Obama takes lead in presidential election

The votes are in and the count is on in the US presidential election race. While early polling shows a leaning towards Democrat candidate Barack Obama, the race is still too early to call.

The votes are in and the count is on in the US presidential election race. While the total number of votes have yet to come in, major news outlets are showing a major shift towards democratic candidate Barack Obama.

Early votes show Republican John McCain is leading Obama in the battleground state of Indiana, with major news outlets also projecting he will win the states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgia and North Dakota.

But Obama is expected to take his home state of Illinois, along with Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Mexico.

That brings Obama in the lead for a total of at least 200 prospective electoral votes – within distance of the 270 needed for the presidential win. 

But with only rural and low-population counties reporting, and voting polls in other states set to close throughout the afternoon Australian time, the race is still in the early hours and will not be officially announced until at least later this afternoon.

Nation-wide polling indicates the race is leaning in Obama’s direction, but McCain is still holding ground in key swing states such as Ohio and Florida. The same polls show a strong lead for Obama in younger voters, while white men have flocked to McCain.

However, exit polls have historically been flawed – they inaccurately predicted a 2004 Democratic win – and the state results later in the day are seen as a more solid prediction of the eventual winner.

The voter turnout is expected to be the largest in decades, with early votes cast before election day amounting to nearly 25% of the total 2004 vote.

The presidential campaigns have lasted nearly two years, beginning with inter-party debates about which candidate should be chosen.

The two candidates have strong policy differences, with Obama planning to raise taxes on incomes over $250,000 and mandate small businesses provide health insurance for their employees. McCain plans to provide across-the-board tax cuts and reduce corporate and capital gains taxes.

Check back this afternoon for regular US election updates as the picture becomes clearer.

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