“As I look out over the landscape today, everything screams ‘tie’,” said Bill Galston, of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank. “Nothing – the national polls and the state polls – is outside the margin of error.”

“In 2008, the Obama campaign was expanding the map to places like Indiana, but that is not the case now.”

Mr Obama spent three full days in Iowa in early August, an almost unprecedented commitment of presidential time for a state with few votes to offer.

“The schedule is very telling – it suggests that the Obama campaign sees the electoral college map as being completely in play,” said Mike Franc of the ­Heritage Foundation in Washington.

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