Barack Obama was reelected as president of the United States on Tuesday, on a pledge to finish the work he started during his first term.
Obama was able to win a battle for his political life against his Republican rival Mitt Romney. ABC News projected Obama would win a second term in the White House at 11:25 PM Tuesday night after he was projected to win the battleground state of Ohio.
In a soaring victory speech in Chicago, his hometown and campaign headquarters, Obama touted the progress made in his first term and said he would spend the next four years trying to bring together a divided nation while addressing fundamental problems with the economy, taxes, debt, and immigration.
"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, and I have learned from you and you have made me a better president," Obama said. "Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours."
Obama also touched on more optimistic themes that were often absent during a campaign that was charatcerized by its rancor.
"I've never been more hopeful about our future, I've never been hopeful about America and I ask you to sustain that hope," he said.
The president was able to stave off a stiff challenge from Romney, who argued that the uneven economic recovery and unfulfilled campaign promises were enough to keep him from another four years in the White House.
During Romney's concession speech in his hometown of Boston just before 1 AM Wednesday, Romney said he and running mate Paul Ryan "left everything on the field" and called on Washington to end the partisan gridlock of the past four years.
"At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing," he said. "Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work."
Obama's second victory was fundamentally different from his first, when he swept into office as the nation's first black president on a mantle of hope and change. While his policies have been credited with helping prevent economic depression, he faced a daunting task of convincing voters to reelect him considering the slow pace of recovery.
In a second term, the president will face a difficult tasks in uniting the country after a rough and tumble campaign and working with a divided Congress on major issues like taxes and debt. ABC News projects that Republicans will retain control of the House and Democrats will keep control of the Senate.
In the end, however, Romney was unable to convince enough voters he provided a viable alternative to Obama. After governing as a moderate as Massachusetts governor last decade, Romney's dramatic turn to the right was highlighted during the GOP primary and Obama and his campaign relentlessly attacked him for it over the course of the race.
The results illustrated a deep split along racial lines, but Obama was able to capitalize on an increasingly diverse electorate.
According to exit polls, only 72 percent of the electorate was white, the lowest percentage dating back to 1976. The president's 58-percentage point advantage over Romney among non-white voters allowed him to shore up his coalition that included women and college educated white voters. Romney held an 18-point lead among white vote but could not broaden his appeal to a more diverse set of voters that has increasingly gained influence and are expected to do so for elections to come.
The president won 69 percent of Latino voters nationally, while Romney won 29 percent, according to exit polls. If the polls hold, that would be a larger margin than 2008, when Obama defeated Republican John McCain 67-31 percent among Latino voters.
In Florida, the state where Romney had the best chance of winning Hispanic voters thanks to a cadre of traditionally-Republican Cuban-American voters, Obama won 60-39 percent, according to exit polls. That would be the best performance from a Democrat in Florida dating back to 1992. His performance was even better in western states like Colorado.