The growing influence of racial and ethnic minorities in U.S. politics played a significant role in President Barack Obama's reelection to another four-year term in the White House.
As he did in his 2008 victory, America's first black president on Tuesday captured a huge percentage of the vote from African-Americans, 93 percent compared to just 6 percent for Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
But surveys of voters leaving polls showed Obama won increased shares of the Hispanic and Asian vote compared to his first-term victory.
Hispanics voted 69 to 29 percent for the president, with the 40-point margin four points higher than the Democrat recorded in 2008.
Obama has been unable to win congressional passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Hispanics, however, applauded the president's move back in June to stop deporting most young immigrants, chiefly Hispanics, brought to the country illegally by their parents. By contrast, Romney at one point in his long campaign, suggested that immigrants in the United States illegally should "self-deport" to their home countries.
The president won support from Asian voters by a 74-to-25 percent margin, up sharply from the 27-point advantage four years ago.
The support from minority voters was especially important for Obama because exit polls showed Romney won a 58 to 40 percent margin among white voters, a declining, but still dominant part of the American electorate.
Political scientist John Gilmour at the College of William and Mary in Virginia said President Obama's minority support, especially from Hispanics, played an important role in his winning key battleground states that helped decide the outcome of the election.
"The Hispanic population in the United States is growing and the Hispanic share of the electorate is growing," said Gilmour.
The academic said minority voters overall have not only gravitated to Obama's Democratic Party, but also voted more frequently, to the detriment of the opposition Republicans, with its base among white voters.
"This makes the Republicans more reliant on a shrinking part of the electorate to win elections," added Gilmour. "That's not a strategy that's going to win in the long run."
U.S. Census data suggests that the country's demographic makeup is shifting, and that minorities, over the coming years, could play an even bigger role in U.S. politics.
Minorities now comprise 36 percent of the country's more than 311 million people. Last year, for the first time, more than half of the babies born in the U.S. were racial and ethnic minorities.