US presidential vote is underway

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US presidential vote is underway

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Americans are voting for their next president.

Republican John McCain is the underdog, defying opinion polls which have Democrat Barack Obama set to become the country’s first black president.

In the first returns from the tiny New Hampshire village of Dixville Notch, Obama came out on top. Obama got 15 votes to McCain’s six. The hamlet has a 60-year tradition of being the first in the nation to vote. It has a population of 75 and only 21 eligible to take part in the poll.

New state surveys show Obama in front in five of eight key battleground states. He has a one point lead in Florida, a two point advantage in Ohio and even bigger leads in Virginia and Nevada. Those four states were all won by George W. Bush in the last election.

A USA Today/Gallup poll says that nationwide voters favour Obama, giving him an eleven point lead, that is 53 percent to McCain’s 42 percent.

Also, opinion polls indicate that Obama leads the vote in all states won by Senator John Kerry in his unsuccessful run against Bush in 2004. That would give him 251 of the 270 electoral college votes he needs to reach the White House.

John McCain continued his campaign into election day with an early morning speech in Prescott, in his home state of Arizona, before moving on to Phoenix where he will await the outcome of the longest, most expensive campaign in history.

In Chicago, the world’s media, along with a crowd estimated at a million people is expected to turn out for Barack Obama in his home state of Illinois.