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PHOENIX -- As the election approaches, political analysts are bracing for a razor-thin election margin to decide the next president of the United States.

Analyst Mike O'Neil said Republican challenger Mitt Romney needs to sweep four early states -- Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and Florida -- to have a decent chance of winning the presidential race. If Romney carries all four, O'Neil said the election will drag out.

"If he does that, then all of a sudden Obama will have to win just about all of the rest of the battleground states," he said. "If Obama carries any of the big four states, it's likely to be his night."

O'Neil predicts that Obama will take 303 electoral votes to win re-election, but he may lose the popular vote.

"Like the 2000 election, he could lose the popular vote by up to one percent and still win the Electoral College."

Political strategist Stan Barnes with Copperstate Consulting said Romney has to take Florida and Virginia to win the election, while the president must win Michigan and Wisconsin to win a second term.

"This will not be a landslide for either candidate. It's going to be a state-by-state close electoral vote," he said.


Voters can find their polling place at the Maricopa County Recorder website.

Jim Cross, Reporter

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