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Meanwhile in Kenya...,
7:00 a.m. E.T.
Kenya is making no secret about its political allegiance. After all, it is the country where Barack Obama's father was born. (See pictures of Barack Obama's family tree.) This is the place that briefly renamed its Senator Beer after Obama, where an Obama reggae song is insanely popular, and whose buses are plastered with Obama decals. "U.S. Poll: Why Obama is the world's choice," screamed the front-page headline from Monday's Daily Nation newspaper. "Democrat widely seen as the only leader who can change the way America relates to other countries," read the sub-head.
Some Kenyans clearly had a sense of humor about their country's expectations for an Obama presidency. The local press recently published a piece saying that politicians in the western city of Kisumu had proposed expanding a runway to accommodate Air Force One in case Obama decides to pay a state visit to his ancestral home. As much as that may reflect the depth of Kenyan hopes, the item was a joke meant to poke fun at the expectation by some that Obama will shower Kenya with favors should he win the election. By Nicholas Wadhams/Nairobi
Why Philly Matters,
7:00 a.m. E.T.
Buoyed by a handful of polls that show Obama's lead down to 4-6 percentage points (though others still show Obama up by double digits), McCain and his surrogates have stumped furiously in Pennsylvania. The main energy has been in Philadelphia and the close-in suburbs, which are almost certain to swing for Obama, but are important mathematically. If Obama wins here by a blowout, it will cancel out any gains by McCain in the west and central area. If McCain can hold Obama's margins here down, however, he has a slight chance of picking up enough votes elsewhere to carry the state.
Obama's campaign made its final push in the city Monday night, with an appearance by running mate Joe Biden and several members of the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies baseball team. Significantly, the appearance was in a heavily white, blue collar district in South Philadelphia, where Hillary Clinton won in the primary by a large margin and the McCain campaign hopes to pick up enough conservative, Catholic Democratic voters to help depress Obama's margin of victory in the city.
Although there does seem to have been closure in the polls, McCain's main hope in Pennsylvania appears to be "divine intervention," according to G. Terry Madonna, director of the well-regarded and non-partisan Franklin & Marshall Poll, the latest of which shows Obama up by 12 points among likely voters. John Kerry won the state by 144,000 votes in 2004. Polls show Obama strong in all of the same places Kerry was strong and he has something like 500,000 newly registered Democrats behind him. Even if only a fraction of those new Democrats turn out on Tuesday, it's hard to see how McCain can pick up enough votes to offset all those extra votes. A McCain victory at this point, Madonna said, "would go against everything we know about the state." By Sean Scully / Philadelphia
Video: Last Days on the Trail with Obama
Missouri: Will Young Voters Stage a Surprise?
7:00 a.m. E.T.
How close is Missouri? One last-minute GOP poll of 800 likely voters found a 400 to 400 split. Political veterans in this perennial swing state are predicting a long night and potential chaos at the polls. "We could all be blowing smoke rings and wake up to a blowout, but my sense is it's going down to the wire," says Republican consultant Paul Zemitzsch of St. Louis.
Public opinion surveys in the last days of the campaign had John McCain dead even with or slightly ahead of Democrat Barack Obama. But Obama supporters believe it might not be that close, pointing to an unprecedented number of newly registered voters: some 340,000 this year, 150,000 of them under the age of 24. "The big unknown is the youth vote," says Democrat Chris Kelly of Columbia, a veteran of many campaigns. In his district alone, Kelly said, 3,300 new voters have signed up. "These are cell-phone kids they don't show up in the polls."
Sarah Palin and Joe Biden both stumped in the state Monday, after Obama drew 30,000 people to a late-night rally in Springfield on Saturday. That's normally Republican territory, but Obama's crowd, spilling out of the high school football stadium, dwarfed the recent rally there for Sarah Palin. "It's kind of upsetting we just got the Bass Pro parking lot," lamented one Republican.
Missouri has gone with the winner in every presidential election but one in over 100 years, and its 11 electoral votes are do-or-die for John McCain. Both sides have lawyers in the state, braced for skirmishes like the one eight years ago, when a federal judge extended voting hours in St. Louis. "Since 2000, election litigation has become as predictable as snow in January," says Thor Hearne, legal counsel to the Missouri GOP and head of President Bush's legal election team in 2004. At least the weather is supposed to be nice mid-70s and mostly sunny for much of the state. By Karen Ball / Kansas City