Aug. 18 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 275   McCain 250   Ties 13
Senate Dem 56   GOP 43   Ties 1
House Dem 242   GOP 193  

Senate map and races
Downloadable polling data
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This day in 2004

strong Dem Strong Dem (165)
weak Dem Weak Dem (85)
barely Dem Barely Dem (25)
tied Exactly tied (13)
barely GOP Barely GOP (85)
weak GOP Weak GOP (34)
strong GOP Strong GOP (131)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
Map algorithm explained
Presidential polls today: (None) RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): IN IA NM GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo Edwards Used Wife's Illness to Spike Story McCain Zeroes In On Ohio Running Mate?
Just Asking Franken Closes Gap in Minnesota
Candidates Told Some Questions in Advance New Voters Put Virginia in Play

News from the Votemaster

New Style for Poll Tables.

Starting today the tables with polls will get more colorful and hopefully more useful. If you click on the "Downloadable polling data" link to the right of the map, and then select President, Senate, or House, you can see the new style. It should now be instantly clear what the situation is for any given race. The daily tables will also use this new color scheme. The scheme is the same as the map uses: dark colors mean a solid lead (10% or more); light colors mean a weak lead (5-9%) white means neither candidate is ahead by even 5%, so the race is a statistical tie. Here is the list of presidential polls as an example.

Backgrounder on Iowa

There is not a lot of news today. One useful backgrounder though is CQ Politics story on Iowa. Barack Obama campaigned fiercely here during the run-up to the Iowa caucuses and set up a far-reaching ground operation. John McCain barely campaigned here and when he did, took positions not always popular with Iowa's farmers. Iowa went for Al Gore in 2000 and for George Bush in 2004. Currently Obama is leading here and will make a huge effort to win Iowa's seven electoral votes.

Church Visit Over, Back to Attacking

Obama and McCain met in Rick Warren's megachurch Saturday and submitted to interviews about faith and politics. They met briefly on stage and hugged for a moment. Neither one attacked the other one during his interview with Warren, perhaps sensing that a church was not a good setting for attacking your opponent--especially not Rick Warren's church (Warren is not a fire-and-brimstone kind of guy and tends to emphasize the responsibilities Christians have to other people). However, Sunday the party was over and Obama began tearing into McCain's policies on health care, energy, and taxes, noting that McCain is now foursquare for drilling off the coast, something he opposed for years. McCain's spokeman questioned Obama's experience and judgment, especially on energy. An interesting sidelight to the energy debate is that both candidates seem to believe that reducing dependence on oil from the Middle East is a good idea although they disagree on how to do it. President Bush has never made reducing dependence on Middle Eastern oil an issue, so perhaps there is some subtle change here.

One of the questions Warren asked each candidate is: "At what point does a human being get human rights?" McCain instantly said "At the moment of conception." While this answer got wild cheers from the evangelical audience, it may not play as well nationally, especially since many polls have shown that large numbers of people think McCain is pro choice. He is not and has been consistently pro life for decades. When they discover their mistake, it may hurt him with women and independent voters. If a fertilized egg is actually a full-fledged human being, does a pregnant woman need a passport for her child to travel internationally? Time Magazine has an interesting story on the possible consequences for McCain of taking such a strong stand. Obama finessed the issue by saying "answering that question with specificity is above my pay grade."

Upcoming Schedule

This week will probably be quiet unless one of the candidates announces his Veep. It would be a good time since that will get lots of air time in the absence of anything else. Next week the action starts for real. Here is the calendar.


A quirk of the schedule this year may benefit the Republicans. Normally each candidate gets a bounce in the polls after his convention. However, the Democratic convention is followed immediately by John McCain's birthday, which will put him back in the spotlight and then by the Labor Day weekend, when tends to be more about hot dogs than politics, and then the Republican convention starts. There is hardly a free moment for pundits to dissect the convention and Obama's speech at the Broncos' stadium.

Inflation is Back

With the economy front and center, people are starting to worry about inflation. Even dirt is not dirt cheap any more. A bag of dirt (marketed as "premium topsoil") is about $4.99 now, up a dollar from last year, a 25% increase. Items like 40-pound bags of dirt, which are very heavy and don't generate much revenue per pound, tend to get hit hard by higher transportation costs due to costly oil. High revenue per pound products, like, say, diamonds, aren't affected so much.

Today's Polls

There are no nonpartisan state polls today for anything :-( A Sunday in the middle of August is not a great time to release a poll. By September, things will pick up though. PPP (D) released a poll of Ohio showing it tied at 45% each. Ohio is no doubt going to be a huge battleground again.

In Gallup's national tracking poll, Obama and McCain are tied at 45% each. In Rasmusen's tracking poll, Obama is barely ahead, 47% to 45%.

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-- The Votemaster