Obama has slight edge as contenders make final dash

Washington, Nov 5 (IANS) President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are making a final dash through the electoral battlegrounds as a slew of new polls show either a close race or a slight advantage for Obama.

Just a day ahead of the Nov 6 US presidential election, a Pew Research Centre national poll released Sunday showed Obama with a three point 50 percent to 47 percent edge over Romney - his largest advantage among three other national polls released since Saturday.

A Pew survey released a week ago, conducted before Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast Monday, showed an even tighter race with both candidates receiving 47 percent support from likely voters.

A new CNN/ORC International poll shows the two contenders not only tied up at 49 percent each nationally but also pretty close in other areas like favorable rating, agreement on important issues and the personal qualities a president should have.

The latest ABC/Washington Post tracking poll, conducted from Oct 31 through Nov 3 and released Sunday, showed Obama with a one point edge over Romney, 49 percent to Romney's 48 percent.

Another national poll from Politico/George Washington University, conducted from Oct 29 through Nov 1 and also released Sunday, showed the race for the White House in a dead heat with both candidates at 48 percent support among likely voters.

The average of polls compiled by influential poll watching website, the RealClearPolitics gave Obama a lead of 0.5 percent in the popular vote - 47.8 percent to 47.3 percent listing 11 states as toss-ups, totaling 146 electoral votes in the 538-vote Electoral College - which will decide the race.

Among presumably solid states, Obama leads Romney by only 201 electoral votes to 191, according to RCP - it takes 270 to win the White House.

Going by the current polls, Politico, another influential site focused on politics, suggests Obama would win the Electoral College by 290-248.

FiveThirtyEight, the election forecasting blog of the New York Times has upped the chances of Obama to 85.5 percent giving him a 306.4 to 231.8 edge over Romney with a clear 50.5 percent popular vote nationally.

The new polls came as Obama and Romney were dashing through the electoral battlegrounds Sunday and Monday in a last minute scramble to woo the voters.

Obama left the White House Sunday morning for New Hampshire, where he appeared at a rally in Concord with former President Bill Clinton, who has emerged as his key tireless supporter. Also on his Sunday schedule were Hollywood, Florida; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Aurora, Colorado.

Romney, he said, is trying "as hard as he can to repackage the same old ideas and pretend they're new."

"We know what change looks like, and what he's selling ain't it. It ain't it," Obama said.

Romney told supporters at a Sunday rally in Des Moines, Iowa, that a second Obama term could mean a new economic downturn. Other stops on his tour were in Cleveland; in Morrisville, Pennsylvania; and Newport News, Virginia.

Obama ends his blitz Monday with three rallies with rocker Bruce Springsteen in Madison, Wisconsin; Columbus, Ohio-where he'll be joined by rapper Jay-Z-and Des Moines, Iowa.

Romney's other stops include Sanford, Florida; Lynchburg and Fairfax, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; and a finish in Manchester, New Hampshire, before making the short trip to Boston, Massachusetts, where he'll spend Election Day.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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