As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the eastern seaboard, the presidential election storm of the last year is crashing to an end.
Polls show President Barack Obama and Republican rival Mitt Romney nearly deadlocked nationally, with the latest polls showing one or the other ahead by a single point, well within the survey's margin of error. Romney leads Obama 49 percent to 48 percent, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post survey. Romney also leads Obama 50 percent to 46 percent in Gallup's daily tracking poll. But Obama leads Romney 49 percent to 48 percent, according to a Politico/George Washington University poll, marking a 3-point bump for the president since the last measure.
But, as has been the case throughout the finish of the campaign, Romney's national polling surge following his strong initial debate performance has not put him over the top in key battleground states. In Ohio, Obama leads Romney 51 percent to 47 percent, according to Democratic polling firm Public Policy Polling. A Cincinnati Enquirer/Ohio News survey shows the two men tied.
Judging by each campaign's travel schedules for the last week, the crucial states that remain are Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and New Hampshire, but planned events have been shaken up and rearranged thanks to the mega storm.
According to an average of statewide polls compiled by RealClearPolitics.com, Obama holds a slim lead in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Ohio; Romney has the narrow advantage in Florida; and the two are tied in Virginia and Colorado.
Some prognosticators say while the country's attention focuses on the Hurricane Sandy, the state of the race will freeze in place. Other experts say the storm presents Obama the opportunity to appear as a strong leader in campaign's final days.
Romney is also doing what he can to cope with the storm and score political points.
"In North Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, we will be collecting supplies at our Victory offices to deliver local storm-relief," said Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman in an e-mail to reporters. "In Virginia, we are loading storm-relief supplies onto the Romney bus to be delivered."
Romney has also been in touch with GOP Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia and is "monitoring the situation."
Buoyed by massive numbers of early voter turnout in Florida over the weekend, Democrats are hoping the giant storm does not hold down turnout in other states.
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Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.