President Barack Obama won a second presidential term during the late-night hours of Tuesday, Nov. 6 by a 303-206 vote — as of 3 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7 — in the Electoral College after one of the closest presidential races in history.
The historic campaign was the most expensive in U.S. history. The presidential candidates’ combined fundraising exceeded the $1 billion mark. The Associated Press declared Obama the winner at approximately 11:38 p.m. eastern time.
Other statewide races trended toward Democrats as well, with the party retaining control of the Senate. The states of Colorado and Washington voted to decriminalize marijuana for the first time in their history. Maine and Maryland, two democratic strongholds, also passed laws legalizing gay marriage.
Webster University students were welcomed into the University Center (UC) for an election night watch party hosted by Bob Holden, former Missouri governor and Webster adjunct professor. The event, attended by more than 300 students, lasted until midnight.
Holden hosted the event as the final part of his election series. It brought students together on a weekly basis every Tuesday to watch elections and hear expert speakers discuss the campaign.
“I got into politics in college and it’s important that Webster students get the chance to do the same,” Holden said. “We wanted to focus on the students, bring them in — in a nonpartisan way — and let them watch the democratic process unfold.”
Students were given red, white and blue hats, food and beverages, as well as games to play. The event, which Holden coordinated with the UC staff, also featured cardboard cutouts of all the candidates for students to take photos next to.
The standing-room-only crowd erupted with cheers when the swing state of New Hampshire was awarded to Obama.
Paul Wilson, a Republican Party strategist and former advisor to Paul Ryan’s congressional campaigns, predicted the race would be tight.
“It’s going to be a photo finish — the popular vote will be close,” Wilson said. “I don’t like what I see in Ohio, but Virginia is definitely making the Republican Party happy right now.”
Wilson said Obama had an advantage, but Mitt Romney was still in the race.
Less than 20 minutes later, CNN predicted Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill would win her re-election bid against Republican Todd Akin.
“I think Akin’s loss will be significant,” Holden said. “Because I believe McCaskill and (Governor) Jay Nixon, both Democrats, will win here. But I believe the president will not win the state, and it’s interesting to see that kind of break in party lines.”
Nixon would win re-election against Republican challenger David Spence for the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City. In Missouri, Proposition A, which took control of the St. Louis City Police Department out of Jefferson City, passed easily along with Proposition E, which prohibits health care exchanges without a popular vote. Proposition B, which sought to increase taxes on tobacco products, was narrowly defeated. Amendment 3, which would have altered the selection process of Missouri judges, was also defeated.
Holden predicted a very late evening, but not everyone agreed. Adam Schneider, senior speech communications and political science double major, said he thought the presidential race would be decided well before midnight.
“I doubt it’ll go later than 10:30,” Schneider said. “The way things are looking right now, it’s panning out to be an early night for the president.”
Schneider predicted an Akin win, only to shrug happily minutes later when McCaskill was announced to a round of applause. Schneider said he still felt comfortable about his other predictions.
“It’s not as close as people think,” Schneider said. “The popular vote maybe, but not the electoral. Election night is like the Super Bowl to me, and I never miss a chance to see (Governor) Holden. It’s going to be fun to watch.”
The critical swing states broke overwhelmingly for the president. Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and New Hampshire all voted for Obama. Margins were close in several states. Final tallies were still being calculated at the time of publication, but initial results showed Obama winning both Ohio and Virginia by less than a million votes. Florida remains too close to call at the time of publication.
The announcement of Obama’s victory was greeted with enthusiasm in the UC, as cheers rang throughout the halls and students embraced. Romney began his concession speech at approximately 12:50 a.m. eastern time from his headquarters in Boston.
“I’ve just called President Obama and congratulated him on his victory,” Romney said. “I pray that the president will be successful.”
Obama took the stage in Chicago at 1:35 a.m. eastern time to deliver his victory address.
“Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony earned the right to determine its own destiny, the task to perfect our union moves forward,” Obama said to the massive crowd. “It moves forward because of you, because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression. We are more than the sum of our individual ambitions. That’s what makes America great.”