11:20 p.m.: Our Variety story for Wednesday's paper --- headline Barack of Ages --- is here, with reaction from entertainment leaders.
10:40 p.m.: "The task of protecting our union moves forward," Obama opens.
10:39 p.m.: Obama and his family take the stage in Chicago.
10:25 p.m.: NBC News was the first to call the race for Obama, at 8:12 p.m. PT
10:22 p.m.: MPAA chairman Chris Dodd issued this statement. "I congratulate Barack Obama on his victory tonight. President Obama has demonstrated a great understanding of the importance of intellectual property to the fundamental strength of the American economy. In an era of partisan discord, there is bipartisan agreement that protecting American creativity and innovation is critical to our competitive edge in the global marketplace. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the Obama Administration to ensure the creative industries have every opportunity to thrive."
9:58 p.m.: Romney on Obama and his supporters, "I wish all of them well...I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation."
9:56 p.m.: Romney has conceded, a number of news networks report, and will deliver a speech within minutes.
9:53 p.m.: Ken Solomon, a major Obama donor and CEO of the Tennis Channel, said that when Ohio was called for Obama, "everyone floated off the floor." Will.i.am, Davis Guggenheim and Alfre Woodard are among the industry figures also there.
9:38 p.m.: Ben Affleck emailed Variety's Rachel Abrams about Obama's victory: "My mom moved to florida for months to work on the campaign. She slept on
a couch and moved away from home. She is seventy. Today she told me about
knocking on doors, talking to people, giving rides--she stood in line for two
hours today for someone who otherwise would not have voted. She was proud that
she added one vote to the tally on election day.
"That is who I celebrate today. I don't care who you vote for but if you give three months of your life to the democratic process--tonight is about you. I am thrilled tonight for my mom and everyone like her on both sides who care enough about the country to work for it. They are my heroes."
9:33 p.m.: The side drama tonight is on Fox News, where Karl Rove refused to concede Ohio even though the network called it for Obama. Rove called it "premature." Megyn Kelly went backstage to confirm with the net's research team, who expressed confidence in the call. In any case, Variety's Brian Lowry believes Obama's reelection will be good for Fox News.
9:22 p.m.: NPR has called Virginia for Obama.
9:20 p.m.: Marriage equality has passed in Maryland, too.
9:14 p.m.: Same-sex marriage advocates are celebrating the passage of an initiative legalizing gay nuptials in Maine.
“This is a landmark election for marriage equality and we will forever look back at this year as a critical turning point in the movement for full citizenship for LGBT people," said Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign. "Voters in Maine came to the common-sense conclusion that all people deserve the ability to make loving, lifelong commitments through marriage."
The victory marked a turning point in the same-sex marriage movement, as supporters had never succeeded at the ballot box and lost votes 32 other times.
“Today, a majority in
Maine voted in favor of loving and committed same-sex couples seeking the
freedom to marry,” said Marc
Solomon. national campaign director Freedom to Marry. “Now the commitment gay and lesbian couples have made in life will be
respected equally under the law, celebrated before their loved ones, and called
what it is: marriage.”
“It’s hard to overstate the national significance of this vote,” Solomon said. “For years, our opponents have argued that we could not win a majority vote at the ballot. Today, Maine voters proved them wrong, standing up for the Golden Rule and for freedom for all Mainers.”
Marriage initiatives also were leading in Maryland and Washington.
8:31 p.m.: NBC News also says that Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
8:15 p.m.: NBC News and Fox News call Ohio for Obama, putting him over the top. He is reelected.
8:10 p.m.: NBC News says Obama wins Iowa. He's at 249 to Romney's 203. Iowa gave Obama his first big victory in the 2008 primary.
8:07 p.m.: NBC says that Romney is the "apparent winner" for Romney, which means some vote still to be counted but a win looks likely.
8:06 p.m.: Gay marriage and marijuana legalization initiatives across the country are winning. So far.
8:00 p.m.: Obama wins California, Hawaii and Washington, as expected. Obama is now at 243, Romney at 188.Romney wins Idaho.
8:00 p.m.: The Denver Post has called Colorado for Obama, giving him another avenue to get to 270.
7:59 p.m.: The AP has called North Carolina for Romney. Tim Kaine declared winner in Virginia Senate race over George Allen.
7:21 p.m.: If Tammy Baldwin wins, as many believe she will, she will be the first openly gay member of the Senate, in a race where that face rarely was raised in her campaign.
7:13 p.m.: Tammy Duckworth is elected to the House in Illinois, defeating Republican Joe Walsh.
7:13 p.m.: Same-sex marriage leads in Maine and Maryland, but the returns are still early.
7:08 p.m.: Claire McCaskill is the projected winner of a Senate seat in Missouri over Todd Akin. Her Senate seat was viewed as the most vulnerable going in to the 2012 race. But Akin's comments about rape scuttled his chance, even though some polls came out that showed a tight contest.
7:02 p.m.: Twitter has announced that it has reached 20 million election related tweets, making today the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history.
6:58 p.m.: ABC News is calling Minnesota for Obama. This is not a surprise, but Romney's campaign did stage a last minute effort. Minnesota continues its streak of being the only state in the country to blue for every election since 1972. That year, it went for Nixon.
6:49 p.m.: More big calls: New Hampshire for Obama, and Democrat Joe Donnelly wins a Senate seat in Indiana over Republican Richard Mourdock. There are reports that Democrat Tammy Baldwin is winning in Wisconsin, although waiting for more network projections.
6:44 p.m.: And now, NBC calls Elizabeth Warren to win the Massachusetts Senate seat, which drew a flood of Hollywood money. Democrats retake the seat that was held by Edward Kennedy. And the grandson of Robert Kennedy, Joseph Kennedy III, to Barney Frank's House seat. That returns a Kennedy to Congress after a two-year absence.
6:41 p.m.: Slate's Dave Weigel says on Twitter that Romney-Ryan is the first presidential ticket to lose both candidates' home states since George McGovern and Sargent Shriver in 1972.
6:39 p.m.: Tom Brokaw: "We have a really fractured American political culture at the moment, and the question is how do you heal it once it is all over." He points out the apparent zig zag in opinion. Obama wins Wisconsin, after Gov. Scott Walker won the recall just six months ago. "Noting lasts for more than 20 minutes."
6:37 p.m.: Ohio is looking to be the decisive state. If Obama wins it, it is pretty much over, give expected wins in the west. But there is still a substantial amount of Ohio vote to be counted.
6:35 p.m.: Brian Williams says that there is a "rogue retweet" going around that we have called Massachusetts for Elizabeth Warren. "That is not the case."
6:29 p.m.: A word of warning: Warren leads Scott Brown in Massachusetts, but rhe race is not yet called. Many tweets claiming that NBC has called the race, but that is not the case. Networks, however, are calling Wisconsin for Obama. It means that Paul Ryan did not capture his home state.
6:27 p.m.: AP has called the Ohio Senate seat for incumbent Sherrod Brown, more evidence that Democrats will retain control of the chamber.
6:22 p.m.: An early indication of a long night? Al Gore says, on Twitter, "We have the ability to let everyone who is eligible to vote vote and we need a bipartisan effort to make it happen." Deja vu?: Florida, by the way, is down to a 13,000 vote difference, with Obama in the lead.
6:20 p.m.: Networks are calling Pennsylvania for Obama, a blow to Romney's road to 270.
6:19 p.m.: Andy Spahn, an Obama campaign bundler and political adviser to Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, is in Chicago and says via e-mail: "My take is we win!"
6:14 p.m.: On Twitter are reports that NBC has projected Elizabeth Warren as the winner of the Massachusetts Senate race, although other networks have yet to follow.
6:12 p.m.: CNN and other networks are projecting that Republicans will retain control of the House. A month ago, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had predicted a Democratic win was very possible.
6:04 p.m.: A new batch of states, but no battlegrounds called. Michigan is called for Obama. Romney leads in North Carolina, and things look better for him in Virginia. But Florida is still close, with Obama in the lead. Some Republicans are nervous about the result in the Sunshine State. No surprise: Romney wins Texas, Obama wins New York.
5:54 p.m.: A distinction of following Twitter versus following the news networks. In the latter, there's much more restraint in identifying trends. Meanwhile, a lot of Obama supporters, like Ricky Martin, are tweeting out pleas for those waiting in line to stay there and vote.
5:48 p.m.: In Maryland, a ballot initiative asking voters to approve same-sex marriage is leading, but it is still too early to call, as is the case with an initiatibe in Maine. Other initiatives are on the ballot in Minnesota and Washington.
5:31 p.m.: Tennis Channel Ken Solomon, Southern California co-chair of President Obama's reelection finance team, is in Chicago today, along with a number of entertainment industry bundlers. He said that there was "a good feeling," but that they were still "nervous." What was impressive was the Obama team's ground game, he said. "The talk is over. We're just working. It's as simple as that." he was optimistic himself, and said, "I wouldn't say they are rose colored glasses, but they have a slight tint."
5:29 p.m.: Ramesh Ponnuru on Twitter: "Sharp negative turn in the mood of conservatives on twitter." There's still a long way to go, although there are good signs that Democrats will retain control of the Senate.
5:09 p.m.: "Continue to hone in on it, Chuck Todd. There's only pride in it," Brian Williams tells the White House correspondent and vote guru. Is this a Ratherism?
5:01 p.m.: As a slew of states report in, Twitter is abuzz with reports of exit polls and what it says for the rest of the night. If anyone was around in 2004, you'll remember how notoriously unreliable they are, although the accuracy changes as the day goes on and real vote is factored in.
Meanwhile, the networks are calling a slew of races, with no surprises. Polls are closed in Pennsylvania, but it is too "early" to call. Lots of attention on Florida, where Obama has a slight lead. NBC says Obama won the early vote by 50,000 votes.
4:32 p.m.: NBC says that Ohio and North Carolina are too close to call, while Romney wins West Virginia. It may be a very long night. As expected, Romney takes West Virginia.
4:16 p.m.: Also, NPR has called Georgia and South Carolina for Romney.
4 p.m.: The TV networks started their coverage at 4 p.m. PT, with Virginia, a key swing state, too close to call.
As expected, Romney is projected to take Indiana and Kentucky, Obama taking Vermont.