UK & World News
US Election: How Romney Lost And Obama Won
"We are not as divided as our politics suggest," newly re-elected President Barack Obama insisted as he addressed thousands of his supporters at his victory party in Chicago.
His inclusive message - white or black , straight or gay, red state or blue state "we are one United States of America" - deliberately reprised the great speech which first brought him to national, and international, prominence when he ran for the US Senate just eight years ago.
It was also a reminder of how little has changed in American politics in this election in spite of the record $6bn spent on the campaign.
Mr Obama is still the president. The Democrats still have a narrow majority in the US Senate.
The Republicans still have the majority in the House of Representatives. Democrat heartlands are still on the east and west coasts and in the north east. The Republican firewall in the southern states was not breached.
After four difficult years in the White House, there was a modest swing against Mr Obama on Tuesday night but, at around 2%, it was not enough to dislodge his hold on the electoral college.
With only Florida still to be allocated, Mr Romney won just two states off Mr Obama, Indiana and North Carolina, the latter by the smallest of margins.
As Mr Romney accepted in his concession speech in Boston, this outcome means that the US has, on balance, rejected "the different direction" he and, more specifically his Republican allies, were offering the country.
In state referendums, there were votes in favour of recognising gay marriage and of the recreational use of marijuana.
And in two states carried by Mr Romney on Tuesday night - Indiana and Missouri - there was rejection for the two Republican tea-party candidates Todd Akins and Dick Mourdock who had made extreme ideological assertions about rape and abortion.
Even on voting day, prominent Republicans were asserting loudly that the predictions of the mainstream media (including me) and the opinion polls were wrong.
They believed that their supporters and independent voters were enthused for Mr Romney and that demoralised Democrats would boycott the polls.
This scenario simply did not happen. Turnout was healthy (although below 2008 and even 2004 numbers).
And, according to the exit polls, Mr Obama's support was both quantitatively and qualitatively amongst the demographic groups which put him in power - women, younger voters and ethnic minorities.
This president did not get a honeymoon at the start of his first term and he will not get one now. America is spared a transition and a lame duck session of Congress.
Which means that he and his Republican opponents in the House have until the end of the year to agree more palatable ways of dealing with the national overdraft or they will plunge off the "fiscal cliff" with severe automatic tax rises and public spending cuts kicking in.
The big question is how the now leaderless Republicans respond to this second rebuff from the voters?
There were astonishing scenes on the result shows as well-known right-wing pundits argued with each other about the coverage, and some accused Mr Romney as "a northwestern Liberal".
One-time presidential candidate Donald Trump has expressed outrage at the result and called for a march on Washington.
Anger has also been directed at the prominent Republican Chris Christie of New Jersey, who openly congratulated Mr Obama on his response to last week's hurricane.
None of this suggests there is as yet a mood for cool, calm reflection amongst Republicans on the national political mood.
Mr Romney offered no lead on this in his concession speech. So it seems unlikely that Speaker Boehner will now "reach out" constructively to the newly-mandated president.
Mr Obama has a government team in place but some changes are inevitable.
Hillary Clinton has said she wants to step down as Secretary of State but she may stay on for some months to deal with pressing foreign policy questions: Syria, Iran and the new Chinese government due to be put in place by the Communist Party this week.
The US constitution bars Mr Obama from running for a third term, which means whether she stays or goes Mrs Clinton is now the favourite for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Rather surprisingly the president did not thank the Clintons publicly on Tuesday night, but his aides have said the first phone call he made after Mr Romney privately threw in the towel was to Bill Clinton, who campaigned so hard for him.
Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband have congratulated Mr Obama on his re-election and both are genuinely pleased - and not just because of continuity and stability.
The Prime Minister is cheered because Mr Obama is the first leader in this economic slowdown to have kept his job, unlike Nicolas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi and others.
Number 10 believes Mr Obama has shown you can persuade the voters that you are dealing with an economic mess which you did not create.
On the other hand, Labour leader Mr Miliband believes Mr Obama's policies are closer to his own, stressing stimulus above austerity.
So 'No Drama' Obama has become 'No Change Election' Obama. But that does not mean he plans to be 'No Legacy' Obama.
With the clock now ticking on his administration, the president says he goes back to the White House "inspired" and "hopeful" to "continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on earth".