President Obama scored the first swing-state victory of the night with a projected win in Michigan, while Mitt Romney took the early lead overall in the electoral-vote count.
The Michigan victory, worth 16 electoral votes, in Romney’s native state is a disappointment for the Republican nominee whose father was once Michigan’s governor. But the rest of the big swing states where polls have closed — Colorado, Wisconsin, Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina — were all too close to call.
Elsewhere, Obama and Romney each racked up early and expected victories Tuesday night in relatively safe territory.
Romney is the projected winner in Texas, Louisiana, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, West Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Indiana and Kentucky. He will also win at least four of the five electoral votes in Nebraska.
Fox News projects Obama is the winner in his home state of Illinois, New York, Delaware, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
Obama will also win three of Maine’s four electoral votes, Fox News projects. It is unclear where the state’s fourth electoral vote will fall.
The latest batch of poll closings and calls has allowed Romney to take a slight lead over the president. Romney now has 154 electoral votes to Obama’s 123; it takes 270 to win. But with dozens of states still voting, the lead will likely swing back and forth throughout the night.
Ohio, where polls closed at 7:30 p.m. ET, is too close to call. Fox News exit polls show Romney and Obama running neck-and-neck in the Buckeye State. The contest is considered critical — only twice in U.S. history has anyone won the presidency without winning Ohio.
In Virginia, Fox News exit polls show the race so tight that neither Romney nor Obama have even a slight lead. Officials in the state also made a late decision to allow voters in line at the closing time of 7 p.m. ET to still cast ballots, slowing the release of results.
The razor-thin margin between the candidates means the campaigns could be in for a long night, after the candidates wound down their campaigns earlier in the day.
Election Day was unexpectedly busy for the campaigns. While Obama himself kept a low profile in Chicago, the campaign dispatched Vice President Biden to Ohio where he visited a Cleveland restaurant and later posed for pictures with volunteers before joining up with the president.
Romney, meanwhile, made stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania — two key swing states — before heading back to campaign headquarters in Boston.
“This is a big day for big change,” Romney told a crowd of campaign volunteers outside Cleveland.
The visits rounded out a grueling battle for the White House. For Obama, the election is the last time he says his name will appear on a ballot. For Romney, the vote marks the close of a nearly six-year run for the presidency.
In an airtight contest, both candidates were expressing confidence as millions of voters flocked to the polls. Obama visited a Chicago campaign field office Tuesday morning, before playing his traditional Election Day game of pick-up basketball.
“The great thing about these campaigns is, after all the TV ads and all the fundraising and all the debates and all the electioneering, it comes down to this,” Obama said.
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