Obama wins in historic presidential election

Aaron E. Looney
Barack Obama

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., earned the 270 electoral votes necessary to defeat Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and become the first  black president-elect of the United States, according to unofficial national election returns Tuesday night.

The results ended a highly publicized and sometimes contentuous race between the two candidates to become the country's 44th commander-in-chief.

Obama, 47, and running mate U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware finished with 349 electoral votes, while McCain and running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin earned 163 electoral votes.

In speaking to a crowd of more than 240,000 people in Chicago Tuesday night, Obama told supporters that “change has come to America.”

“The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America -- I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you -- we as a people will get there,”

In his concession speech before a throng of supporters in Arizona, McCain pledged to help Obama lead the country to a prosperous future.

“Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much, and tonight, I remain her servant,” McCain said.

Obama also won the national popular vote in Tuesday’s election. With 96 percent of national precincts reporting, Obama earned 62,532,271 votes for 52 percent. McCain tallied 55,454,540 votes for 46 percent.

McCain carried Louisiana by a convincing margin Tuesday, according to unofficial results from the Louisiana Secretary of State's Office. With all 3,956 precincts reporting, McCain finished with 1,147,603 votes, or 59 percent. Obama finished with 780,981 votes, or 40 percent.

McCain also claimed Ascension Parish in the election. With all 61 parish precincts reporting Tuesday, the Republican ticket earned 31,225 votes for 67 percent of the vote. Obama and Biden claimed 14,620 votes for 31 percent.

Third-party candidates appearing on the ballot in Louisiana included Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin and running mate Darrell Castle, Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney and running mate Rosa Clemente, Independent candiate Ralph Nader and running mate Matt Gonzalez, Louisiana Taxpayers’ Party candidate Ron Paul and running mate Barry Goldwater Jr., Prohibition Party candidate Gene Amondson and running mate Leroy Pletten, Socialism and Liberation Party candidate Gloria  La Riva and running mate Eugene Puryear and Socialist Workers Party candidate James Harris and running mate Alyson Kennedy.

Obama will be sworn in as president Jan. 20.