WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the American people have "picked ourselves up" and fought back during tough economic times, declaring after winning re-election that the "best is yet to come."
Obama says he wants to meet with Republican rival Mitt Romney to discuss how they can work together. He says they may have "battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply."
The president rolled to a second term over Romney, winning more than 300 electoral votes. Only one state's electoral votes hadn't been called by The Associated Press as of early Wednesday morning. In Florida, Obama has a 46,000-vote lead, with 100 percent of precincts reporting. But Florida historically has left as many as 5 percent of its votes uncounted until after Election Day, making the race too close to call until state officials complete their count, the AP said.
In victory, Obama spoke to thousands of cheering supporters, praising Romney and promising that better days are ahead. "While our road has been hard, though our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up. We have fought our way back and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," he said.
Romney made a graceful concession speech before a disappointed crowd in Boston. He summoned all Americans to pray for Obama and urged the night's political winners to put partisan bickering aside and "reach across the aisle" to tackle the nation's problems. Romney said earlier he called Obama to congratulate him on his victory, adding that he prays "the president will be successful in guiding our nation."
Obama triumphed despite a weak economy that plagued his first term and put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions.
After the costliest - and arguably the nastiest - campaign in history, divided government seemed alive and well. Democrats retained control of the Senate with surprising ease. Republicans did the same in the House, making it likely that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, Obama's partner in unsuccessful deficit talks, would reclaim his seat at the bargaining table.
At Obama headquarters in Chicago, a huge crowd gathered waving small American flags and cheering. Supporters hugged each other, danced and pumped their fists in the air. Excited crowds also gathered in New York's Times Square, at Faneuil Hall in Boston and near the White House in Washington, drivers joyfully honking as they passed by.
With votes counted in 75 percent of the nation's precincts, Obama held a narrow advantage in the popular vote, leading by about 25,000 out of more than 99 million cast.
But the president's laserlike focus on the battleground states allowed him to run up a 303-206 margin in the competition for electoral votes, where the White House is won or lost. It took 270 to win.
Obama captured Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire, Colorado and Nevada, seven of the nine states where the rivals and their allies poured nearly $1 billion into dueling television commercials.
Romney won only North Carolina among the battleground states. Four years ago, Obama had carried the state.
Florida remained too close to call, a state where long lines of voters kept the polls open in some areas well past the appointed poll close time.
Here’s how it shaped up for the candidates.
Barack Obama won:Virginia, Nevada, Wisconsin, Oregon, Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, California, Hawaii, Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Vermont, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Illinois .
Mitt Romney won:Missouri, Idaho, North Carolina, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Georgia.
The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government - whether it occupies a major, front-row place in American lives or is in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship.
The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 percent of voters surveyed as they left their polling places. But more said former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for current circumstances than Obama did after nearly four years in office. That bode well for the president, who had worked to turn the election into a choice between his proposals and Romney's, rather than the simple referendum on the economy during his time in the White House.
Unemployment stood at 7.9 percent on election day, higher than when he took office. And despite signs of progress, the economy is still struggling after the worst recession in history.
About 4 in 10 said the economy is on the mend, but more than that said it was stagnant or getting worse more than four years after the near-collapse of 2008. The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and a group of television networks.