Sep. 04 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 298   McCain 227   Ties 13
Senate Dem 56   GOP 43   Ties 1
House Dem 243   GOP 192  

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This day in 2004

strong Dem Strong Dem (151)
weak Dem Weak Dem (109)
barely Dem Barely Dem (38)
tied Exactly tied (13)
barely GOP Barely GOP (51)
weak GOP Weak GOP (89)
strong GOP Strong GOP (87)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
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Presidential polls today: IA MN OH RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO IA NV NM OH GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA

PW logo What McCain Must Do Tonight Quote of the Day
Whitman Tests Waters for California Gubernatorial Bid Focus Groups Give Mixed Reaction to Palin
How Democrats Should Treat Palin DFM Research: Obama Holds Slight Lead in North Dakota

News from the Votemaster

Republican National Convention News

Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney gave warmup speeches last night in St. Paul, mostly avoiding any mention of John McCain. Their speeches could be seen as tryouts for the start of the 2012 campaign in the event Obama is elected President. Then came the first star of the night, Rudy Giuliani, who attacked Barack Obama bitterly, his voiced dripping with sarcasm the whole time he spoke. The audience loved it, cheering and giving him a standing ovation over and over. At one point he mocked Obama for changing his position on so many things, adding: "I hope for his sake, Joe Biden got that VP thing in writing." It was vintage Giuliani at its best.

Then came Sarah Palin's debut for a national audience. Her speech was written by former White House speechwriter Matthew Scully but she has been rehearsing it for several days with McCain aides coaching her. Normally, experienced politicians work with speech writers to polish the words, but with such an important speech from someone who has never given a prepared speech to a national audience before, a pro had to write this one. The speech was powerful and feisty, as expected, and she continued the theme of mocking Obama. Referring to his first job as a community organizer, she said that being a small town mayor is like being a community organizer, except you have real responsibilities. She said he has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform, not even in the state senate. She noted he can give a speech about the wars America is fighting and not use the word "victory" except when he's talking about his own campaign. It was a red meat speech and the delegates were delirious. There is no doubt Palin is an enormous hit with the Republican base. She electrified the crowd, no two ways about it. They just loved her. Any doubts they may have had about her are gone. What we don't know yet is how suburban women in Missouri and unemployed factory workers in Ohio are going to react.

Palin and Earmarks

One thing Palin did not mention at all is the touchy subject of earmarks--spending items inserted into other bills that benefit specific congressional districts or other regions. These are what are called pork. John McCain has been a vociferous opponent of them, calling them government waste. He promises to end them. Until this week, she has been a strong advocate of getting pork for Alaska. In fact, she was a strong proponent of the $400 million "bridge to nowhere" until it was clear that it wasn't going to fly, when she switched sides and opposed it. As mayor of Wassilla she actively lobbied for many earmarks for her town. CQ Politics has the story.

McCain's Acceptance Speech Tonight

Tonight John McCain gets the undivided attention of the nation (and the rest of the world) when he makes his acceptance speech. At one time he considered making it from the Gulf Coast, but it will be made from the convention center in Minnesota. What will he talk about? His biography as a war hero? The war in Iraq? The threat from Iran? The economy? He can certainly attack Barack Obama and will do so, but he has to convince people that they should vote for him because he would be a good President not just because Obama would be a bad one. Unlike Obama's speech which introduced him to the millions of people who still didn't know him very well, everyone has a pretty good idea of what McCain is like so he has an easier task. Still, he has to define what this campaign and his presidency would be about. This is his big chance. Politico has some ideas what he might emphasize.

McCain's Fellow Prisoner of War Makes Ad

A Navy veteran, Philip Butler, who went to the Naval Academy with John McCain and later was a prisoner of war with him in Vietnam has made an independent ad in which he says: "I think I can say with authority that the prisoner-of-war experience is not a good prerequisite for president of the United States." This ad is, of course, reminiscent of the ad by the Swift Boat veterans for Truth ad used so effectively against John Kerry in 2004. Butler says it is different however. He is not demeaning McCain's service and has great respect for the man, but having been a prisoner of war himself is questioning the idea that you learn a lot from the experience. He also says that he knows McCain well and is worried about his explosive temper.

McCain and Actuarial Life Expectancy

Politico ran a story about the probability of a 72-year-old man reaching the age of 80 based on actuarial tables. There is a chance of about 1 in 3 that he won't make it. If you are fascinated by morbidity, Met Life has a do-it-yourself Webform but to do this one you need information about the prospective insurance client's height and weight and some other data. Of course actuarial data is great about predicting how many of 100,000 72-year-olds will make it to 80 but doesn't give a definitive answer about any particular one. Other factors come into play. In the case of John McCain these include:

  • The President gets the best medical care from the best doctors anywhere on the planet.
  • The President can have a physical every day if he wants one. Nothing goes undetected long.
  • McCain has had the most lethal form of skin cancer (malignant melanoma) four times.
  • McCain smoked two packs of cigarettes a day for most of his adult life but has now quit.
  • McCain's father died at 71 and his grandfather died at 61. His mother is hale at 96.

No conclusion here, but Sarah Palin's chances of having to take the oath of office unexpectedly are much greater than Dick cheney's were in 2000 since George Bush was much younger and extremely fit physically.

Arizona House Races

There were bitter primaries in Arizona on Tuesday for the open House seat being vacated by Rick Renzi (R) who is being dogged by a number of corruption charges. The winner on the Democratic side is former Arizona house member Ann Kirkpatrick. The Republican candidate is Sydney Hay, a housewife who also runs a small fitness business from her home. This is a swing district (R+2) and the two women will fight a pitched battle here, with both national parties getting deeply involved. The Republican primary in AZ-05 to choose the opponent in Rep. Harry Mitchell (D-AZ) is still too close to call. David Schweikert has a tiny lead of Susan Smith, but the absentee ballots have not yet been counted.

Today's Polls

CNN commissioned Opinion Research to run conduct polls in three key states. Iowa, which George Bush won in 2004, seems to be turning into a rout for Obama. He has been ahead there all year, but his lead is now 15 points, 55% to 40%. It will be close to impossible for McCain to overturn that. Minnesota is a state Kerry won, but only by 3 points. Obama now leads there 53% to 41%. But this poll was taken before the convention, which is getting saturation coverage in the state. McCain will likely reduce this lead by next week. Finally, Ohio is still a cliffhanger, with Obama ahead 47% to 45%. No Republican has even been elected President without Ohio, so this state will continue to be a huge battleground.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Iowa 55% 40% Aug 31 Sep 02 Opinion Research
Minnesota 53% 41% Aug 31 Sep 02 Opinion Research
Ohio 47% 45% Aug 31 Sep 02 Opinion Research

There are no nonpartisan polls for the Senate today, but it is worth noting in passing that a Democracy Corps poll in the North Carolina Senate race puts state senator Kay Hagan ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Dole 50% to 45%. Now Democracy Corps. is a Democratic outfit so this result won't go in the data base, and partisan pollsters have been known to shade the results a little bit, but with numbers like this a Dole landslide, which some people were expecting, seems less likely. The race might actually be quite competitive. DSCC chairman is going to be pouring money into this state like there is no tomorrow and Obama has a huge organization on the ground registering voters, which helps Hagan.

We have our first poll in the NM-01 seat vacated by Heather Wilson (R) when she ran (unsuccessfully) for the New Mexico Senate nomination. Albuquerque city council member Martin Heinrich (D) is leading Bernalillo County sheriff Darren White 56% to 51% in this D+2 district giving the Democrats an excellent chance of flipping yet another House seat. No matter what happens in the presidential election, all signs point to the Democrats picking up 10-20 House seats, possibly more. These races fall one at a time with hardly anyone watching, but they add up.

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
NM-01 Martin Heinrich 51% Darren White* 46% Aug 26 Aug 28 SurveyUSA

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