As campaign ends, both candidates remain optimistic

As the campaign ends tonight, awaiting Tuesday’s voting, both Sen. Obama and Sen. McCain remain optimistic and upbeat about their respective chances tomorrow. Clearly the media seems to have dialed back from the “landslide” talk we heard days ago, though some still predict it for Obama. On the other hand, the last battleground polls show most states too close to call which means McCain is poised for a chance at victory, if everything breaks his way.

Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything other than optimism from any candidate at this point.

Report on the election end from USAToday:

TAMPA — Presidential contenders Barack Obama, who is leading in national polls, and John McCain, self-described underdog, were both upbeat Monday about their electoral prospects as they sprinted cross-country to rally support on the eve of Election Day.

“I am cautiously optimistic about our chances,” Obama said in an interview on the Ed Schultz Show. ” I think that if we work hard, if people go out and vote in the way I know is possible, then I think we have a good chance of reversing eight years of a mismanaged economy and really start helping people get on their feet again and that’s what this election’s all about.”

McCain seemed to relish the underdog role as he fed off the energy of support at a morning rally in Tampa.

“With this kind of enthusiasm, and this kind of intensity, we will win Florida and we will win this race tomorrow,” the Arizona senator said.

“The pundits may not know it, but the Mac is back. And we’re going to win this election.”

The final Gallup poll of likely voters showed Obama leading McCain, 53% to 42%.

Both began the last full-day of campaigning in the critical battleground state of Florida, which most polls showed as a dead heat. Polls show the six closest states are Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nevada and Ohio.

The candidates are hitting the tossups states in search of enough electoral votes to hit the 270 needed to claim the presidency.

McCain, the Republican, was blitzing seven states in 17 hours — Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada —ending after midnight with a rally in Prescott, Ariz., where he has traditionally ended his Senate campaigns.

Obama, the Democrat, was stumping in Virginia and Indiana before returning home to Chicago for a huge rally in Grant Park Tuesday evening.

On Election Day, however, both planned to squeeze in one last round of campaigning close to home: McCain in New Mexico and Obama in Indiana.

The final scramble across several time zones once again reflected the state of the race for the past month, with both contenders largely hitting traditionally Republican states.

The campaigns also are running aggressive ground games, especially in Iowa, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado and Virginia.

Meanwhile, GOP strategists insist there is a real path for McCain on Election Day, offering a confident view of his chances, this from Politico:

Time is short and the polls are painting a grim picture for John McCain, but top Republicans believe they still see a clear path to the White House.

“I don’t acknowledge it’s a long shot. It’s a realistic shot,” said RNC deputy chairman Frank Donatelli of his candidate’s prospects.

Donatelli argues that nearly every pollster has over-sampled Democrats, thus exaggerating Barack Obama’s support while understating McCain’s.

“I don’t think it’s outrageous,” he said, “to think we are going to do much better with party turnout than some of the models indicate.”

For that reason, Donatelli believes McCain can win all the big swing states in play: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and perhaps Pennsylvania.

He also says the public now sees Obama as not yet tested and ready for the job, and is fearful that he will increase taxes, quickly grow the federal government and forestall long-term economic growth. Voters will conclude, he says, that “liberal Democrats should not control the whole federal government.”

Donatelli said that the RNC’s internal polling now shows the race within the margin of error in key swing states, though he declined to say which ones.

“I’ve been saying for some time that from our polling I think it’s much tighter, a 3-point national race on Friday,” said Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster who consults with the McCain campaign. “I think this race is going to be extremely tight.”

Goes predicts, as does top McCain pollster Bill McInturff, that Obama will not significantly increase the percentage of young voters or black voters from the last election, voters they say the Democrat needs to come out in record numbers to get over the top in several crucial swing states.

Last week McInturff wrote in a memo, “All signs say we are headed to an election that may easily be too close to call by next Tuesday.”

To win the 270 electoral votes needed to take the White House, though, McCain would have to win a string of large states that either roughly split or lean to Obama. Florida, Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina would have to go for McCain. McCain would also have to hold Missouri and Indiana, which is feasible, and win either what appears a long shot to take Pennsylvania or, for example, Colorado and Nevada.

McCain loyalists have responded to the daunting electoral math by raising the question famously posed by Hillary Clinton shortly before she took April Pennsylvania Democratic primary: “Why can’t Obama close the deal?”

A video report on McCain and Obama’s final day of campaigning:

After covring this for 2 years, I’ll be going through withdrawal tomorrow.

We shall see what happens on Tuesday. We’ll have full coverage into the evening until we have a winner.