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Obama Builds Substantial Lead Over McCain


U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is building a formidable lead over Republican John McCain as more states deliver election results in this historic race for president. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports from Washington.

Senator Obama is projected to win the crucial Midwestern state of Ohio and the Eastern state of Pennsylvania, two critical states where the elections are most competitive.

The wins are a potentially devastating blow to Senator McCain.

Obama is winning states across the Northeast, Midwest and mid-Atlantic while most of McCain's wins are in the southern United States.

Votes are still being counted in other key states where the polls have closed.

Each of the 50 U.S. states is allotted electoral votes depending on the size of its population and congressional representation.

A candidate must get at least 270 of the 538 electoral votes to win the White House.

Turnout in this year's election is expected to be among the largest on record, and there were long lines at many polling stations across the country.

Voter registration has increased by seven percent since the last presidential election in 2004.
In Los Angeles, California voter Ted Cohen was glad to see big crowds at his polling place.

"This is the biggest turnout I have seen in any presidential election that I have had the privilege of voting in," he said. "So whatever side of the fence you are on, it is nice to see people are getting back and voting and at least casting their opinion on what they want to see happen in our country.

The election will make history regardless of who is elected to the White House. If Obama wins, he will be the country's first African-American president.

If McCain is chosen, he will be the oldest man elected to a first presidential term at the age of 72. His vice presidential running mate Sarah Palin would become the nation's first female vice president.

Win or lose, both candidates will hold post-election parties in their home cities. McCain is back in Phoenix, after holding his final rally in Colorado.

I feel the momentum," he said. "I feel it, and you feel it, and we're going to win this election. We're going to win it!

Thousands of people are gathering in a park in Chicago, Illinois for Obama's rally. VOA reporter Kane Farabaugh is there and says the crowd is expected to be huge.

Now, what began as thousands of people is quickly turning into tens of thousands of people and it will become hundreds of thousands of people, if not a million people by the end of tonight," he said.

Earlier in the day Obama voted with his family.

When the polls close the journey ends," Obama said. "But voting with my daughters, that was a big deal.

Surveys done of voters as they left their polling places Tuesday showed the economy to be the most important issue in the election.