- McGeough: Defeat for a political chameleon
- O'Malley: Ruthless campaign gets Obama home
- List: How each state voted
- Analysis: Result a relief for Australia
6.55pm: Today, Barack Obama secured his second term in the White House.
New York Times photographer Doug Mills captures the moment.
Here's how the day unfolded.
6.46pm: Now, an enormous day does not happen without help and support.
Thanks firstly to Nick O'Malley and Paul McGeough, our brilliant correspondents in the US.
To our special Pulse contributors: Kath Cummins in Washington, Mary Cunnane in NYC, Andrew Leigh and Josh Frydenberg, our lovely pollies, pollster Mark Textor who worked his contacts and gave us the confidence of early calls.
In Sydney, lots of good folks, but most particularly Conal Hanna. In Melbourne, lots of good folks, but most particularly Orietta Guerrera. Thanks to the video teams, and Carlos Monterio.
In Canberra, my colleagues, particularly Damien Bright, Gabe Hooton and Chris Hammer.
The Pulse Live cannot happen without Andrew Meares. In every sense, this is a joint project, as our regular readers know.
And to our readers. What champions you are, with us in record numbers today. We salute you, one and all.
6.44pm: In Florida, President Obama is up 62,430 votes - out of 8 million or so ballots.
6.41pm: Ok, wrapping now.
Here's how the electoral map looks at close of business.
Red states. Blue states.
Florida and Alaska are yet to be formally called, and Nevada is very close.
But our colour coding here (including the light blue shade for Florida) reflects what we believe will be the outcome when day is done.
6.18pm: You can review Governor Romney's concession speech below.
6.07pm: We take care of our own.
That's the Springsteen tune.
5.57pm: I have never been more hopeful, Mr Obama says.
Never more hopeful.
As long as we have the courage, to keep reaching, to keep working, keep fighting. Everyone can make it in America. Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, diasbled, abled. You can make it here in America.
We are not as divided as our politics suggest.
We are not as cynical as the pundits say.
The applause drowns out his final stanzas. Ticker tape is falling from the skies.
Bruce Springsteen is warbling on the loud speakers.
The Obamas are back in the White House.
5.47pm: Arguments are a mark of our liberty, President Obama says.
Arguments matter. Politics matter. It is not a clash of egos. It is a battle of ideas.
We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America.
That's where we need to go. Forward. To equality and opportunity, he suggests.
Progress will come in fits and starts. It is not always a straight line. It is not always a smooth path.
He says the country needs to look to compromise and go together. War is ending, the economy turning.
This next term will be about seeking the middle.
Whether I earned your vote or not, I have learned from you. I will return to the White House more determined and inspired than ever. Tonight, you voted for action, not politics as usual.
Freedom comes with rights and responsibilities. Love. Compassion. Duty. Patriotism.
5.39pm: America moves forward, says Mr Obama.
It moves forward because of you. We are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation, and one people.
President Obama says the country has been through tough times. It has picked itself up, and the best days are yet to come. He thanks those who voted today.
You made your voice heard and you made a difference.
In the weeks ahead, I look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney and working out how we can move the country forward.
I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me twenty years ago. Michelle I never loved you more.
Mr Obama thanks his two girls, but informs them that for now, one dog is probably enough.
He's thanking his campaign team. All of your are family.
Thank you for believing all the way. You lifted me up the whole way, and I will always be grateful.
5.37pm: People outside The Pulse Live cave may or may not be dancing to Stevie Wonder at this moment.
Four more years.
Four more years, says the crowd.
5.36pm: Here is President Barack Obama, to the backing vocal of Signed Sealed Delivered, I'm Yours.
Chicago is going nuts.
5.31pm: Special Pulse Live contributor Kath Cummins, making sense of an extraordinary day in Washington.
As we await Obama....Virginia, Nevada and Florida have still not been called but he has destroyed his opponents, and it looks like the only battleground state he lost was North Carolina. Extraordinary.
Journalists covering this election were never a 100 per cent sure that the micro-targetting of this campaign was going to deliver as much as the confident Obama operatives said that it would. Well it did deliver. The Democrats increased their margins of victory in so many counties and in key demographics.
The sheer enthusiasm of the "Hope and Change" election of '08 became the cooly efficient data-mining and demographic targeting operation of 2012.
One CNN commentator called this re-election against the backdrop of 7.8 per cent unemployment as "miraculous".
Meanwhile it looks like despite the odds, Democrats will increase their slim Senate majority, giving them better leverage in the coming fiscal battles.
An important legacy of this election is the liberal gains on marriage equality (Maryland and Maine look like passing this) decriminalization of marijuana in one state, the increase of women in Congress (including the first all-women Congressional delegation plus Governor of New Hampshire) and the election of the first openly gay Senator (in the State of Wisconsin).
5.21pm: Losers do double hugs too.
5.18pm: Onya Bazza. Bonza.
I suspect this Tweet from Prime Minister Julia Gillard won't get as many retweets as President Obama's tweet, four more years.
5.10pm: So, the President is coming up very soon.
In the meantime, here's what four more years looks like.
The double hug.
This was taken moments after the networks called the race for the Democrats.
4.55pm: Here is Governor Romney. He's called the president to congratulate him. This is a time of great challenges for America and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation, Governor Romney says.
Governor Romney thanks his running mate Paul Ryan.
Besides my wife Ann, he's the best choice I ever made. I want to thank Ann, the love of my life. She would have been a wonderful first lady.
He thanks the campaign team. The door knockers. The fund raisers.
Thanks for all the hours of work for the cause. The nation is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and posturing. We need to reach across the aisle. We look to job creators of all kinds, we are counting on you. We have to put the people before the politics I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. This election is over, but our principles endure. Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign. I so wish I had been able to fulfil your hopes ... but the country chose another leader.
He'll pray for President Obama, and this great nation.
4.49pm: Boston, as Governor Romney departs in his motorcade for the venue.
AP reports Mitt Romney has rung President Obama to concede.
Paul, on the spot.
The presence of some members of the extended Romney family in the ballroom at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre might indicate that the Republican candidate is inching, however reluctantly, towards conceding defeat. The silence in the ballroom is almost mournful. Romney told reporters earlier today that he had written just one speech to deliver tonight - presumably that was a victory speech. But apart from saying that they want to massage the Ohio figures, there has been no other indication of how Camp Romney intends to proceed in the coming minutes or hours...
4.40pm: It's seems right now to link you to this piece from The Daily Beast.
They interviewed three candidates who washed up on the wrong side of history: Bob Dole, Michael Dukakis, and Walter Mondale.
Advice for whomever lost today.
I found it really moving, strangely.
- Bob Dole: My advice to people: Pick up where you left off where the campaign started and go back to your office, make phone calls to the people who won and to the people who lost. To the people who lost, say [to them] I hope I didn’t cause it. We actually picked up Senate seats that year and lost 7 or 8 House seats, which is pretty good when you run against the party in power. Sooner or later you got to face it, and people have different ways and different schedules I guess about how to finally get it behind you. I think the hardest part is what other people think of when they see you the next day or the next week or the next month. I remember four or five or six months after the election people would say there goes Bob Dole who lost the election. Anyway, bottom line, it is a great experience and not many people end up in the finals.
- Michael Dukakis: If Romney loses, I honestly don’t know what he will do, since he has been running for so long and he doesn’t really have a regular job to go back to. It probably takes a month or two to be back to normal. Time is a great healer. They are both active. They should just get back to their normal routine and rhythm.
- Walter Mondale: [Long pause.] You know, I don’t have any advice for them. Just there will be another day and life goes on.
4.38pm: Meanwhile, enjoy a tale of two cities.
4.36pm: Come on Governor.
It's time for Romney to emerge from his hotel suite and concede...
Colorado has just been formalized as an Obama win - that means 290-201 in Obama's favor in the Electoral College vote, even before vote heavy Virginia and Florida are assigned [in all probability to Obama] But even if Romney retains Alaska and by some shock discovery of new caches of votes, he were to win in all of Ohio, Virginia and Florida, he still cannot reach the prerequisite 270 college votes. Romney's earlier lead in the popular vote has been pared back to a tiny 335 margin on what the tally boards show as a 49-49 per cent dead heat. But Romney will see that 335 - while is still exists - as an endorsement by the people.
4.19pm: Paul McGeough.
Camp Romney. Fired down.
As thousands of Romney supporters hang out in near silence in the main ballroom at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre, Candidate Romney is holed up across the road, in a suite at the Westin Hotel. His staff are refusing to say if/when he will make a concession speech. Instead, they are working the figures from Ohio in particular - claiming that Obama has slipped in continuing counting in auto communities across the north of the state.
But as the figures have straggled in from other states in the west, a Romney win is impossible - Florida is deemed impossible for him to catch up Obama. Similarly Ohio and Virginia ... The mood in the ballroom picked up briefly as giant screens relayed hopeful media analysis, but somberness has descended again
4.09pm: Parties. Big day for them. Let Chris Hammer take you to the great knees-up at the National Press Club a little earlier today.
Ambassador Bleich can breathe a little easier now.
4.00pm: Paul McGeough in Boston is telling me the Romney Camp isn't letting go. They are not ready to concede the theoretical possibility of victory.
Not publicly anyway. Not yet.
Romney would need four states for a snatch from the jaws of defeat. Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado (combined, 69 college votes.)
Currently he's ahead in Ohio by 21,000 votes. He trails in the other three.
3.56pm: Here's Andrew Meares' meme lead.
3.52pm: Chicago calling.
3.49pm: Boston calling.
Here's Paul McGeough on where the popular vote is at.
Obama strategists seem to know what they were talking about, re: the popular vote - that count has already evened on to a 49-49 tie - and, obviously, counting continues.
3.47pm: The Empire State Building blues up for the bloke from Chicago.
3.39pm: One for our rusted on Pulsers, this observation.
Coming to a t-shirt near you.
I think the NYT numbers man Nate Silver - who copped a hiding for predicting an Obama victory based on his poll-of-polls aggregation method - can claim victory too this evening.
3.27pm: Fired up?
You bet we're fired up!
What victory for President Obama looks like in Chicago. Right now.
3.19pm: Obama calls on on Twitter.
There it is folks.
3.18pm: BREAKING: CNN calls the contest for Obama.
Chicago goes nuts.
3.10pm: CNN is calling Iowa for President Obama.
If you add Colorado to the Obama column, we are pretty much done with this nail-biting business Pulsers.
After his tearful plea on the hustings, those Obama-ites fired up it seems.
Obama's path to victory is no longer dependent on Ohio, Florida or Virginia.
3.03pm: Let's dial Kath Cummins back in now from Washington.
As things look better for Obama today, let Kath tell you something of his campaign strategy and its consequences in this helpful postcard.
If you want to get a strong feel for the demographic current underlying this election I strongly recommend Ron Brownstein from the National Journal who has been reminding readers for months that this will be the last election that the Republicans can attempt to win with a majority of white votes alone. It was a big risk that Obama took when he decided to embrace gay marriage, push back hard on efforts to restrict abortion and contraception (including a very public stoush with the Catholic Church) offer up a partial amnesty to young illegal immigrants and effectively concede non-college educated white men to the GOP. Instead of a coherent national message, the Obama campaign has stitched together a rainbow coalition.
So far tonight, it is looking like the risk paid off.
There is an important caveat on this: Obama will still owe the union organising base in Ohio and Wisconsin for getting him across the line. It is because of them that in the mid-west his white vote outperforms what he gets elsewhere. Post-election, it will be interesting to see what the working class unions get in return.
Meanwhile the consequences of a "rainbow" win for Obama may well be a civil war within the GOP. Those pro-immigration forces with in the party like Jeb Bush, Rick Perry, Marco Rubio and others will move to gain upper hand over anti-immigrantion faction. If even evangelicals like Mike Huckabee are criticising the poor outreach to Hispanic and other minority voters by the GOP then you can see the war coming.
2.55pm: Let's call Arizona for the Governor shall we?
2.51pm: Here's how the US networks are calling the race. Thanks to The New York Times.
2.41pm: Florida meanwhile is continuing to give us all motion sickness. The current count is swinging back to Governor Romney.
Florida matters right now, because if Obama can crash through here, he keeps the plane and the house.
If Romney holds Florida, then all eyes turn to Ohio. And our day grows longer.
The trend is good for Obama in Ohio with just over half the vote counted.
Look at the Obama crowd in Chicago. On the edge of their seats.
2.37pm: Obama. Oi oi oi.
You crazy cats.
2.32pm: Stop. Revive, Survive.
Where are we right now?
As counting continues, which states are still in play?
- Virginia, North Carolina and Wisconsin are leaning Romney 51 - 48.
- However, Colorado, Florida and Ohio are leaning Obama. He's narrowly in front.
- Iowa and New Hampshire are looking stronger for Obama, more like a 60-40 ratio.
Obama takes Pennsylvania. (See our post below at 1.45pm). The New York Times calls this the first prize of the night.
2.23pm: Labor backbencher Andrew Leigh.
He's divining victory for Obama through the numbers.
For all the current prevarications by pundits ("nailbiter", "too close to call"), Intrade now has Obama a 94 per cent chance to win. I expect that's about as good as Xi Jinping's chances of taking over as China's next leader.
2.04pm: Don't forget the wonderful Mark Textor, who is contributing at #thepulselive hashtag
Via his impeccable Republican contacts, Tex is calling tonight for Obama.
Virginia and Florida are still a toss up, Tex says, but even if Romney wins there, he cannot make it.
But I know no-one more qualified to make it.
1.58pm: We brought you a window on Camp Romney at 1.29pm.
Over in Chicago, Nick O'Malley is feeling a different vibe.
Who cares if Florida falls over if we get Ohio?
By contrast the crowd here at the McCormick Center in Chicago are begining to get excited. If Ohio is called for them in the next half an hour the fretting over Florida may pass. The crowd is getting larger and louder.
1.53pm: Anyone else dizzy watching Florida right now?
With Florida see-sawing dangerously - 600 vote lead for Romney on one check; 1000-odd votes in Obama's favour on the next - and more than six million votes counted, every little nugget of support makes a difference. One such pocket of support for Obama is growth in the state's non-Cuban Hispanic community. According to the New York Times, Cubans historically back the GOP, but in today's exit polling, Obama has a two-thirds advantage among the non-Cuban Hispanics - and they out-number the Cubans by almost two to one.
1.45pm: CNN is calling Pennsylvania for Obama.
1.29pm: This tells you something.
Here's Romney staff in the Boston HQ.
Far from ecstatic.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can lose it seems.
(Do you remember this reference? Friday Night Lights. Governor Romney borrowed the expression for his own campaign purposes.)
So where are we?
Let's step out for a helicopter view.
For Romney there's hope in Florida. He's ahead by half a nose. Or an eyelash. 636 votes right now.
Elsewhere, the wave ain't breaking his way.
Pennsylvania is not looking brilliant despite Governor Romney touching down to campaign there today. The mid-west is holding for Obama.
1.21pm: Nail biter?
You ain't kidding Paul McGeough.
Nail biting stuff in the key swing states - Romney going ahead in Virginia [54 to 45] with 42 per cent counted; and had just gone ahead of Obama in Florida where the split is a neat 50-50, but on the actual count Romney is ahead - just - by 1288 votes. North Carolina also is also on a knife edge with 66 per cent of the votes counted - 50-49 in Romney's favour. In Ohio, Obama is marching away - 55-44, with 27 per cent counted.
1.10pm: CNN tells us with 70 per cent of the vote in now counted in Florida, Mitt Romney is a whisker ahead. Unbelievably tight. The New York Times has given Governor Romney a 8,190 vote lead in that state. They have 62 per cent of the vote reported.
No hanging chads!
1.04pm: Look at this line of voters in Florida.
Barack Obama has taken to social media to tell these good folks to #stayinline
As long as you were in line when polls closed, you can still vote.
12.52pm: Our correspondent Nick O'Malley dials in from Chicago.
Barack Obama's early voter focus. The why's of that. And why Governor Romney started campaigning in Pennsylvania.
Although Obama won the 2008 election easily, McCain actually won more votes on election day. Obama's entire margin of victory came from his huge advantage in early voting. Romney has improved over McCain on early voting, but Obama is still favored with those voters, which explains why Republicans in Florida and Ohio have sought to limit or shut down early voting. Obama's early voter focus in 2012 has been on "sporadic" voters -- those who often do not vote at all. In Florida, the Obama campaign claims a significant lead among voters who have only voted once in the last three general elections. Nearly one-third of Ohio voters went to the polls before Election Day and polls indicate Obama won those early votes by 63% to 35% over Romney According to reliable estimates, about 46 million ballots will be cast early this year, one-third of the entire voting public.
CNN's Peter Hamby earlier reported that a senior Romney campaign official told him that their internal polling yesterday showed President Obama winning Ohio by 5 points. If this is the case it would solve the mystery of why the Romney campaign suddenly started campaigning in Pennsylvania last week, even though public polling showed him trailing Obama significantly. Should Obama take Ohio, Romney needs Pennsylvania. Romney visited both states this morning.
12.45pm: Pollster Mark Textor is on the same page as Kath Cummins (see post below). He tells me via Twitter: With Ohio leaning to Obama the way it is the door of opportunity is closing worryingly for Romney.
Here's a voter in Ohio.
12.36pm: Kath Cummins, from Washington. An update.
Is President Obama's famous firewall in the mid-west - the policies that have delivered him support from white working class voters in the manufacturing industry - holding up?
As we watch the vote counts coming out of bellwether Ohio (and the President is leading strongly so far) keep in mind the battlecry of the Obama campaign in the industrial mid-west: "Osama Bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive!" If the Obama campaign in Chicago tonight are quietly confident then its due is huge part because of the decision by Obama to bail out the auto industry. Remember that one in eight jobs are linked to the car industry and it in here that Obama's white vote is holding up better than in other swing states - a critical advantage. Romney famously wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in 2008 at the height of the financial crisis in which he argued that Detriot should not be given a government bailout, but go through managed bankruptcy. It was a nuanced financial argument about how best to restructure the industry - but no matter, the headline writer was brutal: "Let Detroit go bankrupt". If Obama's white, working class "firewall" holds up in the mid-West, that headline writer may thus have written Romney's political epitaph.
12.16pm: Paul McGeough on the popular vote.
Here's a worry for the Obama camp - with 6 per cent of the popular vote tallies, the president is trailing Romney - 51-48. Democrat strategists claim to be 'relaxed and comfortable' with all that they see on the tally boards at this stage - but to be returned after failing to win the popular poll would be an awkward landing back into the White House.
Do we grasp this point?
In the US, there's the college voting system, which delivers the presidency and then there's the popular vote. It is possible for a candidate to secure the presidency by winning the requisite number of college votes - 270; but wash out on the popular vote.
Commentators have reflected on this possibility in this 2012 election race. That President Obama returns to the White House courtesy of the college, but loses the popular vote to Governor Romney. The point commentators worry about is this split (between the college and the popular vote) would entrench the deep, swingeing partisanship that's been in evidence during President Obama's term in office. People would start thundering about mandates. Who had one. What that meant. More legislative gridlock. More finger pointing.
Long way to go yet before anyone is making that call definitively.
12.05pm: Aussie pollster Mark Textor is telling me via Twitter that the early news out of Virginia is bad for Governor Romney. Don't forget to watch for his updates in our Twitter box below, or at our hashtag #thepulselive
This picture shows you the lines in Virginia. Folks teeming to their polling places. Voting we gather has been extended by one hour.
11.54am: Our correspondent Paul McGeough.
Possibly meaningful progress in the Florida count - 34 per cent of the vote is in - that's 3 million plus - and Obama is ahead of Romney 52-48.
11.44am: Let's dial in Josh Frydenberg now, Liberal backbencher and like Andrew Leigh, our in-house American tragic.
Mr Frydenberg (pictured left) senses the wave is breaking for Obama. But if he gets back, what a job he'll have.
Whoever wins today will be making history. If it is Obama, he will be the first president since FDR defeated Kansas Governor Republican Alf Landon in 1936 to be re-elected with unemployment above 7.2 per cent. If it is Romney, he will ensure that Obama joins a short list of presidents denied a second term – with Ford, Carter and George Bush Snr the only names on that list since the Depression. My sense is that Obama is likely to get there but maybe not with the popular vote or the 365 electoral college votes and 10 million vote majority he got against Senator McCain. Last time round in 2008 exit polls showed a record 96 per cent of African Americans, 67 per cent of Latino voters and 66 per cent of younger voters (those under 30) voted for Obama. The voting preferences of younger voters represented the greatest disparity with those of older voters since 1972. This time round it is bound to be very different with so many young people in particular, struggling to find work. Let's remember at stake today is not just the presidency but also 435 seats in the House, a third of the Senate and 11 governors. With the Republicans likely to hold on to the House and the Democrats the Senate, the next President will have a mighty difficult job avoiding a route around the fiscal cliff.
11.31am: More CNN exit polls.
Now, a caution for Pulsers. This is very early material. It should not be taken as gospel by any stretch.
The cable news network suggests Obama is ahead in Ohio and Florida - two of the key states.
Ohio has 18 college votes. Florida has 29 votes.
11.29am: CNN and the New York Times have called Vermont for Barack Obama. No shocks there.
11.20am: Dialling in from Washington now. Pulse live contributor Kath Cummins (pictured left.)
Kath's an Australian journalist now resident in the US.
Here in downtown Washington DC the bars are full, the smokers are out on the street in the chilly air, and many of the folk with half an eye on CNN are waiting to see if they will have a job in January. After throwing back a quick mojito with some federal public servants I am now in the offices of the left-or-centre political magazine The American Prospect, and no prizes for guessing the preferred outcome for this gifted young group of twenty-something writers. Now that the polls in Virginia have closed, everyone is looking at the tie in the exit polls there. 49-49 is CNN's call. If Romney wins Virginia it will be game on, if Obama carries Virginia that could be fatal for the Republican challenger. Democrats are telling the networks that the turnout of African-American voters in Virginia are exceeding those they got in 2008, when Obama picked up this traditionally Republican state. Meanwhile the Republicans are saying that white voter turnout is also up, and higher than that of John McCain in '08. Not surprisingly, turnout is going to be everything in this important swing state.
11.11am: So as we move into the business end of today, let's remind ourselves.
Some of those states to watch. Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada.
Our correspondent Paul McGeough (pictured) is pointing me to early Florida numbers. Four per cent counted and Obama ahead - 55-45. These are districts favourable to the Democrats.
CNN says Florida is looking like a tie on early figures.
11.00am: Dig in for a long day Pulsers.
CNN's exit poll in Virginia - the first critical swing state to report - is a tie.
10.50am: Mary Cunnane updates from New York City. (See our post at 7.59am giving Mary's bio.)
Walking downtown to lunch with an old friend earlier, I listened on my radio to Gov. Christie's admonition that voting was "not just a privilege but a responsibility." Such a huge amount of money and sheer political energy is spent here on just making sure that voters get themselves to the polls. I wonder whether it is conceivably possible that compulsory voting could fly in the US. Perhaps in a century or two - after a titanic political battle, a Jarndyce & Jarndyce-like Supreme Court case and a Constitutional convention.
In other words, when pigs fly.
My friend is a senior academic at the City University of New York. She lives on the Lower East Side and while her building got power back on Friday night she is still without heat, which has to do with steam-generation. It's cold today and going to get colder. Last word from Con Ed - maybe heat by the 11th. She *thinks* Obama will win, but like many is uneasy.
On the walk back up town at 3pm, I passed a polling place on East 74th St. The line was out the door, half-way down the block, and around the corner onto 1st Ave. Is it a larger than usual turn-out or just massive inefficiency?
10.33am: Here's a good news wrap of the voting problems across the country.
Our correspondent Paul McGeough has called in from Boston.
Chaos. Good cheer. Free beer?
In Milwaukee, in hotly contested Wisconsin, there’s a run of the usual problems – a shortage of ballot papers here, a malfunctioning machine there. But a measure of how peaceable Election Day has been locally is that the sternest admonition from the Government Accountability Board has been to local businesses offering rewards to clients sporting the traditional ‘I voted’ lapel sticker – it appears that a particular problem is the publicans who are offering free or discounted beer.
Better after they have voted than before – yes?
10.20am: The US ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich.
Ambassador Bleich is watching events in his home country closely, on the edge of his seat.
He spoke to Andrew Meares before the circus got underway today.
My job is on the line.
10.05am: Speaking of the Twitters, our mates at BuzzFeed are riffing at our expense.
They are collating Tweets. If Obama wins, I'm moving down under. A whole collection on that theme.
Lindsay Carter begs to differ. She's moving to New Zealand.
9.54am: Social media and the US election. There's been lots of interest about the impact of Twitter on this presidential race. For those interested in this topic, I did a Google hangout with Bill Powers, author and former Washington Post journalist, who is heading up the CrowdWire project.
Bill and his colleagues have been studying Twitter traffic at key moments - conventions and debates. He outlines Crowdwire's findings so far:
- Women, whose votes in certain states will reportedly decide this election, spoke up about the debates more heavily than men. And women were engaged more by economic questions than by issues foreign and military affairs.
- Large numbers of African-Americans commented about the conventions and debates, a significant fact given that a strong African-American turnout helped Obama's 2008 victory. A repeat of this phenomenon has been in doubt this time, which makes this demographic's social engagement with the campaign significant.
- During the debates, policy issues such as health-care, education and controversial topics such as the Benghazi attack often had a greater share of the conversation than pure political chatter - the "horse race" fixation that often dominates traditional political news coverage. In this election, social media's reputation as a center of frivolous discourse has often seemed undeserved.
- Though Twitter's audience skews young, issues of importance to seniors - Medicare in particular - figured prominently in the policy conversation, sparked by events such as a Paul Ryan's speech to an AARP convention.
Here's our chat for those Pulsers keen to know more.
9.45am: Polls, exit polls. Paul McGeough (pictured left) in Boston. Thoughts on the repeal of Obamacare.
In an early take from the exit polling done as a single exercise for the combined US media, the NYT reports a ‘preliminary’ result that as few as a quarter of those voting today back the Romney proposal to repeal Obama’s controversial health scheme.
But here’s the confusing bit. Another quarter wants to tinker with it – and the remaining half would keep it as it is.
9.36am: Back to our correspondent Nick O'Malley for a moment on polls.
One of the really fascinating meta stories of this campaign has been a controversy about the work of New York Times numbers guru Nate Silver.
The New York Times affiliated blogger and poll analyst Nate Silver last night detected a late small surge to Obama and kicked his prediction of an Obama victory up to 91 per cent. (This is a measure of the likelihood of victory, not a poll.) Silver has become a celebrity in his own right during the campaign, infuriating Republicans and soothing liberal hearts in the dark days after the first debate by consistently predicting an Obama victory. Silver, who was a baseball number cruncher before he turned to politics and correctly predicted 49 of 50 states in the 2008 election, has been profiled throughout the media and became a sought after TV guest, finally prompting some nasty conservative attacks on him. In a particularly nasty attack the conservative newspaper The Examiner described him as “a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the “Mr. New Castrati” voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. “Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he's made out to be.”
Silver has a lot riding on today’s poll.
Here's his latest prediction.
9.19am: Big Bird has voted.
(Yes he can.)
(Do you all remember Governor Romney got into a bit of hot water during the campaign by suggesting he'd get rid of federal funding for PBS, the network which makes Sesame Street? Nothing against Big Bird, but ..)
Let's call this revenge of the birds.
Meanwhile Twitter is telling us Barack Obama has won his election day basketball game.
9.12am: Labor backbencher Andrew Leigh (pictured left) is guest contributing with us today.
Andrew, (apart from being a professional politician), is a serious numbers wonk as well as an American tragic.
Here's Andrew's first thoughts for Pulsers on today's contest.
Who’s going to win? Over recent decades, economists and political scientists have been crunching the numbers on the best forecasting tools. Here’s my assessment.
1. Polls: no serious person does election analysis using a single poll, and the best poll-pooler (try saying that ten times quickly!) is Nate Silver. Crunching all the publicly available polls, he estimates Obama’s chances of re-election at 91%. But an even better tool for predicting elections is…
2. Expectations: in a new paper (co-authored with David Rothschild), my friend Justin Wolfers shows that who voters expect to win is a better predictor than who they intend to vote for. Think of it as crowdsourcing. Right now, 60% of US respondents think Obama will win. But an even better measure is…
3. Betting markets: at the risk of incurring the ire of Jenny Macklin’s problem gambling taskforce, I can’t resist pointing to a series of paper (including Leigh-Wolfers papers in 2002 and 2006) showing that betting markets are an extremely good predictor of election outcomes. Justin and I knew we’d made an impact when then Prime Minister John Howard (one of the nation’s savviest election-watchers) reportedly began asking diplomats to provide him with betting odds on overseas elections. Intrade currently has Obama a 68% chance, up from 63% a few days ago, but down from 70% at 6am today.
So the betting markets are the measure I’ll be watching, and it may be a rollercoaster ride. In 2004, rogue exit polls saw Bush’s betting market odds drop from 60% to 25% before rising back up to 95% by the end of the night.
If news leaks out – public or private – expect the betting market odds to reflect it almost instantly.
8.58am: In presidential elections in the United States, it's a simple maxim. He (or she) who turns out the vote wins the contest.
It's all about the ground game.
There have been some excellent pieces written about this over the course of the election season.
This is a good one from Molly Ball from The Atlantic.
Ryan Lizza wrote another in The New Yorker. He wrote of Obama organisers using barber shops as hubs. I'd love to link you to that but it's for subscribers only.
Pretty obvious when you think about it isn't it? Voting isn't compulsory. Getting the vote out absorbs a huge amount of resources from the campaigns, and influences how the political game is played in ways we can barely comprehend here.
8.55am: The meme is the message. Why wait for others to meme when you can meme yourself? Barack Obama has hit the interwebz to get out the vote.
8.42am: Necessary facts.
In terms of the key states, the battlegrounds (I really do hate that word) - we expect results to start flowing from around 11.00am.
The sequence of poll closures is roughly this.
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
The timing in Australian terms is 11.00am through to around 3pm.
How quickly we know anything definitive is entirely contingent on American voters.
So America, how are you feeling?
8.31am: Let's cross back to our correspondent Nick O'Malley on those first results in New Hampshire.
The first results came in just after midnight eastern US time, when the 10 voters of Dixville Notch, New Hampshire delivered a dead heat – perhaps a surprising result given the hamlet has two registered Democrats, three Republicans and five independents.
No, nobody is reading anything into this.
8.27am: Lots of you talking to me at #thepulselive this morning, which is tops.
Contributors to our rolling election conversation include Australian pollster Mark Textor, who is very kindly keeping Pulsers in the loop with his take on the numbers and the contest.
8.24am: Here we are with first votes: cast and counted before dawn in New Hampshire.
8.20am: From Wendys in Ohio to a car park at the airport in Pittsburgh.
Leave no infant unsmooched.
8.14am: Governor Romney is still campaigning - quite unusual for an election day.
Just can't get out of the habit?
Who can say?
Here he is with his running mate Paul Ryan: a fast food stop in Richmond Heights Ohio.
7.59am: Now a lovely post card from Mary Cunnane from New York City.
Literary agent Mary (a New Yorker who these days resides on the south coast of New South Wales) was in in NYC when Sandy hit last week.
She's been out to the Yorkville Public School to cast her ballot.
Just after 7:30am on a bright, but wintry Election Morning. NPR reports that Gov. Coumo (which auto-correct rather ominously wants to turn into Gov.Coma) has signed an executive order allowing NY residents affected by the storm to vote at any polling booth they can get to.
Similar but more complicated provisions have been made in NJ, but they involve needing access to emails and/or faxes, not exactly easy to come by for the many people yet to have power or in shelters. Still, it's something. Have just come from the Yorkville Public School on East 88th Street. This is my old neighborhood and the polling station I voted at in least four presidential elections. They are doing a brisk business as people stop in on their way to work. I took a couple of photos before I was told politely but firmly no pictures allowed.
No one on the Upper East Side will have to avail themselves of the Governor's executive order, save for those in my old building on East End Avenue, evacuated summarily at 9pm in the middle of the storm last Monday night when the East River totally flooded the basement and knocked out the power. An odor of gas was detected and the cops gave the residents minutes to get out. Some 400 souls were then on the march and are still out, as repairs will take weeks.
Not all will be able to get back to the polling station today I would think. Am staying nearby with a friend who is a lawyer and very active in progressive politics, having gotten her start in the McGovern campaign in 72. All week long , when not discussing the storm we've been having a vigorous debate about the election. (Vigorous but friendly).
She hates Romney ,but Obama only slightly less because of the drones, the ending of habeus corpus, his retreat from a single-payer healthcare system, etc. She thinks that a Romney victory will really energise the left and produce true (as opposed to bogus , as she describes it) progressive reform of the country. To say that I am deeply skeptical is an understatement.
The great democratic privilege.
Tony Becker from Crystal City Missouri sent me this postcard about his voting experience this morning.
I was voter 574 out of roughly 3,000 in this voting precinct. No lines when I voted, but I’m told they did have lines between 6:00 and 7:00 AM this morning when the polls first opened.
Voting was orderly and quiet in our relatively small town. Outside, two campaign workers for opposing State Representative candidates were standing together under damp, cloudy skies. They went to high school together. I used to serve on the City Council with the woman supporting the Democratic candidate, who happens to be her nephew.
Honestly there are some state-level issues that are more interesting (i.e. the outcome is less predictable) than the Presidential or US Senate races. There is a ballot measure that would prevent the (Democratic) governor from creating a health insurance exchange without the approval of the (Republican-controlled) legislature, which would fairly effectively short-circuit the implementation of “Obamacare” in Missouri. I haven’t seen any polling on the topic but my guess is that this is a statistical toss-up. There is also a measure that, if approved, would allow the City of St. Louis to regain control of its police force from the state legislature, which has controlled it since the American Civil War.
At the time, the Confederate-leaning Governor did not want the Union-leaning German immigrants in St. Louis to have access to the arsenal of weapons stored in the city, so the city’s police force were set up to be state controlled. It makes no sense that this situation has persisted for almost 150 years. But most people in the state are not even aware that this is the case, and don’t understand why they’re being asked to vote on the subject, so who knows what the outcome will be?
Here's Tony's polling place in an Eagles Lodge.
7.36am: I came across this the other day.
Just pure fun. How well do you know your US states?
This works like a jigsaw puzzle. You need to knit all these states together, piece by piece.
7.29am: We are more simple souls at The Pulse Live, for now at least.
Chris Hammer prepared this map for his explanatory video on the college system that we posted at 6.50am.
- The dark blue states are solid Democrat states.
- Dark red states are solid Republican states.
- Light blue states are leaning Democrat.
- Pink states are leaning Republican.
- The yellow states are the swing states - the ones that will decide today's contest.
7.24am: Electoral map nerds. Go to town.
7.21am: The Huffington Post has called the election for Obama?
Relax. It's a colour by numbers call. Hours and hours to go yet!
7.05am: Nick updates on the voting irregularities theme thus:
Only hours after polls opened there are already skirmishes over various voting irregularities being reported from across the country.
Florida. Pennsylvania. Crazy town.
- In Florida, the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office mistakenly placed hundreds or possible even thousands of robo-calls to voters incorrectly telling them voting day was tomorrow, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Around 12,000 calls did not get through, the SOE spokeswoman Nancy Whitlock told the Times. "About 30 minutes the calls were going out," Whitlock said. "We stopped it immediately when we found out about it."
- Another law suit filed by Democrats on Sunday against officials in three Florida counties has already been settled. The Democrat’s lawyers alleged last minute changes to early voting laws left thousands of people in queues that last for eight or nine hours this morning.
- A YouTube clip that bounced around this morning of a video that showed an electronic voting machine in Pennsylvania automatically turning an Obama vote into a Romney vote has been confirmed as true, though there is no evidence the glitch was caused by deliberate interference.
- Also in Pennsylvania poll workers have been wrongly telling voters they need ID, apparently in order to get them used to laws yet to come into force. In The Nation Ari Berman reports The Election Protection Coalition, which received 100,000 calls in 2008, had already received 35,000 calls by 11am eastern today. He reports that voting machines are not working in the Ohio cities of Cleveland, Dayton and Toledo.
Here's that YouTube of the dodgy electronic voting machine we spoke of in the last post.
6.57am: Nick O'Malley draws my attention to a breaking story.
A Pennsylvania electronic voting machine has been taken out of service after being captured on video changing a vote for President Obama into one for Mitt Romney, NBC News has confirmed. Republicans have also said machines have turned Romney votes into Obama ones. The video was first posted on Youtube by user centralpavoter. It shows a voter’s finger repeatedly pressing the button for Obama, but a check mark coming up next to Romney’s name. NBC News confirmed that the machine has been taken off line.
6.50am: Speaking of firing up, let's fire up our conversation with some facts.
How about that American voting system? Who can comprehend it? I read the majority of Americans cannot. (Actually it's not that hard, it just seems a little ... quirky.)
My colleague Chris Hammer has produced this video which explains in simple terms how the US voting system works.
I really recommend you watch, because afterwards, a whole lot of things are going to make sense that might otherwise be quite hard to comprehend.
How the college system works to elect an American president. Turn-off your auto-refresh to view!
6.40am: One of the best things about this morning is coming in to Pulse HQ to find observational postcards sent from friends currently in the states. New York City. Crystal City Missouri.
I'll bring you some of their insights over the course of the day.
Regular Pulsers know I like a rolling conversation. Please chime in at any point. Comments. On Twitter. You can email us at email@example.com
You can also use our hastag #thepulselive
6.34am: More lovely pictures. This still from Doug Mills was President Obama's memorable campaign closer yesterday. No Drama Obama tearing up at his final campaign stop in Iowa.
If you'd like to watch President Obama's final appeal to American votes, you can watch here. Turn off the auto-refresh at the top of the blog before viewing.
Fire up, he says. Fire up.
Are you fired up?
We sure are!
6.25am: Governor Romney has voted. The New York Times photographer Steven Crowley has caught Mitt and Ann Romney exercising their democratic right in Belmont.
6.11am: Good morning Nick O'Malley in Chicago (pictured left.)
The vote is turning out.
Americans have begun voting with nearly all the polls of the swing states within the margin of error. The problem Republicans face is that they are also nearly all leaning towards the President, as they have for most of the campaign. Romney’s campaign, its supporters and a considerable number of pundits are arguing that Republican enthusiasm will carry the contender over the line in the key states. In rallies over the past few days it was clear Republican spirits remain high, and that while Democrats are confident of a victory, the overwhelming optimism of their last campaign has vanished. Mitt Romney is still on the campaign trail, visiting Pennsylvania and Ohio, and so far looks he nothing like a defeated man. This morning the Real Clear Politics average of national polls found the President up by 0.7 per cent, with a lead in Ohio of 2.9 per cent. Mitt Romney leads in Florida by 1.5 per cent.
6.00am: Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the election in the United States.
What a day we are going to have. The Pulse Live cave is humming.
Our Fairfax correspondents Nick O'Malley and Paul McGeough are in position in Chicago and Boston as we go live this morning.
Nick is hanging with Camp Obama; Paul with Camp Romney.
I'm going to throw to Paul first, who is pictured below.
It's just gone lunchtime in Boston - Romney headquarters - and voting happening in an orderly fashion around town. The place to be tonight is the Boston Convention and Exhibition Centre, where this machine (pictured below) has just ben hauled into a prime parking spot. It works as a metaphor for both parties. It's intended as a two-fingered gesture to Barack Obama's 'you didn't build that' line, but it works too for the reality of the night - when the counting is done, the dozer can move in here and sweep away the Romney-Ryan campaign ... Or it can move off to Chicago and clear out the Obama camp.
Is this a sign of the time for the extent of privatization under a Romney Administration? Fresh-faced youngsters on the welcome desk at the Boston convention and Exhibition Centre, are asking reporters for a cool $1020 for the privilege of watching TV coverage of the election count in a press filing centre. Just to park a TV satellite truck outside the building is costing CNN and the rest $75... What next? Vouchers for those who can't afford?