Florida's Democratic Party claimed victory for President Barack Obama in the state Thursday night, as he clung to a narrow but apparently insurmountable lead in the agonizingly slow vote count.
If Obama wins Florida, he will have 332 Electoral College votes. He is well over the required 270 without it.
"On behalf of Florida Democrats, I wish President Barack Obama congratulations on his re-election and on his winning Florida's 29 electoral votes," Rod Smith, chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, said in a statement reported by Reuters.
In a tacit concession, Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Burgess said in an email that he and other Mitt Romney supporters were "obviously not happy with the result."
As of Thursday evening, Obama had 49.92 percent of the statewide vote, versus 49.22 percent for Romney, according to the Florida Division of Elections.
Two of the three counties where ballots were still being tallied, Broward (Fort Lauderdale) and Palm Beach, are heavily Democratic. The third, Duval (Jacksonville), has more registered Democrats than Republicans but has traditionally leaned Republican in presidential contests.
Just 58,055 votes separated the two candidates, but that was far more than the notorious 537 by which George W. Bush was awarded the presidency in 2000.
Earlier Thursday, the Miami Herald reported that Romney's senior adviser in Florida had given up.
“The numbers in Florida show this was winnable,” Brett Doster said in a statement obtained by the Herald. “We thought based on our polling and range of organization that we had done what we needed to win. Obviously, we didn’t, and for that I, and every other operative in Florida has a sick feeling that we left something on the table. I can assure you this won’t happen again.”
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