SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP / BCN) -- President Barack Obama won California and its 55 electoral votes on his way to being re-elected Tuesday night, despite a fierce challenge from Republican Mitt Romney as well as the weak economy and high unemployment that encumbered his first term and crimped the middle class dreams of millions.
"We have picked ourselves up, fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come," a victorious Obama told supporters in Chicago as he secured four more years in the White House, based on CBS News projections.
"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said in his concession speech in Massachusetts, his long and grueling bid for the presidency at an unsuccessful end.
In the race for president, it's fair to say the outcome was never in doubt in California. Obama secured an easy victory in the nation's most populous state and home to one in eight Americans.
Romney bypassed California, a graveyard for Republican presidential candidates for a generation where GOP registration numbers have withered to below 30 percent.
Pamela Caton, 42, a Green Party member from Berkeley, said she voted for Obama to preserve his health care overhaul.
"It would be a big step backward to have Romney in office and dismantle that," she said. Obama "has done a very good job the past four years, given the political climate."
The president sealed his victory in Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire and Colorado, four of the nine battleground states where the two rivals and their allies spent nearly $1 billion on dueling television commercials.
Cheers erupted among the crowd at a rally at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel when CBS and other news networks called the race for Obama.
"It sets the pace for the nation," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
"It was awesome that he won," SFPD Chief Greg Suhr added. "We're going in the right direction."
Ultimately, the result of the brawl of an election campaign appeared likely to be the political status quo. Democrats won two more years of control of the Senate, and Republicans did likewise in the House.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who won another term, said she hoped the country could come together to support the president after the hard-fought campaign against Romney.
"Everywhere I go, everyone wants an end to this hyper partisanship," Feinstein said. "How do we lead in the face of a split nation?"
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco, Bay City News Service and the Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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