WASHINGTON — Five things to watch for in the closing days of the presidential race between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney:
1. EARLY VOTE: About 25 million people have already cast ballots in 34 states and the District of Columbia. No votes will be counted until Election Day, but several battleground states are releasing the party affiliation of people who have voted early. And more Democrats than Republicans have cast ballots in many of those states. Can Republicans close the gap?
2. GET OUT THE VOTE: It's the final weekend before the election – and that means that both sides will turn up their get-out-the-vote machines as they look to compel their staunchest backers to get to the polls on Tuesday. In tight races, turnout counts. And polls show this race razor thin. So expect tons of doors to be knocked on and calls to be made. Which side will prevail?
3. SANDY: The mega storm has been gone for days but flooding, power outages and wreckage remains. Can local polling precincts in hard-hit Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York ensure that those who can vote have an opportunity to cast ballots? And how many people will forgo voting as they try to get their lives back together?
4. CANDIDATE FATIGUE: This has been one long, grueling campaign, some two years in the making. In the final hours, will fatigue set in? Will Romney or Obama make missteps because of it? Or will the energy of the last events carry them through jam-packed days and nights?
5. TARMAC TALLY. We're at the point of the campaign where it's all about the toe touch in a contested state. Then on to the next. A candidate's time is precious. So expect a lot of airport tarmac rallies, and photo ops in key media markets. Will the cursory attention sway any undecided voters?