Last updated: November 4, 2012 10:50 pm

Obama holds edge in battleground states

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The White House©AFP

Barack Obama holds a small but winning edge in battleground states heading into the final, frantic day of campaigning in the US presidential election, with his advisers expressing confidence the president will be re-elected.

But Mitt Romney’s camp fought back on Sunday insisting that the Republican challenger was on track to record a “decisive” victory as voters in pivotal states swing behind him on polling day on Tuesday.

The two candidates are effectively statistically tied in national polls but state polls show Mr Obama has kept his slender lead in states that he needs to win, such as Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, where he will lead rallies on Monday.

“It’s up to you. You have the power,” Mr Obama told the 14,000-supporters who flocked to the streets of Concord, New Hampshire, on a cold Sunday morning. “You will be shaping the decisions for this country for decades to come, right now, in the next two days.”

Mr Romney rushed to Pennsylvania on Sunday, in a last-minute attempt to move what had been thought to be a solidly Democratic state into the Republican column, and offset a possible loss in Ohio.

At a rally in Des Moines, Iowa, earlier on Sunday, Mr Romney urged supporters in an overflowing event centre to vote on Tuesday.

"Walk with me. We’ll walk together. Let’s begin anew," Mr Romney said at his 21st and final rally in the Hawkeye State. “I need Iowa – I need Iowa so we can win the White House and take back America, keep it strong, make sure we always remain the hope of the earth. I’m counting on you!"

Both Mr Obama and Mr Romney are drawing their largest crowds of the election, which is increasingly coming down not to policy debates but which candidate has the ability to get their supporters to the polls.

Mr Obama hit four states on Sunday and Mr Romney five, and both will maintain their frenetic pace on Monday. Mr Romney will swing through Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and New Hampshire, before travelling home to Boston for election night.

“I believe that Governor Romney will not only win on Tuesday, I believe he can win decisively,” Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign told ABC.

David Plouffe, a senior adviser to Mr Obama, said he was confident that in “two days” the president will be re-elected. “We have the support to win this election. We have to make sure it materialises in votes, and that’s the challenge for us, to make sure we are getting all those supporters to the polls,” he said.

In depth

US elections 2012

staff fixes the presidential seal before US President Barack Obama gives a press conference

Republican candidate Mitt Romney takes on President Barack Obama in the race for the White House

However, with early voting open in Ohio, the most crucial of the battleground states, there were reports of long lines at polling booths across the state, with some locals estimating that early turn-out was much higher than in 2008.

There was also controversy in the swing state of Florida, where Republican governor Rick Scott refused to extend early voting hours to respond to high demand on Saturday. The Florida Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit early on Sunday to force the local authorities to allow people longer to vote early.

People stood in long lines in the hot sun, some for hours, waiting to cast ballots. Some even watching their cars being towed away while they waited to vote.

Election officials in Miami-Dade county allowed people who had been queuing on Saturday to cast ballots on Sunday, but then, overwhelmed, they shut polling booth doors for an hour on Sunday afternoon. The end result was that confusion reigned in the state whose election system became notorious during the 2000 “hanging chad” fiasco.

“This is America, not a third-world country,” Myrna Peralta, who waited in line with her 4-year-old grandson for nearly two hours before being turned away, told The Miami Herald. “They should have been prepared.”

There were signs of some nervousness among Republicans, with senior figures, such as Karl Rove, George W. Bush’s former senior adviser, and Haley Barbour, a party stalwart, both suggesting Hurricane Sandy could have hurt Mr Romney.

“The hurricane is what broke Romney’s momentum. I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Mr Barbour, a former Mississippi Governor, told CNN.

However, Democrats rejected this notion, saying Mr Obama had maintained the same edge he had before the storm and said blaming the hurricane was only an attempt to excuse a coming defeat.

New polls on Sunday shed little new light on the contest. The latest poll from ABC/Washington Post had the pair tied at 48 points among likely voters, although Mr Romney’s personal popularity was the highest it had been in the whole campaign.

But there is still no evidence that Mr Romney had cracked Mr Obama’s consistent edge in battleground states like Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nevada, which collectively would be enough to keep the president in the White House.

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