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The Final Push At U. Maryland

This story was written by Allison Stice, The Diamondback

As voters select the next president of the United States Tuesday, some Democrats are already eager to pop open bottles of champagne and light celebratory fireworks.

Although some Democrats have gotten "a little cocky" about a win by Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., College Democrats Vice President Amy Hartman said most are just confident in Obama's lead based on early voting statistics.

College Democrats have even gone so far as to invite College Republicans to celebrate an Obama win with them, College Republicans President Chris Banerjee said. He's not offended, though, as the two campus political groups plan to keep up the good relationship they've built throughout the long campaign season, which has generated more excitement than discord among them, he said.

"It's all in good fun," he said. "I was grateful for the invitation, and it's certainly their right to poke fun at election time. ... At the same time, I think that's the greatest danger for the Obama campaign this election, that the polls have been so skewed in the direction of Obama."

Despite the overwhelming majority of pollsters and pundits calling the race an easy Obama win, most College Democrats are focused on a final push of phonebanking and canvassing in Virginia, as well as helping out with the polls on the campus.

"It's looking really good, and getting better all the time," said College Democrats secretary Angela Gentile. "He's winning early voting by so much. If that hadn't been going on, I'd be more doubtful."

Individual members of the College Republicans said they will be helping out here and there.

Banerjee acknowledged that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is the underdog and that early voting numbers "look bad for Republicans." But he also noted that many presidential races, even the past primaries, prove that the frontrunner doesn't always win.

Polls are wrong about as often as they are right, College Democrats President John Allenbach said.

"That's definitely a concern in the past couple weeks about how early voting seems to show that Obama's gonna win in a landslide and that people will stay home," Allenbach said.

Few held much stock in the warnings that early voting could depress turnout. The same goes for the Bradley effect, which theorizes that while voters tell pollsters they will vote for an African-American candidate, in the booth they choose his white opponent.

"I don't think that's going to have a big effect," Banerjee said. "Like John McCain said, this race will be decided on the issues."

But undecided voters, independents, disgruntled Republicans and even moderate Democrats will be the ones to upset the race with votes for McCain in the voting booth, Banerjee said.

"I think many factors [loom] in voters' minds, and I think once they get down to it, they'll say to themselves, 'In times like these, we really need an experienced candidate like McCain,'" he said.

Turnout is going to break records, Hartman predicted, especially among demographics like young people and blacks. The black turnout has been 10 percent higher in early voting results from Georgia and North Carolina, Allenbach said.

Along with big voter turnout will come long lines and election-day glitches, many of which have already been seen nationwide, Gentile said. Two out-of-state friends of hers received their absentee ballots too late or not at all; one won't be able to vote in Georgia anymore and the other booked a last-minute flight to Pennsylvania yesterday to vote, she said.

"I'm sure there's going to be increased attention to any problem," Gentile said. "People want to vote more this election, so the're going to complain."

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