Historic presidential election in U.S. today

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Barack Obama
Barack Obama

Major opinion polls give Obama a solid lead over McCain

WASHINGTON: The battle for the United States presidency entered its final hours on Monday, with polls showing Democrat Senator Barack Obama holding a solid lead in his historic quest to become the first black U.S. President. His rival, John McCain of the Republican Party, was grasping for a last-minute upset.

On the last day of his 21-month campaign for the White House, Mr. Obama told supporters in Jacksonville, Florida, that the outcome of the longest, most expensive U.S. presidential contest in history was up to them.

“That’s how we’re gonna change this country — with your help,” he told the crowd, amid chants of “O-bam-a, O-bam-a.”

“And that’s why we can’t afford to slow down, sit back, or let up, one minute, or one second in the next twenty-four hours. Not one minute. Not one hour. Not one second. Not now. Not when so much is at stake.”

Mr. McCain meanwhile was racing through seven States in a last campaign swing that ends on Tuesday morning, in a bid to persuade undecided voters that he, not his rival, was more qualified to lead the U.S.

“With this kind of enthusiasm, this kind of intensity, we will win Florida and we will win the election,” Mr. McCain told a relatively modest crowd in Florida.

Looking, again, to distance himself from the unpopular incumbent, President George W. Bush, Mr. McCain stressed that he, too, opposed Mr. Bush’s economic policies. But he insisted that Mr. Obama could be counted on to raise taxes, something he would not do.

Some polls showed tightening races in Florida, Ohio and a number of battleground States. But some national polls suggested Mr. Obama’s lead was widening overall as the candidates moved to the final stages of the race.

A USA Today/Gallup poll published on Monday found likely voters favouring Mr. Obama by 11 points over Mr. McCain, 53-42 per cent. The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday among 3,050 adults, and had a margin of error of 2 per cent. Other polls showed Mr. Obama with a 7 or 8 percentage point lead.

But there are still many uncertainties about how the unprecedented contest will play out. — AP

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