Americans tonight entrusted their fate for at least the next four years to Barack Obama, who made history by becoming the first African-American to win the US presidency.

Scenes of jubilation broke out among Democratic supporters as the US TV networks declared that the inexperienced but inspirational Democratic candidate had been elected president at around 4am GMT, after a momentous day that saw voters turn out in huge numbers.

As one state after another fell into the Democratic column, Obama clinched a transformational election, comparable to Franklin D Roosevelt's in 1932, John F Kennedy's in 1960 and Bill Clinton's in 1992.

In an early blow to John McCain's hopes, US television networks projected that Obama would win Pennsylvania, where the Republican badly needed to win to stand a chance of capturing the White House.

In another big setback for McCain, the Fox News network projected that Obama would win Ohio, the state that ultimately decided the 2004 race between George Bush and John Kerry.

No Republican has won the White House without Ohio. With Ohio and Pennsylvania in his pocket, Obama would be well on his way towards an overall majority.
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Fears that many white voters would fail, in the privacy of the polling booth, to vote for a black candidate appeared to be unfounded, suggesting that race is becoming less of an issue in the US.

Americans voted in record numbers throughout the day as they finally got the chance to turn their backs on eight years of George Bush and choose a new president after America's longest and costliest election campaign.

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The next president will inherit horrendous economic problems that will limit the scope of his ambitions. Obama, in his final rallies, was already tempering his early promise of change with warnings about how he would have to curb some of his more ambitious plans, trying to lower expectations that he would be able to move quickly on health care and education reform.

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Extract from Guardian UK