WASHINGTON (AP) — Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:
THE PACE INCREASES
Calls from some big states coming in at this hour — including a Mitt Romney victory in hotly contested North Carolina (15 electoral votes) and an unsurprising Barack Obama win in California (55 electoral votes).
Others called by the AP:
— Obama takes Washington state (12 electoral votes).
— Obama takes Hawaii (4 electoral votes).
— Romney takes Idaho (also 4).
— Obama wins Minnesota (10 votes).
ROMNEY WINS ARIZONA
The Associated Press has called Arizona for Republican Mitt Romney.
DOWN FOR THE COUNT
Down for the count.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon — a Republican and wife of blustery and better-known Vince McMahon — lost her bid for a U.S. Senate seat to Democrat Chris Murphy despite spending $42 million of her own wealth.
She also was beaten in 2010 while trying to get to the Senate.
Murphy now takes over the seat held by retiring independent Sen. Joe Lieberman. Murphy, a three-term congressman, made an issue of the 64-year-old McMahon's wrestling roots, dismissing the enterprise as a vulgar and violent spectacle that belittled women.
In another Senate race with a link to the world of sports, the great-grandson of one of baseball's most august figures lost his Senate race in Florida. Connie Mack IV, a Republican, is a descendant of Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack. He was beaten by Democrat Bill Nelson, who won a third term.
Mack was not the only loser on the ballot with a strong baseball heritage. U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler of Kentucky, grandson of former baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, lost to Republican Andy Barr.
— Fred Lief — Twitter http://twitter.com/fredlief
MAINE IS OBAMA'S
Obama has won all of Maine's four electoral votes. Like Nebraska, electoral votes in Maine can be split between the two candidates, and Republicans had hoped to perhaps capture one of them.
Also in Maine, Independent Angus King prevailed over Republican Charlie Summers and Democrat Cynthia Dill in the race to replace Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, who blamed partisan gridlock in Washington for her unexpected decision to retire after 18 years in the Senate.
QUICKQUOTE: SPEAKER BOEHNER
"For two years, our House majority has been the primary line of defense for the American people against a government that spends too much, taxes too much and certainly borrows too much. ... We stand ready to work with any willing partner — Democrat, Republican or otherwise." — House Speaker John A. Boehner, an Ohio Republican.
— Larry Margasak — Twitter http://twitter.com/LarryMargasak
'AN IMPATIENT AGE'
AP Television Writer David Bauder has this to say about how election night is unfolding for the media:
"In an impatient age of social media and instant communication, a close presidential election on Tuesday forced patience upon an army of journalists anxious for answers. ... 2012 is notable for the vast array of outlets that an interested consumer could command to create their own media experience on different screens, with websites offering deep drill-downs in data and social media hosting raucous conversations."
ABOUT NEW HAMPSHIRE
Mitt Romney had a foothold in the state, where he launched his campaign a year and a half ago, and spent a well-publicized July Fourth weekend with his family at his lake home. But Obama outspent Romney on advertising in the closing months, and led by small but consistent margins in public opinion polls down the stretch.
— Thomas Beaumont — Twitter http://twitter.com/TomBeaumont
WARREN OVER BROWN IN MA
Democrat Elizabeth Warren has defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
Brown came to the Senate in January 2010 after a surprise win in a special election to fill the seat of the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. This year's senate campaign was one of the election season's most expensive, with the candidates spending $68 million. Brown vowed to be an independent voice in the Senate but couldn't hold on in a presidential election year in the Democratic-leaning state.
PASTA AND SALAD
A low-key meal on a high-stakes night.
Campaign aides brought in pasta and Caesar salad as Paul Ryan — and what aides characterized as "tons of family" — monitored election results on television at a hotel near the Romney election party.
Many of Ryan's family members, including brother Tobin and father-in-law Dan Little, flew to Boston with him from Janesville, Wis. While Ryan made unannounced campaign stops in Ohio and Virginia, the family caught up with wife Janna Ryan and their three children, all under age 10. During their stop in Ohio, Mrs. Ryan threw a football with her children and nieces and nephews.
— Philip Elliott — Twitter http://twitter.com/Philip_Elliott
Mitt Romney had made a late play for Pennsylvania and its 20 Electoral College votes when aides questioned whether the candidate's strong play for Ohio's 18 looked like it could fall short.
Romney, the Republican National Committee and allied groups poured more than $23 million into the state, most of it in the campaign's final week. Obama followed suit, and dispatched former President Bill Clinton to the state, while Romney campaigned there twice in the races closing days.
Romney was there as recently as a few hours ago, when he made a brief stop in Pittsburgh. In the end, the efforts didn't make the difference he needed.
— Thomas Beaumont — Twitter http://twitter.com/TomBeaumont
MOURDOCK LOSES IN INDIANA
Republican Richard Mourdock — who slipped in the polls after saying during a debate that when a woman who is raped becomes pregnant, it's "something that God intended" — lost his U.S. Senate race in Indiana to Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly.
Mourdock is a tea party-backed state treasurer who surprised the GOP when he beat six-term Sen. Richard Lugar in the primary.
His debate comment last month re-shaped the tight Indiana race for the Senate.
NH BATTLEGROUND IS OBAMA'S
The AP has called New Hampshire, one of a handful of battleground states, for President Barack Obama.
AXELROD ON GOP PROJECTIONS
Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod says Republican projections of a Mitt Romney victory on Tuesday are based on fiction, not facts.
"Our confidence is based in data, it's based in early vote numbers, it's based in the things that we can see, and we can prove to ourselves," Axelrod says on ABC News. "Their confidence appears to be in some hidden mystical force that is going to materialize at the last minute and push him over the finish line. And I think as time wears on this evening that fiction is going to be exposed."
— Richard Lardner
UTAH IS ROMNEY COUNTRY
In one of the most predictable calls of the night, Republican Mitt Romney has won Utah. Romney, a Mormon and graduate of Brigham Young University who oversaw the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, is a popular figure in Utah, where more than 60 percent of residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
PENNSYLVANIA TO OBAMA:
President Obama has won the battleground of Pennsylvania and the state's 20 electoral votes. Both candidates made frequent visits to the state, including a Romney stop in Pittsburgh this afternoon. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey has also won re-election there.
CAN YOU SPARE A VOTE?
Many Americans vote at schools; others at churches or community centers. But a bowling alley?
That's where some folks in North Dakota cast their votes Tuesday. In Mandan, the Kingpin Lounge at the Midway Lanes was transformed into a polling place.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp voted there with her son, Nathan. She says she's been voting at the alley for years and doesn't think it's odd at all.
In Iowa, some voters cast their ballots at a log cabin and maintenance shed.
The Des Moines Register says the log cabin was built in 1937 from native hardwoods from Polk City. And in the tiny town of Berkley in Boone County, the shed-turned-polling-center has a voting table and booths set up where the snow plow is usually parked.
— Jennifer C. Kerr — Twitter http://twitter.com/jckerr9
Kevin Bonnaud is French. He's also passionate about American politics.
How passionate? The 23-year-old journalism student not only forked over nearly $100 to attend an election-watching party in Paris, he made the several-hour trek from Lyon — and he needs to be back in time for classes on Wednesday.
"I hope there is a winner by morning, before my train," Bonnaud said as he watched results shown on a giant screen in a chic club near the Champs Elysees. He planned to stay all night, because he has nowhere else to go; Paris is 6 hours ahead of U.S. East Coast time.
Bonnaud got interested in U.S. elections while studying abroad in Tarrytown, N.Y., in 2010. He dreams of someday returning to the States as a reporter.
He would like to see some of the American election-night media spectacle brought to France — within limits.
"It's a great show," Bonnaud said. "But it's a long show."
— Greg Keller — Twitter http://twitter.com/greg_keller
REMEMBER THE MAINE
Michael Oreskes, a veteran political journalist since the 1970s and now The Associated Press' senior managing editor for U.S. news, will be checking in briefly with Election Watch throughout the day. Here is his latest report:
As Maine goes, so goes the nation.
That was, once upon a time in America, a popular phrase to describe how voting in the northeasternmost state was a harbinger of larger results. It has been a long time since that was true of presidential politics. But it may be that Maine voters have sent a larger message today about the shape of governing in Washington in the years ahead.
Presidents don't get much done without Congress, and a couple of things are already clear. The Republicans seem likely to keep control of the House of Representatives, and while we don't know yet who will have a Senate majority, it is pretty clear neither party will have real control.
So whether the president is Republican or Democratic, the other party will have strong influence in The Senate.
What happened in Maine complicates that further.
Maine voters elected their former governor, Angus King, running as an independent. That was a disappointment for Republicans, who wanted to keep the seat held by one of the last of the old-style moderate Republicans, Olympia Snowe.
Republicans worked hard to defeat King, and he won't even say whether he'll line up with them or Democrats.
Why would he? He could become one of the most sought-after men in Washington. On some issues, Angus King could end up with as much influence as the president — whichever man wins tonight.
In other words, as the senator from Maine goes ...
OBAMA TAKES STORM-HIT NJ
More expected results: Obama wins New Jersey; Romney wins Arkansas and Mississippi.
ROMNEY TAKES TX; OBAMA NY
With the 9 p.m. closing time, Romney wins several states in the South and in the heartland. Obama wins New York, with 29 electoral votes, and Michigan, with 16 electoral votes.
— Texas (38 electoral votes)
— South Dakota (3 electoral votes)
— North Dakota (3 electoral votes)
— Louisiana (8 electoral votes)
— Kansas (6 electoral votes)
— Wyoming (3 electoral votes)
— Nebraska (5 electoral votes)
THE NIGHT SO FAR
AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti, obviously in the thick of things tonight, offers this assessment of election night so far:
"The night is unfolding as expected, with Mitt Romney winning in the traditional Republican strongholds — including in the South and the heartland — while President Barack Obama racks up victories in Democratic bastions of the Northeast, including New York. Of course, none of the states called thus far are among the 10 most contested states, where both candidates and their allies flooded TV airwaves with roughly 1 million spots costing about $1 billion."
ALABAMA FOR ROMNEY
The AP has called Alabama (9 electoral votes) for Republican Mitt Romney.
GLITCHES: A REPORT
Some Election Day glitches, voting machine problems and all-around headaches for election officials.
North Carolina, where voters were deciding whether to put a Republican in the White House, had some precincts where machines didn't boot up properly. In Cumberland County, election officials said law enforcement was called but quickly determined that a bomb threat at several precincts was a hoax.
The district attorney in Philadelphia is looking into complaints about problems with voting inspectors. The Republican Party says dozens of legally credentialed minority voting inspectors were removed from polling places there.
Voting machine problems caused long lines in Indiana's Hamilton County, a heavily populated Indianapolis suburb. The cards used to clear tallies from voting machines were not programmed correctly. And the office of Nebraska's secretary of state says a voter in Omaha inadvertently received a ballot that was already filled out for Mitt Romney.
— Jennifer C. Kerr — Twitter http://twitter.com/jckerr9
MIAMI-DADE PRECINCTS OPEN
The Miami-Dade elections department reports at about 8:30 p.m. that only 40 percent of precincts have closed because of long lines of voters. Anyone who was in line at 7 p.m. must be allowed to cast a ballot under state law.
— Curt Anderson — Twitter http://twitter.com/@Miamicurt
Romney supporters trickled into the ballroom at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, many munching on bar snacks or drinking $7 beers.
The mood? Relatively subdued, with people talking in small groups. They were dressed formally, the women mostly in dresses and heels — though there was one attendee in a head-to-toe leopard print suit.
Romney's son Craig opened the program, introducing Girl Scouts to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
The mostly quiet crowd — still filling in, with large patches of open space — cheered briefly.
Craig told a story about his father deciding to run for president a second time after he failed to gain the Republican nomination in 2008. After that bid four years ago, Romney's wife, Ann, said she did not want her husband to run again; Craig explained she eventually changed her mind.
"We're grateful that she convinced him to get into the race," he said.
After Craig left the stage to scattered applause, a band in the corner began playing.
"Let's get it started in here, yeah!" the lead singer said. "Let's get some energy in this room. We're going to have the whole country dancing."
A handful of people in the crowd swayed along to the music; the vast majority continued standing in place, chatting.
— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie
GEORGIA FOR ROMNEY
Georgia, with 16 electoral votes, goes to Mitt Romney, as expected. It wasn't considered a battleground state.
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