WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has claimed a second term from an incredibly divided electorate in trying economic times. He is bracing for daunting challenges and progress that comes only in fits and starts.
He told supporters at a victory rally early this morning that "the best is yet to come."
The same voters who gave Obama another four years also elected a divided Congress. Democrats retained control of the Senate; Republicans renewed their majority in the House.
The vanquished Republican, Mitt Romney, tried to set a more conciliatory tone on the way off the stage, saying the nation "can't risk partisan bickering" after a campaign filled with it.
Obama claimed a commanding electoral mandate — at least 303 electoral votes to 206 for Romney — although the popular vote was closer.
Democrats expand Senate grip but fail to win House
Democrats have strengthened their hold on the Senate but failed Tuesday to recapture the majority in the House of Representatives they lost two years ago.
Freshly re-elected President Barack Obama will face the same divided Congress in 2013 that has bedeviled efforts to enact his major legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who may have a slightly bigger working majority, says "it's time to put politics aside and work together to find solutions."
House Speaker John Boehner also gets to keep his job, and he offered to work with any willing partner, Republican or Democrat, to get things done.
Congress returns next week to deal with unfinished business — including a looming "fiscal cliff" of $400 billion in higher taxes and $100 billion in spending cuts.