Aisha Johnson of Jacksonville, Florida, wipes a tear as she listens to US Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama during a rally in Jacksonville, November 3, 2008. [Agencies]
Democrat Barack Obama has firm control of the US presidential election heading into Tuesday's voting, with Republican John McCain searching for signs of hope in an increasingly bleak political landscape.
Obama has led McCain in every national opinion poll since late September, and is ahead with more than 300 state electoral votes -- far more than the 270 needed to capture the White House.
McCain's camp says the race has tightened down the stretch in battleground states, but some national and state polls show Obama expanding his lead in the final days of a grueling two-year campaign.
To win, McCain must fend off Obama in about a dozen states won by Republican President George W. Bush in 2004. Obama is ahead or running even with the Arizona senator in at least eight of them, including the big prizes of Ohio and Florida.
McCain is struggling tosqueeze out a victory in places like Virginia and Indiana, where Democrats have not won a presidential election since 1964, and in a trio of Western states with growing Hispanic populations -- Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.
Obama also has been able to expand the playing field to firmly Republican states like Montana, North Dakota and even McCain's home state of Arizona, where Obama is advertising and forcing Republicans to compete in the final days.
Obama has solidified his support in states won by Democrat John Kerry in 2004 with a total of 252 electoral votes. He also is a heavy favorite in Iowa, won by Bush in 2004, with 7 electoral votes.
That would put him a scant 11 electoral votes away from victory with multiple ways to get there.
"McCain has to win them all. He has to pass every test and win every battleground all night. He has no margin of error," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University poll.
Obama has taken command of the race in the last month amid a deepening economic crisis that reinforced his perceived strengths on the economy, and in three debates where his steady performance appeared to ease lingering doubts for some voters.
Questions remain about the hidden impact of racial issues on voters -- Obama would be the first black US president -- and about Obama's ability to significantly expand turnout among young and black voters.
But if opinion polls are to be believed, none of that seems likely to matter on Tuesday.
"McCain has to win all the undecided voters and all of the swing states and even some of the Democrats -- and that usually never happens unless everybody is wrong about everything," said Democratic consultant Doug Schoen.
McCain raced through seven states on Monday in a frenzied dash to make gains on Obama. Aides to the Arizona senator said he was closing ground in the final days of the race, although there was scant public evidence of that.
"He could win every red state," adviser Charlie Black said of McCain, noting the color for traditionally Republican states on battleground maps. "Plus, he's probably going to win Pennsylvania and Iowa."
McCain has taken aim at Pennsylvania, a state won by Democrats in the last four presidential elections, as a potential cushion for losses in Republican states. But polls show Obama with comfortable leads there heading into Tuesday.
In the eight national polls released by midday on Monday, Obama led by between five and 11 percentage points.
Obama aides have been heartened by early voting totals in key states like North Carolina, Colorado and Florida showing more Democrats turning out than Republicans and in larger numbers than 2004.
"I don't think there is a path to victory left for McCain unless he draws an inside straight, which means he wins Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Colorado and Indiana -- and that's very problematic," Schoen said.
squeeze out: obtain by difficulty, 竭力争取
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）