An exuberant Tim Kaine had barely begun his victory speech when he interrupted himself to announce that President Barack Obama had won re-election. Julie Carey reports from Richmond.
Democrats won some key victories in the D.C. area Tuesday night, with the battleground state of Virginia going to President Barack Obama by a narrow margin.
The state's 13 electoral votes had been expected to play a significant role in the presidential race between Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney -- but with enough results coming in from other states, NBC News projected Obama had won re-election before Virginia's data came in.
After an evening of extended voting, results in Virginia were among the last to come in. Many voters across the commonwealth waited in line for hours for the chance to cast a ballot. In some places, volunteers passed around granola bars, bottles of water and slices of pizza to help take the edge off people's hunger.
Everyone who was in line when the polls closed at 7 p.m. was allowed to stay until they could vote, poll-watchers said. In some locations, that meant up to a three-hour wait.
The catalyst for Obama's victory was the suburban counties of Northern Virginia, which broke heavily in the incumbent's favor. Obama took 69 percent of the vote in Arlington; 71 percent in Alexandria; 59 percent in Fairfax County; 52 percent in Loudoun County, and 57 in Prince William County, NBC News projected as of Wednesday morning.
Obama carried the Old Dominion by three percentage points Tuesday. Four years ago, he won by six percentage points over John McCain. With his second victory in Virginia, Obama became the first Democrat to win Virginia in consecutive campaigns since Franklin D. Roosevelt, who won Virginia in all four of his successful campaigns for president.
Elsewhere in the D.C. area, Obama won Maryland's 10 electoral votes and D.C.'s three electoral votes.
In the District, 91 percent of voters came out for Obama, with 89 percent of precincts reporting as of Wednesday morning. D.C. voters elected to retain Phil Mendelson as chairman of the city council in a special election. In the race for at-large councilmember, Michael A. Brown lost out to Vincent Orange and a political newcomer, Independent David Grosso.
In Maryland, NBC News projected Wednesday morning that 61 percent of voters chose Obama, with strong support for the president in Montgomery County (71 percent) and Prince George's County (90 percent).
There, voters also passed ballot measures approving same-sex marriage, expanded gambling, and in-state tuition for undocumented students.
In other local races, Republicans lost a House seat in Maryland's District 6, with Democrat John Delaney defeating incumbent Roscoe Bartlett by 21 percentage points.
Across the region, voters turned out in large numbers to cast votes in a tight presidential race. At Washington Mill Elementary School in Alexandria -- where Virginia Senate candidate George Allen was expected to vote Tuesday -- voters begin arriving around 4:30 a.m. to wait for the polls to open at 6 a.m.
News4's Megan McGrath estimated the crowd had swelled to 200 by the time polls opened at 6 a.m.
While the line was daunting at first glance, the line moved rather smoothly, even with the new voter ID requirements.
"I thought it was very smooth, very well-organized," one voter said.
Another voter, who said he retired from the military last year, arrived around 5:50 a.m. for his first experience voting in person. He said he was out to vote early because he had to get to work, but that wasn't the only reason.
"I think it's very, very important that all the citizens get out to vote," he said. "It's our one chance to vote on how our country's going to go and what the future of our country is going to be."
The line did prove to be too much for some would-be voters. "I'm going back to work and come back this afternoon," one said Tuesday morning.
As Election Day continued, some voters were reporting waits of one to two hours at some polling places.
"Voted this morning... first time that I can recall actually having to wait in a line that spilled out of the building," Jamie Danesi wrote on our Facebook page. "Been voting more than 20 years."
Another commenter, Natasha Galloway, told us: "Voted this morning... waited for about an hour.... not as bad as I thought it would be as a first timer."
NBC4 content producer Charlitta Rodrigues said around 9:20 a.m. that she expects to wait three hours in Bailey's Crossroads in Virginia. "Ya do what you gotta do!" she tweeted. NBC4 web editor Samuel Chamberlain waited two hours to vote at Precinct 8 in Pentagon City, where volunteers handed out granola bars, bottled water, and slices of pizza to waiting voters.
In the battleground state of Virginia, Jamaal Speights told News4's Julie Carey that he voted to re-elect President Obama in Woodbridge, Prince William County.
"I feel great," Speights said. "I was able to vote and the weight is lifted off shoulder and I can go home now and hopefully not see any more ads on TV."
Mark Vowell voted for Obama in 2008, but told Carey that he went for Romney this time around.
"I like Obama," he said. I think we just need something changed up to affect the direction of the economy. Both sides, I don't think, have done enough to change things up."
Loudoun and Prince William counties are considered vital swing counties in the commonwealth -- and some voters found it exciting.
"We actually just moved here from New York, which is pretty much a foregone conclusion most of the time," said a new Virginia voter. "Your vote means a little bit more here. So it's a little exciting."
At an auditorium in Woodbridge, the line snaked through the building, outside and around the corner. But the line was moving smoothly, with most voters making their way through within 45 minutes, News4's Megan McGrath reported.
As polls opened Tuesday morning in Fort Washington, Md., a line of voters trailed down the ball, around the corner and outside into the chilly morning air.
The line didn't seem to dampen the enthusiasm for a cluster of first-time voters. "I think for young people, for the youth, it's very important to exercise your right to vote," said one new voter.
His mom, also waiting in line, agreed. "I am very proud this morning," she said.
Stay with NBCWashington.com and NBC4 for more Decision 2012 coverage.