Obama and Romney: Sprinting toward Election Day

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are racing around battleground states this weekend, and they'll keep it up through Monday. The race is dead even, but Obama holds an edge in key states.

Jason Reed/REUTERS
President Barack Obama greets supporters during a campaign rally at Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio, on Saturday.

Three days and a few hours from now, Americans will know who their president will be for the next four years. That’s barring some sort of Florida-2000 debacle, of course.

Both candidates are racing around battleground states this weekend, and they plan to keep it up through Monday. Smoke is coming out of pollsters’ computer modeling machines cranking out last-minute numbers. Pundits are furiously stroking their beards, hoping to be seen as prescient (or at least not too far wrong) come the morning after.

At this point, it seems, Mitt Romney’s post-debate Big Mo(mentum) appears to have slowed a bit as national polls put the race at dead-even. Or to put it another way, Barack Obama may claim the glimmer of a Mini Mo in those battleground states that could decide the election.

In Pictures: A roadtrip across the political landscape

An NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of likely voters released Friday night has Obama ahead by six percentage points (51-45) in Ohio and two points (49-47) in Florida.

In Florida, respondents gave the edge to Romney on handling the economy (48-46), but in Ohio – a strong union state – those numbers are reversed with a slight plurality saying Obama would do the better job here. Seven of ten people surveyed in both states expressed approval of Obama’s handling of Hurricane Sandy.

The Real Clear Politics average of ten recent polls in Ohio has Obama up by just under three points.

Ohio may be especially critical to Romney, whose party has never won the presidency without taking the state. "Ohio, you're the lynchpin, you're the battleground of battlegrounds," Romney running mate Paul Ryan said Friday while campaigning there.

More and more, demography may be destiny in electoral politics – more so now than at any time, and it may be what saves Obama from becoming a one-term president.

“Obama is likely to get blown out among white voters on Election Day, narrowly lose independents nationwide and may yet still win, based on historic margins among groups that often lean Democratic, but don’t necessarily vote at high rates: Latinos, African-Americans, young people and unmarried women,” posits Alexander Burns at Politico.com.
 
“The president has campaigned hard on immigration reform and national surveys show him leading Romney by 40 to 50 points among Latinos,” Burns writes. “Democrats have pummeled Republicans for their opposition to abortion rights and funding for Planned Parenthood, running up their support among women. On the stump, Obama touts accomplishments that appeal to a younger, socially liberal age group, such as repealing the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ ban on gays in the military.”

Will it pay off? Tuesday will tell.
 
Meanwhile, the final campaign sprint is underway this weekend.

Romney arrived in New Hampshire close to midnight on Friday after an 18-hour day on the campaign trail that took him from Virginia to Wisconsin to Ohio. After his Saturday morning rally on the New Hampshire seacoast, he was making an afternoon appearance in Iowa and two more in Colorado. He shifted an original plan to campaign in Nevada on Sunday in favor of a schedule likely to bring him back to Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

On Saturday – after briefing on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with emergency management officials – Obama's first campaign stop was in Mentor, Ohio, then he was scheduled for rallies in Milwaukee and Dubuque, Iowa, ending the day in Bristow, Va. On Sunday, he was taking his campaign to New Hampshire, Florida, Colorado, and Ohio.

About 26 million people already have voted in 34 states and the District of Columbia. No votes will be counted until Election Day, but several battleground states are releasing the party affiliation of people who have voted early. So far, Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio. Republicans have the edge in Colorado.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

In Pictures: A roadtrip across the political landscape

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