MIAMI (Reuters) – With almost all ballots in Florida counted, U.S. media on Saturday projected President Barack Obama the winner in that state four days after he won Tuesday’s national election.
Florida brings his total of electoral votes to 332 versus 206 for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Florida was the last state where the outcome was in doubt because three counties were still counting ballots.
Obama had 50.01 percent of the vote in Florida compared with 49.13 percent for Romney, with nearly all ballots counted, according to figures from the Florida Secretary of State’s Office. The president’s lead stood at nearly 74,000 votes.
CNN projected that Obama would win Florida. NBC and the Associated Press also were among the media outlets that called the state for Obama based on the latest tally.
Also in Florida, Tea Party-backed U.S. Representative Allen West, the firebrand Republican lawmaker known for his blistering attacks on Obama and other Democrats, lost his re-election bid, according to the state’s latest vote tally on Saturday.
With the victory in Florida, Obama swept all of the battleground states, with the exception of North Carolina, which he won narrowly in 2008.
The Democratic Party in Florida had declared victory on Thursday and Republicans tacitly conceded defeat.
Florida was the scene of a historic fight over ballot counting after the 2000 presidential election, when the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that Republican George W. Bush should be awarded the state’s electoral votes and the presidency.
The delay in finalizing Florida’s result this year did not affect the national outcome but raised concerns that some of the problems in 2000 had not been resolved 12 years later.
LITTLE HAVANA FOR OBAMA
Exit polls indicate that Obama picked up 61 percent of Florida’s Hispanic vote to 39 percent for Romney, underscoring the Republican Party’s lack of appeal to the country’s fastest-growing electoral group.
South Florida’s large Cuban-American community, usually a solid Republican voting bloc, also voted for the Democrats in record numbers, according to exit poll data released by the Obama campaign.
Obama won 48 percent of the Cuban-American vote, and upset Romney in Miami’s Little Havana district, considered the heart of the Cuban exile community, where a survey of precincts showed Obama won 56 percent of ballots cast.
In West’s congressional district, the 51-year-old former Army officer has not conceded defeat to his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy. West said there were voting irregularities and has called for a partial recount.
The complete but unofficial vote count showed that Murphy, a 29-year-old political newcomer, defeated West by 2,442 votes. Murphy had 50.36 percent of the vote compared with West’s 49.62 percent, meaning he was outside the 0.5 percent margin that would trigger an automatic recount under Florida rules.
A West campaign spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.
On Friday, a Palm Beach County judge rejected a request by West to impound voting machines and ballots.
West, one of two black Republicans in the House of Representatives, had amassed one of the biggest campaign war chests among House Republicans. The contentious race was one of the most expensive House races in the country. (Additional reporting by David Adams in Miami, Greg McCune in Chicago and Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney)