Across the United States, millions of Americans are voting for a new
president and members of Congress. Before voting began, major preference polls
showed Democrat Barack Obama with a significant national margin over Republican
John McCain, both of whom criss-crossed the country, along with their vice
presidential running mates, in a final push for more votes. Dan Robinson
reports on this and Congressional races.
In the final hours of a
hard-fought campaign - the longest and most expensive in American history -
Obama and McCain addressed rallies in key states in the East, Midwest and West,
attempting to solidify support and win over undecided and independent
Both kept to themes sounded throughout the campaign, including
the U.S. economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - each promising
to bring their brand of change to Washington.
Obama, who if he wins will be the first
African-American to be president, promised tax cuts for the middle class. McCain
campaigned on his Senate record and military experience, pledged to eliminate
corruption in Washington and slash government waste.
After stops in
Florida and North Carolina, Obama held a final rally in Manassas, Virginia - in
a state no Democrat has won since 1964 - addressing tens of thousands of
"I've just got one question for you, Virginia. Are you fired
up? Are you ready to go? Fired up? Ready to go? Fired up? Ready to go? Fired up?
Ready to go? Virginia, let's go change the world," said Obama. "Thank you and
God Bless the United States of America."
Senator McCain's closing efforts
took him to Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Colorado, New Mexico and
Nevada, before ending up in his home state of Arizona.
In Indianapolis, Indiana, where some polls showed
McCain holding a narrow lead, he asserted to cheering supporters that momentum
had shifted his way.
"We've got the momentum," said McCain. "We've the
momentum my friends. We've got it!"
Final national polls showed some
tightening in the presidential contest, but not sufficient to shift the
advantage to Senator McCain. Obama held a comfortable lead in a collection of
polls of between five and 11 points.
A final USA Today/Gallup poll gave Obama an 11 point,
53-to-42 percent lead. A NBC/Wall Street
Journal sampling put the margin at eight points. Several organizations
projected Obama already exceeding 270 electoral votes needed to win, out of a
total of 538 electoral votes at stake.
Most polls show Obama with safe
leads in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but a much narrower lead in Florida. No U.S.
president has been elected without winning two of these crucial
McCain campaign officials held out hope for an upset, but
analysts call this unlikely, requiring a combination of wins across the country,
including states President Bush won in the previous two presidential elections,
but where Obama is running strongly.
Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, the
Democratic and Republican vice presidential candidates, also kept up a hectic
In Missouri, Biden again linked McCain's economic proposals to
President Bush, while Palin rallied supporters in Ohio:
Obama as our president we won't be waiting to change our luck, we will change
our luck," said Biden. "We will take control and change our luck!
is not the time to entrust the powers of the federal government to the one-party
rule of Obama, [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi, and [Senate Majority Leader Harry]
Reid!" said Palin.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35
in the 100 member Senate are up for election, with Democrats poised for
significant gains. Republicans are defending 23 of the 35 Senate
Most projections have Democrats expanding their current 36 seat
House advantage by at least 20. Potential losses could give Democrats their
strongest majority in 18 years, putting Republicans far below their current 199
Democrats would like to widen their current narrow
51-to-49 margin of control in the Senate to or near a 60-seat majority that
could make it easier to win votes on legislation.
With early voting in 30
states, more than 40 million Americans - 32 percent of the electorate - may
already have cast ballots, and there are predictions of unprecedented voter
Vote watch organizations have encouraged Americans to report
irregularities or attempts at intimidation at the polls.
first in Florida, Virginia, Indiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, will
deliver early signs of the national trend.
Senator McCain will monitor
election results in his home state of Arizona. Senator Obama will be in Chicago,
where he started his political career.