Barack Obama became a part of history Tuesday night; he is now the first African-American president-elect in the United States. Photo from MSNBC's coverage of Obama's victory speech.
Confirming what most polls had recently indicated—and cementing his place in history—Sen. Barack Obama has become the first African-American president-elect in the nation's history, defeating Republican candidate Sen. John McCain.
A battle that was expected to be tight actually was over relatively early on Tuesday night. By 9 p.m. CT, CNN.com had already projected Obama as the winner in Ohio. No Republican has won the race for the White House without winning Ohio.
Also by that time, Obama had also been projected to win Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
By 10 p.m., Obama had 297 electoral votes—more than the 270 needed to win. As of 12 a.m. Wednesday, Obama had garnered 338 electoral votes to McCain's 156, CNN.com reported. Obama will be the 44th president of the United States.
Republicans cited various reasons for McCain's loss, including the economy. 'John McCain was leading' until the economic situation took a turn for the worse, Republican State Rep. Jim Durkin said on WGN-TV. ' [ McCain ] was a victim of bad timing.'
Chicago's Grant Park became the focal point of the nation Tuesday night, as Obama delivered his victory speech there. ( Crowd estimates in the immediate park area were around 125,000. ) Among the people there were Oprah Winfrey, who called the win 'the most amazing night of my life.' Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich added that 'it's a historic [ and ] magical night,' and referenced the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. when he said that voters selected him 'based on the content of his character and not the color of his skin.'
During his victory speech, Obama said, 'To those who wonder if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still question the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.'
He added that the thought 'that their voice could be that difference ... is the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican; Black, white, Hispanic, Asian; gay [ and ] straight; disabled and non-disabled—Americans have sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals, or a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.'
In his concession speech, McCain said that Obama's 'success alone commands my respect alone for his ability and perseverence—but that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans, who once believed that they had little at stake in the election of a president, is something I deeply admire.' He went on to recognize the significance of the night for African Americans, and thanked, among others, his wife, Cindy; and his vice-presidential running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
McCain also again expressed condolences to the Obama family for the loss of the president-elect's grandmother, who passed away the day before his historic win.
The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) —the nation's largest LGBT-rights organization—issued a press release celebrating Obama's election. 'This election represents a paradigm shift,' HRC President Joe Solmonese said. 'The pendulum has swung away from the anti-gay forces that dominated the political landscape for too long and toward new leadership that acknowledges our equality.'
Jody M. Huckaby, executive director of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays ( PFLAG ) , said, 'All of us at PFLAG congratulate President-Elect Obama on his victory this evening. Tonight, our country has turned an historic corner, electing our first African-American commander-in-chief. As a United States Senator, and a candidate for the Presidency of the United States, Obama has been a steadfast friend to the LGBT community, our families and friends. We look forward to working with the new administration, and new Congress, in moving equality forward for our families and friends.'
Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, said, 'This is the dawn of a new political era of hope and engagement in the life of this country. A new administration brings a promise for a sea change in the tenor of the national dialogue on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
Log Cabin Republicans President Patrick Sammon said in a statement that his organization 'congratulates Sen. Barack Obama on his historic victory. While Log Cabin Republicans proudly supported Sen. John McCain, we recognize this important moment in American history.'
Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden, will take their oaths of office as president and vice president, respectively, on Jan. 20.
U.S. House and Senate
Most of the U.S. House and Senate incumbents prevailed easily in their races, including Dick Durbin, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, Luis Gutierrez and Rahm Emanuel.
Democrat Debbie Halvorson defeated Marty Ozinga in a heated race.
In the 10th Congressional District, Republican incumbent Mark Kirk again defeated Democrat Dan Seals to retain his seat in the U.S. House, according to CBS2Chicago.com . Kirk—who recently has served four terms in the U.S. House, representing a district that has become increasingly Democratic over the years.
In the 14th Congressional District, Democrat Bill Foster retained his seat, defeating Republican dairy magnate Jim Oberweis.
Unfortunately, not all news is good for the LGBT community. As of 1 a.m. CT, the New York Times reported that Californians were supporting Proposition 8, which seeks to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to obtain marriage
licenses and prohibit recognition of same-sex relationships by state agencies, by 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent, with 41 percent of precincts reporting.
Early data showed, unsurprisingly, that Democrats and independents were tending to vote against Proposition 8, while Republicans were in favor of the measure, The Los Angeles Times reported. The survey also revealed that the proposition was trailing among white voters, but was ahead among Black voters; Latino voters were almost evenly divided.
The campaign was one of the costliest on both sides, with more than 60,000 people from all 50 states and almost two dozen countries contributing over $60 million to support or oppose the proposition, according to the Associated Press.
Other items and races
California was the not the only state that had voters dealing with marriage-related issues. Regarding Florida's Amendment 2, voters had to decide if they wanted to put a definition of marriage in the state's constitution stating that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, despite the fact that state law already says the same thing.
As of 11 p.m. Tuesday, the amendment was passing overwhelmingly, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Elections, Newsmax.com reported.
In Arizona, voters weighed in on a similar amendment, Proposition 102. The ban had more supporters than opponents in early returns, according to AZCentral.com .
South Dakotans voted 56 percent to 44 percent against an abortion ban that was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, KXMC.com reported. The ban would prohibit abortions except in cases of rape, incest and pregnancies that threaten the life/health of the woman.
In a development some viewed as stunning, Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., lost her bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate to Democrat Kay Hagan. The campaign turned nasty in its final days, with Dole—who is married to former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole—questioning Hagan's Christianity and, in turn, Hagan suing Dole. The victory also increased the Democrats' majority in the Senate.
Speaking of the Senate, CNN.com indicated at 9:25 p.m. Tuesday night that Democrats had secured 54 seats—with 51 needed for control. With the Democrats also controlling the House, pundits are expecting more liberal issues to be at the forefront.