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This historic night

23:26 GMT: I am watching Sky's Decision Time USA. I am not a fan of the Murdoch News Network, but there's no doubting that it is better on US elections than the BBC. There is also something peculiarly satisfying watching Obama win (if he does and I am certain he will)on a channel that is owned by a man who loathes him.

23:28 GMT: The all important exit polls - surveys taken after voters have left the voting both - are a far better indicator of what will happen in an election than standard opinion polls. Take 2004: Many standard polls predicted that Kerry was going to win, but the exit polls revealed that people were voting on moral / social issues. This was code for abortion and same sex marriage, and indicated that those opposed to it were out in force for Bush.

23:30 GMT: The latest exit polls are showing that two thirds of voters feel the economy is the most important issue. Given that previous surveys have revealed that Obama is the most trusted of the two candidates on this matter, it looks good for him.

00:00: Kentucky is called for McCain - big deal. More significant is news from the CBS news network. It has said that 71% of voters feel that the most important thing for them in this election was sending a message to George W Bush. Again, not good news for McCain.

00:02: It is conceivable that voters in California will know who their president will be before they have even cast their ballot, due to the difference in time zones. This could encourage some voters to stay at home, having a knock-on effect on other elections being held tonight. Surely it would be fairer to delay all publication on the results until all voting has ended?

00:48: Georgia has been projected as "too close to call". If Clinton could win it in 1992, there's every chance that Obama can win it too, especially given the sizable African-American vote in that state. Even if he fails, a close race here still indicates a "change election" overall.

01:07: The surprise is not that McCain failed to win Pennsylvania (just called for Obama), but that he felt he could win it in the first place. Perhaps he fell for Hilary Clinton's reasoning that only a white person could win over white, working class voters.

01:16: Elizabeth Dole has lost her Senate seat in North Carolina to Democrat Kay Hagan, in no small part due to her negative campaigning. Accusing your opponent of being an atheist is a new one, even in the bible belt. Colin Powell's quote about Barack Obama being a Muslim springs to mind - so what if she was? That appears to be the question that voters in North Carolina have answered.

01:36: Obama's volunteers knocked on 1.8 million doors in Pennsylvania, according to CBS. No wonder he's won the state.

02:24: Ohio has been called for Barack. This is the break we've been waiting for. McCain should be writing his concession speech as we speak. We have a new president elect.

Michael Elliot of Time Magazine has pointed to Obama's use of 21st Century technology as a reason behind his win. The use of Facebook created an online community of willing, young supporters who then took to the streets to get out the vote. He also argues that American demographics have a part to play. It is a country that is becoming increasingly urban, and therefore more open to people of different backgrounds. It is also becoming a younger country, fueled by immigration from Mexico.

03.03: The BBC's best ever US correspondent Matt Fry is again prescient in his remarks. He notes that Obama won Iowa because he supports subsidies for ethanol as an alternative way to fuel cars. When Obama spoke of creating green jobs, Iowans were clearly listening. Shame that this is one issue upon which I completely disagree with the president-elect. More crops devoted to creating ethanol means fewer crops devoted to food production. Cue rising food prices in rich countries and hunger in the poor.

03:35: For the first time in US history, a state has split its electoral college votes. Nebraska will give McCain 3 of its 5 ECVs and Obama will get 2. This is because it awards ECVs by Congressional district, whereas every other state (except Maine) give all their ECVs to the winner of the popular vote. It seems deeply unfair that 51/49 contests mean the loser gets no ECVs whatsoever. Well done Nebraska. Shame on you Florida and co. In truth, the whole system of indirect election for the president is insane.

The BBC's excellent text service notes that in 1961 the marriage of Obama's parent's (a white woman marrying a black man) would have been illegal had they exchanged nuptials in Virginia. It is all the more sweet that Obama has just won the state. California and Virginia now push Obama over the magic number of 270 Electoral College Votes needed to win. Lump in throat time.

The big debate

Saving democracy at the back of the bus