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Pittsburgh: Speaking of Stalin...
8:00 a.m. E.T.
At 6:40 a.m. are already a dozen people in line on this clear, cool morning at a Greenfield polling place in the strongly Democratic East End. Richard St. John is fourth today. He's been first so many times. "I've never seen anything like this," says the 56-year-old small press employee." I can't remember seeing two or three people other times."
On the radio, long-time local right-wing talker Jim Quinn is playing an Eisenhower era tape of an American politician warning about Soviet influence: "'We'll keep feeding you small doses of socialism... we'll so weaken your economy that you'll fall like ripe fruit...'" Quinn says, "We almost had that during the Carter administration." Then he plays an Obama line. "This guy sounds more like Stalin than he sounds like George Washington," Quinn says. "Do you realize t his guy raised $600 million? Do you really think all of that came from American citizens?" Hearing the talk on the radio is a disapproving Teresa Russo, 25, who settled on Obama during the debates. "I think that's ignorance people are just afraid on his part for the change he could bring. He's just different than any other candidate we've had so far. I know in my generation and in older people's generation they haven't had a young black man before. I think it scares the baby boomers."
A poll worker emerges to smoke. "We can't touch anything until 7," she shouts. "We're all reader for yinz. There won't be any problems." "Yinz" is Pittsburgh slang for "you." University of Pittsburgh student Heather Derby, 27, once an Army sergeant in Iraq , is first in line. She's a Republican. "McCain's a good candidate and he does a lot for the military and he might be the best candidate for what's going on in Iraq ," she says, "but for other things I like Obama better." By the time the doors open, there are 29 people behind her. By Marty Levine / Pittsburgh
In North Carolina: A Red or Blue Morning,
7:30 a.m. E.T.
With polls opening at 6:30 a.m., a line had already spilled out into the parking lot at 6:00. Some stood silently, dressed to go to work, while others came in groups with young children and appeared to have just rolled out of bed. Over 40% of the state voted before election day, but many on line this morning agreed that the early-voting lines were just too long and so they came back on Election Day itself. This is a big event in North Carolina. Anxious supporters of both parties are there with signs to try to sway the undecided, showing that the outcome of the traditionally red state is still up in the air. One woman, a GOP activist, yells outs, "Straight tickets don't elect presidents, kids!" to a group of sleepy college students. On his way to work, Rob Holmes says he's not worried. "North Carolina is a state that's changing demographically, and a lot of North Carolinians are excited about a change," he said, confident that his state will go blue. By Rachel Davis-Johnson / Winston Salem
Iowa: No Longer a Toss-Up?
8:00 a.m. E.T.
Iowa appears to have lost its toss-up state status, according to a Sunday Des Moines Register poll showing Barack Obama has widened his lead to 17 points here, getting 54% of the vote compared to John McCain's 37%, up from his 12-point lead in September. The Register's Iowa Poll also shows Obama leading by 23 points among all-important independent voters, who make up 32% of Iowa's 2.1 million registered voters (Democrats are 32%; Republicans, 28%.) Other recent polls put Obama ahead by 14-15 points in Iowa. If this lead holds, this would be the biggest Iowa win since 1972 when Richard Nixon beat George McGovern by 17.1 points.
McCain campaign advisor Charles Black has been touting a much closer race reportedly within one or two points based on internal party polling in Iowa. But J. Ann Selzer, a leading local pollster whose company Selzer & Co.Inc of Des Moines, does the Register's poll, is skeptical. "I say show me the numbers. It sounds impossible to me," says Selzer. "I would question who are they counting as a likely voter, whether they are weighting by party ID and those weights might be outweighed. There just isn't a scenario that makes it look like this is very close." (See pictures of John McCain's final push on the campaign trail.)
Still, despite Obama's lead in the polls here, there is a feeling that Iowa is still in play, judging from the intensity of the campaigning. Obama drew 25,000 people to a Des Moines rally on Friday. Sarah Palin was in Dubuque Monday afternoon. Palin and McCain also visited Iowa in October. Local staffers and volunteers are still working furiously, canvassing, working the phones and there are robo-calls galore. I got one from Michelle Obama! By Betsy Rubiner / Des Moines