Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain along with their surrogates are hitting the swing states at full force this week and they are placing particular emphasis on Florida where early voting begins today. Obama spoke to voters in Tampa this morning, where the Tampa Tribune just endorsed Sen. John McCain last Saturday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Michelle Obama will tackle Pensacola and Gainesville, Florida. Their goal is to stimulate voters to take advantage of early voting, and ride the momentum from Obama’s peaked popularity.
Obama is leading in all the major polls this week. A nationwide Gallup Poll, which tracked potential voters from Oct. 16-18, placed him 10 points ahead of McCain after the third and final presidential debate. In addition, the Obama camp yesterday announced that September fundraising totals amounted to $150 million, well above the already record breaking amount of $66 million from his August fundraising. Obama’s campaign has now raised more than $600 million, almost equaling what all the candidates from both major parties collected in private donations in 2004, reports the New York Times.
Also on Sunday, Gen. Colin Powell, former secretary of state to President George W. Bush, gave Obama a ringing endorsement despite his 25-year friendship with McCain, a fellow Republican.
Along with Florida, early voting will begin today in Colorado, Texas, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, and North Dakota, reports the Pew Center. Nationwide, about a third of the electorate is expected to vote early this year, up from 22% in 2004 and 16% in 2000, according to the Associated Press. In Florida, Republicans hold an edge, while in Indiana, absentee voting has been split among Republican and Democratic areas, reports the AP. In Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina and Ohio, Democrats — or at least those living in heavily Democratic areas — are requesting and submitting ballots in large numbers.
Meanwhile President Bill Clinton appeared in Elko and Reno, Nevada, Monday morning and will travel to Kirkwood, Missouri. In 2004, most Nevada voters cast a ballot for President Bush, but now only 25% say he is doing a good or excellent job, according to Rasmussen Reports. Obama and his aides appear so confident of his prospects that apart from a brief stop in Madison, Wis., next Thursday, Obama currently has no plans during the next 10 days to return to Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New Hampshire or any other state that voted for John Kerry in 2004, reports AP.
The McCain-Palin ticket doesn’t seem to be focusing on Florida this week. They have their sights set on Colorado, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Nevada. This Monday alone, McCain’s running mate Gov. Sarah Palin will address Colorado Springs, Loveland, and Grand Junction, Colorado.