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Lisa Millar with a US election update -

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Lisa Millar with a US election update

Broadcast: 03/11/2008


TONY JONES, PRESENTER: The ABC's Lisa Millar is in the US, as the candidates get underway for the
final day of the campaign. She joins us from Washington.

Now, Lisa, McCain says that Barack Obama has already measured up the drapes in the White House, and
it does seem that his team is finding it hard to rein in their confidence at this stage. Is it well

LISA MILLAR, ABC CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they're able to base that confidence on is the
continuing lead in the polls that they have, the amazing numbers that they seem to be getting out
to the early voting. And also, the response to what was a pretty impressive week across the media
for Barack Obama. It started with that 30-minute paid advertisement that even the Republicans found
difficult to punch a hole in. Just in the last 24 hours in fact, you're hearing from Barack Obama
almost a relaxation of his desire as he heads into Tuesday. It's the first time that you get that
sense that he is getting ready to claim victory.

TONY JONES: Yes, Lisa, you mentioned early voting there and last night at that giant rally in Ohio
that we just saw pictures of, Barack Obama told people to, "Go out and vote right now!" And indeed
it appears that 30 per cent of voters across the country have actually already done that. I mean,
what do you have to do to qualify to be an early voter?

LISA MILLAR: Be an American citizen, Tony. That's about it at this stage. 34 states have introduced
early voting over the years and this isn't just absentee voting; you can rock up in person or you
can send your vote in by mail. It's a tactic they're using to try and get rid of the crush on
election day that has caused so many problems in the past. And even with the early voting here,
we're seeing people line up for five to six hours. But you're right, the numbers are quite
astounding. When you think that on election day - which is almost a misnomer - when the polls open
officially, that 30 per cent of intending voters have already voted. I mean, that's pretty amazing.
It does change the face of how campaigns would be run here in America.

TONY JONES: Indeed, it does and what it also says is that we're seeing - and we're talking about
exit polls and all the rest of it. At the moment - we've got an exit poll now, effectively, of 30
per cent of likely voters. And what it appears to show is that 59 per cent of them have leaned to
Obama. So it's 59 to 40 in this early polling, evidently, at least on the exit polls. I know that
changes from state to state, but that's the rough national figure, apparently.

LISA MILLAR: Look, it's really difficult to look at any exit polling that's being done and it's not
being done across the board with these states. They have different restrictions on information that
can be released about who is actually going into vote. And in fact the Centre for Early Voting here
in the US keeps warning that it's very dangerous to look at the exit polls from early voting. And
they go back to what we've seen with early voting in previous years. It has been on the increase,
but in 2000, 15 per cent of intended voters voted early. In 2004, 20 per cent did. Now we're
looking at 30 per cent. So it is increasing through the years. But when they look at those exit
polls, they say, "Be wary," because the Democrats have an amazing organisation behind them. That
rally you were talking about, where Barack Obama called on people to go and vote and vote
immediately: they have buses on standby to take voters to the polling booths. They have rock 'n'
roll stars and Hollywood actors who actually lead people to the polling booths. That's what they've
been doing over the last couple of weeks because the Democrats have decided that they would rather
have voters in the bank, as it were. Not to wait until election day and discover that they can't
get their supporters out to vote. It's all very well what the polls are saying, putting Barack
Obama ahead. But if they can't get their supporters to the polling booths, it's worth nothing. So,
their organisation over the last couple of weeks has been extraordinary. And the Republicans have
acknowledged that. The Republicans do say that the Democrats are getting those early voters in and
that's where the trend is. But they warn that it's Republicans who are most likely to turn up on
election day.

TONY JONES: OK, and indeed, there is - one of the latest key indicators, the Washington Post/ABC
news tracking poll has Obama 11 points

ahead nationally, but when you look at the six states which they describe as "up for grabs", it's
much, much closer, as a four point margin in those key states. And I think we're talking Florida,
Ohio, North Carolina, Montana, Missouri and Indiana. So there are these up for grabs states that
may decide the election.

LISA MILLAR: Well, this - and they talk about the margin of errors. And when you think that we're
getting 25 polls a day being done here, Tony, I mean only a handful of them are reputable that
you'd want to discuss here on Lateline. But, certainly that Washington Post/ABC News poll - they
warn that you can't look at what's happening nationally. Ignore the double figures that Barack
Obama seems to lead. It is those handful of states. And when you're looking at plus one, plus four,
plus five for Obama, then that changes what might happen on election day when you look at who is
coming out to vote. But they do keep coming back to the point that for John McCain, it is a huge
hill for him to climb. That something quite extraordinary, that loyal Republicans would have to
turn out in droves never seen before for him to turn around what we appear to be seeing now on the

TONY JONES: OK, Lisa, we'll obviously be talking to you a lot in the next few days, including on
election day. We thank you very much tonight.