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Opinion polls indicate fight too close to call

November 01, 2012

US President Barack Obama waves at supporters as he arrives at a campaign rally at the Cheyenne Sports Complex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 1, 2012. — Photo by AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama resumed his election campaign on Thursday as political pundits predicted a split decision on Nov 6, when America chooses a president.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney resumed his campaign on Wednesday, but Mr Obama compensated for the delay by touring three key states — Wisconsin, Nevada and Colorado.

Results of various national polls, announced two days after storm Sandy had devastated the US East Coast, showed a dead heat.

Real Clear Politics, which monitors opinion polls, reported on Thursday that both President Obama and Mr Romney were tied at 47.4 per cent, while only 2.8 per cent likely voters were still undecided. This result is based on an average of 10 major polls conducted this week.

A split popular verdict empowers America’s Electoral College to choose the new president and vice president.

A total of 538 electors are chosen by each state and by the District of Columbia, The number is based on the total voting membership of the US Congress (435) and Senate (100) and three from the District of Columbia.

Electors are chosen on party lines and are expected to vote for their party’s candidates.

The six states with the most electors are California (55), Texas (38), New York (29), Florida (29), Illinois (20) and Pennsylvania (20). But independent or undecided states play a crucial role in an electoral vote.

This year, there are a total of 146 toss-up electoral votes that can go either way. These include nine for Colorado, 29 for Florida, six for Iowa, 16 for Michigan, six for Nevada, four for New Hampshire, 15 for North Carolina, 18 for Ohio, 20 for Pennsylvania, 13 for Virginia and 10 for Wisconsin.

These are also called swing states because they can swing the election either way and that’s why in the final stages of their election campaigns, both candidates are focusing on these states.

Over all, Mercury News gave Mr Obama 299 electoral votes compared to 239 to Mr Romney, while a candidate needs 270 to win. This projection gives the election to Mr Obama.

Other political pundits, however, disagree with it, although even Republicans acknowledge that the president has an edge over his challenger in electoral college.

In the swing states, Mr Obama leads by six points in Iowa but Mr Romney has pulled closer to him in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, although the president still has an edge over him.

And opinion surveys, released on Thursday, showed that both candidates need to increase their efforts to win electoral votes as the popular vote may lead to a split verdict.

Rasmussen Reports, in a survey of 1500 likely voters, gave Mr Romney a 2 per cent edge, with 49 per cent for him and 47 for Mr Obama.

Pro-Republican Fox News called it a draw with 46 per cent for each candidate while 4 per cent voters remain undecided.

ABC News/Wash Post, in a survey of 1288 likely voters also predicted a tie with 49 each and one per cent undecided voters.

CBS News/New York Times in a survey of 563 likely voters gave Mr Romney 47 per cent and Mr Obama 48, an advantage of 1 point.

National Journal in a survey of 713 likely voters, gave Mr Romney 45 and Mr Obama 50 per cent, a 5 point average.

Pew Research, in a survey of 1495 likely voters, predicted a draw with 47 per cent for each candidate.

Gallup, in a survey of 2700 likely voters, gave Mr Romney 51 per cent and Mr Obama 46 per cent, an advantage of 5 points.

National Public Radio, in a survey of 1000 likely voters, gave Mr Romney 48 per cent and Mr Obama 47 per cent, with the Republican having a one-point advantage.

IBD/TIPP, in a survey of 930 likely voters, gave Mr Romney 44 per cent, Mr Obama 45 per cent, giving the Democrat a one-point edge.

Politico/GWU/Battleground, in a survey of 1000 likely voters, gave Mr Romney 48 per cent and Mr Obama 49 per cent, a one-point advantage.

Most of the advantages that one candidate enjoys over the other are within the margin of error of 2 to 4 per cent.

For more special coverage on the US Elections including exclusive blogs, features, comments, analysis and multimedia from correspondents around the world, go to: US Elections 2012 In-depth