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ELECTION WATCH: A Lincoln interlude; AP analysis


WASHINGTON (AP) — Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:

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A LINCOLN INTERLUDE

On election night, when it came to presidents on television, Barack Obama had some competition. Abraham Lincoln gave him a real run for his money.

More than once on Tuesday night, movie trailers featuring Daniel Day-Lewis inhabiting the title role of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" interrupted electoral-vote tallies and political analysis. And watching the slow, deliberate movements of the 16th president, with epic music swelling in the background, you couldn't help but draw some parallels.

Neighbor angry at neighbor. Deep reservations about the union. Americans divided into clusters, feeling powerless against a government many despise or disdain.

Yet under Lincoln, somehow Americans made it through. It was bloody and ugly and perhaps almost fatal that time around, but the experiment in a democratic republic survived.

Obama hinted at that in his victory speech. "We are not," he insisted, "as divided as our politics suggest."

Yes, "Lincoln" is merely a movie about a man who lived long ago and did some things we long remember. But the uncertainties that it summons linger still, uncomfortably and across party lines, as this election draws to its weary end. A house divided against itself: Can it stand?

Says the current and future president: "The task of perfecting our union moves forward."

— Ted Anthony — Twitter http://twitter.com/anthonyted

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ELECTION ANALYSIS

AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller, who has covered the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush, gives his big-picture analysis of what Washington will look like after Election Day 2012:

"President Barack Obama's victory means that everything he campaigned upon is alive and about to drive the political conversation with his adversaries. Every legacy of his first term is safe and enshrined to history.

"Yet big honeymoons don't come twice and Republicans won't swoon. If Obama cannot end gridlock, his second term will be reduced to veto threats, empty promises, end runs around Congress and legacy-sealing forays into foreign lands.

"Obama will push for higher taxes on the wealthy as a way to shrinking a choking debt and to steer money toward the programs he wants. He will try to land a massive financial deficit-cutting deal with Congress in the coming months and then move on to an immigration overhaul, tax reform and other bipartisan dreams.

"He will not have to worry that his health care law will be repealed, or that his Wall Street reforms will be gutted, or that his name will be consigned to the list of one-term presidents who got fired before they could finish. Voters stuck with him because they trusted him more to solve the struggles of their lifetime.

"America may not be filled with hope anymore, but it told Mitt Romney to keep his change."

— Ben Feller — Twitter http://twitter.com/benfellerdc

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TWO TERMS, THREE TIMES

The latest report from Michael Oreskes, a veteran political journalist since the 1970s and now The Associated Press' senior managing editor for U.S. news:

Historical trivia moment: 1816 was quite a long time ago. America was a very different place, still a fledgling country starting to push across a largely unknown continent.

Yet you have to go all the way back to 1816 for the last time that the country did what it did Tuesday. Not since Jefferson, then Madison and then Monroe (in 1816) has the United States elected three presidents in a row to a second term.

What does that mean? It is hard to argue this has been a period of calm or stable politics, though compared to the late 1960s and 1970's it does seem almost placid. After all, Lyndon Johnson was forced to abandon re-election hopes by a faraway war, Richard Nixon was impeached and driven from office, Gerald Ford then lost to Jimmy Carter in large part because he pardoned Nixon, and Carter then lost to Reagan because the economy went south and he seemed to blame Americans for it.

You could argue that Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower were the moral equivalent of three two-term presidents in a row. Roosevelt was elected to four terms but died soon after. Truman finished Roosevelt's fourth term, and was re-elected. Then Eisenhower served two terms. Then the 60s started.

— Michael Oreskes

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PARTY POOPER

The Republican National Committee's election night festivities in Washington started with an optimistic tone. Supporters milled about well-stocked buffets and bars as musical performers riled up the crowd at the Ronald Reagan Building downtown.

Within hours, the palpable excitement was neutered as news organizations called the election for President Barack Obama. A once-deafening roar subsided into a slow murmur as the crowd began to rapidly dissipate, the GOP's victory in the House of Representatives now overshadowed.

The few remaining were disappointed, but conciliatory.

"(We) still have the status quo in the House and the Senate, and (Obama's) going to have to reach out to them," said Republican Joe Hagerty of Virginia.

The party was supposed to last until 2 a.m., but the atrium was almost empty by the time midnight rolled around, save for a handful of people. One woman left shouted to no one in particular: "We live in the socialist republic of Obama!"

— Donald Borenstein

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PRESIDENTIAL ORATORY

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti's take on Barack Obama's victory speech:

It was a speech far different from the jubilant and lofty one he gave in Chicago four years ago.

With one term nearly over and the next ahead of him, a seasoned Obama talked of a resilient America — a place where people have "picked ourselves up" and fought back during tough economic times. He declared that the "best is yet to come."

And he struck a more bipartisan tone — by necessity as much as anything else given that power remains divided on Capitol Hill. He said he wants to meet with Republican rival Mitt Romney to discuss how they can work together, and he said he looked forward to working with the GOP.

Yet he also urged patience, saying progress will come in fits and starts.

— Liz Sidoti

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OBAMA'S GIRLS

Maybe they should ask for a cat?

President Barack Obama told Sasha and Malia Obama in his victory speech how proud he was of them — they were becoming strong, smart, beautiful women just like their mother, he said — but that didn't mean they were getting a second dog.

"One dog's probably enough," he said to laughter from the crowd.

Four years ago, of course, in his first victory speech, Obama had promised his girls they would have a new puppy in the White House. The First Dog soon followed, named Bo.

It was striking to see how the girls had grown since that night four years ago. Now, Malia, 14 — who wore a dress with a bright blue skirt, black top and pink belt — looked as tall as her mother, and in flat shoes, yet. Sasha, now 11, who four years ago jumped up into her father's arms on the victory stage, also looked mature in a dress with a bright green, bouncy skirt.

It was not lost on commentators that the next four years will bring renewed, intensified interest in the girls' lives, as they become full-fledged teenagers in the public eye.

— Jocelyn Noveck — Twitter http://twitter.com/JocelynNoveckAP

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OBAMA: DESTINY IS SHARED

In his 20-minute speech to supporters after winning re-election, President Barack Obama touched on familiar themes he has emphasized throughout his presidency. He urged people to come together and said he would work with leaders in both parties to improve education, spur innovation, reduce debt and lessen global warming.

"We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world. A nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this world has ever known," he said.

He made references to victims of Superstorm Sandy and the Navy SEALS who killed Osama Bin Laden.

"This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich," he said. "We have the most powerful military in history but that's not what makes us strong. Our universities, our culture are the envy of the world but that's not what keep the world coming to our shore."

It's "the belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another."

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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OBAMA ON LISTENING

"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president." — Barack Obama, in his victory speech.

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QUICKQUOTE: 'BEST IS YET TO COME'

"Tonight in this election you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come." — President Barack Obama in Chicago after winning re-election, to wild applause. He said he had just spoken with Romney.

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GOP KEEPS HOUSE

Republicans clinched control of the U.S. House of Representatives for two more years, setting up future clashes with re-elected President Barack Obama.

The GOP won 217 seats. Two Louisiana Republicans will face each other in a December runoff, assuring the GOP will have 218 — the number needed for a majority in the 435-seat House.

Their margin will likely resemble the majority they enjoy in the current House, which they control by 240-190. There are also five vacant seats.

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OBAMA ADDRESSES SUPPORTERS

Newly re-elected President Barack Obama has just stepped before the podium to address his supporters. There is jubilation in the Chicago hall where he is delivering his victory speech, minutes after Mitt Romney officially conceded.

He's accompanied by the first lady and their two daughters.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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WHAT ROMNEY SAID

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti has this to say about Mitt Romney's concession speech:

Mitt Romney hardly lingered on stage in Boston after conceding to Barack Obama. And the Republican sounded like a candidate who knew when to call it quits after two unsuccessful attempts at the presidency.

In a brief speech, Romney said he gave it all to his campaign and that he wished he could have delivered the White House for his supporters.

Romney was respectful when he talked of Obama, calling him "the president" and saying that: "I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation."

And, after a sharply negative campaign, Romney also urged Americans not to engage in partisan bickering.

— Liz Sidoti

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'MITT! MITT! MITT!'

Chants of "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!" rose from the crowd as Republican Mitt Romney closed his concession speech.

He kissed his wife, Ann, who joined him on stage in Boston, and gave running mate Paul Ryan a big hug.

"I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction," Romney said during his remarks, "but the nation chose another leader."

Added Romney, who lost his bid to unseat President Barack Obama: "At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the nation's work."

"We look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put people before the politics," Romney said.

"I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. ... I ran for office because I'm concerned about America. This election is over, but our principles endure."

— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

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ROMNEY'S SPEECH

Shortly before 1 a.m. EST on Wednesday, Mitt Romney appeared at the Boston Convention Center to deliver a concession speech.

He was greeted by cheers and whistles in anticipation of what he'd say. Senior aides filed into the ballroom as Romney prepared to take the stage; visibly emotional, they shared hugs with each other as they watched.

Upon Romney's announcement that he had called President Barack Obama "to congratulate him on his victory," the raucous crowd redoubled its noise.

"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said.

He thanked his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, earning big applause.

Referring to his wife, Romney said: "I also want to thank Ann, the love of my life. She would have been a wonderful first lady."

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— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

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WHITE HOUSE CELEBRATION

The sounds of celebration around the White House were so loud that they could be heard a couple blocks away after the presidential race was called for Barack Obama.

Mobs of people were on each side of the White House and cheering was boisterous. Cars honked. Strangers high-fived. People held cut-out pictures of Obama and signs reading "four more years." One man walked around shirtless with an Obama "O'' on his chest.

— Donald Borenstein

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QUICKQUOTE: ROMNEY CONCEDES

"I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory." — Republican Mitt Romney.

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SAME-SEX MARRIAGE; MARIJUANA

Maine is the first state to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Washington state is the first to legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Voters a continent apart, making history on two divisive social issues.

The outcome in Maine broke a 32-state streak, dating to 1998, with gay marriage rebuffed by every state that voted on it.

Gay marriage is legal in six states and the District of Columbia — in each case the result of legislation or court orders, not by a vote of the people.

The marijuana measure in Washington sets up a showdown with the federal government.

— David Crary — Twitter http://twitter.com/CraryAP

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DEMS KEEP SENATE

Democrats won a narrow majority in the Senate, keeping the control they've held since 2007, by snatching Republican-held seats in Massachusetts and Indiana and turning back challenges in Virginia, Ohio and Connecticut.

Republicans were undone by stumbles in Missouri and Indiana, with candidates' clumsy statements about rape and abortion doing severe damage to their individual chances — and their party's hopes of taking over.

In Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren knocked out Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who had stunned the political world in 2010 when he won the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's seat. The strong Democratic tilt in the state and President Barack Obama's easy win over former Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts helped the consumer advocate in her bid.

Heading into this election, with 33 seats up for grabs, Democrats held a 53-47 edge in the Senate, including the two independents who caucus with them. So Republicans needed a net gain of four seats to grab the majority. Shortly after 11 p.m., Democrats gained a lock on 50 seats, enough to keep control once Obama won re-election.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., spoke of conciliation.

"Now that the election is over, it's time to put politics aside and work together to find solutions," Reid said in a statement. "The strategy of obstruction, gridlock and delay was soundly rejected by the American people. Now they are looking to us for solutions."

— Donna Cassata — Twitter http://twitter.com/donnacassataAP

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SNAP INSIGHT

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti offers up this analysis in miniature:

"Talk about a good night for the president. Barack Obama didn't just win in his Midwestern firewall states of Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. He prevailed in places that even fellow Democrats expected to tilt Mitt Romney's way: Colorado for starters. And he was locked in close races in Virginia and Florida, two states that Republicans long had argued were fertile GOP territory. The Electoral College victory his, Obama now is awaiting the results of the popular vote. He and Romney are locked in a tight race for it as Tuesday turns to Wednesday."

— Liz Sidoti

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1,118 WORDS

This tidbit comes from a story by AP reporters Steve Peoples and Kasie Hunt, awaiting Mitt Romney's appearance in Boston:

"The Republican nominee had already written a 1,118-word victory speech that he thought would conclude his yearslong quest for the presidency. Earlier Tuesday, Romney said he had no regrets no matter the outcome."

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

— Steve Peoples — Twitter http://twitter.com/sppeoples

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BEHIND IT ALL

This bit from AP's main story on the election offers a bit of context:

"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."

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OBAMA WINS RE-ELECTION

Barack Obama wins — he'll serve a second term as president after a hard-fought election.

AP is calling the presidential election for Obama after Romney lost Ohio and several other key states.

The Chicago convention center where Obama supporters have gathered to watch the results is exploding in joy and enthusiasm. Not so the Romney camp in Boston, which has been muted as results increasingly showed the tally of electoral votes rising in Obama's column.

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EDITOR'S NOTE — Follow AP journalists on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.


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