(CNN) - With only two days until Election Day, campaign insiders offered up their predictions for how the general election and congressional races will unfold. Speaking on Sunday to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, the best political team made the following forecasts:
James Carville, Democratic Strategist: Barack Obama takes the election by winning 365 electoral votes; the Democrats pick up 9 Senate seats and 27 House seats.
Leslie Sanchez, Republican Strategist: If John McCain is within four points of Obama in the final polls, there’s a chance for a McCain win. The Democrats won’t pick up 9 Senate seats because Sen. Norm Coleman will beat Al Franken in the Minnesota Senate race.
Paul Begala, Democratic Strategist: Obama wins with a minimum of 325 electoral votes. The Democrats pick up 7 or 8 Senate seats, which gives them the freedom to kick Joe Lieberman out of the Democratic caucus.
Alex Castellanos, Republican Strategist: Obama wins with 318 electoral votes, which he gains by carrying Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. McCain wins Ohio and North Carolina. The Democrats wind up with 59 Senate seats, but Sen. Mary Landrieu, D- Louisiana, loses her re-election bid.
More predictions after the jump
(CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Sunday told supporters that he and Gov. Sarah Palin would "shake up Washington" with a win in Tuesday's presidential election, despite national polls showing them trailing Sen. Barack Obama's ticket.
"I want to repeat to you one more time, my friends - we're going to win, and we're going to bring real change to Washington," he said at a rally in Wallingford, Pennsylvania.
"With your help, we can win. ... We need a new direction, and we have to fight for it," McCain said, urging voters to volunteer in the final hours of campaigning.
"Two days, two days to victory," he said to roaring applause.
(CNN) - CNN's Josh Levs breaks down how you can report voting problems to CNN.
CNN will be tracking voter problems through Election Day. If you have a problem or see a problem, call the CNN Voter Hotline at 877-462-6608. See what issues are a concern in each state by clicking on the interactive Hotline map at cnn.com/hotline.
(CNN) - Call it the battle for Big Sky country.
George W. Bush won Montana by 20 points in his re-election victory four years ago. But it seems the times have changed in the state.
CNN's new Electoral College map, updated Sunday morning, moves Montana from "lean John McCain" to "toss up." The move is partially based on our new CNN Poll of Polls in Montana, compiled Friday, which suggests McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, has a one-point lead over his Democratic rival Barack Obama, 46 percent to 45 percent. Nine percent of voters are undecided.
"The fact that Montana is up for grabs has to be extremely unsettling for the McCain campaign," said CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. "Montana's usually a reliably Republican state in presidential campaigns. It's been won by the Democrats only twice in the past half century. If you're a Republican and you're fighting for Montana in the last few days of the campaign, you're not in good shape."
Three electoral votes are at stake in Montana, a state Obama visited in late August. McCain has not campaigned in Montana during the general election.
With Montana moving to "toss-up," CNN estimates that if the election were held today, Obama would win states worth 291 electoral votes - more than enough to capture the White House
McCain would take states worth 157 electoral votes, while states worth a combined total of 90 electoral votes would still be up for grabs. A candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win.
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“I don’t think we’re ever, as a nation, going to completely come together," said Kari Tindall, 25. “And I don’t think we really need to.”
She’s a fundraiser for a theater and arts complex in Iowa; as we moved through Iowa on our way to where we’ll be spending Election Day, we talked with people not about their predictions for who will win and who will lose on Tuesday, but about their thoughts concerning this long campaign itself– and what will come after.
“It’s our nature in this country to have two sides to everything,” Tindall said. “That‘s just what we do. So to expect, after the election, for people who supported Obama and people who supported McCain to completely agree on everything, just because one candidate has won. . .you know that’s not going to happen.
“What would be good, though, is if we’re able to use the experience of the campaign we've just been through to try to find some common ground when it's over. That in itself would be better than the way things have been.”
She said she worries that the campaign, in its final weeks, “has turned a little bit ugly." The way she perceives it, Barack Obama has managed to give the impression that he “always keeps his cool,” while John McCain at certain times “seems overwhelmed.”
But she recognizes that those perceptions will not be helpful once there is one winner and one loser. And she thinks the reason there has been so much interest– and so much acrimony– during the presidential campaign of 2008 is that “there’s a lot more news coverage than ever before."
It’s not that citizens make the conscious choice to be so consumed, even obsessed, with news, she said.
“It’s that you can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere. You couldn’t avoid the news this year even if you tried.”
(CNN) - Two and seven: With two days left until election day, a new national poll suggests that Barack Obama holds a seven-point lead over John McCain in the race for the White House.
In the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, released Sunday morning, 53 percent of likely voters say they are backing Obama, a Democratic senator from Illinois, for president, while 46 percent support McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona.
Over the last month, Obama's lead has remained quite steady, ranging from five to nine points in the CNN Poll of Polls, which is an average of the national surveys.
But CNN Polling Director Keating Holland cautions against assuming the election is over.
"Keep in mind that this is not a prediction of the final outcome," Holland said. "That's not an easy task with two full days of campaigning to go in a country in which roughly one in ten voters tend to make up their minds in the last few days."
There are three major third-party candidates that are on the ballot in some states across the nation.
They are Independent Ralph Nader, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney.
When they are factored into the poll, Obama's lead increases by one percentage point, to eight points - 51 percent to 43 percent, with Nader, Barr and McKinney combining for four points.
(CNN) - In the final hours of campaigning, Sen. Barack Obama is urging his supporters to "be my ambassadors" and "close the deal."
In these last three days, we can't afford to slow down or sit back or let up ... not now, not when there's so much at stake," Obama said at a late rally in Springfield, Missouri, his third stop on Saturday.
Sen. John McCain told voters Saturday afternoon that despite being down in the polls, "we're coming back."
"When I see this kind of support, when I see this momentum, when I see this great support, I know we're gong to win," he said in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
McCain on Sunday was focusing on Pennsylvania, with rallies scheduled in Wallingford and Scranton. Following his Pennsylvania events, he was expected to travel to New Hampshire for a town hall meeting in Peterborough.
Obama leads McCain by 7 points in Pennsylvania, 51 to 44 percent, according to CNN's latest poll of polls. The state has 21 electoral votes at stake.
(CNN)—For Obama Campaign Manager David Plouffe, it's a given he will be by the Illinois senator's side on election night - unless his wife goes into labor.
Plouffe, whose wife was expected to deliver their second child Saturday, told Fox News Sunday it's baby over Obama.
"I will get back as quickly as I can and head to the hospital," Plouffe said. "We're obviously so excited about that. We're hoping that our new one will wait till after Tuesday, but either way we'll be thrilled."
Pressed on the appearance of his potential departure, Plouffe said he has confidence where the campaign stands.
"We've got a great team in Chicago and I'll probably just get in the way if I'm there on Tuesday anyway," he said. "I think we're going to have a great Election Day, and we’re going to have a great turnout, and I think at some point the night o November 4th or the morning of November 5th, Barack Obama will win this election and will be the 44th president of the United States."
(CNN)—With two days until voters pull the lever for their next president, the latest CNN averages of battleground state polls shows the race tightening, but Sen. McCain still has some ground to make up.
CNN’s new Colorado Poll of Polls shows Obama leading McCain by 6 points 51 percent to 45 percent; The last Colorado Poll of Polls –- released Saturday –- showed Obama leading McCain by 7 points.
An average of polls conducted in battleground Florida, shows Obama leading McCain by 4 points, 49 percent to 45 percent. Saturday's Florida Poll of Polls also showed Obama leading McCain by 4 points.
In Iowa, where it all started for Sen. Obama, the Illinois senator is leading McCain by 14 points, 53 percent to 39 percent.
CNN’s new Minnesota Poll of Polls shows Obama leading McCain by 12 points, 52 percent to 40 percent; The last Minnesota Poll of Polls –- released October 30 –- showed Obama leading McCain by 13 points.
In New Hampshire, Obama is leading McCain by 11 points, 53 percent to 42 percent according to the latest CNN Poll of Polls. CNN’s last New Hampshire Poll of Polls –- released November 1 –- showed Obama leading McCain by 12 points.
CNN’s new average of polls in Pennsylvania shows the Democratic nominee leading the Republican nominee by 7 points, 51 percent to 44 percent; CNN’s last Pennsylvania Poll of Polls –- released November 1 –- showed Obama leading McCain by 8 points.
Finaly, in Virginia, a state that has voted Republican in every presidential race since 1968, Obama is leading McCain by 7 points, 51 percent to 44 percent.
A complete list of polls used for the latest CNN Poll of Polls after the jump
(CNN)– Barack Obama’s chief strategist said Saturday that he thought the last-minute appearance of stories like this weekend’s news that the Illinois senator’s aunt may be living in the country illegally would make people “suspicious.”
The Associated Press has reported that Zeituni Onyango, a native of Kenya, has been living in Boston despite losing an appeal for asylum four years ago. Obama’s campaign issued a statement earlier Saturday that the Democratic nominee “has no knowledge of her status but obviously believes that any and all appropriate laws should be followed." The campaign also said it would return $265 in donations from Onyango, who is not legally permitted to donate to Obama because she is not a U.S. citizen.
CNN has been unable to independently verify the aunt's immigration status.
On the campaign trail in Nevada, Axelrod said the timing of the report might raise a few eyebrows. "The campaign issued a statement on that," he said. "And I don't have anything more to add to it, other than I think people are suspicious about stories that surface in the last 72 hours of a national campaign... I think that they're going to take that, they're going to put it in that context."
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan questioned both the timing and the source of the news Saturday, sending a public letter to Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff requesting an investigation.