In China, President Obama's re-election has been greeted with muted relief, as NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing.
LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: As the vote closed in the U.S., ballots were still being cast in Beijing at a mock voting booth at the U.S. embassy's election party. For Chinese students like Lily Zhang and Zhang Weiwen, the novelty of voting was a heady experience.
LILY ZHANG: It was great. The first time I vote for the American president. That's very amazing and I'm very honored.
Although exit polls showed a majority think the country is on the wrong track, voters still gave President Obama a second chance and four more years to govern. For a look at what to expect in a second term, Renee Montagne talks to Neera Tanden, who runs the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C.
It wasn't a great night for the Republican Party, losing bids for the White House and control of the Senate. Republicans did retain the majority in the House, and House Speaker John Boehner found consolation in that. Speaking to supporters last night, he remained steadfast in his pursuit of a conservative agenda.
Now, four years ago, the most surprising state on the electoral map was Indiana. That Republican-leaning state went for President Obama. Last night, Indiana returned to the Republican column for Mitt Romney, also elected a new Republican Governor, Mike Pence. But Indiana did not vote Republican for U.S. Senate. Richard Lugar, the longtime incumbent, lost a primary earlier this year, and his replacement on the Republican ticket lost last night.
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And I'm Renee Montagne.
In Wisconsin, Democrats won big just five months after a stinging defeat in their effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker. President Obama won the state, even though Mitt Romney chose Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate. Plus Wisconsin voters elected Democrat Tammy Baldwin to be the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate.
For weeks, months - make that years - the conventional wisdom has been that the presidential election would all come down to Ohio, and Ohio would be very close. Well, that was partially right. Ohio was very close, but as NPR's Tamara Keith reports, not as pivotal as predicted.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Jack Shumate(ph) flew into Ohio last Thursday from Dallas, Texas. He came here because this was the place where he felt he could really make a difference for his candidate, Mitt Romney.
Five hundred thirty-eight electoral votes were up for grabs on Election Day. President Obama has won, so far, 303 of them, a comfortable majority. Mitt Romney has 206. Twenty-nine are still unaccounted for - the electoral votes of Florida. Too close to call there. Less than a percentage point divides the candidates. But down the ballot, Democrats did well. The party retained a Senate seat and picked up a few key congressional races as well. NPR's Debbie Elliott reports.
Obama has become only the third U.S. president to win re-election by a narrower margin than his first victory. Having won a second term, Obama will seek to set the nation's agenda on issues ranging from taxes to immigration, but he may continue to struggle in selling his ideas to Congress.
Winning matters. Having earned a second term, President Obama will attempt to build on and expand the agenda from his first, launching new initiatives on tax policy, education and immigration.
But having won the popular vote by a bare majority — and still facing a divided Congress — Obama may find it difficult to gather momentum for his policies.
Despite the close result in the popular vote nationwide, Obama wasted no time claiming vindication for his ideas. In his victory speech early Wednesday in Chicago, he tied his re-election to two centuries of American progress.