WASHINGTON (AP):President Barack Obama won re-election Tuesday night despite a fierce challenge from Republican Mitt Romney, prevailing in the face of a weak economy and high unemployment that encumbered his first term and crimped the middle-class dreams of millions.
The president sealed his victory in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado, four of the nine battleground states where the two rivals and their allies spent nearly $1 billion on duelling television commercials.
"We have picked our selves up. We have fought our way back (and) the best is yet to come," a victorious Obama told cheering supporters in Chicago.
The president is chosen in a state-by-state tally of electors, not according to the nationwide popular vote, making such 'battleground' states - which vote neither Republican nor Democrat on a consistent basis - particularly important in such a tight race.
"This happened because of you. Thank you!" Obama tweeted to supporters as he secured four more years in the White House.
Despite widespread voter dissatisfaction with government, Democrats won two more years of control of the Senate and Republicans were on track to do likewise in the House.
Romney was in Massachusetts, his long and gruelling bid for the presidency at an unsuccessful end.
He was gracious in defeat. " I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said in his concession speech.
The two rivals were close in the popular vote.
Obama's laser-like focus on battleground states gave him the majority in the electoral vote, where it mattered most. He had 303, or 33 more than needed for victory. Romney had 206.
Yet to be settled was the battleground State of Florida.
The election emerged as a choice between two very different visions of government - whether it occupies a major, front-row place in American lives or is in the background as a less-obtrusive facilitator for private enterprise and entrepreneurship.
The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 per cent of voters surveyed as they left their polling places. But more said former President George W. Bush bore responsibility for current circumstances than Obama did after nearly four years in office.
About four in 10 said the economy is on the mend, but more than that said it was stagnant or getting worse more than four years after the near-collapse of 2008. The survey was conducted for The Associated Press and a group of television networks.