George Bush was this morning on course for another four years in the White House, with Ohio set to fall into the president's camp after a long election night marked by a record turnout.
Two of the three swing states had already been called: Florida for the incumbent, Mr Bush, and Pennsylvania for his challenger, John Kerry. Ohio's 20 electoral college votes would put Mr Bush on 274 - four more than the 270 he needed for victory.
The election was as close as predicted, but, by this morning, Mr Bush was heading for another term, with the Republicans also tightening their hold on the Senate and keeping control of the House of Representatives. With the possibility of more changes in the supreme court, a second Bush term would see the Republicans controlling all four key levers of government.
The record turnout - a predicted 121m votes compared to the 106m of four years ago - looked to have provided false hope for the Democratic challenger, Mr Kerry. Democrats thought that an energised electorate would favour them, but that later appeared to be wishful thinking. Americans, it seemed, were reluctant to change horses in midstream while the country was waging what Mr Bush had termed the war on terror.
The Democrats were, however, defiant even with Ohio's 20 electoral votes looking set to swing the contest decisively into the Republicans' favour. John Edwards, Mr Kerry's running mate, appeared before the party's faithful vowing that every vote would count. Seeking to lift his party's spirits, the youthful senator, said: "We will fight for every vote."
Even before a clear picture of the outcome in Ohio emerged, the writing was on the wall for Mr Kerry when Florida, one of the three key states, was called for Mr Bush. Florida, which Mr Bush won by only 535 votes in 2000, was a more comfortable victory for the president this time.