Early voting : Obama ahead by 19% McCain cries foul

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John McCain on Tuesday insisted that opinion polls showing his impending defeat were wrong and that he would “fool the pundits” next Tuesday, even as a new survey of early voters showed him trailing Barack Obama by a large margin.

The evidence to bolster Mr Obama’s strong prospects came in a poll by Pew Research that gave the Democratic nominee a 53 per cent to 34 per cent lead over his Republican rival among those who have already voted.

Many Americans have taken advantage of early voting, including a million each in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, according to CNN.

They may have been influenced by Mr Obama continuing to heavily outspend his opponent on the airwaves. Today the Obama campaign will take an unprecedented 30-minute prime-time slot on leading network television channels in a multi-million dollar pitch at voters. The advertisement will also run on Univision, the leading Spanish-language channel.

“Not since Ross Perot ran for president [in 1992 and 1996] have we seen a candidate make the claim that audiences are willing to listen to a candidate for 30 minutes,” said Rita Kirk, a professor of public affairs at the Southern Methodist University. “In an election where voters have shunned negative campaign tactics, we might anticipate this is Obama’s opportunity to rise above the fray and stake a claim for why he is the right leader for our time.”

Mr Obama is this week campaigning in states that George W. Bush won in 2004, including Florida, Virginia and North Carolina, where polls give him a better than even chance of winning.

The Pew poll also showed Mr Obama with a 15 percentage point lead among likely voters, with Mr McCain having a statistically significant advantage only among white evangelical Protestants. It found a far higher level of enthusiasm among Obama voters, with 74 per cent indicating “strong” support against 56 per cent for Mr McCain.

Political analysts continued to search for scenarios that could upset conventional wisdom and deliver a shock McCain victory. But most people, including a majority of the Republican’s supporters according to one poll on Tuesday, now expect Mr Obama to win.

To counter fears of complacency among its supporters the Obama campaign, which is planning a grand finale on Tuesday in Chicago’s Grant Park, continues to spend heavily on its get-out-the-vote operations in swing states.

Yet RealClearPolitics, a politics website, gives Mr Obama an average poll lead of 7.2 per cent, which would deliver between 306 and 375 electoral votes – far more than the 270 needed to win.

Financial Times

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