Obama 332
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Romney 206
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Dem 50
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Ties 3
GOP 47
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  • Strongly Dem (199)
  • Likely Dem (76)
  • Barely Dem (57)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (15)
  • Likely GOP (33)
  • Strongly GOP (158)
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News from the Votemaster

Editorial note: Due to travel, postings may be somewhat erratic for the next 2 weeks.

Romney To Broaden Focus

When Mitt Romney started his 2012 campaign, he basically assumed that all he had to do to win was point out to people that the economy was in the toilet and the keys to the White House would be turned over to him. As it turns out, the voters already knew that and before giving him the keys, they want to know how he is going to fix the economy. Since he doesn't want to discuss his economic plan in any detail other than "tax cuts" and he seems to be falling farther and farther behind, he is now considering broadening his attacks, hitting President Obama on energy, health care, taxes, and spending. Note that what he is talking about doing is more attacking. He is not planning to tell people why they should vote for him, just why they should not vote for Obama. For whatever reason, he can't get out of attack mode. The problem with that approach so far is that although he may convince people that Obama is far from perfect, he hasn't even tried to make the case that he is better.

Traditionally, reelection campaigns are about giving the incumbent either a passing or failing grade and Romney still seems convinced that if people judge Obama a failure they will vote for him by default. What he seems to have missed is that he is viewed in a very unfavorable light with an approve/disapprove rating under water. Relentless attacks on Obama without explaining why he is a better alternative don't seem to be doing the job for him, but he keeps trying.

Voters Think Obama Will Win

A new poll shows that 53% of the voters expect President Obama to be elected to a second term while only 41% think challenger Mitt Romney will be moving into the White House on Jan. 20. In the previous poll, taken just before the Democratic convention, the voters were evenly split about who was going to win. The poll was taken by Pulse Opinion Research, a subsidiary of Rasmussen Reports.

Romney Leads in Parallel Universe

Politico has an interesting piece about the split in the Republican ranks between campaign strategists and conservative pundits and media figures. The strategists know Romney is substantially behind and are trying to figure out how to deal with it and its consequences downticket. After all, their jobs depend on actually winning. Media figures (like Dick Morris) are claiming that Romney is ahead by 4 or 5 points and will win Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Their incentives are different from that of the strategists. They want to build audiences and mailing lists and telling the base what it wants to hear is a way to do that. That the predictions may turn out to be completely wrong doesn't matter to them.

Conservative pundits have even attacked polls run by Fox News and long-time Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who pooh-poohed the criticism with: "The Prime Directive of pollster survival is to make sure you get it right." McInturff works with Democrat Peter Hart and does polling for the Wall Street Journal among other media outlets.

A Penny for Your Thoughts, a Dollar for your Vote

While the Republicans have raised an enormous furor over in-person voter fraud, nobody has said a word about another illegal practice: vote buying. The price of a vote is thought to vary from state to state. In West Virginia $10 gets you a vote. In Arkansas, a $2 half-pint of vodka does the job. In court cases, it has been revealed how cheaply some people will sell their votes, especially in the heart of vote-buying country: Appalachia.

A recent study of voter fraud by a consortium of journalism schools found only 867 cases since 2000 where someone had admitted guilt or been convicted of fraud--out of 146 million registered voters. From the vote buyer's perspective, the safest way to buy a vote is to get the voter to request an absentee ballot, sign the envelope, and give the ballot and signed envelope to him. The buyer then fills it in and sends it back to the designated address. Occasionally someone gets caught, but it is rare. In one case in Tennessee, a candidate for the state legislature won his primary by eight votes, taking 85% of the absentee ballots but a much smaller fraction of the in-person votes. It is this kind of situation that raises a red flag but it is still hard to prove. Absentee-ballot fraud is the preferred method because if someone promises to vote a certain way in return for a certain quantity of a selected beverage, the buyer has no proof that the voter did what he was supposed to do. When the buyer gets an absentee ballot in his hands, proof is so much easier. None of the voter ID laws deal with this problem. As an aside, a great deal of computer science research has gone into devising electronic voting systems that (1) guarantee voter privacy while (2) at the same time deterring vote buying as much as possible, often by making it possible for the voter to fool the purchaser. For the technically savvy, Google "Tanenbaum Paul trustworthy voting".

Unsung Heroes: Media Buyers

Of the many people involved in a political campaign, one of the least known, but most important, is the media buyer. This person is told what demographic groups the candidate wants to reach and then the buyer decides which shows to advertise on. This information is generally public and opponents study it carefully. The trick for the buyer is to get the most bang for the buck, taking into account audiences, prices, and what the other side is doing.

Suppose Todd Akin Were to Win

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has become a pariah to the Republican establishment on account of his statement that rape victims don't become pregnant. Consequently, they have cut off his funding. Nevertheless, he stayed in the race and is getting some funding from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and antiabortion groups. Most observers expect Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to hang onto her seat, but what would happen if Akin were to somehow win?

There are not many examples of anything like this to base a guess on. The closest thing is the 2010 Senate race in Alaska, in which Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) lost a primary to a tea partier, then ran as an independent and won the general election. She was allowed to keep her committee assignments but has voted the party line much less (71% vs. 83%) since winning as a write-in candidate. She figures that since the party didn't support her write-in effort, she doesn't owe them much. With Akin, it would be much worse. The party is completely washing its hands of him. Many Republicans have called for him to drop out. Were he to win, he would probably be torn between taking positions he believed in and trying to annoy the leadership as much as possible. Given the power individual senators have to gum up the works, he could become a real loose cannon, frustrating Mitch McConnell at every turn.

Early Voting Calendar

Here is the schedule for in-person early voting. Swing states are marked in purple.

State In-person voting starts
South Dakota Sept. 21
Idaho Sept. 21
Vermont Sept. 22
Iowa Sept. 27
Wyoming Sept 27
Nebraska Oct. 1
Ohio Oct. 2
California Oct. 7
Indiana Oct. 9
Arizona Oct. 11
Georgia Oct. 15
Kansas Oct. 17
Tennessee Oct. 17
North Carolina Oct. 18
Nevada Oct. 20
New Mexico Oct. 20
Alaska Oct. 22
North Dakota Oct. 22
Arkansas Oct. 22
Colorado Oct. 22
D.C. Oct. 22
Illinois Oct. 22
Texas Oct. 22
Wisconsin Oct.22
Hawaii Oct. 23
Louisiana Oct. 23
Utah Oct. 23
West Virginia Oct. 24
Florida Oct. 27
Maryland Oct. 27
Oklahoma Nov. 2

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Massachusetts 60% 32%   Sep 26 Sep 28 MassINC
North Carolina 46% 50%   Sep 28 Sep 30 ARG

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Hawaii Maizie Hirono 55% Linda Lingle 39%     Sep 26 Sep 28 Merriman River Group
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren 49% Scott Brown* 45%     Sep 26 Sep 28 MassINC
Maine Cynthia Dill 14% Charlie Summers 33% Angus King 45% Sep 25 Sep 25 Rasmussen
New Mexico Martin Heinrich 52% Heather Wilson 39%     Sep 27 Sep 27 Rasmussen
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 49% Josh Mandel 39%     Sep 19 Sep 29 Columbus Dispatch

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Oct01 The Shadow of the Debates Looms Large
Oct01 Supreme Court Starts a New Term Today
Oct01 CNN: Polling Criticism is Nonsense
Oct01 Romney Continues to Fall on Intrade
Oct01 Candidates Pay Lots of Attention to One Small Rural County in Ohio
Oct01 Obama Approaches 10 Million Donors
Sep30 Republican Strategists Tell Romney to Stop Playing It Safe
Sep30 Romney Trapped by His Money
Sep30 Lawsuits about Voting Laws Continuing
Sep30 Are the Debates Really Debates
Sep30 Scott Brown's Party Status Is Causing Him Problems
Sep30 Democrats Starting to Compile Wish Lists
Sep29 How Does the Presidential Race Compare to Previous Ones?
Sep29 Romney Campaigns Half-Heartedly in Pennsylvania
Sep29 GOP Donors Might Desert Romney
Sep29 What Obama Has to Do in the First Debate>
Sep29 DSCC Buys Ad Time in Maine
Sep29 Republicans Drop Voter Registration Company that May Have Committed Fraud
Sep28 You Are the 100 Millionth Visitor
Sep28 Swing-State Voters Oppose Changes to Medicare
Sep28 Maybe Mitt's Problem is Mitt
Sep28 Is Romney In the Right State?
Sep28 Provisional Ballots Could Cause Chaos after Election Day
Sep28 Have Candidates Always Debated?
Sep28 First Swing State Starts In-Person Voting
Sep28 The Undecided Voters Are Uninterested Voters
Sep28 George Soros Gives $1 Million to Obama superPAC
Sep27 Both Candidates Are Campaigning in Ohio
Sep27 Does Romney Have a Plan B?
Sep27 Is Arizona in Play?
Sep27 Some Interesting Debate Questions
Sep27 Romney's Problem is the Republican Party
Sep27 McCaskill Opens Fire on Akin in Missouri Senate Race
Sep26 New Feature Starting Today: Tipping-Point Table for the Senate
Sep26 Conservatives Set Up Their Own Polling Website
Sep26 Romney Cratering on Intrade
Sep26 Takeaways From Today's Ohio and Florida Polls
Sep26 The Microtargeting of 338,020 Women Could Swing the Election
Sep26 The Republican Brain Drain
Sep25 Ryan Became Romney Instead of Romney Becoming Ryan
Sep25 Could the Money Go Downticket?
Sep25 Conservative SuperPACs Are Working Together
Sep25 New Laws Could Affect 10 Million Latino Voters
Sep25 Life in the Bubble as Seen from the Inside
Sep25 Today is the Deadline for Todd Akin to Drop Out of Missouri Senate Race
Sep24 Can Romney Duplicate Bush's 2004 Path on the Electoral College?
Sep24 Republicans Advise Romney To Be Himself in Debates
Sep24 Romney Taking the Bus this Week
Sep24 It's Triage Time for the National Committees
Sep24 Congress May Let the Voters Decide What To Do about the Fiscal Cliff