US Chooses CHANGE
Barack Obama did more than thump John McCain in the Electoral College tally; he also handily won the popular vote and redrew the great divide between red states and blue states.
Riding a Democratic tide that bolstered the party’s presence in both houses of Congress, Obama snared about 63 million votes to McCain’s 55.8 million, according to totals early Wednesday.
According to exit polls, Obama crushed McCain among women voters (56 percent to 43 percent); voters under 30 (66 percent to 32 percent); African-American voters (95 percent to 4 percent); Latino voters (66 percent to 32 percent); first-time voters (68 percent to 31 percent); and voters making less than $100,000 a year (55 percent to 43 percent).
“I think this is the passing of an old order,” CNN senior political analyst David Gergen said as the results rolled in Tuesday night and the outcome became increasingly evident.
“I think what we see … is a new coalition, a new order emerging. It isn’t quite there, but with Barack Obama, for the first time, it’s won. It is the Latino vote we just heard about. It is the bigger black vote that came out. Very importantly, it’s the youth vote, the 18-to-29-year-old,” said the Harvard University professor and former presidential adviser.
Early voting totals in the East suggested things would go traditionally, with McCain taking most of the Southeast, Obama most of the Northeast.
But then things quickly changed, as the senator from Illinois struck — first in Pennsylvania and then in the Midwest state of Ohio, states McCain had to win in his bid for the Oval Office. Obama then delivered an uppercut in Virginia, a state that had not voted for a Democratic president since 1964.
As polls closed from East to West, Obama kept hammering McCain, as he snatched away Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada — states that had been in President Bush’s column in 2004.
And Wednesday morning, Obama added Indiana to the list of states he’d turned from red to blue. Indiana hadn’t voted for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
(Missouri and North Carolina were still counting votes Wednesday, but it appeared one or two of them could become blue-state converts as well.)
With McCain on the ropes, an Obama victory in Florida sounded the death knell.
When Indiana fell into Obama’s column Wednesday morning, he had a 349-163 lead over his rival in electoral votes, with only 26 undecided.
As he claimed victory Tuesday night, Obama told supporters, “change has come to America.”
“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America — I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you — we as a people will get there,” Obama said in Chicago before an estimated crowd of up to 240,000 people.
With Obama’s win, he becomes the first African-American to win the White House.
McCain pledged Tuesday night to help Obama lead.
“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” McCain said.
The senator from Arizona called Obama to congratulate him, and Obama told him that he was eager to sit down and talk about how the two of them can work together.
Obama will also be working with a heavily Democratic Congress. Democrats picked up Senate seats in New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina and Virginia, among others.
But Obama pledged to work across party lines and listen to the 46 percent of voters who chose McCain.
“While the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress,” Obama said.
“To those Americans whose support I have yet to earn — I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your president, too,” he said.
And he recited the words of Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican in White House, to call for unity.
“As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, ‘We are not enemies, but friends … though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection,'” Obama said.
upporters in Chicago cheering, “Yes, we can,” were met with cries of “Yes, we did.”
Bush also called Obama to offer his congratulations.
The president told Obama he was about to begin one of the great journeys of his life, and invited him to the White House as soon as it could be arranged, according to White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.
More than 1,000 people gathered outside the White House, chanting “Obama, Obama!”
Sen. Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former rival for the Democratic nomination, said in a statement that “we are celebrating an historic victory for the American people.”
“This was a long and hard fought campaign, but the result was well worth the wait. Together, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a Democratic Congress, we will chart a better course to build a new economy and rebuild our leadership in the world.”
Sen. Edward Kennedy said Americans “spoke loud and clear” in electing Obama.
“They understood his vision of a fairer and more just America and embraced it. They heard his call for a new generation of Americans to participate in government and were inspired. They believed that change is possible and voted to be part of America’s future,” the Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement.
Voters expressed excitement and pride in their country after casting their ballots in the historic election. Poll workers reported high turnout across many parts of the country, and some voters waited hours to cast their ballots.
Tuesday marked the end of the longest presidential campaign season in U.S. history — 21 months.
Obama, 47, will begin his transition to the White House. He will be sworn in as the 44th president on January 20.
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