WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has claimed a second term from an incredibly divided electorate in trying economic times. He is bracing for daunting challenges and progress that comes only in fits and starts.

He told supporters at a victory rally early Wednesday morning that "the best is yet to come."

The same voters who gave Obama another four years also elected a divided Congress. Democrats retained control of the Senate; Republicans renewed their majority in the House.

The vanquished Republican, Mitt Romney, tried to set a more conciliatory tone on the way off the stage, saying the nation "can't risk partisan bickering" after a campaign filled with it.

Obama claimed a commanding electoral mandate — at least 303 electoral votes to 206 for Romney — although the popular vote was closer.