Swing states breaking for Obama

THE US electoral map is becoming bluer as more battleground states appear to be breaking for Democrat Barack Obama, latest polls indicate.

Obama has opened a seven-point lead over Republican rival John McCain with five days left in the race for the White House, according to a poll by Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby yesterday.

Obama leads McCain by 50% to 43% among likely voters in the three-day national tracking poll, building on his five-point advantage on Wednesday.

It was the second consecutive day Obama’s lead has grown as the two-year presidential battle draws to a close. McCain is struggling to overtake Obama’s lead in every national opinion poll and in many battleground states.

“This is not good news for McCain. The race was tightening for a few days but now it is going back the other way,” said pollster John Zogby.

Support for Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, hit or exceeded the 50% mark for the seventh time in the past 10 days. McCain’s support has not reached 46% in more than three weeks of polling.

Obama also holds clear leads in four reliably Republican states and is tied in two others as his campaign strives to remake America’s political map with a landslide victory over John McCain. The Republican senator was written off prematurely last year, and Obama seemed poised for victory in New Hampshire’s Democratic primary just before Hillary Clinton charged to victory there.

Even this close to election day, racial tensions and the volume of late-deciding voters identified by the latest polls leave room for doubt. But they confirm what McCain aides acknowledge privately — their chances of winning are low.

An Associated Press-GfK poll shows Obama holding solid leads in Ohio (7%), Nevada (12%), Colorado (9%) and Virginia (7%), all Republican states won by Bush and collectively offering 47 electoral votes. Sweeping those four — or putting together the right combination of two or three — would almost certainly make Obama president.

In the Zogby poll, Obama held steady or expanded his edge among several crucial blocs of swing voters, leading by 19 points among independents, 10 points among women, 9 points among Catholics and 7 points among voters above the age 65.

Obama also moved ahead of McCain by 5 points among men. McCain still leads by 8 points among white voters but only earns the support of about 30% of Hispanics, a fast-growing group that gave President George W Bush more than 40% of its vote in 2004.

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