Democratic Party presidential candidate John Kerry has conceded the race to President Bush, giving the Republican Party leader a second four-year term after a tightly contested election.

Mr. Kerry is set to make a formal address in Boston at 1:00 p.m. EST, 1800 UTC. The White House says Mr. Bush will speak later, at 3:00 p.m. 2000 UTC.

Aides to Mr. Kerry say he called the President some 12 hours after most polls closed. The move averts what many felt could be a repeat of the long-delayed results of the election that brought Mr. Bush his first term four years ago.

Nearly complete results from Tuesday's election show Mr. Bush leading Mr. Kerry in the popular vote by 51 to 48%, or about 3.5 million votes. The President is the first candidate to win a majority of the popular vote since his father, George H.W. Bush, did in 1988.

A dispute about the outcome of the vote in Ohio caused the delay in Mr. Kerry's concession. President Bush is ahead by about 140,000 popular votes in Ohio. But an estimated 150,000 to 250,000 votes there remain to be counted, and the Kerry campaign had said it wanted every vote counted.

Voter turnout was heavy after a long and heated campaign focused on the war on terrorism, Iraq and the economy. But many exit polls suggest Bush supporters were swayed by the president's stance on what were termed "moral issues," including a ban on gay marriage and opposition to stem cell research.

Mr. Bush did best in the South and West of the country. Mr. Kerry was strongest in the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast.