U.S. television networks are projecting President Bush has won the southern states of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Democratic challenger John Kerry has won Illinois.
With polls now closed in just 25 states, projections show Republican President Bush with 102 electoral votes so far, and Senator Kerry with 77, as news organizations project the winner in a number of states where polls have closed. To win the presidency, a candidate must win at least 270 of a toal of 538 electoral votes.
Exit polls indicate Mr. Bush is the winner as expected in many Southern and border states. Mr. Kerry is the projected winner through much of the Northeast, and the populous state of Illinois.
There was not enough information immediately available to call the race in the so-called battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, which will probably decide the election. It was too early to call the races in several other states.
So far, exit polls give Mr. Kerry 77 electoral votes and Mr. Bush 102. To win the election, a candidate must receive at least 270 of the 538 total electoral votes. Very early returns in the popular vote gave Mr. Bush about 56 percent and Mr. Kerry 43 percent.
Turnout was reported heavy as voters finally decided who will be the next president after a long and heated campaign focused on the war on terrorism, Iraq, and the economy.