Follow our updates as the US election results come in
1.55pm: Thanks for joining us as we follow the final act in the longest, most expensive US presidential race in history. The first African-American president or a the oldest first-term president and the first woman vice-president. We were in the US when this race began, and the point to stress is that there are many Americas that have swung and changed as the months have gone by.
So far we know that Vermont has been called for Democratic nominee Barack Obama; Kentucky and South Carolina for Republican nominee John McCain. All utterly predictable. But the polls close in a few minutes in some key battlground states - Pennsylvania, Florida, Missouri, and New Hampshire. Keep watching Virginia and Indiana as well. Remember, it's first to 270.
2.10pm: A bunch of states have been called pretty quickly. Maine Obama, Massachusetts Obama, Delaware Obama, Maryland Obama, New Jersey Obama, Washington DC Obama.
Also, surveys have shown Obama leading or competitive in at least a dozen states won by George Bush in 2004, while McCain did not have a measurable lead in any state captured by John Kerry.
2.15pm Add Washington DC, Maryland, Conneticut, and Illinois for Obama. BBC seems to be calling Penn. for Obama, but that seems a bit early.
2.20pm: Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee for McCain. All predictable, although Tenn. is Gore's home state and was in play for the Democrats not that long ago.
2.30pm: Obama by 15 in Pennsylvania, 9 in Virginia, 8 in Ohio, 4 in Florida. For what it's worth, those are the exit polls. New Hampshire has just been called for McCain. He will be disappointed as that was where he turned around his primary campaign. They love the maverick tag up there and have long supported him. But the college-educated folk seem to have gone heavily for Obama. That's the first of the real swing states called.
2.40pm: This is significant: Penn. being called for Obama. The Democrat had been up to 14% up in polls just a week ago, so it should be no surprise. But McCain had closed in the polls this week and it was where McCain had put a lot of his last-minute time and dollars into this state. It went Dem. last time. Now McCain has to win Florida and Ohio, or else.
2.50pm: Colorado and North Dakota close in a few minutes. Florida and North Carolina are both too close to call, but Obama seems to be winning the hispanic vote in the Sunshine state. Elizabeth Dole has lost her senate seat in North Carolina. Another Dem. pick-up in the senate.
3pm: McCain gets Alabama. The first of his wins in the South, as expected. About now 15 states are closing. Watch for Minnesota and New Mexico if you're looking for trends. Rhode Island, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York for Obama. North Dakota and Wyoming (Dick Cheney's state) for McCain.
3.05pm: According to the Washington Post: On NBC, former John McCain adviser Mike Murphy looks glum. "Some of the early Republican counties are frankly underperforming for McCain," he says. Obama has a "considerable lead" in Florida, Charlie Gibson says. It's 53-47, with 30 percent of the vote in. But no one wants to jump the gun in the land of the hanging chads.
3.10pm: The Democrats seem to have won control of the Senate. They've picked up New Mexico, Virginia, and North Carolina according to CNN. That would be a huge help to Obama in getting his platform through. Minnesota has been called for Obama. That's another swing state gone blue. The Dem. candidate for the senate is Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian. The GOP had hopes there only a couple of months ago. But at least McCain has got Georgia. Polls had closed there in the past two weeks with Obama catching and being within the margin of error in some polls, but it seems McCain has won quite comfortably. Not enough of a black turn-out for Obama. Significant?
3.20pm: West Virginaia has been called for McCain. But it's small beer for him on what's looking to be a bad night. Obama is at 174 electoral college seats, to McCain's 69. McCain needs Florida. Boy oh boy does he need Florida. And Ohio. And Colorado... Big projections are coming soon!
3.30pm: Virginia is neck and neck after 70 percent of the vote. North Carolina is half counted and Obama is just ahead by two percent. Ohio: 15% of the voted counted, Obama 56%. Landslide?
3.35pm: No Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio. Guess what? CNN has just called Ohio for Obama. Obama is 11 percent ahead after 15 percent of the vote. Really, Ohio was everything today. It was McCain's last chance. So let me say this first: Pundit is calling the presidency for Barack Obama.
3.45: Sorry, our web connection crashed. We're on wireless... John King on CNN has just done an interesting exercise. He went through the remaining states, giving McCain everything he could even possibly win. He gave McCain Indiana, Virginia, Missouri, Florida, New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, even Iowa. And he still couldn't get McCain to the magic 270 electoral college votes.
3.48: And just to rub salt into the wounds, CNN has just projected New Mexico for Obama. That's the Hispanic vote. McCain gets Louisiana. The popular vote - every American against every American is really close - had Obama just one percent ahead. But that doesn't matter, it's about the electoral college.
3.55pm: Texas has been called for McCain by the BBC. Would be a miracle of Mosesian proportions for it to go otherwise. No call in Arizona yet. That's kinda amazing. McCain's home state and it's tight!
4pm: CNN calling Iowa for Obama, Utah and Kansas for McCain. Iowa was where it all began for Obama, where he upset Hillary Clinton and he was suddenly a contender. It seems they still love him. Iowa has gone back and forth between the Dem.s and GOP in recent elections, so a huge win, although only seven electoral college votes.
4.05pm: CNN hasn't called the whole race of course, but they're already talking about how Obama will govern. Will he tack left and meet the expectations of his base? But he has a reputation for hugging the centre and building coalitions. GOP "insiders" are being quoted as saying it's over. Now the question is whether the Democrats can win the House and have a free run at setting policy. Also, let's see whether the Democrats get 60 seats in the senate. Then they have a veto-proof majority, which means the president can't over-rule law that's been passed by the senate. It's 54 at the moment.
4.20pm: The results have slowed. Let's look at what Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post has been saying: What we have seen so far on this election night is that Obama has made good on his promise to expand the map -- running surprisingly strong in places like Indiana and North Carolina, states which haven't voted for a Democrat for president in modern political history. Obama's ability to expand the map will be traced to two major factors: the widespread unpopularity of President Bush and the Illinois senator's massive fundraising edge over John McCain.
4.25pm: Fox is projecting Mississippi for McCain. CNN concurs.
4.30pm: The BBC says we could see lawyers in play in Virginia. Fascinating tales from Virginia - a Democratic lawyer tells me that litigation may follow if they lose the state: sophisticated efforts have been made to derail their victory, they claim, involving a double computer hack - into the DNC and a university - in order to try to keep the student vote down with false messages.
4.35: So, it looks like the young people have turned out for Obama. Andrew Sullivan, the Atlantic writer and blogger, wrote over a year ago that this was a generational change election. Obama could take the US beyond the culture wars begun in the 60s, beyond the racial divide, beyond the baby-boomers. Well, a bit at least. CNN is saying that the GOP is now the party of old people and the South. Al Franken is still ahead in the Minnesota senatorial race.
Veteran broadcaster Bob Schieffer says it's over. "Barack Obama is going to be the next president of the United States," he says. "You just can't figure out a way that John McCain can win now."
4.40pm: With a Democratic win in Ohio, Slate is officially calling the election for Barack Obama, whose convincing performance in early returns has made it all but impossible for John McCain to win.
4.45pm: Obama has a projected 207 college seats. Add a locked-in 55 from California, and you can see how close we are to the networks confirming the first African-American president. Something that very few living Americans thought they would ever see. Many thousands are gathered in Grand Park, Chicago to celebrate and hear him speak. CNN is conducting a hologram interview. Cool.
CNN also projects Democrats will win two other Senate seats currently held by Republicans. In New Hampshire, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen will win over incumbent John Sununu, and in New Mexico, Democrat Tom Udall will defeat Republican Steve Pearce, says its website. But it looks like the Dem.s will come up short of a veto-proof majority in the Senate.
4.55pm: Polls in California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho will close in five minutes. The networks are likely to call California, Oregon and Washington for Obama in a matter of minutes, and that should allow them project Obama as the winner.
4.58: One of the CNN crew has pointed out that for the fifth straight election, the candidate with the better war record has lost. So much for America the militaristic. McCain is being given his eulogy now. And here we go.... Obama has been called as the winner in Virginia! A black Democrat winning a southern state. The Democrats win Virginia for the first time since the 60s, prior to Nixon's southern strategy.
5pm: With Virginia called the networks don't even have to wait for the western states. They're calling it for Obama. The presidency that is. Obama, a black junior senator from Illinois who could not even get into the 2000 Democratic convention, who has come from nowhere to win over so many in just a few years, will be the 44th president of the United States. This is true change. A moment to remember for a lifetime. So we're going to sign off and enjoy it. Go-Bama!