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President Barack Obama scored a slim, but solid, victory in Ohio Tuesday, ensuring his reelection by blocking off Mitt Romney’s only plausible path to 270 electoral votes. With 99% of precincts reporting, the final tally in Ohio showed Obama leading Romney, 50.1% to 48.2%, a significantly lower margin than Obama had in the state in 2008. The president also underperformed in key counties, including Cuyahoga and Hamilton, home to Cleveland and Cincinnati, respectively.
But Romney performed even worse. In terms of the preliminary raw vote count, the Republican candidate got routed, turning out more than 100,000 fewer voters than John McCain did in 2008, and nearly 200,000 less than Bush did in 2004.
Below are our live updates on the Ohio race throughout the night:
UPDATE, 6:55 p.m.: CNN’s Peter Hamby reports that the Romney campaign’s final internal poll found Obama up by five points in the state on Sunday. If true, that’s a bad sign for the Republican candidate, whose most likely paths to victory all run through Ohio.
UPDATE, 7:05 p.m.: CNN’s exit poll results show further troubling signs for the Republican candidate. Demographically, the makeup of the electorate appears to favour Obama. According to CNN’s exit polls, white voters made up 79% of the state’s voters, down from 83% in 2008. African-American turnout increased by four percentage points. Democrats lead Republicans in turnout, 38%-31%.
On the flip side, however, Romney leads Obama by 10 points among independents, a key voting bloc that can swing the vote in Ohio. Obama also lost ground with white voters, dropping three percentage points from 2008.
UPDATE, 7:30 p.m.: The polls have closed in Ohio, but the race remains too close to call.
UPDATE, 10:05 p.m.: Obama is leading Romney, 50.7% to 47.6%, with 50% of precincts reporting, but the race remains too close to call.
The results that are in so far show that Obama is performing well in counties where he needs strong margins, including Cuyahoga County, Franklin County, and Lucas County.
UPDATE, 10:30, p.m.: Reporters at the Romney election night event in Boston tweeted earlier tonight that Ohio Senator Rob Portman called in to assure supporters that Ohio remains winnable, telling the gathered crowd that turnout looks good for Republicans in Hamilton and Lake counties, two key swing regions.
UPDATE, 11:28 p.m.: The networks are projecting a win for Obama, who is edging out Romney, 50.3% to 48%, with 65.5% of precincts reporting.
UPDATE, 12:45, a.m.: New York Times reporter Ashley Parker and several news networks are reporting that Romney has called Obama to concede the race.