The first polls opening at 6am ET on Tuesday and everything wraps up when the last voter casts a ballot in Alaska at 1am ET.
With all the talk and analysis of an expanded battleground map (which certainly played out), it is interesting to note that when it came to events, the Obama and McCain campaigns kept returning to those oldies but goodies – Ohio and Florida.
Ohio was the state with the most candidate campaign events this cycle – a grand total of 143 since March per the ABC News candidate tracker. Florida is next with 113 events followed by Pennsylvania with 101 events.
Obama and Biden held a combined 61 events in the Buckeye State (38 since June for Obama, 23 since the Democratic convention for Biden). McCain and Palin held 82 events there (50 since March for McCain, 32 since the Republican convention for Palin).
Keys to Ohio No Republican has won the White House without winning the Buckeye State and the state has gone to the eventual winner in the last 11 presidential elections. This year, the economy is driving voter preferences and polls show a tight race but a political environment that is favoring the Democrats and Barack Obama.
Cuyahoga County is Obama's stronghold, with the heavily Democratic Cleveland metropolis is ripe with voters for Obama, but the northeastern part of the state is where Obama's advantage may be more critical. Polls have shown Obama holding a double digit margin in the northeastern corner – an area that Kerry won by just five points.
Democrats say Obama can win the state if he builds on the Kerry margins in the traditionally Democratic strongholds in the state (Cleveland, Columbus, Athens, Akron, Toledo) and follows a similar road map that Strickland and Brown charted in 2006 in the Republican strongholds (southeastern and southwestern Ohio). The key is to "lose better" than Kerry did in exurban and rural counties while maintaining the strong support he had in urban centers like Cleveland, Akron, and Columbus.
McCain will look to shore up support in southeastern Ohio – Ted Strickland country. There are many white, working class voters there - and they supported Clinton over Obama in the primary. Stark County (Canton) and Franklin County (Columbus) are two key counties to watch. Both candidates will make concerted efforts to win these counties and drive up their turnout, especially in the large college town of Columbus (home to The Ohio State University Buckeyes and its 50,000+ students).
Democratic and Republican officials in Ohio say to keep an eye on the southwestern corner of the state where there could be a pocket of new Democratic voters who are upper middle class, more educated, and new to the state. This corner is traditionally Republican – Bush won the 3 counties that border Hamilton County (Cincinnati) by over 65 percent.
Keys to Florida In the past 4 statewide elections, 25% of the vote in Florida has came from the Tampa and Orlando media markets -- and it's one of the richest places in the state for persuadable voters, strategists say. Tampa Bay, Orlando and Daytona Beach are the cities that run through that area, comprising what is known as the I-4 corridor. Florida Republicans say the area holds the key to victory for McCain in November. Obama, meanwhile, wants to take the area, while also running up the score in the Democratic stronghold of South Florida.