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The Lustig US election survival guide: final update

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Robin Lustig | 22:32 UK time, Monday, 20 October 2008

The US presidential election campaign enters its final two weeks today, and if you're not interested now, I guess you never will be. So this is the last of the Lustig election survival updates, designed for those of you who have neither the time nor the inclination to wade through the acres of coverage.

My next dispatch will be on the day after the election, 5 November, when I'll be in Washington to report on the outcome for both The World Tonight and the World Service. But for now, here are the five things you need to know.

1. Barack Obama is the clear favourite to win. But the opinion polls do not give him an overwhelming lead, and it could be tight.

2. The states to watch out for on election night are Florida, Ohio and Virginia. If John McCain doesn't win all of them, he's almost certainly lost. (Currently, Virginia is listed as "leaning to Obama"; the other two are "toss-ups".)

3. Obama has raised $600 million to fund his campaign - he'll soon have raised more than George Bush and John Kerry combined in 2004. A third of it has come in donations of less than $200.

4. Obama did well in the TV debates, but it's doubtful they made much difference. Ditto the endorsement of President Bush's former secretary of state Colin Powell.

5. If Obama does win, it'll be because (i) he ran a superb, focused and disciplined campaign; and (ii) the Republicans are being blamed for the economic crisis.

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