Election night live blog at McCormick Place

1:19am: President Obama capped off his historic night with a gracious, stirring speech that emphasized bipartisan notes even as it set out his Democratic values in a firm, clear-eyed way.

But even before the confetti swirled into the air at McCormick Place, the true impact of this election hit home: America is not a small-minded place. A coalition of women, minorities, young people and liberals of every type listened to their better angels and refused to turn back. The sure knowledge that we are not a winner-take-all, petty, mean, Randian nation is the real gift Barack Obama has given us.

My Electoral College projections were somewhat offbeat in that I thought Obama would win North Carolina and lose Iowa. In part, it was because of Obama for America's fearsome turnout operation in North Carolina, but my thinking was also based in part on a cynical notion that a diverse population there would be more likely to vote a black president into office than one that was about as white as it gets. About the latter thought, I'm glad I was wrong. That's not to say racism didn't hold down Obama's popular vote totals; it clearly did. But in the great sweep of history, it seems we are still moving in the right direction.Frank Sennett

10:46pm: The scene inside McCormick Place was Beatles-level pandemonium as the nets called four more years for the hometown hero and the DJ spun the appropriately in-your-face "How Ya Like Me Now" and "Twist and Shout."

In the end, it wasn't even close. Even as President Obama won the Electoral College, the Democrats were busy running the table on all of the competitive Senate races, only a Tester call away from a sweep.

All that money. All that vitriol. All those lies. For the Republicans, it was all for nothing, a billion-dollar bet on fear and smear and ignore anyone brown or poor or queer.

The Republicans are left with a regional party that will have to tack hard to the center on social issues, immigration and perhaps even tax policy if they are to realize their dreams of a center-right nation. The bet here: It's not going to happen.

The cynical bet was to snatch away the presidency just as the economy finally started to gain altitude and then take full credit for the windfall. Now the Democrats could be poised for a 12 to 16 year White House run. Over to you, Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton.Frank Sennett

9:20pm: Even as the nation elected its first openly gay Senator in Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, Illinois Democratic political luminaries began walking the media gauntlet at McCormick Place.

State rep. Deb Mell walked by, but no word on whether her brother-in-law had TV privileges to watch the returns. It'd be cruel not to let him; Blago resides in a swing state now.

Congressman Bobby Rush, who had a heartening amount of pep in his step, told TOC that he talked with just-reelected Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. last week, and he told Rush he's returning to Washington. Meanwhile, Ald. John Arena said Jackson's wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson, could end up in Jr.'s seat.Frank Sennett

8:04pm: The crowd roars as Michigan, New Jersey, New York go to Obama. Boos follow each state announced falling in the Romney column. Chants of "Four more years!" echoing through McCormick Place.—Jake Malooley

7:50pm: The man behind the turntables for the Obama party tonight is DJ Mel. You might recognize him; he played Lollapalooza 2012. The Austinite got the prime election night gig after deejaying the Democratic National Convention in North Carolina. On his grabbag playlist for the night, which was wholly dictated by the Obama campaign: Florence and the Machine, Aretha Franklin, No Doubt, Al Green, James Taylor, Electric Light Orchestra. Is deejaying for the Prez a big-money job, I wondered? "I didn't even ask about money," said Mel, who is associated with C3 Presents, the Lolla organizer. "It is such an honor."—Jake Malooley

7:57pm: Two hours after Virginia polls were supposed to close and no call, as reporting of results was suspended to give people in long lines time to vote sans spoiler alert. So what could have been an early indicator of a decisive Obama win is instead hanging fire.

The mood in the press bunker at McCormick Place meanwhile is calm to the point of malaise. CNN, which blares through this depressing space, and analysts on Twitter are dropping big hints that the Tea Party Senate candidates are going down in Indiana and Missouri, and that it is shaping up to be a good night for the president.

As Obama supporters stream in upstairs, no call yet in North Carolina (which I predicted for Obama) and Colorado is coming up in moments. Could be quite a party tonight. When they finally release the Virginia tallies, we should know.—Frank Sennett

7:26pm: McCormick Place is slowly beginning to fill with energy as invited guests are let in. Secret Service has three metal detectors set up at the entry. One of the first people inside told me he got his ticket after volunteering to knock on doors for Obama in Wisconsin. We're looking for (and listening for) Cubs mega-fan Ronny Woo-Woo, who was at the 2008 rally, and other Chicago pseudo-celebs to show.—Jake Malooley

5:56pm: Just before the polls closed in the pivotal state of Virginia, no guests are yet on the floor of McCormick Place in Chicago, where President Obama will take the stage later tonight. Two giant flags and some bunting are the only decorative elements outside of the TV camera view of the lectern.

Brooms are being pushed, lifts are carrying workers to the rafters to check connections, and PA tests are being conducted, including the reading of poems and the faux introduction of the First Family as Wolf Blitzer's voice echoes from one of the guest suites off the main floor.

Projectors show six feeds on jumbo screens just above the press pen. Karl Rove silently bloviates as we await the first crucial projection.—Frank Sennett


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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)