Today's news, tomorrow's lesson: US votes the president Barack into the White House

Barack Obama has won a decisive victory in the US presidential election after months of campaigning, and has promised the American people that “the best is yet to come”.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 7 November

US votes the president Barack into the White House

Barack Obama has won a decisive victory in the US presidential election after months of campaigning, and has promised the American people that "the best is yet to come".

The sitting president beat Republican challenger Mitt Romney, winning crucial swing states such as Ohio and Virginia along the way.

Ballots were counted across the US after a large turnout of people at the polls. Many voters waited for several hours to cast their ballot.

Speaking at a rally in Chicago, President Obama credited his win to the campaign team and the grassroots volunteers who encouraged people to come out and vote. He called the people involved with his campaign "the best. The best ever," and added in his victory speech: "we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come."

The Democrat has promised Americans free preventive healthcare, tax credits for the families of university students and an end to the war in Afghanistan by 2014.

Governor Romney conceded the election shortly before 1am ET. In his concession speech, he told supporters that the nation's leaders would have to rise above partisan politics to ensure that the US thrived.

"This is a time for great challenges for America and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation," he said.

The swing state of Florida – once considered a potential election-winner in terms of electoral college votes (see below) – is the only state yet to declare for either candidate. Despite this, President Obama has already exceeded the number of votes needed to clinch victory.

The US electoral system

American citizens in every state can vote, but the final call is down to the Electoral College. Electors represent the number of members each state has in Congress; this can vary across the nation: Florida has 29, while New Hampshire only 4.

A presidential candidate needs to reach 270 votes or more in total in order to win the election. The electors' votes should reflect the population, but there have been four occasions where the loser in the popular vote has won on electoral college votes. The most notorious example is the election of 2000, where Republican George W. Bush triumphed over Democrat challenger Al Gore, despite coming second in the popular vote.

The path to victory

The first votes cast in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, midnight (EST) (5am GMT), set the scene for the close call election with President Obama and Governor Romney neck and neck with five votes each.

However the state eventually went to the President, along with other key swing states such as Virginia, Iowa, Ohio and Colorado.

Political statistics analyst Nate Silver, writing on his FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times, said that President Obama had won due to "a coalition of voters that was broader than it was deep".

Despite losing ground with white voters, as well as voters over the age of 45, the president was able to secure victory. Mr Silver explains: "Forty-five percent of those who voted for Mr. Obama were racial minorities, a record number, and he made gains among Hispanic and Asian-American voters."

Related resources

Slogans in presidential elections

  • Students can trace the development and use of slogans in US presidential elections and analyse their effects on voters with this great lesson plan.

American presidents

  • A fun starter or plenary activity -- pupils must unscramble the names of US presidents since 1945.

US presidential election 2012 presentation

  • Introduce your class to the presidential election race of 2012.

Election collection

  • See these and more resources to help you teach students about this year's presidential election with the TES collection.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

A former history teacher has recreated a First World War trench in his Surrey garden and now plans to launch a website that will allow pupils to explore the front lines.

Gems Education, a private school group operating dozens of schools across 10 countries, has opened its first school in Africa with the Gems Cambridge International School in Nairobi, Kenya.

New York, the 'city that never sleeps', was shut down last night as Hurricane Sandy tore across the east coast of America.

Nadeem Islam and Kayleigh Goacher, both students from South East London, picked up an award worth 3,000 Euros at the ZEBRA International Poetry Film Festival last week.

In the news archive index