Oct. 31, 2008 -- As he veered through four different campaign stops in Ohio, Sen. John McCain, the war hero, longtime lawmaker and Republican presidential nominee, was mindful of the final, elusive hurdle he has yet to conquer -- winning the presidency.
While on the stump in Ohio today, McCain, R-Ariz., reiterated his message.
"There's just four days left," he told a crowd in Hanoverton, Ohio. "The pundits have written us off as they have before. But we're closing."
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McCain knows he's behind in the polls, and he knows his time is running out. Today's ABC News tracking poll shows Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama's advantage over McCain has opened up slightly, rising a percentage point to a 9 percent lead.
But McCain, who told ABC News that he is closing that gap and will win on Tuesday, continues to slog it out one voter at a time.
Do Undecideds Matter?
Even with the election just days away, there still are voters unsure of who they will cast their ballots for. While the amount of undecided voters is unclear, both sides are actively trying to sway this key group.
"The McCain campaign believes that universe of undecided voters could be as high as 10 percent," ABC News' chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said, "and that they are disproportionately white, women, elderly Bush voters who could break towards McCain."
Team Obama thinks otherwise.
"The Obama campaign believes it's a smaller universe and that they're split ... evenly between those who lean towards Obama and towards McCain," said Stephanopoulos. "Our own polling shows that only about 2 percent of the country is truly undecided," Stephanopoulos added. "Those people are highly unlikely to vote. A bigger universe of 5 to 7 percent of the country who might go either way, we see them leaning a little bit more towards McCain, but not by as much as his team says."
Familiar Path for McCain
McCain's bus trip through Ohio today must have felt like a trip down memory lane.
Stephanopoulos pointed out that many months ago, McCain was down in the polls, campaigning through New Hampshire even when the pundits had written him off.
"Look at just a year ago," Stephanopoulos said. "John McCain was left for the political dead and he came back and got the nomination."
McCain's campaign was out of money and running out of time, but it never lost confidence. He came back to win an important victory in New Hampshire, something he hopes he can do again.
But the path is rocky. Obama's political past is also paved with impressive wins.
"Four years ago, Barack Obama was a state senator from Illinois," Stephanopoulos said. "He hadn't even been elected to the [U.S.] Senate. He defeated the most famous Democrat in the country, Hillary Clinton, to get the nomination, raised more money than anyone has ever raised. To even be in the position that he's in right now is a huge surprise."
Early Voters Swing Toward Obama
Obama, D-Ill, spent the day delivering his closing argument in Indiana, a state that is as rock-ribbed a Republican stronghold as any in the country. Obama has put the state back on the battleground map, a sign of his sprawling grassroots efforts, and thrown McCain and the Republicans on the defensive.
In a state where Bush defeated Kerry by 21 points, polls show McCain leading Obama by single digits.
While the McCain team has zeroed in on undecided voters, the Obama ticket has spent a lot of energy targeting early voters. The strategy appears to be working. More than 15 million Americans already have cast their ballots in early voting.
"Most of those early voters have gone for Barack Obama," said Stephanopoulos. "But set aside the early voting and the polls and take a look at it this way. We just finished the worst month in the stock market in 10 years. We're having the worst year in job losses in more than 15 years. More than 90 percent of the country thinks that we're going in the wrong direction.
"We haven't see those kind of numbers in 30 years," Stephanopoulos added. "And President Bush has the lowest approval ratings and highest disapproval ratings of any president since polling began.
"You take any one of those factors and that would be enough to defeat the candidate of the incumbent party," Stephanopoulos said. "To overcome all of them would be astonishing. It would be politically miraculous."