ELECTION WATCH: Obama takes PA; bowling alley vote

Associated Press
CORRECTS LOCATION TO MANDAN, NOT BISMARCK - Democratic candidate for the North Dakota's U.S. Senate seat, Heidi Heitkamp, casts her ballot in Mandan, N.D., on Tuesday Nov. 6, 2012, in the Kingpin Lounge of a bowling alley in Mandan, N.D. (AP Photo/Will Kincaid)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Around the country on Election Day 2012 with AP reporters bringing the latest developments to you:

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PENNSYLVANIA TO OBAMA:

President Obama has won the battleground of Pennsylvania and the state's 20 electoral votes. Both candidates made frequent visits to the state, including a Romney stop in Pittsburgh this afternoon. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey has also won re-election there.

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CAN YOU SPARE A VOTE?

Many Americans vote at schools; others at churches or community centers. But a bowling alley?

That's where some folks in North Dakota cast their votes Tuesday. In Mandan, the Kingpin Lounge at the Midway Lanes was transformed into a polling place.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp voted there with her son, Nathan. She says she's been voting at the alley for years and doesn't think it's odd at all.

In Iowa, some voters cast their ballots at a log cabin and maintenance shed.

The Des Moines Register says the log cabin was built in 1937 from native hardwoods from Polk City. And in the tiny town of Berkley in Boone County, the shed-turned-polling-center has a voting table and booths set up where the snow plow is usually parked.

— Jennifer C. Kerr — Twitter http://twitter.com/jckerr9

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FRENCH INTEREST

Kevin Bonnaud is French. He's also passionate about American politics.

How passionate? The 23-year-old journalism student not only forked over nearly $100 to attend an election-watching party in Paris, he made the several-hour trek from Lyon — and he needs to be back in time for classes on Wednesday.

"I hope there is a winner by morning, before my train," Bonnaud said as he watched results shown on a giant screen in a chic club near the Champs Elysees. He planned to stay all night, because he has nowhere else to go; Paris is 6 hours ahead of U.S. East Coast time.

Bonnaud got interested in U.S. elections while studying abroad in Tarrytown, N.Y., in 2010. He dreams of someday returning to the States as a reporter.

He would like to see some of the American election-night media spectacle brought to France — within limits.

"It's a great show," Bonnaud said. "But it's a long show."

— Greg Keller — Twitter http://twitter.com/greg_keller

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REMEMBER THE MAINE

Michael Oreskes, a veteran political journalist since the 1970s and now The Associated Press' senior managing editor for U.S. news, will be checking in briefly with Election Watch throughout the day. Here is his latest report:

As Maine goes, so goes the nation.

That was, once upon a time in America, a popular phrase to describe how voting in the northeasternmost state was a harbinger of larger results. It has been a long time since that was true of presidential politics. But it may be that Maine voters have sent a larger message today about the shape of governing in Washington in the years ahead.

Presidents don't get much done without Congress, and a couple of things are already clear. The Republicans seem likely to keep control of the House of Representatives, and while we don't know yet who will have a Senate majority, it is pretty clear neither party will have real control.

So whether the president is Republican or Democratic, the other party will have strong influence in The Senate.

What happened in Maine complicates that further.

Maine voters elected their former governor, Angus King, running as an independent. That was a disappointment for Republicans, who wanted to keep the seat held by one of the last of the old-style moderate Republicans, Olympia Snowe.

Republicans worked hard to defeat King, and he won't even say whether he'll line up with them or Democrats.

Why would he? He could become one of the most sought-after men in Washington. On some issues, Angus King could end up with as much influence as the president — whichever man wins tonight.

In other words, as the senator from Maine goes ...

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OBAMA TAKES STORM-HIT NJ

More expected results: Obama wins New Jersey; Romney wins Arkansas and Mississippi.

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ROMNEY TAKES TX; OBAMA NY

With the 9 p.m. closing time, Romney wins several states in the South and in the heartland. Obama wins New York, with 29 electoral votes, and Michigan, with 16 electoral votes.

Romney wins:

— Texas (38 electoral votes)

— South Dakota (3 electoral votes)

— North Dakota (3 electoral votes)

— Louisiana (8 electoral votes)

— Kansas (6 electoral votes)

— Wyoming (3 electoral votes)

— Nebraska (4 electoral votes, 1 still to be called)

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THE NIGHT SO FAR

AP National Political Editor Liz Sidoti, obviously in the thick of things tonight, offers this assessment of election night so far:

"The night is unfolding as expected, with Mitt Romney winning in the traditional Republican strongholds — including in the South and the heartland — while President Barack Obama racks up victories in Democratic bastions of the Northeast, including New York. Of course, none of the states called thus far are among the 10 most contested states, where both candidates and their allies flooded TV airwaves with roughly 1 million spots costing about $1 billion."

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ALABAMA FOR ROMNEY

The AP has called Alabama (9 electoral votes) for Republican Mitt Romney.

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GLITCHES: A REPORT

Some Election Day glitches, voting machine problems and all-around headaches for election officials.

North Carolina, where voters were deciding whether to put a Republican in the White House, had some precincts where machines didn't boot up properly. In Cumberland County, election officials said law enforcement was called but quickly determined that a bomb threat at several precincts was a hoax.

The district attorney in Philadelphia is looking into complaints about problems with voting inspectors. The Republican Party says dozens of legally credentialed minority voting inspectors were removed from polling places there.

Voting machine problems caused long lines in Indiana's Hamilton County, a heavily populated Indianapolis suburb. The cards used to clear tallies from voting machines were not programmed correctly. And the office of Nebraska's secretary of state says a voter in Omaha inadvertently received a ballot that was already filled out for Mitt Romney.

— Jennifer C. Kerr — Twitter http://twitter.com/jckerr9

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MIAMI-DADE PRECINCTS OPEN

The Miami-Dade elections department reports at about 8:30 p.m. that only 40 percent of precincts have closed because of long lines of voters. Anyone who was in line at 7 p.m. must be allowed to cast a ballot under state law.

— Curt Anderson — Twitter http://twitter.com/@Miamicurt

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MURPHY GIVES DEMS LIEBERMAN'S SENATE SEAT

Whichever way the race for the U.S. Senate seat from Connecticut went, it was going to be a gain for one party — retiring Sen. Joe Leiberman, Al Gore's running mate in 2000, is now an independent.

Turns out Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy won, defeating former professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon.

McMahon, a Republican who once ran World Wrestling Entertainment with her better-known husband Vince, spent more than $42 million of her own wealth on the race.

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SUBDUED MOOD

Romney supporters trickled into the ballroom at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, many munching on bar snacks or drinking $7 beers.

The mood? Relatively subdued, with people talking in small groups. They were dressed formally, the women mostly in dresses and heels — though there was one attendee in a head-to-toe leopard print suit.

Romney's son Craig opened the program, introducing Girl Scouts to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

The mostly quiet crowd — still filling in, with large patches of open space — cheered briefly.

Craig told a story about his father deciding to run for president a second time after he failed to gain the Republican nomination in 2008. After that bid four years ago, Romney's wife, Ann, said she did not want her husband to run again; Craig explained she eventually changed her mind.

"We're grateful that she convinced him to get into the race," he said.

After Craig left the stage to scattered applause, a band in the corner began playing.

"Let's get it started in here, yeah!" the lead singer said. "Let's get some energy in this room. We're going to have the whole country dancing."

A handful of people in the crowd swayed along to the music; the vast majority continued standing in place, chatting.

— Kasie Hunt — Twitter http://twitter.com/kasie

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GEORGIA FOR ROMNEY

Georgia, with 16 electoral votes, goes to Mitt Romney, as expected. It wasn't considered a battleground state.

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OBAMA'S SPEECH(ES)

"You always have two speeches prepared, because you can't take anything for granted." — President Barack Obama, speaking to Denver television station KDVR a bit ago about the fact that he has both victory and concession speeches prepared.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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OBAMA'S EAST COAST WINS

It's 8 p.m. on the East Coast and more polls have closed. As expected, Obama pulled in most of these wins, though Romney took Oklahoma, with 7 electoral votes, in the center of the country.

Obama won:

— Connecticut (7 electoral votes)

— Maine (4 electoral votes)

— Delaware (3 electoral votes)

— Rhode Island (4 electoral votes)

— Maryland (10 electoral votes)

— Massachusetts (11 electoral votes)

— Illinois (20 electoral votes)

— Washington, D.C. (3 electoral votes)

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LONG LINES

In Florida, hundreds of people remained in line waiting to cast ballots at some locations even as polls closed — at 7 p.m. in most of the state, 8 p.m. in the western Panhandle counties.

Under state law, anyone already in line when the polls closed will be permitted to vote.

Shortly before polls closed in Virginia, meanwhile, the Obama campaign sent out text messages saying that volunteers were needed "right now" to make sure that everyone who was still in line as polls closed got to vote.

The text asked recipients to reply, and said an organizer would call as soon as possible with further instructions.

The campaign did not respond within 30 minutes to a text sent by a reporter.

— Curt Anderson and Matthew Daly

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SC, IN FOR ROMNEY

No surprise here: Romney has won South Carolina and Indiana.

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GOOD FEELING?

Michael Oreskes, a veteran political journalist since the 1970s and now The Associated Press' senior managing editor for U.S. news, will be checking in briefly with Election Watch throughout the day. Here is his latest report:

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An era of good feeling? Well, after a year of brutal campaigning there was a moment of good feeling between the two campaigns, even before the polls closed.

Traditionally, the concession and victory speeches (later tonight, or whenever) contain a tip of the hat to the worthy opponent.

But Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got a head start, while voters where still lining up.

Obama said this to Romney: "Congratulations on a spirited campaign." The president told staffers at an office in Chicago, "I know his supporters are just as engaged, just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today."

Romney returned the accolades. Speaking to volunteers at a call center in Green Tree, Pa. Romney told his team they "don't need to be disparaging of the other guy."

"This president has run a really strong campaign" Romney said, according to the AP's Steve Peoples. "I believe he's a good man and wish him well and his family well. He's a good father and has been a good example of a good father."

— Michael Oreskes

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EXIT POLL: OBAMA MORE IN TOUCH

More preliminary results from a national exit poll in Tuesday's elections for The Associated Press and the television networks, a survey of 19,728 voters by Edison Research:

— 52 percent of voters said President Barack Obama is more in touch with people like them, compared to 44 percent for Republican Mitt Romney.

— About 4 in 10 voters said the U.S. economy was getting better, while 3 in 10 said it was getting worse, and 3 in 10 said it was the same.

— Just under 50 percent of voters favored repealing some or all of Obamacare. Forty-three percent preferred that the health care law be expanded or left as is.

— Only 3 in 10 voters said that most illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be deported, while nearly two-thirds said such people should be offered a chance to apply for legal status.

— Frederic J. Frommer — Twitter http://twitter.com/ffrommer

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MORE ON WV

Here's some context on the West Virginia win for Mitt Romney: President Barack Obama is unpopular in the state, and West Virginia GOP officials have been hoping that would lead to victories for other Republicans on the ballot.

— Mike Hammer

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ROMNEY TAKES WV

The AP has called West Virginia for Mitt Romney.

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A COMEDIAN'S PLEA

"Just spoke to a bunch of celebrities and we've changed our minds. Please do NOT vote. Repeat - DO NOT VOTE. Thanks" — Comedian Jimmy Kimmel on Twitter.

— Sandy Cohen — http://twitter.com/APSandy

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GAGA THE VOTE

Lady Gaga is rocking the vote in Ohio.

The pop star gave election pep-talks on three Cleveland radio stations and urged voters to cast ballots Tuesday, calling Ohio "the chosen state."

Gaga said she watched the debates with friends over a bottle of wine and did research before selecting her candidate, choosing to support Barack Obama because "he believes in equal rights for all Americans."

"Ultimately what it came down to is I feel that Mitt Romney lacks a certain amount of compassion that America needs right now, especially for young people," she said on Z Hip-Hop Cleveland. "I'm a Catholic and I make a lot of money and I want to give a lot of it back and I don't want any tax breaks. I want people in my country that don't have a lot; I want them to have more. I want them to have what I have. I feel guilty every day that I can't give it to everyone. But you can stand up and you can vote."

— Sandy Cohen — Twitter http://twitter.com/APSandy

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ROMNEY WINS KY, OBAMA GETS VT

Polls are starting to close on the East Coast. The AP has called Kentucky (and its eight electoral votes) for Republican Mitt Romney, and Vermont (three electoral votes) for President Barack Obama.

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HANNITY ON TWEET

"I learned a big civics lesson today." — Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity, who tweeted a picture of his filled-out ballot (for Mitt Romney, natch), only to learn that appeared to break the law in New York state.

— David Bauder — http://twitter.com/dbauder

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POLL VETERAN

There are people who believe in voting, and then there's Elisa Kennedy.

The National Association of Secretaries of State honored California's longest-serving poll worker with a medal Tuesday for her years of service — 75 of them, to be exact.

Kennedy, 96, born before women got the vote, began volunteering as a poll worker in San Francisco shortly after she reached eligible voting age. FDR was president — and it was his first term.

"A lot has changed in politics and in the world since Elisa first volunteered as a poll worker 75 years ago, but her commitment to democracy and her devotion to her community has remained constant," Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement.

Kennedy, who has worked nearly 120 elections, said it's the "wonderful people" who keep her coming back.

"I find it very rewarding, in that I've met so many people through the years and it's been a great satisfaction to me," she said in a statement.

— Hannah Dreier — http://twitter.com/hannahdreier

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IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID

It's the economy, stupid.

Preliminary results from a national exit poll for The Associated Press and the television networks show that 60 percent of the 18,237 voters surveyed by Edison Research said the economy was the biggest issue facing the country.

That's about the same percentage as the last general election four years ago.

Next were health care (18 percent of those surveyed) and the deficit (15 percent).

A measly 4 percent said foreign policy was the top issue.

Of those surveyed, 77 percent of voters called the economy not so good or poor.

The biggest economic concerns were unemployment and rising prices.

Most voters — about 6 in 10 — said taxes should be increased.

— Frederic J. Frommer — Twitter http://twitter.com/ffrommer

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HEADED TO CHICAGO

Unlike many kids who get Election Day off from school, the president's daughters, Malia and Sasha, weren't so lucky. They were flying to Chicago after classes with their grandmother.

The president's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her family were also joining the Obamas in Chicago.

The first family planned to eat dinner together at their Chicago home.

— Julie Pace — Twitter http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

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