mind as she made her decision. “I had to work through two years of chemo so I wouldn’t lose my insurance,” said Ms. Chigas, “I’m not a pre-existing condition. I’m a person.”
Beverly Clarke, a 62-year-old volunteer at a local food pantry, said she was excited to vote for Mr. Romney. Health care costs, she said, have eroded the middle class, and she has been frustrated by high property taxes and tight budgets here. “We don’t have streetlights, sidewalks, we have part-time fire and police,” said Ms. Clarke, who is a registered Republican. “I really think he could pare down some of these tax issues,” she said of Mr. Romney. “He will put things into their proper perspectives — give things back to the states to run.”
Dennis Carroll, a retired small-business owner, said he had tired of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric on taxes and was planning to vote for Mr. Romney. “He’s doing class warfare. I’m not a rich guy, but they pay their fair share. How much more does he want them to pay?” Mr. Carroll asked.
Mr. Carroll said he was also distrustful of Mr. Obama’s record on foreign policy: “I don’t feel safe with this guy. He bows down to everybody, he doesn’t rule with strength.”
“My husband’s being very kind,” said his wife, Jo, suggesting that Mr. Carroll had used stronger language at home.
Inside the polling place, the election moderator, Harold Bragg, stuck ballots into a wooden box and steeled himself for the task of counting them all by hand later this evening. “It’s been very busy, we have yet to see a break this morning,” Mr. Bragg said. “I’d say we’re doing three to one what we normally do.”
Amy ChozickA New Hampshire Citizen First
MANCHESTER, N.H. — At Bishop Leo E. O’Neil Youth Center near downtown with its rows of government-subsidized housing and redbrick buildings, Eric Thoman, a 51-year-old former software engineer on disability, stood outside holding a Romney-Ryan sign. Mr. Thoman, a registered independent, voted for Mitt Romney because, he said, he felt that President Obama had expanded the role of the federal government.
“I’m a New Hampshire citizen first, and a Manchester citizen before that,” Mr. Thoman said. “Limited government is good government.”
Dan FroschA First-Time VoterMatthew Staver for The New York Times
CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. — The excitement of voting for the first time nearly overwhelmed Lorena Cantarovici, an immigrant from Buenos Aires who became an American citizen three years ago.
Ms. Cantarovici, who owns a Denver-area empanada restaurant, beamed as she emerged from Cherry Hills Village Elementary School after casting her first vote in an American presidential election.
“It felt fantastic. After 11 years of fighting to become a citizen and all the complications, it is very important for me to participate right now,” she gushed. “The United States is asking for my vote. It’s incredible!”
Ms. Cantarovici left Argentina 11 years ago and landed in Denver through a friend, hoping for better economic opportunity. And she credited President Obama’s economic and immigration policies with allowing her restaurant to flourish and enabling her to become a citizen. In return, he got her vote.
The difference between voting in Argentina and the United States was not lost on Ms. Cantarovici as she marveled at how extensive and organized the electoral process seemed to her.
“Here, the campaign process is fantastic. Just seeing the future presidents debate is great. It’s so great,” she said. “In Argentina, you go more for who your family votes for. If you come from a family that is Peronista, you are Peronista too.”
And despite the large numbers of Coloradans who decided to vote early, there was no way Ms. Cantarovici was going to miss out on the experience of experiencing the polls in person.
“I was waiting for today. Everyone was telling me, ‘You can go and vote before,’” she said, laughing. “‘No, I want to vote the day you need to go and vote!’”
Michael GrynbaumLines in MilwaukeeKirsten Luce for The New York Times
MILWAUKEE — In Milwaukee’s northern neighborhoods, an African-American enclave where President Obama enjoys wide support, some residents said they had waited as long as 90 minutes to vote, longer than any other election in their lives.
At Rufus King High School, several hundred residents were lined up by 6:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the polls opened. By 8:30 a.m. at Washington Park Library, nearly 100 would-be voters stood, grim-faced, in a line that circled the glass lobby and then snaked all the way up a staircase. “I should’ve voted early,” one woman said, shaking her head. “This is ridiculous.”
High turnout accounted for most of the long lines, although there were scattered reports of damaged voting machines, including a breakdown of the single machine at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, which led to some voters’ leaving in frustration. The machine was back up after a half-hour wait.
“We figured we’d wait till everybody went to work, but looks like a lot of people are out of work,” said Donnie Beene, 63, as he gestured toward the dozens of people lined up on the sidewalk in front of Atkinson Library, near West Capitol Drive. A few passing motorists shouted out to friends in line, leading the voters in a chant of “O-ba-ma!”
As she left the library’s polling place, Hazel Johnson said it had taken her 90 minutes to cast her ballot. “I’ve never waited that long,” she said. The library, she said, was far too small a site for a smooth operation, and at one point an ambulance had to be called because a man with diabetes fainted. But she said she did not see any problems or irregularities. “And I was looking!” she added, with a laugh.
Mr. Beene, at the back of the line, said that he originally had some doubts about giving Mr. Obama a second term. “That was until people started learning the truth” about Mr. Romney, Mr. Beene said. Drawing laughs from the crowd, he offered his definition of trickle-down economics: “Give to the rich, and hopefully we’ll get some.”
After voting at the Children’s Outing Association on West Burleigh Street, Theresa Pelmore, 22, explained her vote for Mr. Obama this way: “I believe everybody deserves a second chance.” Ms. Pelmore said that she had finished school, where she trained as a medical assistant, but that she had not been able to find work for nearly a year. “I don’t know who I blame for that,” she said. For the president, “it was hard, because he came in having to deal with what President Bush left behind.”
Chris Mortorff, an observer for Mitt Romney’s campaign and a law student in Chicago, made the hour-and-a-half drive to Milwaukee in the car he shares with his wife, who is nine months pregnant. “She said she wasn’t having the baby today,” Mr. Mortorff explained. In several hours at the polls, he said he had seen only one irregularity, when poll workers did not ask residents for a proof of address when they tried to register to vote. (In Wisconsin, residents can register on the day of the election.) The problem was quickly corrected, he said.
Joseph BergerA Frustrated Voter in Westchester County
Randy Harter, 66, an artist and designer, voted in New Rochelle, in Westchester County, N.Y., at 6 a.m. and said his frustrating experience was symptomatic of incompetence in government. It was an issue that was on his mind because of what he described as an incompetent response to Hurricane Sandy in an area where thousands of houses still have no power more than a week after the storm struck.
He said he asked an election worker how to fill out a paper ballot he had never seen before and was told: “Just fill it out.” When his ballot was inserted, the machine jammed, he said. A second worker came over and brought another machine, and it too jammed. He eventually was given an envelope in which to place a ballot that would be hand counted. The entire voting experience took 45 minutes, Mr. Harter said.
“Morons are running things, and nobody’s in charge,” he said afterward.
He said he voted for President Obama. “He inherited a government that’s incompetent, and he’s trying to fix it,” Mr. Harter said.
Susan SaulnyVoting for Romney in Chicago
CHICAGO – Here in a heavily Democratic city in a heavily Democratic state, Ken Selvig, a resident of the South Loop, is voting against the grain. In a sea of blue, he is a flash of red: the elusive Chicagoan who is also a Romney supporter.
“You stay quiet about it,” he said, only half joking. “It’s not something you see much on the surface around Chicago, but there are a few of us.”
While Mr. Selvig, 45, voted for Mitt Romney, it was not with an incredible amount of enthusiasm.
“It’s not that I really, really like him,” said Mr. Selvig, who works in the legal field. “I’m not gung ho about Romney. He’s not like Reagan, funny and charismatic. But I just prefer him. It’s not about being a nice guy. I’m sure Obama is a nice guy. This election is all about the economy.”
He continued: “It was all hope and change last time. It’s hope and change again, but in the opposite direction. I just think we need a change because of the state of the economy.”
Jon HurdleVoting in PhiladelphiaJessica Kourkounis/Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA — Kristin Luebbert, 53, a seventh- and eighth-grade teacher in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, said she voted for President Obama, as she did in 2008, because she believes Mitt Romney lacks specifics in his pitch to voters and isn’t concerned about ordinary people.
“I don’t think he really has a plan,” she said. “I don’t think he really does care about the little people.”
Felicia Brown, 43, a respiratory therapist at a Philadelphia hospital, said she had been ready to produce identification to polling officials, but found it wasn’t necessary.
A Pennsylvania law passed this year would have required voters to present official ID but was put on hold by a judge after opponents argued that it would have disenfranchised groups such as the elderly and the poor who do not have driver’s licenses or other forms of officially approved ID.
Ms. Brown, speaking outside a polling place in West Philadelphia’s Parkside neighborhood, said she voted a straight Democratic ticket because she believes that Mr. Obama needs another term to complete the work of his first four years. In previous elections, she said, she had voted for some Democrats and some Republicans among federal and state candidates for different offices, but backed all Democrats this time.
Ms. Brown said she would not vote for Mitt Romney because he had “contradicted himself” on some issues including health care, and she believes that he would lessen women’s rights to abortion and family planning if elected president.
The economic crisis that confronted Mr. Obama when he came into office was “not his fault,” Ms. Brown said, and he needs another term to put it right.
Dan FroschWaiting to Vote in Colorado
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — At a community center here on the outskirts of Denver, a line of people snaked through the lobby as the polls opened at 7 a.m., Tuesday morning.
Many Coloradans voted before Election Day — either by mailing in their ballots or voting in person at early-voting locations — but some people clearly wanted to cast their votes in person.
“I got here early because I didn’t want stand in line,” said Jimmy Gilbee, 59, who voted for President Obama, saying he thought the president should get four more years to implement his policies. “It was quick, and it was easy.”
David Rolla, a 60-year-old retired teacher, said he decided to show up in person because he worried his vote would get miscounted if he mailed it in.
“Remember what happened in Florida,” said Mr. Rolla, who also supported Mr. Obama. “I had to be here in person.”
Here in Adams County, Mr. Obama won by about 30,000 votes in 2008. But Republicans were hoping to make inroads in the sprawl of politically mixed Denver suburbs along Colorado’s front range.
According to numbers released Tuesday morning by the Colorado secretary of state, Scott Gessler, more than 1.8 million Coloradans had voted before Election Day.
Of that number, some 675,797 Republicans and 642,834 Democrats voted early, evidence, ostensibly, that Republicans have been pushing people to choose early.
More than half a million unaffiliated voters also cast their ballots early — perhaps the most critical number in a state where such voters make up a sizable slice of the electorate and have the power to turn elections.
“We feel very good about our position,” said James Garcia, state director for the Romney campaign. “We’ve been leading the early vote throughout the entire way and the same with the mail in returns. That’s a huge chunk of Colorado.”
Susan SaulnyRooting for Our GuyJohn Gress/Reuters
CHICAGO – Here in the heart of President Obama’s hometown, where he is planning a huge victory party in a cavernous convention center tonight, is there any surprise that voters are cheering for one of their own?
Enthusiasm may have waned in other parts of the country since the president was swept into office on the promise of “hope and change” in 2008, but Chicago is still enchanted with the candidate some people lovingly refer to as “our guy.”
And no one wants to see their guy lose.
“I’m just ready for the next phase of change,” said Bianca Murray, 29, a South Sider who voted early this morning for Mr. Obama. “It didn’t take four years to get our country into this economic state, and there’s no way it would have taken only four years to fix it.”
Ms. Murray thinks Mr. Obama actually has more support now than in 2008. “If anything, I think the ones who weren’t with him the first time are now more on his side.”
“It’s personal now,” she said. “The insults, the attacks, how much the middle class has to lose if Mitt Romney wins. People know they will feel pain, personal pain, if the other side wins.”
Gabe Morton-Cook, 30, agreed. “I’ve been an Obama supporter all along,” he said. “The last four years, his progress has been stifled by Congress and I’m confident that in the next four years, he can make the progress he’s been wanting to.”
For Ms. Murray, a hotel clerk, and Mr. Morton-Cook, a graphic designer, voting today was exciting. Their votes were cast enthusiastically, not simply out of obligation.
“Everybody I know has been pretty excited about this,” Mr. Morton-Cook said. “And any election this close is bound to get people out to vote.”
A reporter wondered if Mr. Morton-Cook and his friends had been unduly influenced by the amount of good feelings in Chicago for Mr. Obama.
“No,” he said. “That can’t explain it because I just moved here from Minnesota.”
Ms. Murray said the high spirits locally might have influenced her vote. “Of course we want our guy to win,” she said.
Stephanie SaulBombarded by Robocalls
LAS VEGAS — As he left his polling place here today, Bob Cole, a retired casino security guard, said he was happy that the campaign was over.
A registered independent, Mr. Cole said he received about a dozen robocalls nightly during the campaign. One of them was from former President Bill Clinton, asking him to vote for someone in Michigan.
“I don’t have anything to do with Michigan,” Mr. Cole said.
Mr. Cole said he erased the messages nightly.
Despite being an independent, Mr. Cole said he voted a straight Democratic ticket.
Trip GabrielRyan Votes in JanesvilleJosh Haner/The New York Times
JANESVILLE, Wis. — Representative Paul D. Ryan and his family arrived at the Hedberg Public Library at 8:40 Tuesday morning. Moving to the head of a line in a second-floor room, Mr. Ryan and his wife, Janna, waited for a poll worker to find their names in the registration book. As she flipped pages, Liza Ryan, 10, pointed to the entry and said, “Paul D. Ryan.”
At a second table, the Ryans picked up their ballots, and Mr. Ryan shook hands with a few polling volunteers he knew.
“You know who this is, don’t you?’’ he asked his three children as he shook one man’s hand.
“You keep in touch with Larry?’’ Mr. Ryan said to another man.
The family moved to a line of folding tables to mark their ballots.
“Come on, Sam, let’s do this together,’’ Mr. Ryan said to his youngest child, 7, who increasingly enjoyed the campaign in recent days, flashing V-for-victory signs once his father finished a speech and stepping to the microphone at one event to say, “One more day!”
Mr. Ryan marked his ballot as Sam and Liza looked on. Mrs. Ryan voted with Charlie, 9, who has proved shyer on the trail, often ducking behind a barrier onstage while his father has introduced him.
Both voting-age Ryans fed their ballots into an Optech III-P Eagle machine. It sucked in the cardboard ballots, scanned them electronically and deposited the “paper trail” in a bin below, according to a poll worker.
After he stepped from the room, Mr. Ryan said: “I feel great today. It’s a great tradition. It’s Election Day. I’m very excited to be here. I’ve been voting here a long time.”
“It felt good waking up in my hometown,” he added. “It felt good coming to this neighborhood I grew up in. I went to junior high about 60 yards that way. So it’s great to be here in my hometown. It’s great to vote, and we’re really excited.”
Asked if he expected to win, Mr. Ryan said: “I think we are. I feel good about it.”
Steven YaccinoLooking to Turn Wisconsin RedKirsten Luce for The New York Times
GREEN BAY, Wis. – It has been nearly three decades since Wisconsin voted for a Republican presidential candidate — not since Ronald Reagan in 1984 – but some voters here believe that could change this year.
If that historical trend is upended, it will be in part to the credit of a recent uptick in Republican enthusiasm in the state and a G.O.P. ground game that was honed while fending off a union-backed recall election that failed to oust Gov. Scott Walker, a conservative, just a few months ago.
“It just seems like the Republicans are so much more a force, stronger,” said one woman who declined to give her name but said she voted for President Obama. “They’ve gotten their message out.”
That recall election bitterly divided the state along partisan lines. And after a wave of Republicans victories in the State Legislature during the 2010 midterm elections, some here are wondering if conservative momentum in Wisconsin will be enough to help overthrow an Obama presidency.
Steven Steinbruecker, 40, a Republican supporter who has his own electronics repair business, did not hesitate when asked how well he thought Mitt Romney would do statewide. “I think Romney’s going to run away with it,” he said, citing the recall win and the vice-presidential candidate, Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, for his confidence in a more eager conservative electorate in the state this year. “I think ‘excited’ is the wrong term, but I think we’re tired of Democrats.”
John Seybold, 50, another Romney backer, said many people here would cast their vote for the former Massachusetts governor on Tuesday because they were discouraged about the direction the country is heading in — not only economically, but also morally. “It wasn’t Adam and Steve, it was Adam and Eve,” he said, apparently referring to Mr. Obama’s support of same-sex marriage. “If you believe in God, you have to vote for Romney.”
Even Obama supporters at one polling site in Green Bay said they had seriously considered supporting Mr. Romney until late into the campaign. Others said the end of the election and the torrent of get-out-the-vote efforts, whatever the outcome, could not come soon enough.
“I’ll be glad when it’s over with all the door-knocking and the phone calls,” said Diane Basten, 70, a public school kindergarten teacher who backed Mr. Obama. “I would easily say we had at least 500 calls in the last month.”
Stephanie SaulAfter Prison, Hoping to Vote
LAS VEGAS — One hopeful voter here is Clyde Davis, an ex-offender who wants to cast his ballot today for President Obama. Mr. Davis said that he recently went to a grocery store to vote early but was told that his voting rights had been negated. Mr. Davis served time in prison for burglary.
Today, he is waiting for paperwork from the prison system that will permit him to vote. He’s hoping the documents will be ready in time to cast his ballot.
“I felt terribly upset,” Mr. Davis said. “I know every person’s vote counts, and I was expecting to vote for the candidate that I saw would best suit America as far as the people were concerned. They just wouldn’t let me vote.”
Mr. Davis, 31, has been working with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project to get the paperwork in order. He is one of at least 18 Nevadans who were turned away during early voting because of felony convictions and are now working with the two groups to have their rights restored.
The A.C.L.U. estimates that more than 165,000 ex-offenders in Nevada are not registered to vote, partly as a result of a complex system for restoring voting rights.
Amy ChozickHoping to Seal the DealCheryl Senter for The New York Times
MANCHESTER, N.H. — The nondescript basement of an office park here buzzed with activity early Tuesday morning. The walls were covered with makeshift signs directing Obama campaign volunteers on how to get New Hampshire voters to the polls. Signs written in marker gave phone numbers for voters to call to schedule a ride to the nearest polling spot.
“We’d like to seal the deal with the voter,” Russ Roy, a 58-year-old software engineer, told a group of canvassers before they hit the nearby streets. He gave them one last piece of advice: “We’re being pushy, but we’re being nice-pushy, O.K.?”
Mr. Roy had been volunteering for President Obama’s re-election effort for four months. He supported John Edwards in the Democratic primary in 2008 (a “bad choice,” he said) and decided to get involved because of the “divergence of choice” in this campaign. “I don’t worship at Mr. Obama’s feet,” he said. “But for the most part he’s done an enormous job at putting us back on track.”
Obama volunteers said it was particularly important this year that voters who have not participated before understand the process. “We need to make it crystal clear that no one will be turned away, no one will be denied for lack of identification,” Mr. Roy said. “We’re going to dispel any fears people have.”
Steven YaccinoWhiplash in Brown County
GREEN BAY, Wis. – Not far from the Fox River, flecks of snow began to fall as voters filtered into this city’s bus station to cast their ballots early Tuesday morning.
While President Obama has led in statewide polls, Republican efforts to turn Wisconsin red this year may hinge on some northern areas of the state, including counties around Green Bay, that have shown a wide partisan swing in past elections.
When Norman Thurber, 49, arrived to vote on Tuesday, he still had not yet decided who he thought the next president should be. He had been wrestling with it for weeks, trying his best to avoid an onslaught of negative advertising while he made up his mind.
Life has not been easy since he voted for Mr. Obama in 2008. Mr. Thurber has been out of work since 2009, when his 20-year construction business collapsed with the housing market. “It’s hard to find people who want to build houses,” he said, describing how he went from being a licensed contractor to doing renovation work to being unemployed. “It’s hard to find anyone who wants to invest in anything.”
But he was also reluctant to back Mitt Romney, he said. “I feel like I’m being forced to choose between one of two devils,” he said. “I don’t think that either candidate has what it takes to get the country where it needs to be.”
So he waited until the final possible moment to make up his mind. “I won’t know until I walk in there and make a choice,” he said.
Fewer places have seen more partisan whiplash in Wisconsin than here in Brown County, where the lawn signs appear to be equally divided between the two major political parties. In 2004, President George W. Bush beat John Kerry in the county by 10 percentage points. In 2008, the county flipped in Mr. Obama’s favor by almost the same amount. In the years since, Republicans took it back when they elected Gov. Scott Walker in 2010 and rebuffed a union-backed attempt to recall the conservative governor this year, winning both of those elections with double-digit margins.
Armondo Diaz, 30, a forklift driver for a mail distribution company in town, said he was planning to vote for Mitt Romney until about a month ago. He changed his mind after the president displayed stronger performances in the final two debates, and said that he believed that Mr. Obama deserved a second chance.
“I think the economy wasn’t fixable in four years no matter who was in there,” he said. “Pretty much any president I vote for, I give a second term. I did the same for Bush.”