Photo Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, GETTY IMAGES
After so many long and tedious months, the campaign is at last coming to a close with Election Day upon us tomorrow.
With the polls mostly showing a deadlocked race in recent weeks -- following a poor showing by President Barack Obama in the first debate that allowed challenger Mitt Romney to gain momentum -- Hurricane Sandy presented itself as what some are calling an "October surprise." The last several days of polling have reflected the president's best run since prior to that fateful debate, with an overwhelming majority of Americans saying they approve of his handling of the disaster. The president also picked up an unexpected assist from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who effusively praised his response.
Several battleground states are still tossups, although Obama's standing in all-important Ohio has edged upward to a lead of about three points over Romney. The president also led in four separate polls of Virginia over the weekend, making that state a likely win for him. Obama is losing some ground on Romney in Iowa, and the GOP hopeful also appears to lead in North Carolina, although its electoral votes are not likely to be game changing, all according to the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight political blog.
The aftermath of Sandy may also affect the ability of some voters to get to the polls, with so many displaced by power outages, flooding or other damage. Under a new mandate, New Jersey residents affected by the storm will now be permitted to vote via email or fax. It's the first time residents will be allowed to cast ballots remotely. Obama leads Romney by a significant margin in that state.
New Jersey as well as New York, Connecticut, and even states like Pennsylvania may experience fallout tomorrow, with some polling sites unfit or moved. In New York City alone, more than 1,200 polling places were damaged. While polling place problems and other storm-related ballot issues could force a change to the popular vote count, all the disruptions are unlikely to change the outcome of the election, with the most badly affected states all expected to go the president's way regardless.
Early voting has been well also underway around the country, with nearly 30 million Americans having already cast their ballots as of today. Of the five battleground states that report on turnout by party affiliation, Democrats are leading in four and Republicans in one, according to data cited by ABC News.
Not surprisingly, the candidates will spend the last day blitzing the battleground states. The president is hitting population-dense areas in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, with Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z as his musical guests. Romney will also hit Ohio, arriving in Columbus just hours after Obama leaves for Iowa. Romney will also hit Virginia, New Hampshire and Florida -- where lines for early voting stretched hours over the weekend, sparking much controversy.
And then, after the exhaustive last push, there's nothing left to do but wait until the votes are tallied.
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage's Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.