US election: Waiting for the states to fall
JOHN HARTEVELT IN CLEVELAND, OHIO
Could Mitt Romney really steal the White House from Barack Obama today?
In the final 24 hours of the campaign, his team was claiming "the big mo" would carry him there.
It will have to be a fantastic burst of momentum if Mr Romney is to pull it off, but it remains a possibility.
The odds remain in Mr Obama's favour as Election Day dawns in the United States.
Before the swing states are considered, Mr Obama has more Electoral College votes in the bank from safe states than Mr Romney does.
Where the races are tighter, polls mostly suggest Mr Obama has slender leads across a number of states – Florida and North Carolina being the chunky exceptions.
The polls would only have to be off by two or three points in as few as three states for Mr Romney to be able to come over the top. That's possible, but it seems unlikely, mostly because he trails by three points in the one state he needs most – Ohio.
The Romney campaign is hoping (and seemingly believing) that a surge of enthusiasm will overwhelm Mr Obama's vote.
They are campaigning right through Election Day, with a final Romney rally expected here in Cleveland today.
In bitterly cold aircraft hangar in Youngstown, Ohio, last night Mr Romney's running mate Paul Ryan pushed the "momentum" line with supporters.
"We can do is. We are on the cusp, we are on the verge," Mr Ryan said.
"Let's run for the tape, let's leave it all on the field . . . The whole country is watching you and as Ohio goes, so goes America."
Supporters do seem to truly believe the Romney/Ryan ticket will make it.
Maria Buzzi, 67, was wearing one of the highlighter green wristbands reserved for VIPs, in recognition of her hours spent volunteering for the campaign.
"It just means you get up close and personal. ... It's exciting. You get all this passion going and that's what we need for this campaign to win," she said.
"No president can win the election without Ohio. It's down to the wire but I believe Romney will win because of the enthusiasm."
Today, Ms Buzzi will be telephoning likely Republican voters in the Romney database, asking if they have voted and if they need any help to get to the polls.
Republican officials at the polls armed with a special iPhone app will record who has voted and send that information to Romney HQ, so people like Ms Buzzi can see who still needs to be chased up.
The Obama camp will be doing similarly. It is purported to have the stronger "ground game" but still relies on supporters being excited enough to bother. Many might not be.
Even the political junkies are over this election – they can't wait for the ads to stop and the news casts to start covering something else.
"I don't know if excitement is really the word that captures what's going on right now," said Marsha Mockabee, president of the Cleveland Urban League.
"But I certainly thinks there is concern – that is real on both sides of the aisle. . . I think that concern is probably the better word to describe what people are feeling and what's motivating people to vote, rather than excitement."
QUOTE: "Quite frankly, it's insulting to blue collar people like me that Barack Obama is standing for a second term." Mark Bedrick, a self-described "rank and file" member of an auto union in Ohio is plainly not impressed with the President.
BEST OF THE BLOGS: blog.4president.us - A great site for staying ahead of the candidates as they criss-cross the country on the trail. Also handy for an Election Day map that includes results from the three previous races.
TOP TWEET: thefunnyteens: "If Obama wins, I'm leaving the country. If Romney wins, I'm leaving the country. This isn't a political tweet, I just want to travel."
* John Hartevelt is travelling on a US Government-funded programme.
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