More than a year of stump speeches, fundraisers, presidential serenades and policy debates culminate today. All the persuading, nominating, campaign rallies, door knocking and baby kissing end with Americans heading to polls to choose their president, who will represent them on Capitol Hill, and countless other local candidates.
Refresh here for updates throughout the day and results all night.
Tune in to ABCNews.com for livestreaming coverage of Election 2012. Our Election Day show kicks off at noon, and the Election Night event begins at 7 p.m.
But before it all wraps, reflect on some of the most memorable moments of the 2012 election campaign here.
All times are in Eastern Standard Time.
1:55 a.m. – Rubio: Now Comes the Hard Part
Here is the statement Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a staunch Romney supporter, just released:
“I join my fellow Americans in thanking God we live in an exceptional democratic country where our leaders are elected peacefully at the ballot box. And I congratulate President Obama on his victory.
“It has been a privilege campaigning for Mitt Romney, getting to know him and traveling throughout the country on his behalf. When future generations look back on this election, I am proud they will count me among those who chose a path of limited government and free enterprise at a critical crossroads in our history. I am proud to have cast my vote for Mitt Romney.
“Now comes the hard part. America faces monumental challenges in putting people back to work, reducing our crushing debt and advancing our interests around the world.
“In the next Congress, I am committed to working on upward mobility policies that will ensure people who work hard and play by the rules can rise above the circumstances of their birth and leave their children better off. The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them. I look forward to working on these goals with my new and returning colleagues in Congress and hope the President will get behind our efforts.”
1:41 a.m. – Shout Out to Long Lines
In his acceptance speech, President Obama referenced the long lines that plagued voters this Election Day.
The president thanked voters for waiting in them, then said we’ve got to do something about that.
Obama also said he recently spoke with opponents Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. He said he congratulated them “on a hard fought campaign.”
Former Massachusetts Governor Romney gave his concession speech around 1 a.m. Click here to see some of the most memorable concession speeches throughout history.
1:39 a.m. – Alaska for Romney
As President Obama gives his acceptance speech in Chicago, ABC News projects Romney will win in Alaska.
1:36 a.m. – Signed, Sealed, Delivered
President Obama takes the stage in Chicago with the song, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and uproarious cheering as background music.
1:33 a.m. – A Few Fun Notes
ABC News’ Sunlen Miller shares a few fun notes on the election results:
Tammy Baldwin — First openly gay Senator elected.
Angus King – still not confirmed who he, as an Independent, will caucus with. But most believe he will caucus with the democrats.
Deb Fischer – first time since the 1970′s that Nebraska will see an all-Republican Senate delegation
Linda McMahon – World Wrestling Entertainment’s former CEO has lost her second bid for Senate in which she invested more than $77 million of her own money over the two races. She would have become Connecticut’s first female Senator, not that did not happen.
1:27 a.m. – Baldwin Wins in Wisconsin
ABC News projects Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin beat Republican Tommy Thompson for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
That win makes her the first openly gay U.S. Senator.
1:18 a.m. – Obama, Biden and Wives Celebrate with Embrace
1:15 a.m. – Boehner: Election is a Mandate for Bipartisanship
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, released the following statement:
“The American people re-elected the president, and re-elected our majority in the House. If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs, which is critical to solving our debt. I offer sincere congratulations to President and Mrs. Obama and to Vice President and Dr. Biden. I wish Mitt, Ann, Paul, Janna and their families well, and thank them for having carried the banner of our party and our principles with strength, grace, and courage.”
1 a.m. – Top Dem (and Mom) Bodysurf After Obama win
DNC vice-chairman, Minneapolis Mayor and top Obama campaign surrogate R.T. Ryback and his mom, Lorraine, did some body surfing at a Minneapolis rally tonight after Obama was projected to win
12:53 a.m. – Romney Called Obama
ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney called President Obama and conceded.
ABC’s Emily Friedman reports the crowd at the Romney HQ is chanting “Mitt, Mitt, Mitt.”
12:49 a.m. – Same-Sex Marriage in Maryland
ABC News projects an initiative legalizing same-sex marriage in Maryland has passed.
12:45 a.m. – Obama Wins in Va.
ABC News projects Obama will win Virginia.
That was one of the two states the Obama and Romney camp fought over most heavily. Read about their competition here.
12:43 a.m. – 5 Minute Warning
Nightline’s Bill Weir reports Romney is expected to speak in five minutes.
Two minutes later reports it will actually be closer to 12:55 a.m.
12:28 a.m. – Colorado, Washington Projected Pro Marijuana
ABC News projects Washington and Colorado both voted to legalize marijuana use this Election Day. Oregon did not.
Earlier this week ABC’s Chris Good looked into what legalization might mean.
“Washington’s Republican and Democratic candidates for attorney general have pledged to defend it in federal court if it passes and is challenged, although both oppose the measure. Both men think a federal challenge is likely,” Chris wrote.
“‘If it does pass, and it looks like it may pass in this state, we will be exactly contrary to federal criminal law,’ said Reagan Dunn, the Republican candidate, at their September debate. Dunn was referring to the Controlled Substances Act, enacted under President Nixon in 1970. ‘Depending on who is the U.S. attorney, depending on who is the attorney general of the United States, we are very likely as a state to be sued and challenged in federal court on this issue.’ Dunn then touted his experience trying cases in federal court.”
12:24 a.m. – Maine Says Yes to Same-Sex Marriage
ABC News projects that the referendum to allow same-sex marriage in Maine will pass.
12:11 a.m. – Obama Win in Colorado
ABC News projects Obama will win Colorado.
12:01 a.m. – Obama Emails Supporters
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer shares this email from the Obama team:
SUBJECT: How this happened
I’m about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.
I want you to know that this wasn’t fate, and it wasn’t an accident. You made this happen.
You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn’t easy, you pressed forward.
I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.
But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.
Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.
There’s a lot more work to do.
But for right now: Thank you.
(h/t John Santucci)
ABC News is now projecting Obama will win Nevada.
11:40 p.m. – Expectations vs. Outcomes
ABC News Pollster Gary Langer shares an excerpt from the final ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll:
“(The country’s) divisions are reflected, as well, in expectations of who’ll win. Ninety-one percent of Obama supporters expect the president to win re-election; among Romney supporters, fewer, but still 71 percent, expect their candidate to prevail. That means that whatever the outcome Tuesday, many in this country will have not only their preferences but their expectations dashed – for whomever will govern, not an easy place to start.”
11:32 p.m. – It’s Not Over ’til It’s Over
Former U.S. Comptroller David Walker, a professed Romney supporter, warns that it’s not quite over.
“It may be a split between the popular vote and the electoral vote. The second time in 12 years which will increase the call for electoral reform,” Walker wrote in an email. “After $6 billion plus of spending a status quo result for control of the WH, Senate and House. That does not bode well for real progress.”
“President Obama needs to employ a unity approach to governing, including in connection with his second term cabinet.”
11:24 p.m. – And the Winner is…
Based on the projection that Obama will win Ohio, ABC News projects Obama will win the 2012 presidential election.
Just prior to this announcement, ABC’s Devin Dwyer reports from the Obama HQ:
Vernita Merton of Wheaton began sobbing when the projections came on screen. She said she’s “very grateful that the American people have recognized that the best man is going to win the White House. “…. I’m speechless. I’m proud. I’m happy. So proud of America that we’d do this and re-elect a man for his character and not look at the color of his skin.”
Vicki Lindstrom of Lake Forrest, an architect who brought her 8 year old son tonight, says she has been “praying” for this day, “trying to trust the universe” that Obama would win.
She hopes Obama will adopt the “Clinton way” in a second term – to be more “social”… “I’d like to see him get a little more passionate about it” she said
Phillip Tarver of Chicago has been an Obama community organizer since October 2011. “I’m so proud of the turnout… a lot of intense campaigning by the grassroots… four months ago it just wasn’t happening… I wanna say the debates turned that around, but it wasn’t until Biden took the stage that things took off…”
11:21 p.m. – Silence in Romney HQ
ABC News’ Emily Friedman reports from Romney headquarters:
“Fox news is playing on the tvs here – and when they air their results on Ohio- you can hear a pin drop in here.”
World News’ David Muir adds -
“Fox anchors just said this was the whole ballgame. Room stunned. Theyre watching images of cheers at obama hq in big screens. Painful to watch the room watch fox.”
11:20 p.m. – Kaine Projected to Beat Allen, Obama Wins in Oregon
ABC News projects Obama will win Oregon and Iowa, and Democrat from Virginia Tim Kaine will beat Republican opponent George Allen for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Allen was one of several Republican candidates who skipped the RNC this August.
11:06 p.m. – Projection in Missouri, North Carolina
ABC News projects Romney will win Missouri and North Carolina.
10:53 p.m. – Projections in Washington, Arizona
ABC News projects Obama will win Hawaii, Washington, California and all four electoral seats in Maine; Romney will win Arizona and Idaho.
10:49 p.m. – The Final Farewell for Mourdock
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of running for office is giving a gracious concession speech. Tonight Republican Senate candidate from Indiana Richard Mourdock hit his out of the park.
Here’s an excerpt:
“As I told a reporter earlier today, he asked what would be the overwhelming memory of this experience regardless of what’d happen, win or lose, and I told him that without question the thing that has given me the most satisfaction and indeed the most inspiration is having spoken to so many Hoosiers over the last six months that I talked to for only a moment and I hear a different accent in their voice. They are not the people who were born*tearing up* as most of us were, in the United States of America, they were born in other places around the world, and they came to this country, and they expressed their love of country in a way that exceeds what most of us do who are natural born Americans, and what I kept hearing in their voices over the last few weeks and months has been their concern that this country might in fact be slipping back into the kind of government and governing that they worked so hard to leave.”
10:41 p.m. – Waiting in the West
ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports:
About 70 percent of the people in Nevada voted early, but that didn’t end the problem of lines at polls.
The state’s two largest counties have yet to close all their polls, so the secretary of state is holding the release of all polls.
It could be an hour before we see anything from Nevada.
10:36 p.m. – Biden’s Bevy
ABC News’ Arlette Saenz reports:
A campaign official said Biden had dinner with his family at the Fairmont Hotel tonight.
He is accompanied by his wife, Dr. Jill Biden and a bevy of Bidens. Here are their names:
Beau & wife Hallie, children Natalie and Hunter
Hunter & wife Kathleen, children Naomi, Finnegan and Maize
Ashley & husband Howard Krein
10:30 p.m. – Karl Analysis on Florida
ABC News’ Jon Karl offers insight on Florida:
When it comes to Florida, I am seeing real signs of problems for Mitt Romney. Even though it’s tied right now statewide, when we look at the all-important county of Hillsborough (Tampa) some interesting things emerge: This is a county that George W. Bush carried by seven points in 2004. Right now Romney is trailing Barack Obama 46 to 53 . Romney is losing in Hillsborough County.
So why is the race still tied in Florida? If you take a look at Miami-Dade county, this is a huge Obama county. This is one that he won by 16 points last time and only 40 percent of precincts have reported. As those votes come in, that is going to add dramatically to Obama’s vote total.
10:23 p.m. – Wisconsin Presidential Projection
At this point, ABC News projects Obama will win Wisconsin.
10:20 p.m. – New Mexico for President and Missouri for Senate
ABC News projects Obama will win New Mexico; Missouri will re-elect Democrat Claire McCaskill to U.S. Senate over Republican Todd Akin.
10:17 p.m. – Ryan and Family
ABC News’ Shushannah Walshe reports:
Paul Ryan is not with Mitt Romney. He’s still at his hotel with his family. They had pasta and Caesar salad for dinner. Below is the very long list of family that Paul Ryan is currently with, per the Ryan campaign.
Paul Ryan and Janna Ryan
Charlie Ryan/9 year old son
Sam Ryan/ 7 year old son
Liza Ryan/10 year old daughter
Betty Douglas/ Ryan Mom
William Jackson/Janna’s brother-in-law
Dana Jackson/Janna’s sister
Cov Jackson/their son
Alexander Weisberg/relative of Janna
Dan Little/Janna’s father
Mary Olcott/Janna’s sister
Mark Olcott/Janna’s brother-in-law and their children are below:
Janet Rock/Ryan’s sister
Bill Rock/Ryan’s brother-in-law
Stan Ryan/Ryan’s older brother
Zoe Ryan/Stan’s wife
Zaydee Mae Ryan/Their child
Tobin Ryan/Ryan’s brother
Oakleigh Ryan/Tobin’s wife and below are their children
Graham (Mac) Ryan
10:12 p.m. – What a Warren Win Means
On ABC News/Yahoo! News live show, ABC’s Jon Karl explained what a win for Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren over Republican incumbent Senator Scott Brown might mean.
“If you drill down a little bit on this, Scott Brown in our exit poll had a 59 percent approval rating in Massachusetts, that is usually a slam dunk for winning re-election,” Karl said. “Incredibly popular, here was the problem: Obama’s going to win that state huge, and he lost Obama voters 86 to 14 for Elizabeth Warren.”
Karl added, “One other important point about this: Elizabeth Warren now comes into the U.S. Senate as one of the most high profile Democrats in the nation and also one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate. We’ve lost a moderate, gained somebody on the left.”
10:02 p.m. – Most Tweets – EVER
Twitter reports that they hit 20-million election-related tweets just after 10 p.m., making Election Day the most tweeted event in U.S. political history.
10 p.m. – ABC Calls Senate in Massachusetts, President in Montana and Utah
ABC projects Romney will win Montana and Utah; Massachusetts will elect Democrat Elizabeth Warren to U.S. Senate over incumbent Republican Scott Brown.
9:57 p.m. – Couric Talks Twitter
ABC’s Suzan Clarke shares insight from the live stream:
There are 65,000 political tweets per minute, ABC News’ Katie Couric reported.
She also talked about top Twitter trends tonight. Among them were #Stayinline, a Twitter hashtag that makes reference to the long lines voters have seen at the polls today.
Also trending is Linda McMahon, the Connecticut Senate candidate who spent an estimated $100 million of her personal fortune on her campaign.
Read more on the social media of Election Night 2012 here.
9:55 p.m. – On the Floor with the Obama Campaign
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer brings this color from Obama Election Night Headquarters:
Supporters have over the past hour been pouring into the space here — a cavernous cement-floored convention hall.
Several thousand by now — cheering and whooping as positive returns come in.
In the space….Two facing sets of bleachers create a more intimate stadium-style corral in front of an elevated stage and catwalk jutting out into the crowd.
The backdrop is scarlet red drapery with video panels on left and right showing alternately images of Obama/Biden and live TV network coverage of returns. The presidential blue goose podium is center stage – w teleprompters – but no presidential seal hanging as of yet.
Am told between 13,000 and 20,000 expected.
On the overhead screens — the campaign is cycling through some of it’s “greatest hits” of the hundreds web videos it has produced to energize and inspire supporters. Very idealistic stuff w Potus rhetoric and new-agey, upbeat tunes.
The campaign soundtrack (No Doubt, now) is playing in between videos.
At one point Al Green comes on the speakers — “I..’M… Soo in loove with you….” — and the crowd of a few thousand sings along in unison. Recall, this is the song POTUS famously sang at that fundraiser at the Apollo Theater in NY late last year — a performance that also later became a campaign ringtone
Also noteworthy here — dozens of Obama campaign advance staffers, event planners, media handlers from the states — mostly young 20-somethings just out of college — have converged here for the final night. A clear sense of nostalgia, idealism and giddy excitement among them. For many, this is their graduation or reunion of sorts as Obama’s foot soldiers.
9:52 p.m. – Latest Projections
ABC News projects Obama will win in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.
ABC News projects Ohio will re-elect Democrat Sherrod Brown to U.S. Senate over Republican Josh Mandel.
9 p.m. – Romney, Obama Take More States
ABC News projects Romney will win Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming; Obama will win New York and Michigan.
ABC News projects Romney will win Mississippi.
8:47 p.m. – GOP: Race Will Be Tighter than Early Vote Indicates
ABC’s Michael Falcone brings this take from the Romney camp:
The exit polls show Democratic party identification up 7 percentage points over Republicans, which according to the Romney camp, is nearly “identical to the historic Democratic turnout of 2008. We strongly believe that when votes are actually counted it’s going to be a much tighter race.”
In key Cuyahoga County – traditionally a Democratic stronghold – the Romney campaign says their data shows “some evidence in strong Democratic precincts that turnout is down, and that in good GOP precincts turnout is up and outperforming the county overall turnout number. Obviously we aren’t going to win Cuyahoga County but this is about getting our votes out of there, and seeing if they get theirs.”
In 2008, President Obama won Cuyahoga by nearly 40 percentage points and he is performing strongly again there tonight in the early tallies.
8:34 p.m. – Independents Lean Romney
ABC News’ Matt Negrin reports on exit polling:
“Independents” are siding with Mitt Romney at the polls in the key states of Virginia and Ohio today, according to preliminary exit polls.
Shortly before 8 p.m., states that finished voting provided no suprises, but all eyes were on the crucial battleground states of Ohio and Virginia.
Preliminary exit poll results show that in Ohio, Romney leads Obama by 10 points among independents — a big number especially considering that in 2008 Obama had an 8-point lead over John McCain in Ohio among the same nonaligned voters.
Independents, however, are showing up in fewer numbers than they did four years ago.
8:29 p.m. – Obama Projected to Win Connecticut and New Jersey; Romney Grabs Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia
ABC News projects Obama will win Connecticut and New Jersey; Romney will win Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.
8:25 p.m. – Jon Karl on Votes in the Sunshine State
ABC’s Jon Karl reports:
Florida is one of the key states to watch when it comes to the early vote and here you see an advantage for President Obama by seven points.
That is significantly less than he had last time around, but here’s a very important point as we watch the raw vote come in from a lot of these states with big early vote populations, especially Florida and Ohio: Those votes get counted first, and those votes are going to favor President Obama. He simply does much better among early voters.
We went back to 2008 and looked at the returns in Ohio as they were coming in. Around 8:30 p.m. four years ago, then-Senator Obama had a 33-point lead over John McCain in the state of Ohio in the raw vote. He did not win Ohio by 33 points. He won by 5 points. So be careful as you’re watching those early raw returns, that include primarily early votes.
8:15 p.m. – Honesty Time on ABC’s Live Stream
While talking political ads with Dan Harris, Amy Walter and Olivier Knox on ABC/Yahoo’s Election Night live show, Bill Burton of Democratic Super PAC Priorities USA made a bold assertion:
“Let’s be honest, I would say 100% of our ads were negative,” Burton said
Watch the ABC News/YahooNews streaming #Election2012 show on mobile, iPad and at http://abcn.ws/live.
8:06 p.m. – Virginia Vote Trickles In
When the polls closed at 7 p.m., there were still people in line in Virginia that were looking at a one or two hour wait to vote, according to the state’s Board of Elections. No one went to court asking for a late poll closing, but under Virginia state law, voters in line by the 7 p.m. poll close can still vote with a normal ballot.
Board of Election officials point to big voter turnout for the three-hour plus long lines.
8:00 p.m. – Democrats Make Gains in Senate, Presidential Elections
ABC News projects Obama will win Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, District of Columbia; Romney will win Oklahoma.
ABC News projects wins for Senate Democrats in Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island; a Republican candidate will win in Tennessee, and an Independent will win in Maine.
and…Obama’s Lead with Liberals Narrows in NH, Winning with Latinos in Florida.
ABC Pollster Gary Langer brings this preliminary read from New Hampshire and Florida exit polls:
-Partisans of all stripes are turning out in similar numbers as in ’08, and Obama and Romney are getting 95 percent or more of the vote from their respective parties. It’s the independents who’ve changed: They voted for Obama over McCain by 20 percentage points in 2008; in preliminary exit poll results today, independents split evenly between Romney and Obama, 48 vs. 47 percent.
-Obama leads among women by 11 points, 55-44 percent in preliminary results. That’s down from a 23 percent advantage for Obama among NH women in ’08.
-Turnout among liberals matches its record level, 26 percent from ’08, but while Obama won them easily by 20 points then, his lead among them is a narrower 10 points, 54-44 percent, in preliminary results today.
-Among voters looking chiefly for a candidate who shares their values, Obama holds an 11-point advantage, 53-42 percent. Among those looking for someone with “a vision for the future,” the numbers are essentially reversed – 56-42 percent in Romney’s favor.
- Obama seems to be holding his 2008 strength among Hispanics – a key Florida voting group. Preliminary exit polls suggest that about one in six Florida voters are Latino (16 percent), similar to 2008, and they are voting for Obama over Romney by comparable margins to 2008 (60-38 percent). Non-Cuban Latinos in Florida are going for Obama by better than two to one, even as Romney has a narrow lead among Cuban-Americans.
- Senior voters are showing up in force at the Florida polls, with those aged 65 and up making up a quarter of the electorate and breaking strongly for Romney (59-49 percent). Obama lost this group in 2008, though by a smaller margin. As recently as the Clinton presidency Florida seniors were with the Democrats.
- Florida voters overall divide on who would better handle Medicare; 49 percent say Obama, 47 percent Romney. But Florida seniors are more likely to put their trust in Romney when it comes to their key health program: 56 percent say Romney would do a better job handling Medicare, 38 percent Obama.
- Republican turnout looks similar to 2008, a year which marked a low for the GOP in recent elections, and this could be a problem for Romney. But on the flip side, the former Massachusetts governor is pulling even among independents, a group Obama won by single digits last time.
- Preliminary exit poll suggests the two candidates are fighting to win the key Tampa Bay area, site of this year’s GOP convention. Preliminary exit poll results shows the area at 52 percent for Romney and 48 percent for Obama.
7:56 p.m. – Historic Early Voting
ABC’s Gregory Simmons reports:
The early vote this cycle was huge and historic: One out of every three voters cast their ballots before polling places opened this morning. We estimate 46 million people voted early – that is 36 percent of the electorate.
In our very latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, we have an estimate of how those early voters voted with President Obama winning 52 – 45. While a seven point spread may sound like a big deal, keep in mind that four years ago, Obama won the early vote by 18 percent. In other words, Obama would have lost if it the election was decided solely by those who voted on election day. The president has a much smaller lead among the early vote going in, going into this election, which suggests at least a much closer race.
7:42 p.m. – Lots ‘O Tweets
ABC’s Greg Croft reports tweets around the phrase #Election2012 just surpassed 11 million for the day.
That’s a lot of tweeting.
7:38 p.m. – More Southern States for Romney
As of this time, ABC News projects Romney will win in West Virginia and South Carolina.
7:30 p.m. – Obama Heads Home
ABC News’ Jake Tapper reports:
President Obama is heading to his home in Hyde Park to have dinner with his family right now.
Quitting time comes just after Obama wrapped up his final satellite interviews from the Fairmont Hotel.
Stations from Cleveland, Denver, Madison, Cincinnati and Milwaukee got a word from the Democratic candidate today.
An Obama campaign aide said the general mood tonight is a ”Hurry up and wait feeling.”
7:06 p.m. – More from Virginia Exit Polls
ABC Pollster Gary Langer has more preliminary results from the Virginia exit polls:
-Preliminary exit polls suggest Obama is running strong in Virginia’s inner suburbs, those closest to Washington, D.C. But in the key outer suburbs, Romney seems to have a small edge (52 percent to Obama’s 46 percent). Obama depended on the exurbs in 2008.
-Democrats seem to be outnumbering Republicans at the polls in Virginia, according to early exit polls, as was true in 2008. Turnout among liberal voters also seems strong, at 23 percent. At the same time, Romney is winning Independents in preliminary exit poll results (59-38 percent). In 2008, Obama held McCain to a draw among Independents.
-A gender gap is apparent in the Virginia presidential race; preliminary exit poll results suggest Romney may reclaim the traditional GOP advantage among men in the state, a group Obama won narrowly in 2008. Still, Romney’s lead among men is in the single digits (53- 45 percent), not the double digits of the Bush years.
-Preliminary exit polls suggest about seven in 10 of today’s Virginia voters are white, and two in 10 black – a turnout similar to 2008, belying predictions that the state’s electorate might have a higher share of white voters this year.
-Virginia has a large military presence, and today about one in six voters (16 percent) report they are in the military or have served at some time. Preliminary exit polls suggest military voters are breaking for Romney, 55-44 percent.
-Abortion politics have loomed large in Virginia this year. Early exit polls suggest the state’s voters favor keeping abortion legal by a two-to-one margin (64 percent vs, 32 percent). Those in favor of legal abortion are going strongly for Obama (70 percent, vs. 29 percent for Romney)
7:00 p.m. – Predictions in Kentucky, Indiana and Vermont
As of this time, ABC News projects Romney will win in Indiana and Kentucky; Obama will win Vermont.
6:51 p.m. – Preliminary Senate Exit Polls in Indiana and Virginia
ABC Pollster Gary Langer brings preliminary information from the Senate election exit polls in Indiana and Virginia:
-Indianans say that If Senator Lugar were in the race today they’d be voting for him over the Democratic challenger Joe Donnelly by 45-39 percent (preliminary results). However he isn’t the Republican candidate – it’s Tea Party darling Richard Mourdock.
-Many fewer Indianans say they support the Tea Party now than said the same in 2010 (27 percent in 2012 vs. 46 percent in 2010). It’s 22 percent nationally. (Preliminary.)
-To watch for: Women voters, particularly those who are unmarried, and Senator Lugar voters who defect to Joe Donnelly.
-Regardless of their vote choice, more Virginia voters say they have a favorable view of Democrat Senate candidate Tim Kaine than Republican candidate George Allen (55% fav for Kaine, 47% fav for Allen). The gap grows among women voters.
Just an hour or two before polls began closing, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan made a quick stop at a campaign office in Richmond, Va.
“I don’t want to take too much of your time because we got a lot of work to do, right?” Ryan said, before thanking the crowd. “We got to run for the tape, we got to leave it all on the field. And what we are doing today is, we are actually getting real change.”
6:30 p.m. – Big Bird and a Gorilla Walk into a Polling Station
No, this isn’t a joke.
ABC’s Joanna Stern reports:
It turns out Big Bird can vote.
Making the rounds on Twitter and Facebook are two very happy costumed characters. Yes, the first is Big Bird or, well, a journalist from the Austin American Statesman dressed up in a Big Bird suit. John Kelso, a columnist at the paper, decided to show up at his local polling center in a full-on Big Bird suit, and like a good citizen he even checked to make sure it was legal.
For those unsure why Big Bird is significant during this election — Mitt Romney, during the Oct. 3 presidential debate, declared that while he liked Big Bird, he might end federal funding for PBS. The social media reaction ensured.
6:23 p.m. – The ‘R’ Word
ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports the Romney team is readying for one.
“How seriously is the Romney campaign taking the possibility of a post-Election Day recount?
Romney campaign officials have instructed members of their staff from the political and advance teams as well as other departments to ‘pack a bag’ and bring it with them to tonight’s election night event at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
Each notified staffer would be part of a “go-team” to be dispatched to one of several states where a close result might lead to a recount. (Inside the campaign, Ohio is the state that has loomed largest in discussions.)
Campaign planes are said to be on stand-by to ferry staff to their as yet unknown destination if needed.”
6:08 p.m. – Fun & Games Ahead of the Excitement
Want some fun before the results start pouring in? Test your election trivia knowledge with ABC’s Election Night game!
BONUS: watch fun videos from elections past.
5 p.m. – Enthusiasm on the Trail
Earlier today, VP Joe Biden ran into one very enthusiastic voter in Cleveland.
Twana Matthews ran up to Biden with her fiancé, Andre, and gave the vice president a giant bear hug.
Approaching Andre, Biden said, “Hey man I’ve got one thing to say to you, you got your hands full!”
That line drew laughter from the crowd.
“You’re a lucky man,” Biden said. “We both got something in common, we both married up.”
This reporting comes via ABC’s Arlette Saenz, and if you look closely in the photo above, you can see Arlette in the right corner, perched atop a table to get her shot of the vice president.
3:31 p.m. – Biden Arrives in Chicago
Per Arlette Saenz, Biden has arrived at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Chicago. He started the day in Delaware, and now he’s in the president’s hometown for the rest of Election Night. He’ll do a few radio interviews before the day is out.
Monday he told reporters that he’s “feeling good” about the election.
3:13 p.m. – A Large Crowd Turns Out for Mitt
Mitt Romney is hoping for a large turnout at the polls, and if the crowd greeting his flight today is any indication, he might just get it.
This afternoon his bodyman, Garrett Jackson, tweeted two photos of people lining up around a parking garage to see the Republican candidate arrive for a last minute campaign stop in the Keystone State.
1:45 p.m. – Chris Christie’s Neutral Voting Tweet
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has gotten national attention for his praise of President Obama in the past week. He and Obama showcased a budding bromance last Wednesday, touring damage from Superstorm Sandy together. Putting partisan politics aside, Christie went so far as to say the people of New Jersey would not want him thinking about how the nation is going to vote.
“I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment. I have much bigger fish to fry than that,” Christie said, before boarding a helicopter to assess Sandy’s damage along the Jersey Shore .
Christie, a Romney surrogate, had at one point thought about becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate. Christie said Monday he’d vote for Romney, according to the Associated Press, but President Obama had earned his praise.
With all that baggage, Christie’s Election Day tweet is markedly neutral: @GovChristie Today is a national election. Everyone should find some time today and go vote. New Jersey voices should be heard. njelections.org
1:36 p.m. – Obama Makes a Call
Meanwhile, President Obama joined campaign volunteers in his hometown to make calls this afternoon.
1:15 p.m. – Romney, Ryan Thank Volunteers in Ohio
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have arrived at the Richmond Heights Victory Center, according to ABC’s Emily Friedman.
Romney Press Secretary Rick Gorka says the team will be thanking volunteers in the Hilltop Plaza shopping center this afternoon.
1:11 p.m. – Donald Trump Clears Up Controversy
1:02 p.m. – David Walker Predicts Close Win for Romney
Former Comptroller General David Walker shared his thoughts on the election with ABC News this afternoon. Read on to see what the Romney supporter and author of “Comeback America” had to say:
“Only God knows who will win tonight but, based on my recent almost 10,000 national bus tour, I think the polls have not adequately considered the change in the voting population, especially in swing states, and the difference in enthusiasm between the base of both major parties. Based on these factors, I expect that Romney will win in a close race,” Walker wrote. “We should know the Senate and House control results tonight nut [sic] may not know the result of the electoral college vote tonight. It could be that close.”
“That would be truly unfortunate. The people and the markets want closure and certainty,” Walker wrote in an email.
He predicted Hurricane Sandy would lead to lower turnout in the New York City area.
“Since those are blue states and that will affect the popular vote total but not the electoral outcome,” Walker wrote.
He did not expect the control of the House and Senate to change.
“The Presidential winner will need to demonstrate extraordinary leadership in order to get things done in the face of a split Congress and nation,” Walker wrote. “The winner should pursue a ‘unity cabinet’ approach with D’s, R’s and I’s. The winner should also call for Congress to come back to D.C. and not take a break beyond those average Americans get (e.g., weekends and major holidays) until they have dealt with the fiscal cliff. The winner should also call for the new Congress to do the same in 2013 until a fiscal ‘Grand Bargain’ has been achieved. ”
ABC’s Sheila Marikar reports:
Since celebrity cooks are now regulars at the White House — President Obama’s state dinners have been helmed by the likes of Rick Bayless and Marcus Samuelsson – ABCNews.com reached out to some of New York’s famous chefs to find out what they’d make at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, given the opportunity and no restrictions. Highlights include ricotta gnocchi, salted-caramel ice cream and a custom-made Bourbon.
12:52 p.m. – As Divided Country Picks a President, Obama Plays Basketball While Romney Rallies
ABC News’ Russell Goldman reports:
The president, who voted early last month, will remain in his home state of Illinois today, doing some satellite television interviews and playing a game of basketball — an Election Day tradition that stems from superstition.
The fate of the election will rest on the outcomes in a few hard-fought swing states — Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and, most crucially, Ohio.
Victory or defeat may very well come down to Ohio, a battleground whose 18 electoral votes may be as critical this year as Florida was in 2000. Both candidates know it and have spent more time there than anywhere else.
Ohio, or possibly Wisconsin, where Romney has trailed for months, create “a very narrow path to Electoral College victory,” said Matthew Dowd, a Republican strategist and ABC News consultant.
12:42 p.m. - Republicans Claim 62 Million ‘Voter Contacts’
ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
The Romney campaign and Republicans have been touting their intensive ground-game efforts throughout the election cycle, and today is no different. Voter contact numbers from each party are unverifiable – and depend, in part, on the definition of what a “contact” is. With that caveat in mind, here’s a final tally from the Republican National Committee noting how many voters they have contacted nationally, and in the key battleground states.
“Our volunteers have made 62,200,896 voter contacts this cycle, including knocking on the doors of over 14 million doors,” according to an RNC official.
And by the time polls close in the states tonight, the GOP says they will have contacted 14. 5 million voters in Florida, 2.6 million in Iowa, 3.4 million in Colorado, 8.6 million in Ohio, 2.9 million in Nevada, 1.6 million in New Hampshire, 6.8 million in Virginia, 4.2 million in Wisconsin and 6.4 million in Pennsylvania.
12:37 p.m. – House Races to Watch
ABC News’ John Parkinson reports:
There are 435 seats in the House of Representatives, but most districts are not competitive, and voters will return incumbents. Here is a look at 25 of the top match-ups worth watching in the House of Representatives today.
Most are highly competitive and expensive races, while others are notable simply for the political characters on the ticket, including a migrant worker-turned-astronaut and an Iraq War veteran who has lost two limbs. Both are challenging GOP freshmen and stand a chance of winning. An African-American woman and an openly gay candidate have also mounted competitive challenges to knock off long-time Democratic incumbents.
To regain majority control, Democrats need to have a net gain of 25 seats to overcome the Republicans’ 50 seat majority. Democrats are also defending a handful of districts where incumbents have retired, leaving the majority that much more difficult to attain. The verdict will be decided by the voters, but with Mitt Romney neck-and-neck with President Obama, the general consensus is that House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican colleagues are certain to hold onto the majority in the lower chamber.
12:15 p.m. – Reading the Signs
It’s the question on everyone’s mind today: Who will win the presidential election? ABC News has gone through myriad possible factors to try to predict the winner. Which presidential candidate is more popular with coffee drinkers? Who won the cookie contest? Might height make might?
11:51 a.m. – Meet Third Party Candidate Jill Stein
If you thought there were only two candidates running for president today, you thought wrong. Among a number of alternative candidates is Jill Stein, who’s running as the Green Party candidate.
Stein has been arrested at least twice during this campaign: first at the Hofstra University presidential debate where she protested her exclusion from the event, and second last Wednesday when, according to the Washington Post, Stein ran up trespassing charges for distributing Halloween candy to anti-Keystone XL protesters in Texas.
At one point, fellow Green Party candidate Roseanne Barr was thought to be Stein’s running mate, but Stein dispelled that rumor when she announced the virtually-unknown Cheri Honkala would be her veep.
11:14 a.m. – What’s in a Name?
ABC’s Chris Good reports:
At opposite ends of the country, two House candidates, with vastly different agendas, are running under names they made up themselves.
Voters in South Florida’s 25th District will see an unfamiliar option on congressional ballots today: 32-year-old first-time candidate VoteForEddie.Com. Voters in Idaho’s 1st District, meanwhile, will see a familiar choice: 72-year-old strawberry farmer “Pro-Life,” who is making his fourth consecutive bid for major office.
They are the only two candidates running for federal office under such irregular names, according to the Associated Press list of nationwide candidates. They’ve undergone the legal name-changing ordeal, they say, with very different goals in mind.
10:50 a.m. – Senate Snapshots: The Races You Need to Know About
Democrats are bullish on their chances to keep control of the U.S. Senate. But there are a bunch of close races around the country. ABC’s Sunlen Miller runs down the most important ones. There are important symbolic battles in Virginia and Massachusetts, and two races – Indiana and Missouri – where Republican candidates faltered after controversial comments about abortion.
10:45 a.m. – Poll Watching With the Lawyers (and Preparing for the Legal Battle)
ABC’s Ariane de Vogue and Colleen Curry report:
When polls open Tuesday morning, a small army of thousands of lawyers affiliated with both campaigns and state party efforts will be in place in key swing states where legal action can make a difference in the outcome of the election.
In large part, the Democrats are worried about what they say are efforts to suppress the vote. Republicans say they fear instances of voter fraud.
Both sides will be concentrating on issues such as voter registration and eligibility, poll watcher activity, ballot counting, polling hours and machine malfunctioning.
At the national level, teams of lawyers will be wired in to nationwide databases, as Republican attorneys use a smartphone app to communicate problems and Democrats relay information to a database in Chicago, according to the Associated Press.
Obama officials, speaking on background, say they have recruited thousands of attorney volunteers to help recruit, train, educate and observe at polling locations across the country. They say they are not only tasked with putting legal teams in place but also having a data base of experts on voting systems, registration data bases, ballot design, student voting and provisional ballots.
10:32 a.m. – Let 2016 Begin – Biden Votes and Subtly Teases Run. But What About Hillary?
ABC’s Arlette Saenz watched Joe Biden cast his vote for president early this morning in Delaware. While this is undoubtedly President Obama’s last run for office, Biden could conceivably make another go at the top job in 2016.
When reporters asked Biden, who was chummy with other voters, if this was his last time voting for himself, his answer was interesting.
“No, I don’t think so,” Biden said outside Alexis I. duPont High School in Wilmington, Del. where he voted with his wife, Jill Biden, son Beau, daughter-in-law Hallie and granddaughter Natalie.
Should he decide to run in 2016, Biden, who ran for president in 1988 and 2008, would be 73 years old with nearly 44 years of politicking under his belt, and he could find himself in a 2016 matchup with another politician currently serving in President Obama’s administration — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. More from Arlette here.
Hillary Clinton, who is also set to vote today, has repeatedly said she won’t run for president in 2016. More on the chatter around her from ABC’s Dana Hughes, who covers the State Department.
8 a.m. – Time to Vote
The day has come, and for those who didn’t vote early or absentee, it’s time to head into the voting booth. Wondering what time the polls open and close in your state? ABC News brings you information on poll hours in each state.
1:08 a.m. – Closing arguments in Iowa, New Hampshire and on ‘Monday Night Football’
ABC News was out with all of the candidates on the final night of campaigning.
Obama Returns to Iowa
President Obama shed a tear while addressing supporters in Des Moines.
ABC’s Mary Bruce wrote: President Obama ended his presidential campaign Monday night with an emotional appeal to voters in the state that started it all, asking Iowans to help him finish what he started four years ago.
“We have made real progress over these last four years,” the president told an estimated crowd of 20,000 standing outside in the bitter cold. “But Iowa, we are here tonight because we have more work to do. We are not done yet on this journey. We have more road to travel.”
Just steps away from the campaign office set up for his improbable victory in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, a nostalgic Obama told Iowans they taught him “to bet on hope.”
Romney – Return to New Hampshire
ABC’s Emily Friedman reports from New Hampshire:
Romney’s campaign was launched in Stratham, New Hampshire, in June 2011, and Romney has returned more than 23 times this year alone. He essentially camped out in the state in the days and weeks prior to the January primary. Romney, who also owns a home in New Hampshire, spent weeks in the state over the summer too.
“Together we must lead America to a better place,” Romney said, his voice growing hoarse at times, the rally his fifth of the day.
The ‘Monday Night Football’ Lobby –
Devin Dwyer reports that both candidates were a not quite as emotional when they appeared in separate taped segments on “Monday Night Football.”
While the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles paused for halftime, and the candidates themselves were still on the road holding final swing state rallies, both men appeared in pre-taped interviews with host Chris Berman during the network’s half-time show.
Comparing politics to sports, Berman asked Obama how he planned to “repeat” – one of the most difficult feats for a “championship” team.
“It has to do with not getting distracted by your own hype or the critics,” Obama said. “It’s interesting, political reporters are a lot like sports reporters. And, you lose a game, and you’re a bum. You win a game, you’re a God.
Berman asked Romney about the most valuable lesson he could apply in the Oval Office he learned from shepherding the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games. He cited a greater appreciation of the human spirit.
“I think most people watch the Olympics not just because of the interest in the sport itself. I mean how many people were avid fans of women’s bobsled for instance before the Olympics? But they watch the bobsled event because they get to see the character of human beings if you will … the crucible of sport,” he said.
12:48 a.m. – It’s a Tie! … In Dixville Notch
The first votes are in!
Ten of them, anyway. And it’s an Obama-Romney tie.
The small hamlet of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, distinguishes itself every primary and general election by voting right at midnight.
This year 10 voters showed up and they split evenly – five votes apiece – for President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Obama won the Dixville Notch vote in 2008. But in elections before that, the town had stuck to more conservative candidates, twice selecting a Republican instead of Bill Clinton.
Dixville Notch and its 10 voters may be symbolic, but they’re not a bellwether for the state. Obama won in Dixville Notch in 2008, but that was the first time a majority of the town went for a Dem in 40 years.
The other New Hampshire town with midnight voting- the slightly more populous (32 voters) Hart’s Location- swung toward Obama tonight- 23 Obama, 9 Romney.