Sen. Barack Obama is projected to become the 44th president of the United States, according to the Associated Press, surpassing Senate veteran John McCain and the 270 electoral votes needed to claim victory.
With key wins in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, Obama, 47, will become the first black president of the United States.
The Illinois senator watched election results with his family at a downtown Chicago hotel, while a crowd of thousands gathered across town in Grant Park.
“I think that there may be a profound change in presidential campaigns as a result of the way Sen. Obama has run this race,” campaign spokeswoman Linda Douglass told NewsHour correspondent Judy Woodruff in Chicago. “Beginning with the caucuses and the primaries, organizing these in states where democrats had never competed, he began to build a foundation of voters who understood that their small donations mattered, that their voices were heard, that their volunteer time would actually make a difference.”
Six in 10 voters said the economy was their top issue, according to the AP, an area where Obama consistently polled higher than McCain throughout the race.
McCain and Obama split white votes across the U.S. except in the South, where McCain got twice as many votes as Obama, according to the AP.
“The Republicans are bearing the fruit of the Southern strategy that was hatched in 1968,” historian Peniel Joseph said on the NewsHour Tuesday night. “That strategy worked brilliantly in the presidential election of 1972. Now, Barack Obama is running a national campaign probably since the first time in 1964.”
Obama also is leading McCain in national popular vote, 51 percent to 48 percent.
Obama has secured 324 electoral votes with wins in California, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland and New Jersey, Virginia, as well as Washington, D.C.
McCain won Utah, Arkansas, Kansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas, Wyoming, Alabama, South Carolina, South Dakota, Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia and North Dakota.
“When you speak to [McCain] campaign insiders, they nod and concede that it looks just about impossible for their man now,” NewsHour senior correspondent Ray Suarez said from Arizona, McCain’s home state.
Soon after news hit about California and Florida going to Sen. Obama, Sen. McCain gave his concession speech to supporters.
“Sen. Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it,” Sen. McCain said. “I urge all Americans to support me in not just congratulating him but offering our next president our good will to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises to leave our children and grandchildren in a stronger and better country than we inherited.”