Photo Credit: Bloomberg
We knew the election would come down to the final day and a handful of battleground states -- and many were predicting a very long night. In the end, the race unfolded just about as pollsters predicted: tight, but in favor of President Barack Obama, who will return to the White House for four more years.
About 10 PM ET, the results started to take shape, after major outlets called wins for the president in New Hampshire, Michigan and Wisconsin. They also chalked up Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes in the president's column -- it was a state that challenger Mitt Romney had tried to put into play in the last days of the campaign.
At about 11:15 PM ET, major networks called Ohio for Obama, which in turn meant he'd met the magic number of 270 electoral votes he needed. Hence the headlines began to announce a second term for the president. Even right-leaning Fox News called the win for the president immediately, but seemed to second guess its initial coverage after Karl Rove challenged his network's decision , claiming Ohio was still in play.
At close to midnight, states like Florida and Virginia were still tossups. Florida and its 29 electoral votes amounted to a huge prize sought by the Romney camp, but it would have been a mathematical impossibility for the GOP challenger to win the White House even if he scored those votes. So the election was called even as the counting there continued.
With individual ballots still being tallied, it was clear the popular vote was sharply divided in the end, despite the president's reelection -- a reality known throughout the contentious election cycle.
Compared to the broad swath of voters who elected President Obama in 2008, this cycle showed the electorate returning to traditional lines. The president won his base that includes women, African-Americans, Latinos, young and unmarried people, moderates, union members, and others. Romney scooped up the votes of men, independents, Roman Catholics, and suburban voters, who backed Obama in his first White House bid, according to an analysis in The New York Times.
In major senate contests, Democrat Elizabeth Warren beat incumbent Republican Scott Brown in the hotly contested Massachusetts Senate race. In Indiana, Democrat Joe Donnelly beat the Tea Party-backed Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, who referred to pregnancies resulting from rape as something "god intended" to happen.
And Missouri's Claire McCaskill kept her seat against Todd Akin, the Tea Party Republican whose "legitimate rape" comments sparked outrage earlier in the race .
Republicans kept control of the House, and Democrats the Senate.
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage's Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.