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Live blog: Obama vs. Romney — The view from Southern California on election day

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US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney finish their debate at the University of Denver in Denver, Colorado, October 3, 2012.

8:55 p.m. (AP) — President Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term, defeating Republican Mitt Romney in a hard-fought race in which the economy was the dominant issue.

Voters decided to give Obama another four years of stewardship over an economy that is slowly recovering from the recession.

Obama captured battleground states including Ohio, Iowa and Colorado on his way to the 270 electoral votes he needed.

Romney unsuccessfully campaigned on the theme that his business background gave him the experience needed to guide the nation out of tough economic times.

Obama will again be dealing with a divided Congress. Democrats maintained control of the Senate and Republicans likely will again control the House. Among the most pressing matters is the so-called fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts scheduled to hit in January. Economists have warned that if they aren't averted, the nation could face another recession.

8:29 p.m. President Obama has won re-election, NPR and the Associated Press reported. Obama's win in the state of Oregon took him over the needed 270 electoral votes.

8:20 p.m. The Associated Press has called Ohio for Obama, as well as Iowa.

8:01 p.m. Polls have just closed around California, and the Associated Press, NPR and other news outlets are awarding the state's 55 electoral votes to President Obama. The result is a suprise to almost no one, as the state leans heavily Democratic in presidential politics.

Obama has also been declared the winner in his home state of Hawaii and in the state of Washington, as well as in New Mexico and Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Romney was declared the winner in Missouri, Idaho and North Carolina.

7:44 p.m. (AP) — Romney wins Nebraska.

7:36 p.m. (AP) — Romney wins Arizona.

7:29 p.m. (AP) — Obama wins Maine.

7:07 p.m. (AP) — Obama wins Pennsylvania, N.H.; Romney wins Utah and Montana.

6:32 p.m.  Most California voters made up their minds about whom they were voting for in the presidential election well before the final weeks of the campaign, according to exit polls by the Associated Press and TV networks.

About a sixth of voters said they made up their minds in October, and the same portion said they decided in September. Two thirds of voters said they had already decided before the fall.

Other California voter trends:

  • More than half of California voters said the economy was the most important issue facing the country.
  • Voters indicated that they felt insecure both about their own finances and the national economy, though many seemed hopeful for a turnaround.
  • More than half of Califonria voters said that, in general, government should do more to solve problems. 

(The survey of 3,018 California voters was conducted for AP and the television networks by Edison Research. This includes preliminary results from interviews conducted as voters left a random sample of 30 precincts statewide Tuesday, as well as 933 who voted early or absentee and were interviewed by landline or cellular telephone from Oct. 29 through Nov. 4. Results for the full sample were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points; it is higher for subgroups.)

6:13 p.m. (AP) — Romney wins Miss. and Ark.; Obama wins N.J.

6:02 p.m. (AP) — Obama wins New York; Romney wins Ala., Nev., Wyo., Kansas, La., South Dakota, Texas, North Dakota and Mich.

5:28 p.m. (AP)Romney wins Georgia.

5:19 p.m.  Polls are still open in most of the battleground states — Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia and Florida among them — and, of course, California. Have you voted yet?

5:01 p.m. (AP) —Obama wins Ill., Conn., Maine, District of Columbia, Del., R.I., Maryland, Mass.; Romney wins Okla.

4:30 p.m. (AP) — Romney wins West Virginia.

4:05 p.m.  (AP) — President Barack Obama won Vermont and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney countered with Kentucky Tuesday in a duel for the White House shadowed by a weak economy and high unemployment that crimped middle class dreams for millions.

3:49 p.m. Voters in Los Angeles who thought they’d beat the morning rush by showing up early Tuesday at the polls found themselves standing in some very long lines.

"I've been here about 2 1/2 hours already,” said Al Johnson as he stepped away from the lingering line outside the Tom Bradley Youth & Family Center in midcity Los Angeles to catch a little shade on this warm election morning. “We were here a long time. I didn't anticipate that, no."

Sharron Craig of West L.A., who was in line farther down the block, remained upbeat. "I found out that there's two lines at this polling place. And I'm in the long line. ... But the significance of voting is so that they know I'm here. And I care."

But not everyone was happy, and some people expressed frustration over the two-hour-plus wait.  

"I've been playing traffic cop today," said the center’s director, Tony Nicholas, who was doing his best to organize two lines by precincts to keep things moving. He added: "I even do windows. ... I do a little bit of everything here." --Corey Moore

 3:38 p.m. (AP) — The first votes tallied in the presidential race were from reliably Republican Indiana and Kentucky, and favored Romney by a margin of 2-1.

3:10 p.m. California does NOT have a voter identification requirement, but that didn't stop two men from putting themselves in front of a polling place and allegedly demanding that people show IDs before visiting the polls, according to a report on Redwood City-Woodside, CA, Patch:

The two men, described as "thug-looking," tall, and Caucasian with buzz-cut or shaved heads were wearing all black with dark sunglasses and standing in front of the polling place at 134 Hemlock Avenue with their arms crossed. 

They carried a binder which they claimed had names and addresses of eligible voters, [voting supervisor Marilyn] Tinderholt said. They were also asking voters to show their IDs, which is not a requirement to vote in the state of California, said volunteer Debra Prime. 

Poll workers called the police, and the men reportedly left before the cops arrived.

Have you seen anything like this in Southern California? If so, please share it with us in the comments below and fill out the form at this link on KPCC.org.

2:39 p.m. Californians still have more than five hours to get to the polls today to weigh in on one of the most hotly contested presidential races in memory.

Even though the polls remain open in much of the West, preliminary results of an exit poll conducted for the Associated Press show that the presidential election hinges once again on the economy, the AP reported:

The survey of voters as they leave polling places Tuesday shows 6 in 10 voters say the economy is the top issue facing the nation, with unemployment and rising prices hitting voters hard.

About 4 in 10 say they think the nation's economy is on the mend, but more say that things are getting worse or are bad and stagnating. 

What do you think? Do you agree? If not, what is motivating your choice for president this year? Let us know in the comments below. 

(And check back for more news about the presidential race throughout the day and night here on KPCC.org.)

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