Obama 277
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Ties 22
Romney 239
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Dem 53
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Ties 2
GOP 45
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  • Strongly Dem (180)
  • Likely Dem (57)
  • Barely Dem (40)
  • Exactly tied (22)
  • Barely GOP (69)
  • Likely GOP (36)
  • Strongly GOP (134)
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News from the Votemaster

Second Debate Watched by 66 Million People

In some years, many more people watch the first presidential debate than the second one. This is not one of those years. About 67 million people watched the first debate and 66 million watched the second one according to Nielsen Media Research. This is double the number who watched each party convention.

A third poll on Tuesday's debate conducted among registered voters yesterday by Ipsos shows that 48% think Obama won and 33% think Romney won. This 15-point margin is higher than the CNN and CBS snap polls held immediately after the second debate, both of which showed Obama winning by 7 points.

Tax Policy Center Says Romney's Math Does Not Add Up

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, which Mitt Romney repeatedly cited as a neutral authority during the primaries, has now analyzed Romney's tax plan and the numbers don't add up. Romney is proposing to cut individual rates by 20%, cut the corporate rate from 35% to 25%, end the estate tax, end the alternative minimum tax, and eliminate the capital gains tax on people earning less than $250,000. He has promised to do this without increasing the tax burden on the wealthy or middle class and without increasing the deficit.

Here are the numbers. The tax reductions will cost the government $5 trillion in lost revenue over 10 years. However, eliminating all itemized deductions will generate only $2 trillion in new revenue, leaving a gap of $3 trillion. If individual deductions are not eliminated but only capped at $25,000, as Romney has proposed,, the amount of revenue raised is only $1.3 trillion. In other words, Romney cannot reduce the rates and eliminate deductions and still be revenue neutral. Even getting rid of all deductions does not generate enough revenue to make up for the rate cuts, so the deficit will balloon as a result.

Both Candidates Make Pitches to Women

In the aftermath of Tuesday's debate in which women's issues played a big role, both candidates are out making very explicit attempts to get women's votes. Both were in Iowa yesterday. Romney said: "This President has failed America's women." Obama said: "I want my daughters paid just like somebody else's sons are paid for the same job." Obama's comment harked back to a tussle the two had over the Lily Ledbetter Act, which was the first bill Obama signed as President. It increases the interval in which a woman can sue for lost wages due to discrimination. Romney has refused to say whether he would have signed the bill had it been presented to him by Congress.

The subject of "binders" came up yesterday again. In Tuesday's debate, Romney said he has binders full of qualified women he could appoint to high office. Obama said that he didn't need binders to find qualified women. Recent polling has shown a decrease in the gender gap, so both Obama and Romney are focused on it since apparently many women haven't made up their minds yet.

Only Eight States Matter

The electoral map--at least for the presidency--has shrunk to just eight states: Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, and Nevada. The other 42 states are irrelevant, except as sources of campaign funds. It wasn't always like this. In 1960, 20 states were decided by less than 5% and 34 were under 10%. John Kennedy campaigned in 45 states; Richard Nixon campaigned in all 50.

It is amazing how things change. From 1952 to 1988, California voted Republican in 9 out of 10 presidential elections. In the same period, New York was 5-5 and Illinois was 6-4. No Republican even bothers to campaign or advertise in these states now. Ohio was a Republican lock, going 8 to 2 for Republicans in this period. Now it is the most contested swing state. The flip side is the Deep South, which the Democrats owned for a century (because it was the Republicans who freed the slaves). When Lyndon Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act he noted that he was handing the South to the Republicans for at least a generation and he was right.

What Happened to Republicans in the Senate?

In 2010, the Republicans had a good shot at getting at least a tie, if not outright control, of the Senate. It didn't happen. Could history repeat itself in 2012? In 2010, tea party candidates unexpectedly won primaries against establishment favorites and proceeded to lose the general election in Colorado, Delaware, and Nevada--states they were almost sure of winning had the establishment candidates prevailed in the primaries. History may repeat itself in 2012.

This year started out looking great for Republican Senate prospects because in 2012 the winners in the Democratic wave year of 2006 were all up for reelection. This meant that 23 Democratic seats were on the line vs. only 10 Republican seats. That alone should have meant many Republican pickups. But a funny thing happened on the way to the polls--there was some bad luck and the tea party struck again. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) announced she was disgusted with the dysfunctional Senate and retired, and tea party candidate Todd Akin won a bitter primary in Missouri. Also, very nasty primaries involving tea party candidates in Arizona and Wisconsin left the winner battered and broke, only to face a Democrat who didn't have to face a primary.

The fundamental cause of the Republican problems in the Senate is that the parties have switched roles. The NRSC no longer has control of its candidates. Tea party candidates are popping up all over the place and fighting establishment candidates tooth and nail. If they win the primary they often (but not always--see Sen Rand Paul) lose the general election. But even if they lose the primary, they hurt the eventually winner so badly that sometimes a weak Democrat can manage to win in November (as is expected to happen in Missouri this year).

Thanks to Sen. Chuck Schumer, who ran the DSCC in 2006 and 2008, the Democrats operate more top down now. In 2006, Schumer rammed the pro-life Bob Casey through the primaries over the objections of the liberal base. In Ohio he got Sherrod Brown past the left's favorite, Paul Hackett. In Oregon he helped Jeff Merkley beat activist Steve Novick in the primaries. In all cases, the base was furious with Schumer but in all cases they won the general election. In short, Schumer's strategy of picking progressive, but not far left, candidates in the primaries and supporting them has paid off for the Democrats. In contrast, when the NRSC tries to play favorites in a primary, the Republican base screams so loudly that the NRSC backs down. If the Republicans could muzzle their base the way the Democrats have done, they would not blow many easy-to-win Senate races.

Another factor that could heavily influence the balance of the new Senate is the role of women. When Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) arrived in the Senate in 1993, there was no women's room near the Senate chamber. With the arrival of six women, the Senate built one. Now 17 senators are women and that could increase in 2013. Murray, who is now chairwoman of the DSCC, has gone out of her way to recruit women to run for the Senate, with female candidates in five high-profile races: Elizabeth Warren (MA), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Shelley Berkley (NV), Tammy Baldwin (WI), and Mazie Hirono (HI). All except Hirono are running against men. If all of them win, there will be 20 women in the Senate because two women are retiring: Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX).

Romney Has Massive Lead Over Obama in the South

Yesterday's Gallup poll shows Mitt Romney with his largest lead over over President Obama, 51% to 45%. The poll was taken before the second presidential debate. While this looks great for Romney, Markos Moulitsas has taken a more detailed look at the poll internals for Tuesday, which show a somewhat different picture.

Region Obama Romney Margin
East 52% 48% Obama +4%
Midwest 52% 48% Obama +4%
South 39% 61% Romney +22%
West 53% 47% Obama +6%

In other words, Obama is going to get creamed in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and possibly Florida, but Colorado and Nevada may not be so bad for him.

Could Team Mormon Work Together?

Suppose Romney were to win the presidency but the Democrats kept the Senate. Then the two most powerful politicians in the country, Mitt Romney and Senate majority leader Harry Reid, would shared a common religion but practically nothing else. Could they work together? It seems unlikely given how much Reid has attacked Romney all year. Romney could find himself thwarted by Reid at every turn. Of course, a second Obama term could be equally thwarted by Speaker John Boehner, but Boehner and Obama don't have the kind of personal animosity that Romney and Reid have. A Romney-Reid meeting at the White House would be constrained by the fact that they really dislike one another and each one wants the other to fail. An Obama-Boehner meeting wouldn't have that, but would have a different problem: if Obama and Boehner made a deal on the fiscal cliff, for example, Boehner might not be able to get his troops into line as the tea party Republicans in the House won't obey him just because he is their leader. Reid doesn't have that problem. If he were to make a deal with Romney, Senate Democrats would follow his leadership. Either way, unless one party wins all the marbles, the forecast is for gridlock as far as the eye can see.

The Danger of Relying on Electoral Precedents

One frequently hears things like "No President has ever been reelected with unemployment above 7.5%" or no challenger has ever been elected with a favorability rating under water. Actually, there are many, many precedents that have been upended over time. For example, until 1796, no one without false teeth was ever elected President. Or until 1844, no one who lost his home state had won. Or until 1920, no sitting senator had ever been elected President. Or until 1980, no divorced candidate had ever won. In fact, for every election some precedent was broken. Here is a complete list.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Connecticut 51% 37%   Oct 11 Oct 16 U. of Connecticut
Connecticut 53% 38%   Oct 04 Oct 14 Siena Coll.
Florida 47% 44%   Oct 14 Oct 16 Zogby
Massachusetts 57% 39%   Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Montana 43% 53%   Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Montana 45% 53%   Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen
New Hampshire 50% 49%   Oct 15 Oct 15 Rasmussen
Nevada 48% 45%   Oct 11 Oct 15 SurveyUSA
Nevada 50% 47%   Oct 15 Oct 15 Rasmussen
Ohio 45% 42%   Oct 12 Oct 15 SurveyUSA
Washington 50% 45%   Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Washington 55% 42%   Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen
Wisconsin 49% 48%   Oct 11 Oct 14 Marquette Law School

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Connecticut Chris Murphy 44% Linda McMahon 38%     Oct 11 Oct 16 U. of Connecticut
Connecticut Chris Murphy 46% Linda McMahon 44%     Oct 04 Oct 14 Siena Coll.
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren 53% Scott Brown* 44%     Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Montana Jon Tester* 46% Denny Rehberg 44%     Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 43% Josh Mandel 38%     Oct 12 Oct 15 SurveyUSA
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin 45% Tommy Thompson 46%     Oct 11 Oct 14 Marquette Law School

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Oct17 Supreme Court Refuses to Block Early Voting in Ohio
Oct17 Obama Wins Second Debate
Oct17 Gallup Poll: Romney Up by 4 Points
Oct16 Second Presidential Debate To Be Held Tonight
Oct16 What Will the Moderator's Role Be?
Oct16 David Stockman Says Romney Was a Speculator, Not a Businessman
Oct16 Romney Raises $170 Million in September
Oct16 Forget the Debates and TV wars, Maybe It's the Ground Game, Stupid
Oct16 Elizabeth Warren Raised $12 Million in Third Quarter
Oct15 Obama Leads in Early Voting
Oct15 Sen. Rob Portman: Romney Can Win without Ohio
Oct15 Tuesday's Debate Could Be Decisive
Oct14 Romney and Ryan Move to Ohio
Oct14 The Hill: Democrats Will Hold Senate, GOP Will Hold House
Oct14 Five Myths about Polling
Oct14 Obama Has Gotten Donations from over Four Million People
Oct14 Ron Paul Refuses to Endorse Romney
Oct14 What Obama Can Do To Win the Next Debate
Oct13 Another Poll Shows Biden Won the Vice-Presidential Debate
Oct13 Romney To Run Massive Numbers of Ads in Final Three Weeks
Oct13 Closing Loopholes Would Allow Only a 4% Tax Rate Reduction
Oct13 Gallup To Make Half of Its Calls to Cell Phones
Oct13 Consumer Confidence Highest in Five Years
Oct13 Ryan Has Received $3 Million in Donations from the Financial Industry
Oct12 Biden Ends Democratic Freakout
Oct11 Expanded Poll Graphs Now Available
Oct11 What Biden Needs To Do Tonight
Oct11 Forget the National Polls, It's All about Nine States
Oct11 Fight over Provisional Ballots Expected to Go to Court in Ohio
Oct11 Why Did It Take So Long for Romney V2.0 to Repudiate Romney V1.0?
Oct11 Jamie Dimon Supports Higher Taxes for the Rich
Oct10 Romney Leads Obama Nationally in New Polls
Oct10 Romney Says He Will Not Pursue Any New Restrictions of Abortions
Oct10 Ohio Secretary of State To Appeal Early Voting Decision to the Supreme Court
Oct10 The Role of Congress Likely to Loom Large in Vice-Presidential Debate
Oct10 The Ten Most Competitive Senate Races
Oct10 Democrats Have Massive Lead Among Latinos in Arizona
Oct10 Three States Have a Referendum on Same-Sex Marriage
Oct09 National Pew Poll: Romney Leads 49% to 45%
Oct09 Next Congress Will Be More Divided than This One
Oct09 Active Duty and Retired Military Personnel Support Romney
Oct09 Biden V2.0 May Be Very Different from Biden V1.0
Oct09 Bill Clinton Campaigning Everywhere
Oct08 Internet Voting Seen As a Huge Risk
Oct08 Absentee Ballots Present Challenges to Election Officials
Oct08 Budget Experts Say the Books Were Not Cooked
Oct08 Heitkamp Running for Mayor of North Dakota
Oct08 Disenchanted Lugar Supporters May Determine Indiana Senate Race
Oct08 Moderator Martha Raddatz Needs to Show Biden and Ryan Who's the Boss
Oct07 Obama Raises $181 Million in September