11/07/2012 at 01:40 AM EST
Barack Obama, who swept to historic victory in the U.S. presidential race
four years ago, held on to his job Tuesday.
His victory came in a much more tightly contested election against Mitt Romney – earning four more years in the White House and vowing to usher in a brighter future for the country and its people, many of whom struggled mightily in his first term.
Addressing a crowd of supporters in Chicago, Obama said, "We know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come."
The first broadcast networks called the race for Obama at 11:18 p.m. ET. Romney later told supporters in Boston, "I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory."
The incumbent Democrat, 51, and his running mate, Joe Biden, fended off a strong challenge from Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, and his vice-presidential candidate, the Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan, in a divisive race that included four high-stakes debates and tens of millions spent on advertising.
Romney, 65, survived a brutal Republican primary season – a hurdle his father George failed to clear back in 1968 – to make a run at the White House. With the country still struggling economically, Romney made a strong case to voters for change, but fell short against a president who remains popular despite the trials of his first term.
Obama will be sworn into office privately at noon on Jan. 20, 2013, in Washington D.C.
Because Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday next year, the public inaugural ceremony will take place the next day, on Jan. 21.