Ohio, where Romney staged an all-out effort of the past several weeks, proved too much. President Obama carried the state on the strength of an overpowering early vote initiative and strong turnout in the state's larger cities.
Obama was leading Romney by more than 200,000 early and absentee votes and was expected to receive as many or more votes in places like Cleveland and Toledo than he did in carrying the state four years ago.
But Obama maintained heavy pressure on Romney in the race's closing weeks by reminding voters the Republican opposed the federal auto industry bailout.
Obama struck at the issue during the campaign's last debate. And the Romney campaign's airing an ad that wrongly suggested Jeep was moving jobs from Toledo to China prompted Obama to charge Romney with lying, and released its own ad.
Obama also won Iowa, where Republicans thought they had a chance in light of GOP gains in the state in 2010. But Obama spent more than $50 million in Iowa defending the state he carried in 2008, and that launched him in the 2008 leadoff nominating caucuses.
— Thomas Beaumont — Twitter http://twitter.com/TomBeaumont
EDITOR'S NOTE — Election Watch shows you Election Day 2012 through the eyes of Associated Press journalists. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.