Barack Obama, capping an unprecedented rise, has been voted the 44th president of the United States.
Obama, the Democratic Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican nominee Arizona Senator John McCain and will become the first African-American to hold the highest office in the land.
Although the final electoral count was still being determined, broadcast and cable news networks at 11 p.m. declared Obama the winner. In Chicago's Grant Park, an estimated 125,000 Obama supporters celebrated to the sounds of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours."
McCain began his concession speech in Phoenix around 11:20 p.m. (ET). At 11: 45 p.m., MSNBC put the electoral tally at 338-156, with 43 still to be tallied. (North Carolina (15), Indiana (11), Missouri (11), Montana (3) and Alaska (3) had yet to be decided at press time). .
At about midnight, Obama, with his wife Michelle and two daughters in tow, took the stage at Grant Park to tumultuous applause. He then delivered a 15-minute victory speech, themed by unity and inclusion. Obama's family and supporters, as well as those Vice President-Elect Joe Biden then joined Obama in front of the throngs of well-wishers.
With the networks putting Virginia and its 13 electoral votes -- the first time the Old Dominion went Democratic in a presidential contest since 1964 with Lyndon Johnson -- in Obama's column after 10 p.m., the Democrat had some 220 electoral votes and vaulted into position to claim the election, when the West Coast states of California (55 electoral votes), Washington (11) and Oregon (seven) closed their polls at 11 p.m.
Given projections and history from the 2004 presidential election results, Obama essentially became the president-elect around 9:30 p.m. (ET), when CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox News Channel put Ohio and its 20 electoral votes in the Democrat’s column. As CNN’s John King and others described over the course of the evening that left McCain without a path to the 270 electoral votes necessary to capture the race.