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Obama, Romney In Tight Race As America Decides

November 06, 2012


Polling stations are open in many parts of the United States, kicking off local, state, and national elections that include a presidential race that polls suggest will come down to the wire.

Voters are deciding whether to give Democratic President Barack Obama another term or put his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in the White House.

Romney cast his ballot in his home state of Massachusetts and incumbent Vice President Joe Biden cast his vote in Delaware, his home state. Obama voted early in Illinois, his official state of residence.

As election day started many were concerned about the effects superstorm Sandy had on parts of the U.S. east coast, where nearly a week later people are still trying to recover from damage.

On Staten Island, one of New York City's five boroughs and also one of the areas hardest hit by last week's storm, RFE/RL correspondent Courtney Brooks reported that people are coming to vote.

"Reactions from voters were mixed. Carla, 56, a registered independent, told RFE/RL that she was voting for Romney. Carla said Obama has shown himself to be inept on just too many points and in many ways insensitive to anything but his own opinion.

"Carla said that she had been without power for four days during the storm but it had been restored. Andrea, 34, said she had come to vote for Obama again, as she had in 2008. She said that she was proud of Obama's response to the storm and that her vote had been decided ahead of time. She said that he had 'earned another term.'"

Voters will also determine one-third of the seats in the upper house, the Senate, and all the seats in the lower house, the House of Representatives.

There are also state and local representatives and initiatives on ballots throughout the country, on issues as diverse as public funding and taxation, same-sex marriage, the legality of marijuana use, and car insurance.

First Results In

Residents of the New Hampshire towns of Dixville Notch and Hart's Location cast their ballots just after midnight, becoming the day's first voters.

In Dixville Notch, Obama and Romney each received five votes, the first time that voting has been evenly split there since its first-voter tradition began in 1960; it has gone to the Republican presidential candidate in every other election but 2008, when it leaned to Obama.

In Hart's Location Obama got 23 votes, Romney had nine, and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson had two.

In the presidential race, most polls showed the candidates virtually tied in the nationwide popular vote and too close to call in a number of swing states that could put either candidate over the required 270 electoral college votes needed to win.

Polls suggested Obama had a narrow lead over Romney in most of the swing states, which include Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

The races in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Mexico also looked close. But voters there appeared to be leaning toward Obama during the final days of campaigning. Polls showed Romney with a narrow lead in North Carolina and Arizona.

"There are about seven or eight states that are going to decide this race. These are the ones that have been at the center of American politics for a long time -- Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, and several others," says Steven Roberts, a professor at George Washington University and a political analyst for ABC Radio in the United States.

"Obama has two big advantages in these swing states. One is demography. The Hispanic vote that goes heavily for Obama is probably going to pull him across the line in several of these states -- Colorado and Nevada in particular. And the other is that the economy is so much brighter in some of these swing states than in the rest of the country, and particularly in Ohio where there are a lot of autoworkers [still] working today because of Obama's policies. So the map favors Obama at this point."

Romney Surges, Falls Back

Opinion polls suggested Romney had a surge of momentum in early October after the first televised presidential debate.

But Roberts says Romney lost that momentum during the final days before the election when superstorm Sandy battered the northeastern U.S. coast and some encouraging new U.S. economic data was released.

"Right on the eve of this election, the polls show it to be very close. But there are two advantages that Barack Obama has. One is that the economy has brightened somewhat. The latest figures show a gain of 170,000 jobs and consumer confidence is improving," Roberts says.

"Second, this storm that ravaged much of the east coast of the United States. President Obama was able to look like a commander in chief -- look like he was in charge. He toured the battered areas. He met with governors, including several prominent Republican governors who had criticized him in the past and now are lavishing praise on him as an effective leader."

Voters are also casting ballots on state and local matters, and for state lawmakers and national legislators from their states.

There are 33 seats up for grabs in the 100-seat U.S. Senate and all 435 congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

At least 120 million registered voters were expected to cast ballots.

With additional reporting by Reuters and AP

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/us-election-day-voting/24761908.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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