CHICAGO, (UPI) — President Barack Obama claimed a second term from a deeply divided electorate becoming the third two-term president in recent U.S. history.
Obama won 26 states and the District of Columbia and was leading in Florida. But he returns to Washington Wednesday facing the same deeply divided Congress he left with Democrats in control of the Senate and Republicans in control of the House.
“I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead,” Obama told supporters at an early morning Chicago victory celebration.
The U.S. faces a slowly recovering economy without enough jobs, division over immigration reform and the so-called fiscal crisis, mandated budget cuts in domestic and defense programs on Jan. 1 unless Congress can agree on a deficit cutting deal that would also raise some tax revenue.
“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual,” a hoarse Obama said, but with no power changes in the House and Senate, the nation could face more of the political gridlock that threatened to make Obama a one-term president.
Republicans held a 240-190 edge in the House going into the election. Republicans were projected to finish the election with at least 239 seats and Democrats with 196, but there were several races still undecided.
In Florida, Republican Allen West was leading Democrat Patrick Murphy by fewer than 3,000 votes with 100 percent of the votes counted and a possible recount in the offing. In California, veteran Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman was leading Republican Bill Bloomfield by fewer than 100 votes with less than 40 percent of precincts reporting and in Arizona Democrat Ron Barber, a former aide to ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was trailing Republican Martha McSally by fewer than 400 votes with 100 percent of the vote counted.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting in Michigan, Republican Rep. Dan Benishek led Democrat Gary McDowell by fewer than 2,000 votes and eight-term Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., had a fewer than 1,000 vote lead over Republican David Rouzer with 100 percent of the precincts reporting, The Hill reported.
Republicans, stung by the defeat of their nominees Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, who lost in their home states of Massachusetts and Wisconsin, refused to signal a willingness to compromise. Ryan won re-election in his U.S. House district as did former GOP presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann in neighboring Minnesota.
In Illinois, disabled Iraq War veteran Democrat Tammy Duckworth defeated Republican Tea Party stalwart Rep. Joe Walsh.
“With this vote, the American people have also made clear there’s no mandate for raising taxes,” House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said. “What Americans want are solutions that will ease the burdens on small businesses, bring jobs home and let our economy grow.
“If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs.”
In a gracious concession speech, Romney called for bi-partisanship after saying he and Ryan had given their all to try to defeat Obama.
And Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stubbornly called for Obama to reach out to Republicans.
“The American people did two things: They gave President Obama a second chance to fix the problems that even he admits he failed to solve during his first four years on office, and they preserved Republican control of the House of Representatives,” he said in a statement.
“Now it’s time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges for the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office.”
Democrats picked up three key seats in the Senate with Elizabeth Warren ousting one-term Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Rep. Joe Donnelly defeating Republican Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Rep. Tammy Baldwin beating former Republican Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson. Baldwin becomes the first openly gay member in the Senate.
In another closely watched Senate race. Democrat Claire McCaskill won re-election in Missouri and former Democratic Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine defeated former Republican Gov. George Allen for the seat of retiring Sen. Jim Webb.
Democrats also picked up a seat in Maine where independent candidate Angus King, who is expected to caucus with the Democrats, won the seat vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe.
In Connecticut, Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy defeated Republican Linda McMahon and in West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin won his first full-term by defeating Republican businessman John Raese. Manchin won a special election to complete the term of the late Sen. Robert Byrd’s in 2010.
Democrats won gubernatorial races in Missouri, West Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Delaware while Republican won in Indiana, Utah and North Dakota with governor’s races still undecided in North Carolina, Montana and Washington State.