News from the Votemaster
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
|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|
|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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Previous HeadlinesOct17 Supreme Court Refuses to Block Early Voting in Ohio
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