It's still not decided—at least technically.
The papers all went to bed extra late, and all get the outlines of where things stand this morning: President Bush is leading by about 3 million votes, which works out to 51 percent to 48 percent. A few states haven't been called, but Electoral College-wise it's all about Ohio, where Bush is leading by about 145,000 votes. (Here's the official count.) One hundred percent of precincts have reported, but there are roughly 100,000 to 200,000 provisional ballots still up in the air, plus late-arriving absentee votes from overseas.
Republicans are also poised to gain a handful of seats in the House and Senate. The key Dem defeated: Minority Leader Tom Daschle. It's the first time a Senate party leader has been booted since 1952.
In a middle-of-the-night one-minute speech, Sen. John Edwards offered an anticoncession. "Every vote counts, and every vote will be counted," he said. "We've waited four years for this victory. We can wait one more night." Buckeye state law mandates that provisional ballots not be counted for 10 days.
President Bush was about to claim victory but held off, apparently because most networks haven't called Ohio (the exceptions: Fox and NBC), and neither has Ohio's secretary of state—though the AP and ABC News reported that the White House called him last night to ... discuss things.
Meanwhile, lawyers are buttoning up their briefcases and preparing for battle.
As for the concern about widespread snafus and intimidation: It didn't happen. There were a series of lawsuits in Ohio, from both sides—and the long-line stations there had five-hour lines—but the much fought-over Republican fraud watchers mostly just sat around quietly taking notes. "So far, the biggest story is what didn't happen," said one widely quoted analyst. "There have been no bigs but lots of littles."
Still, the International Herald Tribune checks in with the U.S.-accredited international elections monitors who hung around yesterday, who weren't impressed: The IHT said they complained about "less access to polls than in Kazakhstan, fewer fail-safes than in Venezuela" and ballots that are more complex than those in the Republic of Georgia. "To be honest, monitoring elections in Serbia a few months ago was much simpler," said one observer.
In another bit of CW that turned out to be bunk: Turnout was indeed key, as the Post details, but not for the side most assumed.
Slate's Will Saletan guesses why Bush keeps cleaning up: simplicity.
Everybody mentions that a proposed ban on gay marriage won in all 11 states where it was up for a vote.
Events also continued in Iraq, which had an especially bad day: A car bomb exploded outside the Education Ministry in Baghdad, killing six and wounding dozens. There were also two car bombs in Mosul, killing three Iraqis. One of the attacks apparently targeted a top Iraqi commander. Four Jordanian workers were kidnapped. A top oil official was assassinated. And guerrillas blew up the North's main oil pipeline, dealing what the NYT calls "a severe blow to the national economy."