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President Obama comes to Temple University Credit: Maanvi Singh

The time for persuasion has ended. As the national media begins to count down the hours to Tuesday’s midterm elections, President Barack Obama has zeroed in on Democratic turnout in key states, including Pennsylvania.

At a “Moving America Forward” event at Temple University on Saturday, the President delivered a short speech to a crowd of approximately 1,500 students and volunteers, imploring them to sign up to canvass before Election Day.

“What I need this weekend is 20,000 doors knocked on by all the volunteers who are here today,” Obama said. “Is that something you think you can do? 20,000?”

The clipboard-lined student center was another indication of the emphasis the Democratic Party is placing on turnout this year — emphasis which they hope will bridge an apparent gap in enthusiasm between the two parties.

Among the Democratic brass present was Joe Sestak, the party’s nominee for Senate in Pennsylvania.

Republican senatorial candidate Pat Toomey also used Obama’s visit, his fourth to the state during the general election, as fundraising fodder.

In an e-mail to supporters, Josh Novotney, Finance Director for Toomey for Senate, encouraged contributors to send “a message — quite literally” to the President. Novotney wrote that if the campaign reached its $30,000 fundraising goal Saturday, those who donated $30 or more would have a postcard sent on their behalf to the President, explaining that his visit inspired him or her to donate to Toomey’s campaign.

With the President and First Lady both visiting college campuses in Philadelphia in the days before the election, some student political leaders remain cautiously optimistic about turnout.

“We have to be realistic,” Associate Campus Coordinator for Penn for Sestak and Wharton sophomore Troy Daly said. “Still, I feel like the average college student is going to wake up on Tuesday morning and go vote.”

“This campus is much more active than it was in 2006,” Penn Leads The Vote Executive Director and College senior Jared Fries said. Noting the large number of voters registered by PLTV and the Penn Democrats this fall, Fries speculated that the “average college student registered to vote will turn out on campus.”

College Republicans Treasurer and Wharton junior Charles Gray agreed with the sentiment. “I’ve been very impressed with the level of engagement that has been going on in the community,” said Gray, a former Daily Pennsylvanian columnist. He also said Republicans have the advantage on Tuesday, but bringing in high-profile Republicans — like Rudy Giuliani, who stumped for Toomey on Oct. 22 — into the state can help.

Turnout at the margins could dramatically affect a number of close races across the country, particularly in Pennsylvania. Over the past month, the race between Sestak and Toomey has become increasingly competitive.

Sestak trailed in the polls throughout the race until pulling even with Toomey two weeks ago, but since that point, Toomey has regained a small lead over his opponent. A Morning Call poll conducted from Oct. 26 to 29 had Toomey leading by two percent, or 45 to 43 percent, while a Rasmussen poll conducted on Oct. 28 had Toomey leading 50 to 46 percent.

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