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Is U.S. polling guru Nate Silver going to have egg on his face?

Amid frantic last-ditch campaign stops, celebrity endorsements and get-out-the-vote efforts, the final moments of the U.S. election campaign have also been marked by confident predictions by political watchers.

At the forefront of forecasts for a win by President Barack Obama is Nate Silver, the political polling guru and blogger for The New York Times. Mr. Silver's latest poll analysis gives Mr. Obama an audacious 91.6 per cent chance of securing a second term.

On the other side are commentators such as The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, who believes Republican nominee Mitt Romney is "quietly rising" and will win the presidency.

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While poll results have bounced around during the course of the campaign, the most recent suggest a virtual tie in national support with a slight edge for Mr. Obama.

Mr. Obama was leading by an average of 1.6 percentage points in 12 national polls released on Monday, as Mr. Silver outlined on his blog. RealClearPolitics, a political news and polling data aggregator, has Mr. Obama ahead by 0.7 percentage points in its poll averages.

Mr. Silver's aggressive forecast for Mr. Obama's chance of winning – which has steadily edged upward from a recent low of 61.1 per cent on Oct. 12 – has made him a lightning rod for controversy.

A Politico article last week suggested Mr. Silver "could be a one-term celebrity" if he is wrong and Mr. Romney wins. Mr. Silver, a statistician, correctly predicted the winner of 49 out of the 50 states in the 2008 election.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough also attacked Mr. Silver's forecast for an Obama victory, calling him "a joke".

"Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue [that] they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops, and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes," Mr. Scarborough said last week.

For her part, Ms. Noonan argues that political observers are distracted by the polls and are missing the Republicans' momentum.

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"Is it possible this whole thing is playing out before our eyes and we're not really noticing because we're too busy looking at data on paper instead of what's in front of us?" she wrote on Monday. "Maybe that's the real distortion of the polls this year: They left us discounting the world around us."

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