Source: Agencies | 2012-11-5 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
US President Barack Obama (center) greets supporters at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia, on Saturday. Obama and Republican Mitt Romney power into a final weekend of campaigning before handing their fates to voters tomorrow.
Photo by AFP
US President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney engaged in a frenzied cross-country blitz of the remaining toss-up states yesterday, with both sides predicting victory in a race that remains too close to call just two days before Election Day.
National opinion polls showed a race for the popular vote in tomorrow's election so close that only a statistically insignificant point or two separated the two rivals. The final national NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll, conducted from Thursday to Saturday, showed Obama getting the support of 48 percent of likely voters, while Romney receives 47 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 2.55 percentage points.
A majority of polls in the battleground states - especially in the Midwestern states of Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio - showed Obama with a slight advantage, giving him an easier path to the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. No Republican has won the White House without carrying Ohio.
Under the US system, the winner is not determined by the nationwide popular vote but in state-by-state contests, making "battleground" states that are neither consistently Republican nor Democratic extremely important in such a tight race. Romney and Obama are actually competing to win at least 270 electoral votes. The electoral votes are apportioned to states based on a mix of population and representation in Congress.
Obama's campaign was mobilizing a massive get-out-the-vote effort aimed at carrying the Democrat to victory. Obama had a full schedule yesterday, with campaign stops in New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado.
The president caught a few hours of sleep back at the White House Saturday night before hitting the campaign trail again yesterday. After Marine One lifted off from the South Lawn yesterday morning, Obama would not return to the White House again until after Election Day.
Romney's campaign was projecting momentum and banking on late-breaking voters to propel him to victory in the exceedingly close race. The Republican was cutting away briefly yesterday from the nine or so competitive states that have dominated the candidates' travel itineraries to make a late play for votes in Pennsylvania, a Democratic-leaning state. Romney was set to campaign yesterday in Iowa, Ohio and Virginia.
Two different messages
Romney has shifted sharply in recent weeks to appeal to the political center and highlights what he says was his bipartisan record as governor of Democratic-leaning Massachusetts. Romney, who during the Republican primary campaign once described himself as "severely conservative," is aggressively courting the narrow slice of undecided voters - women and moderates - who have yet to settle on a candidate.
"I won't just represent one party, I'll represent one nation," the presidential candidate declared on Saturday in his revised campaign speech that he delivered at stops from New Hampshire to Colorado.
In the final days of his final campaign, Obama has been imploring crowds at his rallies - and the wider electorate - to let him finish what he started. The nation has been bruised by recession and war, he contends, but remains resilient and is coming back. At stake, he says, is a fight for the middle class.
"The folks at the very top in this country, they don't need another champion in Washington. They've got lobbyists. ... They've always got a seat at the table," Obama said on Saturday in Ohio, a state at the heart of his re-election strategy. "But people who need a champion are the Americans whose letters I read every night - the men and women I meet on the campaign trail every day."
The president's rallies are aimed at boosting Democratic enthusiasm and motivating as many supporters as possible to cast their votes, either in the final hours of early voting or tomorrow. Persuading undecided voters, now just a tiny sliver of the electorate in battleground states, has become a secondary priority.