WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama won the reliably Democratic Northeast, and Republican Mitt Romney secured his conservative base Tuesday night in a duel for the White House shadowed by a weak economy and high unemployment.
The critical battlegrounds with the key to victory were unsettled, Virginia, Ohio and Florida among them, with long lines in many locations after poll-close time.
Romney led in the popular vote, gaining 8.2 million votes, or 52 percent, to 7.5 million or 47 percent for Obama, with 5 percent of the precincts tallied.
Romney also held an early electoral vote advantage, 67-64, with 270 needed for victory.
The polls were still open in much of the country as the two rivals began claiming the spoils of a brawl of an election in a year in which the struggling economy put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions.
Obama carried Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine and Romney's home state of Massachusetts. Also, as expected, he won Delaware and Maryland as well as the District of Columbia and Illinois.
Romney had Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia in his column. He also won Indiana, a state Obama carried in 2008 but did not contest this year.