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Obama vs. Romney: Who has the momentum?

Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama by a fraction in the average of national polls. But Obama is ahead in enough battleground states to maintain a lead in the Electoral College. In short, the whole race is too close to call.

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“While 22 percent of likely voters personally have been contacted by Obama’s campaign, as many, 23 percent, have been contacted by Romney’s side,” Langer writes. “That’s tightened from a five-point Obama advantage in contacts in mid-October; Obama similarly had a five-point advantage over John McCain in contacts at about this point in 2008.”

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But in another critical measure of how the campaigns are doing – early voting – Obama has a lead, at least in certain key swing states. The latest Time magazine poll out of Ohio, released Oct. 24, shows that among people who say they have already voted, Obama is beating Romney 60 percent to 30 percent.

The Obama campaign estimates that 40 percent of the vote nationally will be cast before Nov. 6, compared with about 30 percent four years ago. Polls show Romney beating Obama among people who plan to vote on Election Day.

For more than a week, political analysts have been flagging the possibility that one candidate could win the popular vote, with the other winning the Electoral College, and thus the election, which happened in 2000. The 2012 version would put Romney in the position of Al Gore and Obama as George W. Bush, though, it is widely hoped, without any legal disputes.  

A look at the Electoral College map shows just how steep the challenge is for Romney. For example, even if Romney were to win all the states Senator McCain won in 2008, plus Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Colorado, Obama would still win in the Electoral College, 271 to 267.

“Partisans still hoping that their candidate will build a clear lead in the presidential contest are likely to be disappointed,” nonpartisan analyst Charlie Cook wrote in NationalJournal.com on Oct. 18. “The race seems destined to be a close one, with the outcome remaining in doubt to the very end.”

So far, Mr. Cook’s prediction is holding true.

RECOMMENDED: Are you more (or less) liberal than President Obama? Take our quiz.

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