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Our man in LA Guy Adams, is preparing in earnest for the big night. Here's his update from Romney's campaign headquarters in Massachusetts:
It's a huge steel-and-glass convention centre in Downtown Boston, decorated with red white and blue lights carrying the Romney-Ryan logo. In a demonstration of very Republican free-marketeering, the press have been charged an unprecedented $1020 for access to the location (we've had no choice but to pay), so I'm hoping they at least have a decent buffet.
Follow Guy on Twitter and stick around here for updates from him through the night
Meanwhile, David Usborne is in Chicago:
Your man is successfully installed in the Chicago exhibition hall where Mr Obama will celebrate victory or concede in the wee hours of tonight. One thing that’s for sure: Grant Park, where he declared victory on the shores of Lake Michigan, it ain’t. All cold cement floors and concrete pillars. Democrats everywhere hope it will be warmed tonight by the fever of triumph, balloons and confetti.
A bakery in Roseville, Minnesota offered Obama and Romney cookies to test its customers' preference in the presidential race.
Owner Amy Johnson said her cookie poll in the past two elections correctly predicted the winner.
This time Romney held an 830-to-731 lead over Obama in sales.
Long queues formed as voters were bussed in or driven to relocated polling centres, while elected officials attempted to ease the strain by allowing voters upended by Superstorm Sandy to cast provisional ballots wherever possible in their state. “We want everyone to vote. Just because you’re displaced doesn’t mean you should be disenfranchised,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said, announcing the special measures on the eve of the polls.
But Sandy’s lashing meant that the day was not without chaos and confusion. The New York Times reported that vote-scanning machines being used for the first time at many of New York City’s polling stations malfunctioned, complicating the already-challenging process.
The US Congress faced continuing gridlock as the country hurtles towards a “fiscal cliff”, with both the House of Representatives and the Senate unlikely to change hands despite record spending by outside groups to influence the result.
However, one of the main features of the election is likely be the punishment of Tea Party-backed candidates who, after winning the support of the Republican party’s conservative grass roots in primary elections, could fail to be endorsed by their states’ electorate as a whole.
Voter surveys have depicted an electorate as deadlocked over which party they want to control Congress as they are over the presidency. About 47 per cent of likely voters prefer Democrats, while 45 per cent favour Republicans, a Wall St Journal/NBC News poll reported last weekend.
Tired of the barrage of appeals for their vote, Ohioans are glad to finally have their say as the polls opened for the quadrennial contest for The White House.Read his full report here
The Buckeye State was in America’s - and the world’s - sights, with forecasters predicting that it could have the decisive vote in whether Barack Obama gets another four years in Oval Office or if the Presidential baton passes to his Republican foe Mitt Romney.
In the final furlong, the focus for the campaigns was on getting their supporters out the polling stations in this pivotal battleground that comes with 18 prized Electoral College votes. Crack teams of volunteers from both campaigns were knocking on the doors of likely voters across the region to remind them to vote. Free transportation was on offer throughout the day for many of those who couldn’t make it to the polls themselves. In Canton, the seat of Stark, the largest swing county in this coveted swing arena, the front page of the local paper came with a warning: “If you don’t vote by this afternoon, a campaign volunteer could be headed for your door.”
The president has run a strong campaign, I believe he is a good man and wish him well, and his family well. He is a good father and has been a good example of a good father, but it is time for a new direction. It is a time for a better tomorrow.Mitt Romney on Barack Obama earlier today
Behind the scenes, the picture is less rosy. With almost every major poll giving Obama a lead in the states he needs to reach 270 votes in the electoral college, forecasting analysts put his chances of victory at less than ten percent yesterday afternoon. On betting exchanges, he could be backed at odds of around 4/1.
Like many recent surveys, today’s most detailed poll, for the website Politico, put the national race at a tie, with each candidate securing 47 percent of the vote. But in the ten States considered most in-play, the firm’s data showed Romney behind by a clear margin of 43 to 49 per cent.
What is the Electoral College?via Standard.co.uk
It is the US institution that officially elects the president. The electors are chosen by each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The number — 538 — is based on the number of representatives in Congress, and it is made up of 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate. The extra three electors represent the nation’s capital. Bigger states with more representatives get more electoral votes, thus California gets 55 while tiny Delaware gets three.
What happens if the two men tie at 269 votes each?
The 12th amendment of the Constitution states that if no single candidate gets a majority of the electoral vote, the House of Representatives chooses the winner from the three candidates with the top vote counts. The Senate decides on the vice president. The Republican-led House of Representatives would almost certainly choose Mr Romney as the next president. The Democrat-controlled Senate would most likely plump for Joe Biden. The result? Chaos in Washington.
How long would it take to know who is the next president in the event of deadlock?
Days or possibly weeks because such a close result will result in challenges and recounts in states where the vote was close. After the lawyers became involved in the contest over missing votes in Florida in 2000, it was December 12 before George Bush was declared the winner over Al Gore.
Has there ever been a tie before in a presidential election?
Not since DC was granted three electoral votes to make a 538 total in 1964.
Has the House of Representatives ever chosen the president?
Yes, three times. The first time the House picked the president was in 1800. Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied with 73 electoral votes each. The representatives flirted with choosing Burr over the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence, but Jefferson finally won after 34 ballots.
Has there ever been a president who lost the popular vote?
Yes, four times, including in 2000 when George Bush squeaked past Al Gore in electoral votes. The others were in 1824, 1876 and 1888.
The Democrat party was rattled enough, however, to send Vice President Joe Biden to Cleveland to ensure their rival didn’t steal all of the limelight. His jet, Air Force Two, landed at the local airport just after Romney’s, and immediately before that of Republican running mate Paul Ryan, causing awkward scenes on the tarmac.
The pursuit of the Hispanic vote will fundamentally and irreversibly change the tenor and tone of the election. It would be ironic indeed if the legacy of America's first black president were to bequeath a country who elections were truly bilingual.Via Independent Voices
The South Africa of today is, at best, underperforming its economic potential