JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - Opinion polls yesterday gave the Democrat, Barack Obama, a sharp edge over John McCain on the last day of campaigning for the most dramatic presidential vote in a generation.
But McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam, was adamant he would confound the pollsters to stage a shock comeback and wrench victory from the African-Americanâ€™s grasp today.
The 47-year-old Democrat stressed the historic nature of his quest to be Americaâ€™s first black president, striking an optimistic tone as fresh polls gave him a wide lead and heaped further pressure on McCain.
â€œThis is a defining moment in our history,â€ Obama wrote in an article published Monday in The Wall Street Journal.
â€œTomorrow, I ask you to write our nationâ€™s next great chapter... If you give me your vote, we wonâ€™t just win this election â€” together, we will change this country and change the world.â€
McCain was defiant. â€œMy opponent is measuring the drapes at the White House,â€ he said, as he wrapped up a frenzied day of campaigning with a midnight rally in Miami.
â€œThey may not know it, but the Mac is back! And weâ€™re going to win this election,â€ he added, to deafening cheers.
The Republican was to launch a frenetic dash through at least seven states on the final day.
Obama was to blitz through Florida, North Carolina and Virginia, bidding to storm Republican bastions and turn them over to his side.
On stage in Cleveland, Ohio, Sunday evening after a rousing set from rocker Bruce Springsteen, Obama confessed his delight to be rejoined on the trail by his wife Michelle and two young daughters.
â€œEverything looks a little better,â€ he told 80,000 supporters at a rally in drenching rain in Ohio on Sunday.
â€œEverybodyâ€™s got a smile on their face,â€ he said. â€œYou start thinking that maybe we might be able to win an election on November 4.â€
Obama lacerated McCain on the stricken US economy and said his rivalâ€™s policies would extend President George W. Bushâ€™s legacy of financial crisis and â€œwar without endâ€ in Iraq, while neglecting resurgent militancy in Afghanistan.
McCain also attacked his rival on the economy, in his own Wall Street Journal article. â€œSenator Obama wants to raise taxes and restrict trade,â€ he charged. â€œThe last time America did that in a bad economy, it led to the Great Depression.â€
The final pre-election poll of Gallup-USA Today published yesterday gave Obama a yawning lead of 11 points â€” 55 percent to 44 for McCain.
â€œIt would take an improbable last-minute shift in voter preferences, or a huge Republican advantage in election day turnout, for McCain to improve enough upon his predicted share of the vote in Gallupâ€™s traditional likely voter model to overcome his deficit to Obama,â€ the polling organisation said.
A new Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll put Obama ahead on 51 percent to 43. CNNâ€™s latest poll Sunday had Obama with a 53-46 percent edge, a Washington Post-ABC News poll gave him 54 percent to 43, and Rasmussen said he was at 51 percent to McCainâ€™s 46.
Obama leads also in the battleground states where the election will be won and lost, including in states such as Virginia and North Carolina that have not backed a Democratic hopeful in decades.
A separate poll by The Washington Post and ABC said in six states considered to be up for grabs, support was roughly split with 51 percent support for Obama and 47 for McCain.
McCainâ€™s whistlestop tour yesterday was expected to include stops in Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana, New Mexico and Nevada before the Republican was to head home to Arizona.
The Arizona senator, 72, said the polls had been wrong before, and would be proven wrong again come today.
But the battle has narrowed down to states that have been reliably Republican in recent elections, as Obamaâ€™s deep-pocketed campaign expands the electoral map to places where the Democrats have not won in years.
If he wins every state John Kerry took in 2004, the Illinois senator has multiple routes that could take him to the worldâ€™s most powerful address at Washingtonâ€™s 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. McCain has no room for error.
Victories in Colorado and Nevada out west, on top of his lock on Iowa in the US heartland, would enable Obama to clinch the White House without even winning the states that decided the last two elections: Ohio and Florida.
Each candidate is battling to reach the magic number of 270 votes in the Electoral College that formally selects the next president. States are apportioned electoral votes based on their population.
Meanwhile, Reuben Olita reports from Malaba, Kenya that despite his tight campaign schedule ahead of todayâ€™s polls, Obama over the weekend took time off to have a telephone conversation with his Kenyan kinsmen from Kogelo in Nyanza Province.
Obamaâ€™s step brother, Malik Abango told Kenyaâ€™s Swahili daily, Taifa Leo, yesterday that his brother called him at the weekend.
â€œI talked to Obama on Saturday night and he asked me how we were faring on. I encouraged him to soldier on and that we are seeing some ray of hope in him,â€ Abango told the newspaper.
A battery of local and international journalists have camped at the home of Obamaâ€™s grandmother at Kogelo to get the mood of the family as the worldâ€™s super power goes to polls today in historic elections.
Todayâ€™s polls have caught the attention of Kenyans who are rooting for their own (Obama) whose father, the late Barack Obama was a Kenyan Luo from Nyanza. Prime Minister, Raila Odinga led scores of his cabinet colleagues in endorsing Obama, who is his cousin, to carry the day in the US polls which many believe could have a lot of bearing on Africaâ€™s economic prosperity.
Kenyan and Ugandan transporters have also joined the world in rooting for Obama to beat Republican nominee, John McCain, for the White House and thus make history as the first African-American to lead the worldâ€™s super power.
Abdi Mohammed Rizak speaking from Malaba border said Obama will solve the worldâ€™s problems that had been occasioned by Bushâ€™s administration.
Newspaper vendors are also in big business over the US polls. Mary Wangare said from her Malaba base that Obama had made them reap high commission in paper sales.
Another vendor, Betty Buluma, said Obama had boosted their sales like Kenyan premier Raila Odinga did during the Kenyan presidential polls last year.
Senator Obama leads McCain in US poll