WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama moved ahead of Mitt Romney in their duel for the White House, rolling up victory margins Tuesday night in the reliably Democratic Northeast and his home state of Illinois while the Republican challenger secured his conservative base.
Romney led in the popular vote, gaining 51 percent to the president's 47 percent with 1 percent of the precincts reporting.
The polls were still open in most of the battleground states - Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia and Florida among them - as the two rivals began claiming the spoils of a brawl of an election in a year in which a struggling economy and high unemployment put a crimp in the middle class dreams of millions.
Obama carried Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and Romney's home state of Massachusetts. Also as expected, he won Delaware and Maryland as well as the District of Columbia and Illinois.
Romney had South Carolina, Oklahoma, Kentucky and West Virginia in his column. He also won Indiana, a state Obama carried in 2008 but did not contest this year.
Mecklenburg Board of Elections reporting no problems at polls
Several Mecklenburg County voting locations said they saw record turnout on Election Day.
The North Carolina Board of Elections believes the state will see about the same voter participation as normal on an election night. But officials said many of the 195 precincts across the county saw a rush Tuesday morning. Many of the lines died down by mid-morning.
Precincts saw a bump in voters at lunchtime before the polls close tonight at 7:30. Election officials also reported no major issues at the polls in Mecklenburg County, though the BOE did have to recalibrate a few voting machines.
Many of the people NBC Charlotte spoke with say this is one of the most important elections ever.
"You make your decision, for some people, it's a last minute decision. I think I already had my mind up and feel good about doing it," said Howard Rothenberg.
"I think there are a lot of moral issues on the ballot particularly with the candidates, from marriage to sanctity of life that are important to me," said Jordan Olshefski.
At a Myers park precinct where 79 percent of registered voters have already voted as of 2pm! #ncvote— MichelleBoudin (@MichelleBoudin) November 6, 2012
278,253 of Mecklenburg County's 676,692 registered voters have already cast ballots via Early or Absentee Voting.