Obama and Romney prepare for final day of campaigning before US Election
US President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are storming into the last day of campaigning before Election Day and are engaging in the toughest battleground states.
The campaigns are focusing on “swing states”, where undecided voters hold the key as to whether the election will be won or lost by the candidates. Obama is holding rallies in Wisconsin and Iowa, while Romney is in Florida, Virginia and New Hampshire.
The prize, however, is Ohio and today both Obama and Romney are rallying their supporters in its capital, Columbus.
Under the US voting system, the winner is not determined by the nationwide vote but in state-by-state contests, making these nine battleground states extremely important in the tight race.
Romney and Obama are competing to win at least 270 electoral votes in total. They are apportioned to states based on a mix of population and representation in Congress. This could mean a replay of the 2000 election when George Bush won the presidency with an electoral vote majority, while Al Gore had a narrow lead in the nationwide popular vote.
Nationwide polls show Obama and Romney locked in one of the closest presidential races in recent American history, though the majority of polls in the battleground states show Obama with a slight advantage.
The final national NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, released yesterday, showed Obama getting the support of 48% of likely voters, with Romney receiving 47%.
Likewise, the final national poll from the Pew Research Centre found Obama with an edge over Romney – 48% to 45% among voters – showing the President may have benefited from his response to Superstorm Sandy.
Up for grabs in the swing states are 83 electoral votes spread across Colorado, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Virginia and Wisconsin. Obama seems in better shape in Ohio and Wisconsin, while Romney appears to be performing slightly better in Florida and Virginia.
In the most interesting late-campaign development Romney has opened a last-minute gambit in Pennsylvania. The state has voted Democrat in the last five presidential elections and has long been counted in the Obama column.
Obama’s campaign has said the move showed Romney’s desperation and was linked to his diminished chances in Ohio. The Obama campaign quickly bought advertising time in the state to counter a big ad push by Romney.
Obama has New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado in his sights for the day. In New Hampshire, he has said he also wants to work across party lines, but will not give up priorities such as college financial aid or the health care law he pushed through Congress.
“That’s not a price I’m willing to pay,” he said, a reference to Romney’s frequent pledge to dismantle the health care reform law that Republicans deride as Obamacare.
The two rivals flew from state to state as the last of an estimated million campaign adverts were airing in a costly attempt to influence a diminishing pool of undecided voters.
About 30 million people have already cast ballots in 34 states and the District of Columbia, although none will be counted until Election Day tomorrow, on Tuesday 6th November.