Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Chris Murphy votes while holding son Rider in Cheshire, Conn., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Murphy and Republican opponent Linda McMahon are vying for the Senate seat now held by Joe Lieberman, an independent who's retiring. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:
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 (4 electoral votes, 1 still to be called)
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
MURPHY GIVES DEMS LIEBERMAN'S SENATE SEAT
Whichever way the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Connecticut went, it was going to be a gain for one party — retiring Sen. Joe Leiberman, Al Gore's running mate in 2000, is now an independent.
Turns out Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy won, defeating former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon.
McMahon, a Republican who once ran World Wrestling Entertainment with her better-known husband Vince, spent more than $42 million of her own wealth on the race.
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.
"You always have two speeches prepared, because you can't take anything for granted." — President Barack Obama, speaking to Denver television station KDVR a bit ago about the fact that he has both victory and concession speeches prepared.
— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
OBAMA'S EAST COAST WINS
It's 8 p.m. on the East Coast and more polls have closed. As expected, Obama pulled in most of these wins, though Romney took Oklahoma, with 7 electoral votes, in the center of the country.
— Connecticut (7 electoral votes)
— Maine (4 electoral votes)
— Delaware (3 electoral votes)
— Rhode Island (4 electoral votes)
— Maryland (10 electoral votes)
— Massachusetts (11 electoral votes)
— Illinois (20 electoral votes)
— Washington, D.C. (3 electoral votes)
In Florida, hundreds of people remained in line waiting to cast ballots at some locations even as polls closed — at 7 p.m. in most of the state, 8 p.m. in the western Panhandle counties.
Under state law, anyone already in line when the polls closed will be permitted to vote.
Shortly before polls closed in Virginia, meanwhile, the Obama campaign sent out text messages saying that volunteers were needed "right now" to make sure that everyone who was still in line as polls closed got to vote.
The text asked recipients to reply, and said an organizer would call as soon as possible with further instructions.
The campaign did not respond within 30 minutes to a text sent by a reporter.
— Curt Anderson and Matthew Daly
SC, IN FOR ROMNEY
No surprise here: Romney has won South Carolina and Indiana.
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:
An era of good feeling? Well, after a year of brutal campaigning there was a moment of good feeling between the two campaigns, even before the polls closed.
Traditionally, the concession and victory speeches (later tonight, or whenever) contain a tip of the hat to the worthy opponent.
But Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got a head start, while voters where still lining up.
Obama said this to Romney: "Congratulations on a spirited campaign." The president told staffers at an office in Chicago, "I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today."
Romney returned the accolades. Speaking to volunteers at a call center in Green Tree, Pa. Romney told his team they "don't need to be disparaging of the other guy."
"This president has run a really strong campaign" Romney said, according to the AP's Steve Peoples. "I believe he's a good man and wish him well and his family well. He's a good father and has been a good example of a good father."
— Michael Oreskes
EXIT POLL: OBAMA MORE IN TOUCH
More preliminary results from a national exit poll in Tuesday's elections for The Associated Press and the television networks, a survey of 19,728 voters by Edison Research:
— 52 percent of voters said President Barack Obama is more in touch with people like them, compared to 44 percent for Republican Mitt Romney.
— About 4 in 10 voters said the U.S. economy was getting better, while 3 in 10 said it was getting worse, and 3 in 10 said it was the same.
— Just under 50 percent of voters favored repealing some or all of Obamacare. Forty-three percent preferred that the health care law be expanded or left as is.
— Only 3 in 10 voters said that most illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be deported, while nearly two-thirds said such people should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.
— Frederic J. Frommer — Twitter http://twitter.com/ffrommer
MORE ON WV
Here's some context on the West Virginia win for Mitt Romney: President Barack Obama is unpopular in the state, and West Virginia GOP officials have been hoping that would lead to victories for other Republicans on the ballot.
— Mike Hammer
ROMNEY TAKES WV
The AP has called West Virginia for Mitt Romney.
A COMEDIAN'S PLEA
"Just spoke to a bunch of celebrities and we've changed our minds. Please do NOT vote. Repeat - DO NOT VOTE. Thanks" — Comedian Jimmy Kimmel on Twitter.
— Sandy Cohen — http://twitter.com/APSandy
GAGA THE VOTE
Lady Gaga is rocking the vote in Ohio.
The pop star gave election pep-talks on three Cleveland radio stations and urged voters to cast ballots Tuesday, calling Ohio "the chosen state."
Gaga said she watched the debates with friends over a bottle of wine and did research before selecting her candidate, choosing to support Barack Obama because "he believes in equal rights for all Americans."
"Ultimately what it came down to is I feel that Mitt Romney lacks a certain amount of compassion that America needs right now, especially for young people," she said on Z Hip-Hop Cleveland. "I'm a Catholic and I make a lot of money and I want to give a lot of it back and I don't want any tax breaks. I want people in my country that don't have a lot; I want them to have more. I want them to have what I have. I feel guilty every day that I can't give it to everyone. But you can stand up and you can vote."
— Sandy Cohen — Twitter http://twitter.com/APSandy
ROMNEY WINS KY, OBAMA GETS VT
Polls are starting to close on the East Coast. The AP has called Kentucky (and its eight electoral votes) for Republican Mitt Romney, and Vermont (three electoral votes) for President Barack Obama.
HANNITY ON TWEET
"I learned a big civics lesson today." — Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, who tweeted a picture of his filled-out ballot (for Mitt Romney, natch), only to learn that appeared to break the law in New York state.
— David Bauder — http://twitter.com/dbauder
There are people who believe in voting, and then there's Elisa Kennedy.
The National Association of Secretaries of State honored California's longest-serving poll worker with a medal Tuesday for her years of service — 75 of them, to be exact.
Kennedy, 96, born before women got the vote, began volunteering as a poll worker in San Francisco shortly after she reached eligible voting age. FDR was president — and it was his first term.
"A lot has changed in politics and in the world since Elisa first volunteered as a poll worker 75 years ago, but her commitment to democracy and her devotion to her community has remained constant," Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement.
Kennedy, who has worked nearly 120 elections, said it's the "wonderful people" who keep her coming back.
"I find it very rewarding, in that I've met so many people through the years and it's been a great satisfaction to me," she said in a statement.
— Hannah Dreier — http://twitter.com/hannahdreier
IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID
It's the economy, stupid.
Preliminary results from a national exit poll for The Associated Press and the television networks show that 60 percent of the 18,237 voters surveyed by Edison Research said the economy was the biggest issue facing the country.
That's about the same percentage as the last general election four years ago.
Next were health care (18 percent of those surveyed) and the deficit (15 percent).
A measly 4 percent said foreign policy was the top issue.
Of those surveyed, 77 percent of voters called the economy not so good or poor.
The biggest economic concerns were unemployment and rising prices.
Most voters — about 6 in 10 — said taxes should be increased.
— Frederic J. Frommer — Twitter http://twitter.com/ffrommer
HEADED TO CHICAGO
Unlike many kids who get Election Day off from school, the president's daughters, Malia and Sasha, weren't so lucky. They were flying to Chicago after classes with their grandmother.
The president's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family were also joining the Obamas in Chicago.
The first family planned to eat dinner together at their Chicago home.
— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
IOWA VOTES EARLY
Lines in Iowa, with its six electoral votes, weren't too bad at polling stations Tuesday — in part because up to 45 percent of the state's voters cast ballots early.
About 670,000 people had voted in Iowa by Monday night, according to Chad Olsen, a spokesman for Secretary of State Matt Schultz.
It's the sort of thing happening all around the country, though not necessarily in such high numbers.
Based on Monday's projections from George Mason University, 46.8 million Americans — more than one-third of those expected to cast ballots — would have voted by the time the first polls opened Tuesday morning.
One intriguing U.S. House race in Iowa is in the 4th Congressional District, where Republican Rep. Steve King has cruised in every race since he was first elected in 2002. The 63-year-old King acknowledged this year's challenge from Democrat Christie Vilsack has been difficult. Vilsack is married to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who was Iowa's governor for eight years.
— David Pitt — Twitter http://twitter.com/DavePitt
NOT OVER TILL IT'S OVER
Paul Ryan, his voice hoarse from days of breakneck campaigning, called in to Sean Hannity's radio show to urge anyone who hasn't yet voted to get to the polls.
"What I always tell people is, it's not over till it's over," he said.
Ryan told the conservative talk show host that good signs abound for him and Mitt Romney, from high turnout in Virginia to the thousands of supporters who turned up at rallies in the final days.
"We know people are going to look at long lines and they might think, 'Oh gee that's just too long.' Don't let that happen," Ryan said. "The future of your country is at stake."
Ryan was in Virginia, where he had just wrapped up a visit to a victory center in Richmond. From there, the vice presidential nominee was heading to Boston to meet up with Romney for the election night festivities.
— Josh Lederman — Twitter http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
RAISE A GLASS
Raise a glass, Indiana voters!
A state law barring alcohol sales before the close of polls on Election Day has been lifted, so there's no longer any need to wait to celebrate if you think your preferred candidates won — or drown your sorrows if you're worried about defeat.
The first polls close in parts of Indiana at 6 p.m. EST.
The state legislature passed a law in March 2010 that repealed a ban on selling alcohol while polls are open. That ban had been on the books for years, according to John Livengood, president of associations representing Indiana's restaurants, hotels and liquor stores.
Only two states — Kentucky and South Carolina — still bar the sale of alcohol on Election Day.
— Howard Fendrich — Twitter http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
EDITOR'S NOTE — Follow AP journalists on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.