Democrat Barack Obama will be the first black president after a large electoral victory, shifting America's political landscape away from the Republican party.
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer," Obama said to a crowd about 125,000 in Chicago.
North Carolina was one of the most contentious states, with tight races staying close well after polls closed. But Democrats Bev Perdue and Kay Hagan defeated Republicans Pat McCrory and Elizabeth Dole for governor and U.S. senator positions, respectively.
As of 12:38 a.m., CNN estimated Obama would have 338 electoral votes to Republican candidate John McCain's 156 nationwide, and with 99 percent of precincts reporting, Obama was ahead in North Carolina, but by less than 20,000 votes. North Carolina hasn't voted for a Democratic president since 1976.
Tuesday night marked a huge night for the state's Democrats, with Walter Dalton, David Price, Bob Etheridge and a cast of other Democrats winning their positions, joining Perdue and Hagan.
Many of the winners were on hand Tuesday at Raleigh's downtown Marriott to acknowledge their victory and to speak with volunteers working for the Democratic campaigns.
One of those volunteers, Lee Sartain, a graduate student in public administration, came out to celebrate the state's Democratic victories.
"One of the things that's been the hallmark of the party this year is getting out the youth vote," Sartain said. "And the amount of people that voted before election day is unheard of."
The crowd interrupted some of the night's speakers, like Attorney General Roy Cooper, as Obama's big wins piled in and chants of "Yes we can" filled the room.
Gubernatorial candidate Bev Perdue capped the night off, after her opponent, Pat McCrory, conceded in Charlotte. But volunteers on hand were just as excited with Kay Hagan's U.S. senatorial win.
Tan Ngo, a North Carolina State University senior in international relations and Spanish, had volunteered for the Hagan campaign and said Tuesday night's big wins and celebrations were the perfect cap off to all the hard work she and other volunteers had done.
"We went to and held rallies, set up conferences, talked to so many people -- just to get the vote out," Ngo said. "It's great to see the whole staff here tonight and this shows all the work really paid off."
First time voters like Ashley Talley, a junior in microbiology, and Chris Williams, a freshman in engineering, said they were excited with the election process, and got their first taste of victory at the Marriott.
"This whole election is so historic and tonight was really a great opportunity to show our support," Talley said. "I walked in here not knowing what to expect, but there's just so much enthusiasm."
The hotel's conference room nearly exploded as news stations announced Obama's victory just seconds before Perdue took the stage as the state's first female governor right before 11 p.m.
"Tonight, we are going to make a fresh start in North Carolina," Perdue said.
Republicans concede, look to regroup
At the North Raleigh Hilton Hotel, after the results came in, the North Carolina Republicans' victory party couldn't live up to its name, and its attendees showed their disappointment.
As the night wore on and news broke of losses by Dole and McCrory, the crowd of a few hundred stared at te televisions in the hotel's ballroom, shaking their heads and avoiding the victory speeches of the Democratic winners.
Linda Daves, chairman of the state party, spoke to keep spirits up.
"We did nothing wrong when we stood up for the principles that have shaped our party since the days of Abraham Lincoln," Daves said.
The Republicans celebrated smaller victories, as she announced some contensious races for State Senate seats, and partygoers expressed concerns over the Democrats that will now be in power.
Aaron Dancy, a sophomore in chemical engineering and vice chair of the College Republicans, said he thought Obama would be weak on national security and issues of the economy.
But while Obama is in power, the GOP needs to reconfigure, he said.
"They need to get back to basic conservative values," Dancy said.
He said McCain attempted to appeal to independents and moderate voters that may have been drawn away from the Republican party this year. To win again, Republicans will need to focus more on a candidate like Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate.
"Sarah Palin sealed the gaps of McCain's questionableness," he said. "Look at her rallies next to McCain's. The GOP needs to get back to the basics."
The defeats Tuesday should not discourage those who worked so hard for the party this year, Daves said, and, according to Dancy, the GOP will grow again.
"The fact that [McCain] is as close as he is speaks volumes of the future of the Republican party in North Carolina," Dancy said.
Steve Cosolito, a freshman in computer science and vice chair of the College Republicans, said there were certainly benefits to the election this year.
"We've seen exponential growth in College Republicans this year," he said. "The election year motivated both sides to get active."