Barack Obama swept to victory as voters turned out in record numbers, reflecting the level of discontent with the Bush administration.
Obama won at least 349 Electoral College votes, far more than the 270 he needed to reach the White House, leaving John McCain trailing in his wake with just 163.
A massive crowd in Grant Park, Chicago, erupted in jubilation as Obama stepped onto the stage with his message of unity.
“It is the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican , black, white Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states. We are and always will be the United States of America,” he said.
Some 64 percent of the electorate turned out, expanding Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress as the people emphatically rejected eight years of Republican leadership.
For many, the end of the Bush era is not simply about ending America’s economic woes and the war in Iraq, but a defining moment in US history.
Here are three people’s reactions:
“I’m speechless. I have waited so many years to see this. When I was a little girl I used to have to go to the back of the bus to go down South. I don’t have to go to the back of the bus and more than that, it is just the perception of the United States now and how it is going to be a world power, just because everyone was pushing for this. So, I am speechless.’‘
‘‘I think that Obama is going to be a good president. He is very smart. He knows a lot of things and he knows how to explain himself well, so anything is possible now.’‘
“I have got to be part of it, you know what I mean, because this is incredible, because this is an historical night, you know, I don’t know, we have never seen anything like this before, so, it is pretty amazing.”
There was jubilation in Washington, as the Obama faithful laid siege to the White House after victory was announced. Raucous street celebrations quickly spread across the country.
But Obama will have little time to relish his historic win. He is expected to start work on Wednesday, assembling a team to tackle the financial crisis and all the other pressing issues he will face as president.