Voter turnout drops, more races settled in US elections

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Voter turnout appeared to be lower in this year's presidential elections than four years ago, preliminary reports showed Wednesday, as more races were settled one day after all ballots were cast.

Preliminary figures suggest about 126 million Americans voted in Tuesday's elections, for an overall turnout rate of about 57.5 percent, according to Curtis Gans, director of American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate. Early figures from every state but Iowa showed a smaller turnout than in 2008.

Despite the low turnout, President Barack Obama won a handy victory against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, edging the latter among female, minority and young voters. Exit polls showed 55 percent female voters supported Obama. He gained about 45 percent among men. Romney had 44 percent among women but 52 percent among men.

Minorities went overwhelmingly to Obama. About 80 percent of their votes went to Obama, with 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Latinos supporting him. About 73 percent Asians supported Obama. There were about 39 percent of White voters supporting Obama.

Young people supported Obama more. In the 18-29 category, about 60 percent supported Obama, while 37 percent supported Romney. As of Wednesday evening, Obama had 303 electoral college votes, and over 60.5 million popular votes. Romney has 206 electoral college votes, and 57.7 million popular votes. Florida, with its 29 electoral college votes, was still too close to call.

As counts continued all over the day across the country, more races were settled. Democrats were on track to pick up seven seats in the House of Representatives, which is nowhere near the 25 the party needed to regain a majority but is at the upper end of the number they were projected to win this cycle.

In the Senate, Democrats picked up two more seats, increasing their majority to 53. With 2 independents expected to caucus with the Democrats, Majority Leader Harry Reid is looking at a 55-member caucus, up from 53 now.

The next Congress will also have a record number of female members. Women will hold 20 Senate seats, up from 17. They will also hold at least 81 seats in the House, up from 76.

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