Joe McElderry, winner of U.K. talent show "The X Factor," has been made the betting favorite for the Christmas No. 1 - but the race is the closest it has been in years.

At the start of today (Dec. 18), Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In the Name" (Sony Music Entertainment) was 9,000 copies ahead of Joe McElderry's cover of Miley Cyrus's "The Climb" (Syco/Sony Music Entertainment). McElderry triumphed on the ITV1 show on Sunday (Dec. 13).

The winner of the race for the U.K. Christmas No. 1 will be revealed on Sunday (Dec. 20). Winners of "The X Factor" TV talent show have secured the previous four Christmas No. 1 singles in the U.K.

But Rage Against the Machine emerged as a strong challenger thanks to an Internet campaign aimed at preventing another "X Factor" festive chart-topper. Although it is 9,000 copies ahead with around 300,000 sales - all digital - McElderry is catching up and has been boosted by the Dec. 16 physical release of "The Climb."

Bookmaker Ladbrokes has McElderry as 2/11 favorite with Rage Against the Machine at 3/1.

The show's judge and creator Simon Cowell has described the campaign as "stupid" and "cynical." But Sir Paul McCartney, who performed on "The X Factor" last weekend, backed RATM.

Asked by Sky News if he would be pleased if the U.S. band beat McElderry, he said: "Yeah I think so, because it's out of leftfield you know. Everyone expects Joe to do it, and he certainly will sell a lot of records. And if he gets to No. 1, good luck to him. But it would be kind of funny if a band like Rage Against the Machine got it, because it would prove a point."