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Presidential race tight as election night count goes down to wire
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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama won the reliably Democratic Northeast, and Republican Mitt Romney secured his Republican conservative base Tuesday night in a tense duel for the White House shadowed by a weak economy and high unemployment.

The critical battlegrounds with the keys to victory — Virginia, Ohio and Florida among them — were unsettled at press time with long lines in many locations after poll-close time.

CNN declared Romney the winner of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes not long after the polls closed Tuesday. At about 9:20 p.m., Romney had 57.52 percent of the votes cast in Georgia, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s website.

Romney led in the national popular vote with 13 million votes, or 51 percent, to 12 million or 47 percent for Obama, with 10 percent of the precincts tallied.

Romney also held an early electoral vote advantage, 147-123, with 270 needed for victory, although he lost both his home state of Michigan and Massachusetts, where he served one term as governor.

The economy was rated the top issue by about 60 percent of voters surveyed as they left their polling places, but more said former President George W. Bush bears more responsibility for current circumstances than Obama does after nearly four years in office.

Polls still were open in much of the country as the two rivals began claiming the spoils of a brawl of an election in a year in which the struggling economy put a crimp in the middle-class dreams of millions.

The Coastal Courier contributed to this report.

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