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Obama Sweeps to Historic Victory

California delivers White House while Capps coasts as part of a wave of Democrat pickups in Congress.

Moments after the polls closed in California on Tuesday night, Democrat Barack Obama was declared the victor in a historic, two-year battle for the White House. The first-term Illinois senator’s win will make him the nation’s first black president when he takes the oath of office Jan. 20.

Obama’s Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, called him to concede defeat a little after 8 p.m.

A series of hard-fought wins in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia gave Obama an almost insurmountable lead in the race to the 270 Electoral College votes needed for triumph. Arguably, California’s 55 electoral votes put him over the top. On the night, he won 349 electoral votes to McCain’s 161. Obama also was winning the popular vote, but by a narrower margin, 52.06 percent to 46.67 percent.

Santa Barbara County’s tally was in line with California and the nation. With 100 percent of the vote counted in the county, Obama won 59.72 percent to 37.91 percent. In actual votes, Obama collected 80,438 to McCain’s 51,056. Statewide, Obama garnered 61.4 percent of the vote to McCain’s 36.9 percent.

While Democrats celebrated the results at the top of the ticket, they were no less euphoric over what appear to be significant gains in Congress. With two dozen House races undecided early Wednesday, Democrats had won 246 and led in another 10. They currently control the House of Representatives, 235-199 with one vacancy. On the Senate side, Democrats increased their majority to 56-44, with three races too close to call.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, beat Republican challenger Matt Kokkonen, 67.6 percent to 32.4 percent, in the 23rd Congressional District, which snakes through San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. In Santa Barbara County, Capps’ margin was 69.04 percent to 30.81 percent.

Meanwhile, Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Thousand Oaks, beat Democratic challenger Marta Ann Jorgensen, 58 percent to 42 percent, in the 24th District, which includes the Santa Ynez Valley. In Santa Barbara County, Gallegly won 62 percent to 37.83 percent.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at [email protected]

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