Aug. 20 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 264   McCain 261   Ties 13
Senate Dem 56   GOP 44  
House Dem 242   GOP 193  

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This day in 2004

strong Dem Strong Dem (134)
weak Dem Weak Dem (116)
barely Dem Barely Dem (14)
tied Exactly tied (13)
barely GOP Barely GOP (85)
weak GOP Weak GOP (45)
strong GOP Strong GOP (131)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
Map algorithm explained
Presidential polls today: AZ FL IA IN LA PA RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): IA NM GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo Bonus Quote of the Day Quote of the Day
Obama Advance Teams Sent to Indiana Americans Seek a New Patriotism
Cronkite-Eight Poll: McCain Leads By 10 in Arizona Giuliani Tapped for Keynote Speech

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Negative Ads Work

While voters constantly complain about negative ads, campaigns use them because they work. A new LA Times National Poll shows that a month of ads attacking Obama as a lightweight unready to lead have erased his lead nationally. The two are in a statistical tie. Obama's advantage in the electoral college has also vanished. If you compare the 2008 electoral college graph with the 2004 one, the parallels are striking. Kerry led throughout the summer until the Swift Boat ad kicked in, and it was downhill from there. Kerry never recovered.

It will be interesting to see if Obama has studied the 2004 campaign and goes negative himself. He has three possible themes. First, he can paint McCain as out of touch with how many Americans are struggling economically. If he wants to get personal (as McCain has), he can depict McCain as the man with $520 Italian shoes, half a dozen houses, a wife worth $100 million and the view that someone making $4 million a year is not rich There is some evidence that he will continue to run a positive national campaign but start hitting McCain on the economy in specific media markets. For example, in Ohio, he's hitting McCain because Rick Davis (McCain's campaign manager) helped broker a deal to move 8000 jobs from Ohio to Kentucky. A second theme is that McCain is an honorable man but at 71 is losing his marbles (can't tell a Sunni from a Shi'ite, thinks Czechoslovakia is still a country, etc.). A third plausible theme is that McCain used to be a maverick but in his pandering to the Base has now repudiated everything he used to stand for (was against, now for Bush tax cuts; was for, now against his own immigration bill; was against, now for torture, etc.). In at least one way, Republicans are much smarter than Democrats: they fully realize that the way to win is to attack your opponent relentlessly, preferable on a single topic. This year's topic is Obama's lack of experience. Basically, you can't trust your kids' safety to him.

Better Security for Ohio Voting Machines

In the past, poll workers could take voting machines home with them before the election to keep them company. Many experts saw this practice as a gigantic security hole, opening the opportunity for tampering with the machines. This year these "sleepovers" will be forbidden as the Ohio Secretary of State has declared the practice to be an unacceptable security risk.

Bettors Expect Biden as Veep

At the price of a contract for "Biden for VP" is selling at $43. Evan Bayh is trading at $12 and Wesley Clark at $8. On the Republican side, Mitt Romney is $30, Tim Pawlenty is at $30. and Tom Ridge is at $20. But remember, this is the classic "height of the emperor of Japan" poll--except the emperor of Japan doesn't spend his days tossing out disinformation (like appearing in plaform shoes). The campaigns are constantly dropping false hints to throw everyone off track and to please the supporters of certain candidates. The contracts on winning the presidency were $60 for Obama and $38 for McCain this morning.

Obama's Little Helpers

If you are a regular here you know who the two Davids (Axelrod and Plouffe) are. But do you know about Valerie Jarrett, Bill Burton, and Austan Goolsbee? They are other key Obama insiders, Obama's fixer, his press secretary, and his economic advisor, respectively. Find out who his other key advisors are in this article in the American Prospect.

Family Values

Cindy McCain recently gave an interview to NPR in which she claimed to be an only child. Actually, she has a half sister, Kathleen, who has been cast out of the family for reasons not made clear. In any event, for Cindy, Kathleen does not exist even though they have the same father and Kathleen lives near Cindy in Phoenix. In contrast, Barack Obama has embraced his half-siblings, even though they are spread all over the world. Family values in theory are one thing; in practice they are often something else.

Today's Polls

We have six new presidential polls today. Many people have been asking: "What's going on in Indiana?" Finally we have a new poll there, showing John McCain ahead 50% to 44%. The previous one showing Obama ahead was probably an outlier. Indiana is a very red state and it seems unlikely Obama can win it. Florida is still close, with McCain having the edge here, 46% to 43%. McCain has led in Florida all year. A somewhat surprising result in McCain's 40% to 30% lead in Arizona--with 28% of the voters undecided. That is a huge percentage for a state in which McCain is very well known. Iowa and Pennsylvania look good for Obama and Louisiana is a sure thing for McCain.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Arizona 30% 40% Aug 14 Aug 16 Arizona State U.
Florida 43% 46% Aug 18 Aug 18 Rasmussen
Iowa 50% 43% Aug 04 Aug 13 U. of Iowa
Indiana 44% 50% Aug 16 Aug 18 SurveyUSA
Louisiana 38% 55% Aug 17 Aug 17 Rasmussen
Pennsylvania 46% 41% Aug 11 Aug 14 Susquehanna Polling

For the first time since mid-May, Obama is now below the 270 electoral votes needed to win. He is behind in almost all the swing states (Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, and Nevada) and tied in Virginia. He is ahead in Iowa and New Mexico, but these are seem to be fairly solid for him and may not be seen as swing states any more.

We also have three Senate polls. A very surprising result is the huge (16-point) lead Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has over her Democrat-turned-Republican opponent, state treasurer John Kennedy. This is the only Senate race this year where the Republicans have any chance at all of defeating a sitting Democratic senator, and Landrieu is beginning to look safe. In Illinois, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and in New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) are in no danger.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Illinois Dick Durbin* 61% Steve Sauerberg 31% Aug 12 Aug 12 Rasmussen
Louisiana Mary Landrieu* 53% John Kennedy 37% Aug 17 Aug 17 Rasmussen
New Jersey Frank Lautenberg* 50% Richard Zimmer 32% Aug 07 Aug 10 Zogby

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