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US presidential election

Hope and enthusiasm as Obama elected

Article published on the 2008-11-05 Latest update 2008-11-06 10:29 TU

US President-elect Barack Obama (Credit: Reuters)

US President-elect Barack Obama
(Credit: Reuters)

Barack Obama's win on Tuesday night is being hailed as a historic win for many reasons, as several states that have consistently voted Republican for decades went to Obama today, helping him sew up a victory much more quickly than expected. For the first time in 14 years, the Democrats will now control all three branches of the US political system.

There was an unprecedented 64 per cent turnout for this election, including a massive effort by black Americans to cast their vote.

Although all ballots are not yet counted, Obama has won an estimated 51 per cent of the popular vote.

And it is very likely during the course of the next four years that Barack Obama will have the opportunity to appoint four supreme court justices.

But according to exit polls, the majority of people who stepped into the voting booth were voting for the candidate who could bolster the economy.

"He said what nobody dared to say: the middle class has had it," said RFI's David Page, who reported on Obama's election from Chicago.

"The top five percent are controlling the purse strings of the country and when he started attacking that issue, the Republicans said, 'You want to redistribute wealth. Are you some form of socialist?' And that accusation backfired on them," said Page.

"He is going to reduce taxes for the bottom 95 percent and raise taxes for the top five per cent," he added.

Report: RFI's David Page in Chicago

05/11/2008 by Angela Diffley


Obama will be heading into office with Democratic majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, which should end the trend of  bipartisan vote-blocking.

The Democrats picked up five seats in the Senate, for a total of 56 seats, falling just short of the important filibuster-proof 60-seat majority.

Newly-convicted Senator Ted Stevens, a Republican of Alaska, maintained a narrow lead against Anchorage's Democratic mayor  Mark Begich, with 48 to 47 per cent of the votes, respectively. Ninety-nine of the precincts have reported, and the remaining three per cent were awarded to fringe candidates.

Stevens, convicted of graft and accepting kickbacks, might have to resign even if he wins, a move many Republicans have called for. He could also be expelled from office.

The Minnesota and Oregon results remain too close to call.

New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado all elected new Democratic senators tipping the scales in the previously balanced Senate. 

In the House, Democrats picked up 19 new seats for a total of 253, while the Republicans lost 19, with a total of  173 seats. There are nine results are still pending.

 Virginia last voted for a Democrat in 1964 when Lyndon Johnson was re-elected President.

Florida, a key state that has helped determine the last two presidential elections has also voted for Obama. Florida's population has been characteristically misrepresented, according to Frey.

"It's a hotly contested state because this is a fast-growing part of the US," said John Frey, a statistician. "It's not just older people living in Florida, which is a common image, but it's attracting people from across the US and also international migrants who came to the US and became citizens," he added.

Ohio - which is often called the bellwether state - has voted for the winning candidate in each election since 1960. Early in the evening, Ohio went to Obama and sounded the knell for McCain, as no Republican has ever won the White House without that state.

As expected, John McCain had his strongest showing in the south. The Republican strongholds of Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana and South Carolina all voted for him and Georgia, which was in the balance, voted McCain as well.

Reversing previous trends, Obama won majorities among women and hispanic voters. Hispanics make up 44 per cent of voters in New Mexico, where Obama won by a comfortable margin.