Voters remain enrapt as campaign reaches crescendo

It took Obama’s advert to attract viewers to the baseball world series final. Conor Ryan reports from Washington DC.

ADRENALINE pumping speeches, distance-defying dashes across the country and phenomenal spending on commercials is driving the frenzied final days of the presidential campaign.

But a rapt American public has shown no evidence of losing interest.

More than 33 million people tuned into Barack Obama’s 30-minute commercial on Wednesday night.

According to Neilson researchers, viewership increased on all the networks that aired Obama’s unusual advert and on Fox it helped boost interest for baseball’s world series final.

The world series had struggled to attract attention but finally benefited after it was delayed to accommodate the advert.

Across the country thousands are turning up to rallies and Obama and John McCain have intensified their schedules to satisfy the appetite.

Both have made a commitment to the distance-is-no-object mantra.

Before Tuesday Obama is expected to make stops in all of the battleground states, including Florida, Ohio and Colorado.

He plans to close his campaign in Virginia which, if he wins, will kill off McCain’s chances.

McCain will tour the state today after he narrowed his focus on the bigger must-win battles.

Yesterday he toured the entire state of Ohio, introducing the crowd- pleasing Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani.

And they are not alone in hoping to make a big final impact.

Outside rallies, market stalls are packed with T-shirts and merchandise that sellers are desperate to offload before Tuesday.

And supporters on both sides are lapping it up.

Brezzen Torres, from Virginia Beach, bought two Obama T-shirts but said it was the negative attacks as much as the policy issues which swayed his vote.

“I would describe myself as independent. I would have voted for Republicans before but because of a few things that have gone on in this election I don’t think I will be voting for a Republican anytime soon,” he said.

And just as people’s allegiance is becoming more evident, so are the deep-rooted concerns on the minds of campaigners desperate to push an agenda.

These are revealed in heated exchanges outside events and pointed messages scrawled onto rally-banners.

“Keep America Jesusful,” was held aloft at a Palin rally this week.

But for an election that often reached such heights it will finish in the gutter like all others.

A forged state flier was sent to Virginians telling them all democrats should vote on November 5, the day after the election. It is now the subject of a police investigation.

In Florida, Republican volunteers were drafted to stand in the long lines at polling stations to inflate the queues and discourage time-strapped early voters.

And the confusion outside polling stations has been fed by mixed messages driving media discussions.

In a Wall Street Journal article the mastermind of President George W Bush’s success, Karl Rove, criticised the volume of polls released in the final weeks. He said they are designed to boost the profile of those who commissioned them and their frequency had compromised their usefulness.

During the 2004 presidential campaign there were 239 national opinion polls conducted. This year 728 have been released, 215 were published this month alone.

“At this rate, there may be almost as many national polls in October of 2008 as there were during the entire year in 2004.

“Some polls are sponsored by reputable news organisations, others by publicity-eager universities or polling firms on the make. None have the scientific precision we imagine,” he said.

From politicians to pollsters, protesters to peddlers, everybody with a vested interest knows they have just three days to make an impact.

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