Republican Kerry Healey gave a gracious concession speech shortly before 9:30 p.m. tonight, congratulating Democrat Deval Patrick for becoming the first black governor of Massachusetts.
"We are all grateful for the history that has been made tonight," Healey told a crowd of cheering supporters. "Barriers have been broken and we should all be extremely grateful for that."
Healey thanked her "loyal, hard working" supporters who she said renewed her faith in human nature.
"It was been an extraordinary four years and this has been a tough race," Healey said. "But we fought hard for the ideals and the values that we all believe. Today another path was chosen by the voters her in Massachusetts."
Healey told the crowd she was proud of a legacy that included recovery high schools and tougher drunk driving and sex offender laws.
Before Healey took the stage, outgoing Governor Mitt Romney hailed her as the "best lieutenant governor" in the country, saying he would not be surprised to see her re-emerge as a candidate in the future.
At 9:44 p.m., Patrick had 55 percent of the vote to Healey's 36 percent with 42 percent of the precincts reporting. Independent candidate Christy Mihos had 7 percent of the vote, and Green-Rainbow nominee Grace Ross had 2 percent.
According to exit surveys by the Associated Press, Patrick did well among Catholics, labor, low-income people, and women. The Democrat also had strong support from voters in cities and in western Massachusetts. That left little for Republican Kerry Healey, who was backed by conservatives and some white Protestants.
About half of voters surveyed identified themselves as moderates, and they backed Patrick by about a 2-to-1 margin. Patrick also had the majority of voters who consider themselves independent.
"I've liked his persona throughout the campaign," Lindsey Peterson, 25, said as she left a polling place in Somerville's Davis Square.
The survey information is according to the poll of 400 Massachusetts voters conducted for AP and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Results were subject to sampling error of plus or minus 7 percentage points, higher for subgroups.