George Bush won a second term as President of the United States today after his election opponent John Kerry conceded defeat.
The race came down to the outcome in the crucial swing state of Ohio.
But with Mr Bush leading there by more than 100,000 votes, Democratic Senator Kerry accepted he was beaten and conceded.
Mr Kerry telephoned Mr Bush shortly after 4pm GMT after deciding it was futileto continue challenging the result in Ohio.
According to sources, the call lasted less than five minutes and Senator Kerry, from Massachusetts, said: "Congratulations, Mr President."
Mr Bush was expected to address the nation at 8pm GMT and Senator Kerry was due to speak at 6pm GMT.
The Bush campaign said earlier it was "convinced" Mr Bush had won in Ohio and had therefore triumphed in his bid to be re–elected as the 43rd President.
Mr Bush won the nationwide popular vote 51% to 48%.
White House chief of staff Andrew Card said: "President Bush has won the state of Ohio."
He said the Secretary of State for Ohio had indicated that it was statistically impossible for Senator Kerry to make up his shortfall in the state from the ballots not yet counted.
"This all adds up to a convincing electoral college victory as well as a strong endorsement by his fellow Americans in the popular vote," he told Republican supporters at the Reagan Centre in Washington.
With all precincts in Ohio reporting, Mr Bush had 2,794,346 to Mr Kerry's 2,658,125 – a difference of more than 136,000.
The Kerry campaign initially insisted that 250,000 uncounted provisional ballots could still deliver the state for the Democrat.
"We can wait one more night," Mr Kerry's running mate, John Edwards, said in the early hours.
But many of the uncounted provisional ballots would not be valid, and some would be cast for Mr Bush, making it virtually impossible for Mr Kerry to make up the difference.
Provisional ballots are cast by people whose eligibility is challenged or whose names are not on voting lists when they arrive at polling stations.
Rather than being turned away, these people cast provisional ballots which are counted later, provided they are eligible.
As earlier results came in, Mr Bush won in the swing state of Florida and Mr Kerry took the equally crucial state of Pennsylvania.
Across the rest of the United States, there were few surprises as both candidates held on to their usual support bases.
The US went to the polls following one of the closest, most expensive and bitter election campaigns in history.
The turnout was one of the highest seen in many years. In several states, polling stations had to stay open so people still queuing outside could cast their votes.
Mr Bush was victorious in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Mr Kerry, a US Senator for Massachusetts for 20 years, won California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
West Virginia – which was a Democratic state until Mr Bush took it in 2000 – remained behind the president.
The earlier Republican win in Missouri was a big indicator of an overall victory for the party.
The state has backed the eventual presidential winner in 24 of the past 25 elections.
Mr Bush, Mr Kerry and and Vice President Dick Cheney carried their respective home states of Texas, Massachusetts and Wyoming.
North Carolina, home to Mr Edwards, went to the Republicans, as expected.
Before the dispute over Ohio erupted, both candidates said they did not expect protracted legal battles, like the one which ensued after voting figures were disputed in Florida in 2000.
In 2000, it took 36 days and an intervention by the Supreme Court before the recounts were halted, leaving Mr Bush ahead of Democrat Al Gore by just 537 votes.
By taking the state, Mr Bush won the election.
This time around, more than £325 million has been spent by each candidate, their parties and allied groups – triple the amount spent on TV and radio commercials in 2000.
Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: "President Bush's victory has been at the cost of a nation more deeply divided than it was even in the 1960s.
"Europeans must hope that his administration will be much more multilateral in character, and that he will act swiftly to rebuild the Atlantic partnership which is so vital to security.
"Iraq will remain an issue of potential division for some time to come."Reuse content