On Romney's side: Six of 10 whites and nearly six of 10 seniors. A solid majority of men and of married women, and nearly two-thirds of white men. More than 90% of Republicans and of conservatives. He won high-income voters, evangelical Christians, and those who attend religious services every week or more often.
The debate over the role of government was a stark dividing line: Eight in 10 of those who believe "government should do more to solve problems" voted for Obama. An almost equal number of those who believe "the government is doing too many things" voted for Romney.
In some ways, nothing will change in Washington: President Obama will face a Republican-controlled House and a Democratic-controlled Senate. Negotiations will instantly redouble over the "fiscal cliff" that looms at year's end, threatening tax hikes and broad spending cuts.
Tuesday's divisions in the electorate will resonate in that debate and others. Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution notes the battle between older and white voters on one side, younger and minority voters on the other. "That divide, you'll see it every day in the House, and in the House vs. the Senate," he predicts.
Here's a look at some of the new realities of American politics.
Nobody is Firmly in Charge
Never in the past century has the country gone so long without giving a firm hold on power to one party.
Consider the narrow margins in the presidential race. Since 1920, when women got to vote, there hadn't been more than three elections in a row without a candidate winning the White House by more than 10 points. But in the seven elections since 1984, not a single candidate has managed to win by double digits.
Tuesday's election was the third time in the past four elections that the race was decided by fewer than four points. Before that, only four elections in the past 100 years had been decided by such a narrow edge.
The House and Senate also have been more closely divided over the past two decades that at any point since 1920. In eight of the past nine elections, the minority party has been able to garner at least 190 seats in the 435-seat House. In the previous 40 elections, that sort of strong standing for the opposition was the exception, occurring only 13 times.
Not happy, but Better
There'sHno consensus that happy days are here again, but the nation's mood is considerably better than it was four years ago. Then, the nation was spiraling into the fiscal crisis.
In 2008, only 7% said the economy was excellent or good; now that number has tripled. Then, almost half said the economy was poor; now a third say that. Four years ago, only one in five said "things in this country are generally going in the right direction."
Now 46% say things are heading in the right direction; more than nine of 10 of those voters backed Obama.
Even so, one in three voters said they were worse off than four years ago, outnumbering the one in four who said they were better off. For the first time in several elections, the economy as an issue did not work in the Democrat's favor.
Six in 10 called the economy the most important issue influencing their vote, and a majority of them favored Romney. In 2008, 63% named the economy as their main issue, and 53% had backed Obama.
The surveys of voters as they were left selected polling places were conducted for the Associated Press and the TV networks by Edison Research. They were supplemented by phone interviews with those who cast early or absentee ballots.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women