The Democratic party nominee for President of the United States looks increasingly likely to clinch the White House as the election campaign enters its final furlong.

Americans will elect their next President on November 4th, and in key states such as Florida, Ohio and Virginia Senator Barack Obama is consistently polling five points or more ahead of his Republican rival Senator John McCain.

The latest polls from Gallup, the Washington Post, Ipsos and Ramussen put Senator Obama on 52%, 53%, 48% and 50% to Senator McCain’s 42%, 43%, 39% and 36% nationally.

Senator Obama, 47, is ahead in crucial states such as North Carolina, Florida, Virginia and Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota.

Today the Obama campaign revealed that he had raised $150m (£86m) in September, a record amount.

The junior Senator from Illinios has now raised more than $600m.

Then there are endorsements.

Over the weekend former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell backed Senator Obama, calling him a transformational figure.

A highly-respected elder statesman, Mr Powell is a Republican who has previously been considered as a candidate for President.

“I come to the conclusion that because of his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities — and we have to take that into account — as well as his substance — he has both style and substance — he has met the standard of being a successful President, being an exceptional President,” said Mr Powell.

“I think he is a transformational figure.

“He is a new generation coming into the world — onto the world stage, onto the American stage — and for that reason I’ll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.”

His strong endorsement is another sign that Senator Obama is now expected to win on November 4th.

Mr Powell also attacked the Republican party’s negative campaigning, with allegations that Senator Obama is a “secret Muslim.”

“I’m also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say, and it is permitted to be said.

“Such things as ‘Well you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well the correct answer is ‘He is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian, he’s always been a Christian.’ But the really right answer is ‘What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’ The answer is ‘No. That’s not America.’

“Is there something wrong with some seven year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she can be President? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion he’s a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”

The former Secretary of State questioned Senator McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin, a 44-year old first time Governor of Alaska, as his running mate.

“I don’t believe she is ready to be President of the United States. And so that raised in my mind some question as to the judgement that Senator McCain made.”