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US: Obama victory is an electoral map blowout

05 Nov 2008 6:20 PM
US: Obama victory is an electoral map blowout

By Michael Mathes

WASHINGTON, Nov 5 AFP - Democrat Barack Obama swept to victory in yesterday's historic presidential election by trouncing adversary John McCain in keybattlegrounds and poaching states long-considered Republican bastions.

Several US news networks reported the popular vote as relatively close - CBS called it 52 to 47 per cent, with more than 104 million votes counted anda handful of states still to report their results - but in terms of the all-important Electoral College vote count it was a blowout.

As of 1am eastern time on Wednesday (1700 AEDT), with projections and official results of 46 of the 50 US states plus the capital District of Columbia, Obama had secured 338 electoral votes compared with 159 for McCain.

Forty-eight of the 50 states plus the district employ a winner-take-all system for calculating presidential votes for the states; the candidate who reaches the threshold 270 out of 538 electoral votes nationwide is declared the winner.

It was the first time since Jimmy Carter in 1976 that a Democrat won the White House with more than 50 per cent of the popular vote.

Obama raced out of the gates early, snatching the crucial large eastern state of Pennsylvania and then the key midwestern state Ohio, which no candidate since 1960 has lost and still managed to win the White House.

At that point the world's largest political prize was still within McCain'sgrasp - barely, provided he swept nearly all other battleground states including Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico and Virginia.

He briefly raised hopes for Republicans when he held on to Georgia, a traditionally Republican "red" state with 15 electoral votes that slipped into toss-up status in recent weeks.

But amid a reportedly massive African-American turnout, none of the other swing states fell his way; Virginia, a Republican stronghold not won by the Democrats since 1964, went to Obama, as did Florida, the state which controversially sent George W Bush to the White House in 2000, and the western swing states Colorado and New Mexico.

In keeping with their status as the closest races in the nation according to several different polls, Missouri and North Carolina were still toss-ups into the early hours of Wednesday.

ABC News reported 93 per cent of Missouri precincts reporting with McCain ahead 50-49 per cent, but networks had yet to put the state into the McCain column. Fox had McCain ahead by just 8,000 votes, a margin of 0.4 per cent,with 99 per cent of precincts in.

In North Carolina it was equally tight, with 99 per cent of precincts reporting and the votes also split 50-49 for Obama, who was ahead by less than 14,000 votes out of nearly 4.2 million votes counted, according to ABC News.

The Republican heartland state of Indiana and the sparsely populated Montana also remained too close to call after midnight.

But for McCain, defeat was a foregone conclusion. Obama, 47, who is the first black president-elect in US history, easily held on to all Democratic strongholds including the large states of New York, California and his home state of Illinois, and won the symbolic northeastern prize of New Hampshire as well as Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

His real coup was to tear a victorious path through the battlegrounds of Virginia, Florida and Colorado, while also snatching states such as Nevada and Iowa from McCain.

Losing Pennsylvania and Ohio was a crucial blow for the 72-year-old Arizonasenator, who had criss-crossed both states in recent weeks in last-gasp efforts to strike upsets in the major battlegrounds.

It had been widely predicted that McCain would need to win either Pennsylvania, Virginia or Ohio if he was to have any chance at winning the presidency. He ended up losing all three.

AFP tnf=0A