WASHINGTON: Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain faced the verdict of U.S. voters on Tuesday after a long and bitter struggle for the White House, with Obama holding a decisive edge in national opinion polls. At least 130 million Americans were expected to cast votes on a successor to unpopular Republican President George W....
WASHINGTON: Democrat Barack Obama and
Republican John McCain faced the verdict of U.S. voters on
Tuesday after a long and bitter struggle for the White House,
with Obama holding a decisive edge in national opinion polls.
At least 130 million Americans were expected to cast votes
on a successor to unpopular Republican President George W. Bush
and set the country's course for the next four years on the
economic crisis, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an overhaul of
health care and other issues.
Polls were already open across more than half the United
States. They will close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky at 6
p.m. EST/2300 GMT on Tuesday. Voting ends over the following
six hours in the other 48 states.
Obama, 47, a first-term senator from Illinois, would be the
first black U.S. president. Opinion polls indicate he is
running ahead of McCain in enough states to give him more than
the 270 electoral votes he needs to win.
A victory for McCain, 72, would make him the oldest
president to begin a first term in the White House and make his
running mate Sarah Palin the first female U.S. vice president.
World stocks rose to a two-week high as investors focused
on the election, and U.S. stocks looked poised to open higher
on Wall Street where futures were up about 2 percent.
If Democrats take the White House and tighten their control
of Congress, it may be easier for the new administration to
deal with the sweeping financial crisis.
Nearly 31 million voters were estimated to have cast
ballots before Election Day, taking advantage of early-voting
options that have spread to 34 of the 50 U.S. states. But
television networks showed long lines of people waiting to vote
in battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and
Both candidates threw off tradition and planned to keep
campaigning on Election Day. “We're going to work hard until
the polls close,” McCain, an Arizona senator, told CBS news.
McCain embraced his role as an underdog and said he was
gaining on Obama. He finished a cross-country, seven-state tour
in his home state of Arizona in the early hours of Tuesday
morning as he sought the biggest upset in modern politics.
In Prescott, McCain spoke of the state's record of bad luck
in getting Arizona candidates elected to the White House.
“Tomorrow, we're going to reverse that unhappy tradition and
I'm going to be the president of the United States.”
Obama won in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the tiny hamlet
that traditionally opens presidential voting right after
midnight. He gained 15 votes to McCain's six, becoming the
first Democrat to win there since Hubert Humphrey in 1968.
Both candidates hammered their campaign themes in the
race's final hours, with Obama accusing McCain of representing
a third term for Bush's policies and being dangerously out of
touch on the economy.
“John McCain has stood with President Bush every step of
the way,” Obama told 90,000 supporters at his final campaign
rally in Manassas, Virginia, a state Democrats have not won in
a presidential election since 1964 but where Obama leads.
McCain, whose campaign has attacked Obama as a socialist
and accused him of being a “pal” with terrorists, portrayed him
as a liberal who would raise taxes.
'THE FAR LEFT LANE'
“He's in the far left lane of American politics and he's
stuck there,” McCain said in Blountville, Tennessee.
Opinion polls showed Obama ahead or even with McCain in at
least eight states won by Bush in 2004, including the big
prizes of Ohio and Florida. Obama led comfortably in all of the
states won by Democrat John Kerry in 2004.
Breakthrough victories in any of those traditionally
Republican states, including Virginia, Colorado, Indiana and
North Carolina, would likely propel Obama to the White
He took command of the race in the last month as a
deepening financial crisis reinforced his perceived strengths
on the economy, and in three debates where his steady
performance appeared to ease lingering doubts for some voters.
McCain has struggled to separate himself from Bush in a
difficult political environment for Republicans, who are trying
to hold on to the presidency for a third consecutive term.
Democrats are also expected to expand majorities in both
chambers of Congress. They need to gain nine Senate seats to
reach a 60-seat majority that would give them the muscle to
defeat Republican procedural hurdles.
That would increase pressure on Democrats to deliver on
campaign promises to end the war in Iraq, eliminate Bush's tax
cuts for the wealthy and overhaul a health care system that
leaves 47 million Americans uninsured.
Turnout could decide the outcome, and both campaigns revved
up multimillion-dollar operations to get votes to the polls.