Now is the time for US voters will prove the pollsters right or wrong.

This is how the election is shaping up, state-by-state, taking into account the latest polls, historical trends, and candidate strategy. 

Elections are won or lost in the battleground states and there are still undecided voters up for grabs.

Playing to win

Barack Obama
Obama needs to hold all the states John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, won plus win one with lots of electoral votes, like Ohio or a couple of states with more modest electoral votes, such as Virginia and Colorado.

John McCain
McCain needs to hold almost all the states Bush won in 2004.  If he loses a smaller state like Iowa to Obama, McCain can still win if the south and mountain west stay in the Red column.

On the eve of the November 4 Election Day - national polls and the electoral map show Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, leading John McCain, the Republican nominee, as he has done for the last several weeks.

McCain has rebounded in a few states, but Obama still has the advantage.

The states that are still too close to call going into Election Day are Ohio, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, Indiana, and Nevada, as pictured above.

Caveats are, of course, part of political predictions. A few states where polls show the race is very close don't make it into the list and continue to lean Democratic or Republican based on state history and the candidates' efforts.

On the final day of campaigning, McCain is pushing hard in seven states:  Florida, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona.  

Obama is making a final push in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia - states George Bush, the current US president, won in 2004.

Arizona

Electoral votes: 10

Leaning Republican.  Polls show the race is within the margin of error.  If it weren't McCain's home state, Arizona would likely have been a swing state months ago like its neighbours New Mexico and Colorado.

The Obama campaign is running a feel-good ad in Arizona in the final days.  McCain is making the last stop on the last full day of campaigning in his home state. 

Colorado

Electoral votes: 9

Leaning Democratic. Colorado is a Mountain West state that has been solidly Republican for years, but this time, the Democrats believe they can put it in the Blue column.

Changing voter demographics, the Democratic National Convention, and a concerted effort by Obama's campaign to register new voters have contributed to putting the state in play.  Early voting in Colorado is at record levels, largely benefiting the Democrats. 

Florida

Electoral votes: 27

Florida is simply too close to call. It is a large, diverse state, with large elderly, Jewish, and Hispanic populations. 

The economy and housing market are big issues here.  Both candidates started the final day before the election in Florida.

More than 4 million people voted early or absentee in this critical swing state.  Florida officials expect around 7 million people to vote here on Tuesday. Polls show this state could go either way.

Georgia

Electoral votes: 15

Leaning Republican. Georgia is a conservative southern state but recent polls show that McCain had only a slender lead, in some cases within the margin of error of the poll.

After reducing his effort in Georgia, polls began to close for him after the recent economic turmoil and a grassroots effort from his supporters. The Obama campaign is now running ads in Georgia.

Indiana

Electoral votes: 11

It's been a solid Red state for 40 years but Obama stands a chance of winning here. Indiana borders Obama’s home state of Illinois and is being barraged with ads.

Both candidates campaigned in Indiana in the final days. McCain made it one of his last stops on Monday.

 

Missouri

Electoral votes: 11

Missouri is an important bellwether state.  It has voted for the winning candidate in every election for 100 years, except one. And this time, the polls are too close to call.

The weather forecast is clear for the whole state, an advantage for the Democrats.

Montana

Electoral votes: 3

Leaning Republican. The race is tighter than might be expected. Montana voted for Clinton once, but is a typically Republican Mountain West State.

Both Obama and the Republican Party began advertising here in the last weeks of the campaign, after the polls showed the race was tightening.  One of McCain's problems in Montana is Ron Paul. He has the potential to be a spoiler for McCain here.

In Montana, voters can register and vote on the same day, making it difficult to figure out how large the electorate will be. Registration and voting simultaneously tends to benefit Democrats.

 

Nevada

Electoral votes: 5

Nevada is a Mountain West state and likes to vote for the winners. It has correctly predicted the next resident of the White House in every election since 1980. 

But it is also a statistical tie. It traditionally leans Republican, but right now, Las Vegas gambling houses are giving Obama an enormous advantage in the race. 

One gambling website is giving McCain 4-to-1 odds while Obama is 1-7. 

New Hampshire

Electoral votes: 4

Leaning Democratic. It is little, but in an election where every electoral vote counts, New Hampshire matters.

John McCain has been a popular figure in New Hampshire for years, but the latest polls show Obama is leading. McCain campaigned in New Hampshire in the last days, still believing he can win here. 

New Mexico

Electoral votes: 5

Leaning Democratic.  New Mexico is a Mountain West swing state with a large Hispanic population and popular Democratic Governor Bill Richardson.

The latest polls put Obama up by double digits.

North Carolina

Electoral votes: 15

Polls continue to show the race is still very close here. Obama is pouring in resources to try to pull out a win in this southern Republican state with a sizeable military population.

Around 250,000 new Democrats have registered to vote since the beginning of the year, compared to 50,000 new Republicans.

A poll taken over the summer found that native North Carolinians support McCain by eight points, while migrants to the state support Obama by about five points. 

North Carolina has not voted for a Democrat since 1976. Obama is making North Carolina his second to last campaign stop on the final day.

North Dakota

Electoral votes: 3

Leaning Republican. Some polling has indicated the race is tight, but North Dakota is historically a Republican state.

It has voted the same way as its sister state, South Dakota for 80 years. Obama's campaign announced they are going to run advertisements in North Dakota in the final days of the campaign.

Ohio

Electoral votes: 20

Ohio is big, economically depressed, and a true indicator of the national mood. 

No Republican has won the White House without Ohio. Obama is up in some polls, but both candidates are fighting hard in the final days. Polling has been inconsistent, some show Obama ahead, but other say either candidates can still win.

An Obama win here, where Hillary Clinton won in the primary contest, would show that Americans have really warmed to him.

Pennsylvania

Electoral votes: 21

Leaning Democratic. Pennsylvania is older and whiter than most states and has a large manufacturing base, hit hard by the economic turbulence. 

Pennsylvania has voted for the Democratic candidate since 1992. McCain is making a stop here on the last day, believing he can win over just enough votes to win this state.  It’s the only Kerry state McCain is contesting.

Virginia

Electoral votes: 13

Virginia is Obama's best chance to break the Republican hold on the south.

The state has voted for the Republican ticket since 1968, but changing demographics, a popular Democratic governor, a slew of advertisments and on-the-ground efforts by the Obama campaign have put it in play. 

Different polls show different pictures of this state - some show he's up outside the margin of error, some he's within.  Obama has made a huge effort here, including a final stop in the District of Columbia suburbs on this final day before Election Day.

West Virginia

Electoral votes: 5

West Virginia is a largely rural, white state.

Obama is inundating the state with advertising and Joe Biden, his running made a stop there 10 days ago. The state's two popular long-serving Democratic senators and the governor are out on the stump for Obama.

Polls are inconsistent. Some show McCain ahead, others are within the margin of error.  Because it's so rural, West Virginia is a hard state to poll accurately. But recent surveys show McCain is rebounding.

Source: Al Jazeera