Candidates keep up the fight as election nears end

— -- Presidential contenders Barack Obama and John McCain ignored polls showing the Democrat leading and urged voters on Sunday not to let either pessimism or complacency keep them from the polls on Nov. 4.

The latest Gallup polls show Obama ahead 51 to 43 among likely voters. State surveys also suggest that Obama's path to the 270 electoral votes needed to win is closer than McCain's.

But the campaigns were having none of it.

"I've been in a lot of campaigns. I know the momentum is there," McCain, the Republican candidate, told supporters at a rally in Pennsylvania.

In Colombus, Ohio, Obama, the Democrat, urged voters at his rally to go directly afterward to the polling places, which stayed open until 5 p.m. for early voting.

"Columbus, don't believe for a second that this election is over," the Illinois senator said.

Less than 72 hours before Election Day, top officials for both campaigns were also shrugging off the polls, with McCain's campaign manager claiming a late surge toward the Republican and Obama's chief strategist concerned about overconfidence..

Republican Rick Davis, told ABC's This Week that he believes there is a "structural imbalance" in the polling that does not reflect what he sees as a big swing by independents toward McCain.

He also said he sees close contests emerging in the key battleground states. Davis said McCain was in a position to win Pennsylvania, a traditionally Democratic state that is critical to a Republican victory in the electoral votes.

"It's a state that I believe we can snatch from the Democrats and add to our coalition," Davis said.

David Axelrod, Obama's chief strategist, said that in early voting "the edge is pretty substantial in our favor." He said he is particularly pleased with the pattern of Democratic turnout among new voters in North Carolina, where polls show a very close race.

"The main thing I worry about is complacency," Axelrod said, referring to the potential impact of upbeat polls.

"You've still got to vote," he said.

Neither side let up on Sunday as the campaign headed into final 72 hours before Tuesday's election.

Both were focusing exclusively on a handful of battleground states, overwhelmingly in traditionally Republican areas.

McCain, and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, were stumping separately in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

The Democratic candidate, and running mate Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, were campaigning separately in Ohio and Florida. Obama's events included an appearance in Cleveland with rocker Bruce Springsteen.

Despite the polls, other McCain advisers also said they see an upset in the making.

"John's a closer. He always has been," former senator Fred Thompson said on NBC's Meet the Press. "He often is given up for dead — literally and politically. People have been wrong about him before."

David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager, said Democrats were hewing to a strategy to expand the electoral map by aggressively campaigning in traditional Republican states like Virginia, Colorado and Nevada.

"We did not want to wake up on the morning of Nov. 4 waiting for one state. We wanted a lot of different ways to win this election," Plouffe said on Fox News Sunday.

"Here we find ourselves two days out from the election with a lot of different ways to get to 270 electoral votes," Plouffe said. "We do not have to pull an inside straight."

Contributing: Douglas Stanglin in Mclean, Va.; The Associated Press