Months of reporting and volumes of analysis lead to one conclusion for Tuesday's US election: We can't say for sure who will win. President Barack Obama is certainly ahead, but things could still change. Think of it as a Premier League game. Man City may be up 2-1, but with 10 minutes to play that could change.
In the polling, the candidates are roughly tied at 47.5% of the total vote. But, in the US system the president is not actually selected by the total _ or popular _ vote. Rather, an ''Electoral College'' process is used whereby each state is assigned a number of electoral votes and generally a candidate wins all of a state's votes when he wins the state. This gives rise to the importance of the ''swing states''.
Some states trend so strongly for one side that only a major landslide would change their support. Texas, with 38 EC votes will go for Mitt Romney, come what may. California, with 55 votes, will go for Mr Obama. Other states lean heavily one way or the other and are unlikely to change. But, in swing states, the support for each side is close enough that a last minute swing of a point or two could shift all of their EC votes.
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