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Zogby International conducts final election p -

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Zogby International conducts final election poll

The World Today - Wednesday, 5 November , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Eleanor Hall

ELEANOR HALL: Now returning to the United States where polls have just closed in the eastern
battleground states of Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Missouri, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Indiana.

The results in these states hold the key to whether, as the opinion polls have been suggesting for
weeks, Democrat candidate Barack Obama will romp to victory or whether, as the Republican's John
McCain insists, he is closing the gap in the critical swing states in the final moments of this
campaign.

Zogby International is one of the major political opinion pollsters in the United States and it
conducted its final poll in the swing states overnight.

The Communications Director at Zogby International, Fritz Wenzel, joins us now from Washington.

Fritz Wenzel, thanks for being there, the polls have now closed in some of these swing states
you've been monitoring so closely, before we come to your opinion poll are you getting any
significant exit poll numbers yet?

FRITZ WENZEL: We haven't seen exit polling and we're a little reluctant to rely on exit polling in
America for this cycle for a couple of different reasons. We've seen so much trouble in the last
couple of presidential elections projecting the correct winner based on those, and this year we
have early voting, it's something new.

Early voting in many states, many of these states in particular and so with perhaps as much as a
third of the voters already casting their ballots before today, the exit polls at the official
polling places today are missing a significant proportion of the voters and so we feel there's a
reliability problem with that. We're not relying on those numbers.

ELEANOR HALL: Now yesterday when we spoke you had Obama ahead in almost all of the critical states
on the eastern seaboard, but what do your latest results show, is that lead now tightening?

FRITZ WENZEL: Well it has tightened in a couple of those races, and it's very interesting, Florida
was a very tight yesterday, it remains so, same with Missouri, North Carolina same case. Yet Ohio
yesterday we had Obama up by six points, today he is up by only two, it's too close to call.

There's an interesting issue in America, boiling over because of this, I'll get to that in a
minute, Virginia very close, but Barack Obama up by 4.5 points or so, again too close to call. And
Pennsylvania, Obama's lead has dropped from 14 to 10.

What's happening is that Obama, a tape with Barack Obama saying that he would essentially oppose
new coal electricity plants in America has really struck hard in Ohio and Pennsylvania, because
they're very big coal states, very big producers and consumers.

We believe that's perhaps behind why Obama has lost a big part of his lead so quickly.

ELEANOR HALL: So this coal issue is driving this switch to McCain at this late stage?

FRITZ WENZEL: Yes you wouldn't expect it in many states but those are two states where it could
particularly be difficult for Barack Obama and in fact the little bit of, little snippets of
sampling we've done internally today show that McCain has made up all that difference and it's
going to come right down to the wire in Ohio.

ELEANOR HALL: Now what about Pennsylvania, it's a Democrat state that John McCain is eyeing off,
how are the numbers looking for him there, is that coal issue an issue there?

FRITZ WENZEL: Yeah it is, and we've seen it close after our polling finished last night, we
continued to do some today and just anecdotally I can tell you that it was continuing to have a
serious effect to the point where Pennsylvania polls are closed now but it's still too close to
call, so McCain has certainly benefitted from this issue it appears.

ELEANOR HALL: Of course many of the numbers still don't favour John McCain, let's look at Virginia,
if Obama manages to take this normally strong Republican state, what sort of a sign is that of how
long this election night might be?

FRITZ WENZEL: Well it may not be long at all if Obama takes Virginia because it's hard for McCain
to find a way to make up those 13 electoral college votes, because he's already very likely to lose
other votes out in the west.

Colorado, typically Republican looks like it's going Democrat, same with New Mexico, same with
Nevada, those three states alone add up to merely another Ohio in terms of the number of electoral
college votes, so he's in tough shape, he has to win something and Pennsylvania would be nice, but
Virginia he can't really afford to lose it.

ELEANOR HALL: What if he were to lose Virginia but pick up Ohio and Pennsylvania? Would that put
him back in the race?

FRITZ WENZEL: Yeah it sure would be, then I think we're going right down to the wire and it's going
to be a real battleground, particularly in the western states. The one state hanging out there that
again is too close to call yesterday we had it down to a tie to the tenth of one per cent that's
Missouri.

So it may be that whatever happens in Missouri, determines the next president.

ELEANOR HALL: Now of course, all the focus is on the presidential vote, but congressional voting is
important too. What's your polling showing about whether support for Barack Obama nationally is
translating into support for Democrats in the House and critically in the Senate?

FRITZ WENZEL: Well it clearly is, and it's not so much the momentum with Obama, but it is the money
and the energy that the Democrats have been able to develop and use in these key Senate races.

They've already picked up three or four and it looks like they could pick up another three or four
before the nights out. They could get close to sixty, which would be a filler buster proof majority
which would give them free reign to pass legislation in the Senate, but it's not clear they're
going to get there, at least not tonight.

ELEANOR HALL: Pollster with Zogby International, Fritz Wenzel, thanks very much for joining us on
what I know is a very busy night for you there in Washington.