McCain faces uphill task as rivals make their final push

November 2nd, 2008 - 9:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 2 (IANS) With Barack Obama continuing to lead in almost all opinion polls, Republican John McCain Sunday faced an uphill task in preventing his Democratic opponent from becoming the first black president in the nation’s history.But neither of the two rivals would let go as they began their final push for the White House Sunday focusing on the states that President George W. Bush won in the 2004 election with Democrats hoping to gain from his unpopularity and Republicans defending their turf.

Obama was using the last days of the contest before the Nov 4 election to make incursions into the Republican territory, campaigning Saturday in three states - Colorado, Missouri and Nevada - that Bush won relatively comfortably in 2004.

McCain started the day in Virginia, a once-solidly Republican state, and then turned his attention to two states that voted Democratic in 2004 - Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.

Both Obama and McCain used their last hours on the campaign trail to return to the themes that have marked their candidacies. While the Democrat suggested that a vote for his rival would mean another four years of the Bush rule, McCain harped on his opponent’s inexperience and said he would impose higher taxes in these hard times.

Across the country, the presidential race has generated much excitement reminiscent of the John Kennedy-Richard Nixon contest of 1960.

In Colorado, 46 percent of the electorate has already voted in that state’s early voting programme.

Voters in states like Missouri, Montana, North Carolina and Virginia were getting knocks on their doors, telephone calls and leaflets slipped under their windshield wipers.

According to a Washington Post analysis, polls show Obama leading in states whose electoral votes total nearly 300, and the Democrats heading toward expanded house and senate majorities. To win a candidate requires 270 of the 538 electoral votes from 50 states and the capital Washington.

McCain is running in one of the worst environments ever for a Republican presidential nominee, it said noting the Republican has not been in front in any of the 159 national polls conducted over the last six weeks.

His slender hopes for winning the White House now depend on picking up a major Democratic stronghold or fighting off Obama’s raids on most of the five states Bush won four years ago that now lean toward the Democrat, it said.

He also must hold on to six other states that Bush won in 2004 but are considered too close to call.

Obama leads in every state that Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry won four years ago, which gives him a base of 252 electoral votes.

He also has leads of varying sizes in five states Bush won: Iowa, New Mexico, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada. Were he to win all of those on Tuesday, he would claim the presidency with 291 electoral votes.

The tossup states include traditional battlegrounds such as Ohio, Florida and Missouri, as well as North Carolina, Indiana and Montana, which have been firmly in the Republican column in the past.

They account for 87 electoral votes, and if Obama were to win several of them, his electoral vote total could push well into the 300s.

But at least two of the 14 political observers participating in the daily’s Crystal Ball Contest think McCain will defy the polls. Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes and political blogger Ed Morrissey both see the Vietnam War veteran pulling off a Tuesday surprise.

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