Campaigns launch massive efforts in last 48 hours

The clock is indeed ticking and voter turnout will be crucial to a victory on either side. McCain’s supporters need to get out in large numbers, especially in rural areas where his support may be the strongest. Obama’s supporters need to focus on the groups they’re counting on, which include the youth vote and minorities turning out in record numbers as well.

Report on this from Yahoo News:

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Barack Obama and John McCain uncorked massive get-out-the-vote operations in more than a dozen battleground states Sunday, millions of telephone calls, mailings and door-knockings in a frenzied, fitting climax to a record-shattering $1 billion campaign. Together, they’ll spend about $8 per presidential vote.

“Go vote right now,” Obama urged from the Ohio Statehouse steps, reminding people of a nearby polling location where they could cast ballots by sunset. “Do not delay because we have work to do.” A show of hands found most in the crowd already had.

With just two days to go, most national polls show Obama ahead of McCain. State surveys suggest the Democrat’s path to the requisite 270 electoral votes — and perhaps far beyond — is much easier to navigate than McCain’s.

Polls show the six closest states are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada and Ohio. All were won by Bush and made competitive by Obama’s record-shattering fundraising. The campaigns also are running aggressive ground games elsewhere, including Iowa, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia.

All that’s left now for the candidates is make sure people vote Tuesday — if they haven’t already.

Indeed, Election Day is becoming a misnomer. About 27 million absentee and early votes were cast in 30 states as of Saturday night, more than ever. Democrats outnumbered Republicans in pre-Election Day voting in key states.

That has Democrats — and even some Republicans — privately questioning whether McCain can overtake Obama, even if GOP loyalists turn out in droves on Tuesday. Obama may already have too big of a head start in critical states like Nevada and Iowa, which Bush won four years ago.

“This is off the charts in some of these states,” said Michael P. McDonald, a political scientist at George Mason University.

As the campaign closes, voters were being inundated with a crush of television ads and automated phone calls.

Report from the UK’s Sky News on Obama urging supporters not to get complacent in these remaining hours:

Next, McCain is still fighting hard in Pennsylvania where public polls show a 7 point average lead for Obama, though private polls may show a 3 to 4 point lead, depending on where you read. The report from Yahoo News:

WALLINGFORD, Pa. – Republican John McCain is telling voters in Pennsylvania he knows momentum for his campaign is there.

Polls show Democratic rival Barack Obama comfortably ahead in the state, but McCain isn’t giving up on trying to win its 21 electoral votes.

Campaigning Sunday in Wallingford, Pa., near Philadelphia, McCain said he’s been in a lot of campaigns and knows the momentum is there. He says he’s a few points down but he’s coming back.

The Arizona senator was introduced by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who called McCain “John the President,” a nod to “Joe the Plumber,” the Ohio man McCain has incorporated into his campaign.

McCain also was campaigning in Scranton, Pa., before heading for events in New Hampshire and Florida.

Video from the Associated Press of McCain campaigning in Pennsylvania, claiming he will indeed win the state:

RealClearPolitics shows a minor trend of McCain rising slightly in Pennsylvania polls. The state is considered “Leaning Obama” since the average is above 5 points, currently at +7 for Obama.

Another report on the remaining hours from USAToday:

Presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain ignored polls showing the Democrat leading and urged voters on Sunday not to let either pessimism or complacency keep them from the polls on Nov. 4.

The latest Gallup polls show Obama ahead 51 to 43 among likely voters. State surveys also suggest that Obama’s path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win is closer than McCain’s.

But the campaigns were having none of it.

“I’ve been in a lot of campaigns. I know the momentum is there,” McCain, the Republican candidate, told supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania.

In Colombus, Ohio, Obama, the Democrat, urged voters at his rally to go directly afterward to the polling places, which stayed open until 5 p.m. for early voting.

“Columbus, don’t believe for a second that this election is over,” the Illinois senator said.

Less than 72 hours before Election Day, top officials for both campaigns were also shrugging off the polls, with McCain’s campaign manager claiming a late surge toward the Republican and Obama’s chief strategist concerned about overconfidence..

Republican Rick Davis, told ABC’s This Week that he believes there is a “structural imbalance” in the polling that does not reflect what he sees as a big swing by independents toward McCain.

He also said he sees close contests emerging in the key battleground states. Davis said McCain was in a position to win Pennsylvania, a traditionally Democratic state that is critical to a Republican victory in the electoral votes.

“It’s a state that I believe we can snatch from the Democrats and add to our coalition,” Davis said.

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief strategist, said that in early voting “the edge is pretty substantial in our favor.” He said he is particularly pleased with the pattern of Democratic turnout among new voters in North Carolina, where polls show a very close race.

“The main thing I worry about is complacency,” Axelrod said, referring to the potential impact of upbeat polls.

“You’ve still got to vote,” he said.

Neither side let up on Sunday as the campaign headed into final 72 hours before Tuesday’s election.

Both were focusing exclusively on a handful of battleground states, overwhelmingly in traditionally Republican areas.

McCain, and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were stumping separately in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

The Democratic candidate, and running mate Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, were campaigning separately in Ohio and Florida. Obama’s events included an appearance in Cleveland with rocker Bruce Springsteen.

Despite the polls, other McCain advisers also said they see an upset in the making.

The Obama campaign, clearly weary of complacency among supporters, is hammering the message about how important each Obama vote will be. The McCain campaign is working on getting supporters to the polls in general, though the undecided voters may be the deciders here in the end.

There are arguments over whether higher than normal amounts of undecided voters actually means. Some argue it indicates a bloc of voters not able to settle on Sen. Obama so they remain undecided at this point, and may break to McCain. This is because Obama is seen as the current “front runner” which is what undecideds often hinge on. Other theories, probably the most obvious, is that they will split pretty evenly at the end.

More as this all develops..