Hard night and long day heralded Bush's return

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The Independent US

Tuesday 23.48GMT Polling booths start to close. Democrats cautiously optimistic amid reports that turnout is up 9% to 72% from 2000 election.

Tuesday 23.48GMT Polling booths start to close. Democrats cautiously optimistic amid reports that turnout is up 9% to 72% from 2000 election.

Wednesday midnight-00.30 No surprises as safe-bet states called - Georgia, Kentucky and Indiana are red (Republican) territories; Vermont true blue.

00.28 Virginia, a state the Bush camp is hoping to win, is pronounced "too close to call" by US networks.

00.35 Both camps wait with baited breath, but Ohio, one of the three pivotal swing-states, is also "too close to call".

00.45 Democrats in Ohio, anxious to eke out every last vote, request voting hours be extended as queues of residents are still keen to make their choice.

00.56-01.08 More predictable calls give Kerry the edge over Bush. Looks as if Democrats have won in Maine, Delaware, District of Columbia, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts, while Bush has won in South Carolina, Oklahoma, Alabama and Tennessee.

01.05 Democrat Barak Obama sails to victory in Illinois Senate race, AP predicts - the fifth black senator in US history.

01.10 Democrats succeed in obtaining Federal Court ruling: last-minute voters in Ohio are offered alternative to touch-screens to speed up polling.

01.28 The President takes back his lead as North Carolina surprises nobody by voting Republican, AP predicts. Bush is now leading 81 votes to Kerry's 78.

02.00 Streams of Florida residents still heading for the polls. Republicans try to delay counting of half a million absentee ballots until Thursday - meaning no result tonight.

02.05-02.08 No surprises as New York is called for Kerry; North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas for Bush.

02.14 Michigan, a battleground state taken by Democrats in 2000, pronounced "too close to call" by Fox News.

02.24-02.45 Another rash of solid Republican states - Mississippi, Louisiana and Nebraska - are called for Bush, giving the President a comfortable 176 to 112 lead in predictions.

02.50 George Bush "very upbeat" as he watches the votes roll in with his family.

03.01 Votes for the President keep coming in, with Arkansas and Missouri called - narrowly - for Bush.

03.31 Speculation is rife that Bush is on for a win - and it causes US oil prices to climb back above $50 a barrel.

03.38 Spirits sink further in Kerry camp as Bush reported to have four-point lead in Florida, where over 80% of precincts have now closed.

03.51 All is not lost: John Kerry clinches key battleground state of Pennsylvania and its 21 electoral college votes, according to AP projections.

04.06 Victory for the President projected in Idaho and Arizona, while the 55 electoral college votes of California are tipped to go to Kerry.

04.16 But reports that swing-state Colorado has plumped for Bush dampen the mood in Kerry camp.

04.17 Democrat prospects even bleaker as early signs point to a Bush four-point lead in crucial Ohio.

04.35 Bush looks to be ahead by four points in Florida.

04.39 Just in case you'd forgotten him, independent candidate Ralph Nader pops up to assure the world he'll be back to fight another election.

04.40 ABC calls Florida for the President - a massive boost to Bush and near-fatal blow to Kerry's hopes. Cheers reported to erupt from the West Wing of the White House.

05.04 Oregon, Minnesota and New Hampshire - all swing states - are called for Kerry.

05.43 Fox News calls Ohio for Bush.

05.48-06.00 Washington state called for Kerry; Alaska for Bush. Republicans start to celebrate but uncounted votes in Ohio could change the picture.

06.29 Resolutely optimistic, Kerry-Edwards campaign manager predicts Ohio will go to Kerry once 250,000 remaining votes are counted.

07.35 Hawaii and swing-state Michigan bring in another 21 electoral college votes for Kerry.

08.20 Markets are banking on a Bush win: European shares jump to six-month highs, while the dollar and US-share index futures soar to sky-high levels.

08.49 George Bush eager to declare victory and will not wait for a Kerry concession, his aides say. The Democratic contender seen as "delusional" by the White House for not admitting defeat in Ohio.

09.05 Senate leader Tom Daschle projected to lose his seat, the first time a party leader has done so for more than 50 years. Both Senate and House will remain controlled by Republicans.

09.44 It's nail-bitingly close: with Wisconsin's 10 votes under his belt, Kerry has 252 votes to Bush's 254, with 270 needed to win.

10.39 It's all a bit much for Bush: the President goes to bed.

10.49 White House chief of staff Andrew Card claims the slumbering President has taken Ohio and won a second term by a "decisive margin".

13.05 President Bush appears to have secured a firm majority of the popular vote. His 58,162,305 (51%) trumps Kerry's 54,623,559 (48%).

13.31 Ohio Secretary of State releases provisional vote numbers for 78 of Ohio's 88 counties. Bush seems destined for clear win.

16.07 Kerry calls President Bush to admit defeat in Ohio and in the election, clearing the way a second term for the incumbent.

17.55 Dow Jones share index up 140 points, or 1.3% on news of Bush win. Many investors believe Mr Bush's policies are more business-friendly than those of his challenger, John Kerry.

19.00 John Kerry concedes.

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