TV networks march in step to call Obama's historic moment


America's TV networks called the outcome of this year's election in unison - at precisely 11 pm New York time (4 am Irish time).

In contrast to the disharmony of 2004, when networks made contradictory announcements on the winner, while a number of states hung in the balance, there was no doubting the result this time.

As the polls closed in California, NBC anchor Brian Williams said: "An African-American has broken the barrier as old as the Republic.

"An astonishing candidate, an astonishing campaign, a seismic shift in American politics."

With plenty of time to prepare, all the networks made the call simultaneously, pronouncing with certainty what they had prognosticated throughout the night.

"Barack Obama will be the 44th president of the United States," said ABC anchor Charles Gibson.

On CBS, anchor Katie Couric characterised the network's announcement as "momentous news."

The network projections came remarkably early compared to 2004, when the close count in Ohio left the outcome unclear late into the night.

Pop star Madonna, chat show host Oprah Winfrey and filmaker and activist Michael Moore were among a range of celebrities celebrating Barack Obama's victory yesterday.

Madonna marked the occasion with a glittering rally of her own, leading thousands of fans at her concert in San Diego with a rousing introduction to her song Express Yourself.

In a video posted on YouTube, Madonna clapped her hands and declared: "This is a historical evening! We are lucky to be sharing it with each other!"

Oprah Winfrey, who cried during his celebration speech in Chicago's Grant Park, told a TV show: "I was so, so, so excited and then just sort of a calm came over me. It feels like it actually is kind of real, so it feels great."

Director-provocateur Moore said, on his website: "Who among us is not at a loss for words? Tears pour out. Tears of joy. Tears of relief." ( AP)

A swing by Hispanic voters to the Democrats helped Barack Obama secure victory in the key battle-ground state of Flordia. Four years ago, President George W. Bush won 56 per cent of the Latino vote in the state, thanks primarily to the influence of conservative Cuban-Americans.

But this year, Hispanics swung to the Democratic column, giving the candidate from Illinois 57 per cent of their votes, according to network exit polls.

Although the majority of Floridians said race was not a factor in their decision, the black-white divide this year closely resembled the state's racial split in 2004.

The difference was the margins.

John McCain drew about the same level of support from white voters as Bush did four years ago, but Obama's margin among black residents was nearly 10 percentage points higher than the one in 2004 for Sen John Kerry.

The normally sleepy seaside town of Obama in Japan was partying after Barack Obama was elected US president.

Members of the Obama For Obama supporters group were drinking rice wine and singing their official theme song, "La, La-La-La-La O-ba-ma!" after the result came in.

The supporters group attracted 1,500 members, and dozens joined the Obama Girls hula dance team to celebrate Obama's Hawaiian heritage.