News from the Votemaster
A lot of pixels have been spilled on whether someone should be chosen as a Vice Presidential candidate based on his or her ability to pull in a specific state (generally the Veep's home state). A study comparing states before, during, and after a local boy's run for the #2 spot shows that it rarely matters. For example, in 1972, Kansas was R+15, then in 1976 when Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS) ran for Vice President Kansas was R+10, and in 1980 it was R+15. Dole certainly didn't help. Since 1960, there are no clear examples of where a Vice President pulled in a critical state that would have been lost without him although there are a few examples where a Vice President strengthened a party in a state it was already strong in (Dick Cheney is a powerful vote getter in Wyoming, but Wyoming was never in play). The current smart money is betting on Romney as McCain's VP but not due to his ability to pull in Massachusetts, but his generally looking presidential and being well known. On the Democratic side, Obama has been pretty good at preventing leaks so anything is possible.
On a single day, June 30, Barack Obama raised $25 million, more than John McCain raised in all of June ($22 million). But what is more interesting is how they are spending the money. McCain bought $16 million worth of ads in June compared to $5 million for Obama according to a story in Politico. Instead, Obama is spending his money to hire people to run his ground operation, which is going to try to register an additional 10 million new voters, especially poor people and young people, who are expected to vote Democratic.
That Democrats are more enthusiastic about their nominee than Republicans is well documented. Here is another data point. The Nevada Republican Party canceled its state convention for lack of interest. A quorum is 675 and only 300 people signed up. The delegates to the national convention will be chosen in a conference call.
Some new evidence of possible election tampering with Diebold machines has now come to light. What has been clear to computer security professionals for years is now beginning to dawn on politicians: electronic voting machines are only acceptable if they produce paper ballots that voters can verify, deposit in a ballot box, and be used for recounts if need be. The Website verifiedvoting.org keeps track of which states require paper trails and manual audites and which don't. Currently 18 states have laws requiring paper trails and audits and another 13 require paper trails but no audits.
Some states are responding to the criticism of touch-screen machines by introducing new voting technology, largely paper ballots with optical scanners to read them. But these systems are not problem free either. The famous butterfly ballot that caused thousands of elderly Jewish women in Palm Beach County, Florida to inadvertently vote for Pat Buchanan (someone they abhor) instead of for Al Gore in 2000 was not not a voting machine failure but a ballot design failure. The ironic thing there was that the supervisor of elections, Teresa LePore, was a Democrat who was trying to help the old people by making a ballot that allowed a larger, easier-to-read, font by spreading the candidates' names over two columns instead of the usual one. With a record turnout predicted for this November, an estimated two million poll workers will be needed. Finding and training the poll workers is a major concern. The combination of millions of inexperienced poll workers, millions of inexperienced voters, and a voting technology neither has ever seen before could lead to chaos. The NY Times has a story on this.
No new state polls today. There are two national polls, however. Gallup has Obama ahead 45% to 42% and Rasmussen has Obama ahaead 47% to 45%.
-- The Votemaster