Obama leads McCain in 6 of 8 key states

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama leads Republican John McCain in six of eight key battleground states one day before the U.S. election, including the big prizes of Florida and Ohio, according to a series of Reuters/Zogby polls released on Monday.

Obama holds a 7-point edge over McCain among likely U.S. voters in a separate Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby national tracking poll, up 1 percentage point from Sunday. The telephone poll has a margin of error of 2.9 percentage points.

Obama heads into Tuesday’s voting in a comfortable position, with McCain struggling to overtake Obama’s lead in every national opinion poll and to hold off his challenge in about a dozen states won by President George W. Bush in 2004.

The new state polls showed Obama with a 1-point lead in Missouri and 2-point lead in Florida, within the margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. But Obama also holds leads in Ohio, Virginia and Nevada -- all states won by Bush in 2004.

The five states where Obama is ahead have a combined 76 electoral votes. Along with states won by Democrat John Kerry in 2004, they would give Obama 328 electoral votes -- far more than the 270 needed to win the White House.

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Obama also leads by 11 percentage points in Pennsylvania, which McCain has targeted as his best chance to steal a state won by Kerry in 2004.

McCain leads Obama by 5 points in Indiana and by 1 point in North Carolina -- both states won by Bush in 2004.

“Obama’s lead is very steady. He could be looking at a big day on Tuesday,” said pollster John Zogby. “These are all Republican states except Pennsylvania, and that does not look like it’s going to turn for him.”

In Florida, the biggest prize being fought over on Tuesday with 27 electoral votes, Obama leads McCain by 48 percent to 46 percent. The two were running dead even at 47 percent one week ago.

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In Ohio, the state that decided the 2004 election with a narrow win for Bush, Obama has opened a 6-point edge. He also has a 6-point lead on McCain in Virginia and an 8-point advantage in fast-growing Nevada.

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Obama leads McCain by a statistically insignificant 1 point, 47 percent to 46 percent, in Missouri. McCain has the same 1-point edge in traditionally Republican North Carolina.

McCain has a solid 5-point lead in Indiana, which has not supported a Democrat for president since 1964. Obama has worked to put Indiana in the Democratic column, and plans a visit there on Election Day to try to help turn out the vote.

In the national poll, Obama leads by 15 points among independents and by 13 points among women, two crucial voting blocs in Tuesday’s election. He leads by 1 point among men and among all age groups except those between the ages of 55 and 69, who favor McCain by 1 point.

McCain leads among whites by 13 percentage points but is only attracting about 25 percent of Hispanics. In 2004, Bush won more than 40 percent of Hispanics.

Both independent Ralph Nader and Libertarian Bob Barr were at 1 percent in the survey, with about 2 percent of voters still undecided.

The rolling tracking poll, taken Thursday through Saturday, surveyed 1,205 likely voters in the presidential election. In a tracking poll, the most recent day’s results are added, while the oldest day’s results are dropped to monitor changing momentum.

The state surveys also were taken Thursday through Saturday with a sample in each state of between 600 and 605 likely voters. The margin of error in all eight states was 4.1 percentage points.

Editing by Chris Wilson