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News from the Votemaster

Romney's SuperPAC To Spend $12 Million in Nine Swing States

In what is probably the biggest ad buy of the campaign as yet, Mitt Romney's superPAC, Restore Our Future, is pumping $12 million into television ads in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Nevada, Virginia, Wisconsin, and even Michigan. Only New Hampshire is missing from the list and Michigan is a reach at best. Nevertheless, with the polls tightening, the group is making a final effort to push Romney over the finish line first.

However, there is one downside to this expenditure for Republicans. Had Obama not done so poorly in the first debate, he would have probably maintained his large lead and outside groups might have abandoned Romney as hopeless and put all their money into Senate races in order to flip it to the GOP. That is not happening, thus increasing the odds that the Democrats hang onto the Senate.

Could Latinos Decide Colorado, Florida, and Nevada?

Both campaigns see Colorado, Florida, and Nevada as key swing states and Latinos as the key voting blocs in these states. Both are putting massive effort into reaching these voters but their approaches are different. Obama's ads have him personally speaking entirely in Spanish and focusing on immigration. Romney's ads are in English and focus on jobs.

The demographics of Florida are changing. Years ago, all the Latinos in Florida were Cuban-Americans and were nearly all Republicans. Now there is a large contingent of Puerto Ricans, most of whom are Democrats. Naturally, Romney's campaign is focused on turning out the Cuban-Americans and Obama's team is trying to get the Puerto Ricans to vote. Although all Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, the island has no electoral votes. However, individual Puerto Ricans who are legal residents of one of the 50 states or D.C. can vote there. In fact, Obama has campaigned in the I-4 corridor near Disneyworld explicitly for their votes.

Early Voting Favors Democrats in Iowa

Over 2 million Americans have already voted even though election day is more than 2 weeks away. One state where early voting is popular is the key swing state of Iowa. Obama won the state by almost 10 points in 2008, with early voting, especially among younger voters, playing a key part. This year, of the 463,219 ballots cast or requested so far in Iowa, 45% came from registered Democrats and 30% from registered Republicans. Compared to 2008, 4% more Democrats have voted early. Early voting by Republicans is up only 1%. To flip Iowa, Romney has to do better than John McCain did in 2008, and so far he is not on track to do this. Of course, Republicans could turn up in larger-than-usual numbers next week or on election day.

Even though Iowa has only six electoral votes, it could prove critical this year. If Obama holds onto the states the Democrats have won the last five elections, he has 242 electoral votes. If he wins New Mexico (very likely) and Ohio (moderately likely), he has 265 EVs. With Iowa, he has 271 and the presidency, even if he loses Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, and New Hampshire.

Women Consider Abortion the Top Issue, Men See Jobs As Key

A new Gallup poll demonstrates why there is a gender gap. For women, 39% say that abortion is the #1 issue for them, double the #2 issue, jobs at 19%. For men, Jobs are the #1 issue at 38%, with the economy second at 37%. It is not clear what aspect of the economy is meant, if not jobs or the federal deficit, which came in third at 10%. For women, the federal deficit isn't on the radar at all.

Once-Secret Conservative Groups Opening Up

A number of conservative superPACs and other right-wing groups are beginning to consider the consequences of spending $1 billion and not electing Mitt Romney. One of the consequences is that some of the donors may become a bit peevish about their money being wasted. Consequently, some of the groups are now being more open about how they have spent their donors' money, with an eye to the future. If, for example, a group put a lot of money into specific Senate or House races and won most of them, it may survive as an organization, even if Romney loses, but if it bet only on Romney and lost, in future elections, donors may look elsewhere. It is expected that if Romney loses, there will be a major shakeout of these groups. The tensions between Karl Rove and the Koch brothers are well known, but there are others as well. If Romney wins, there will also be a realignment, but a different one, possibly putting the leaders of the Restore Our Future superPAC on top.

Voter Intimidation Becomes an Issue

The ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), is accusing True the Vote, a conservative group that claims to be battling voter fraud, of actually working to intimidate minority voters to keep them from voting. In effect, he is saying they are vigilantes, trying to take over the government function of determining who may vote and who may not vote, an authority they do not have. Fights over who can vote may break out at polling places all over the country on election day as the battle over voter fraud and voter intimidation heats up.

Could Third Parties Decide the Election?

In 2000, had 1% of Ralph Nader's 97,000 votes in Florida gone to Al Gore, Gore would have become President instead of George W. Bush. Third parties could also play a dramatic role this year as well. Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, is on the ballot in 48 states. He is the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico who ran in the Republican presidential primaries this year until he dropped out and got the Libertarian Party nomination. On paper, Libertarians should appeal to voters of both parties. They oppose the war in Afghanistan and want to legalize marijuana, which could appeal to disenchanted Democrats, but also oppose high taxes and much government spending, which could appeal to disenchanted Republicans. Johnson's problem, however, is his long identification with the Republican Party, though, so probably not many Democrats will vote for him. Republican voters unhappy with Romney might consider him acceptable, however. Republican operatives dismiss Johnson out of hand as insignificant, but they did spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to unsuccessfully keep him off the ballot in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, among other states.

Another third-party candidate who is under the national radar but could play a big role ultimately is Virgil Goode, the Constitution Party candidate. Goode is on the ballot in 26 states, but in only one is he a factor: Virginia. Goode was a Virginia state legislator for 24 years and then a Republican congressman for another 12 years, so he is very well known in southwestern Virginia. He could possibly get 1 or 2 percent of the vote in Virginia from conservative Republicans who think Mitt Romney is a closet moderate. In a close race, that could be enough to swing Virginia (and the presidency) to Obama. Few polls have included him, but he could be the Ralph nader of 2012.

Maryland Likely to Approve Same-Sex Marriage in November

A WaPo poll of likely voters in Maryland showed that 52% are likely to approve a ballot measure to allow same-sex marriage in the state while 43% are likely to reject it. Same-sex marriage has been written into law by several state legislatures and by the courts in some cases, but never by a popular referendum such as Maryland's. There are also referendums on the ballot on the question in Maine and Washington state and also one forbidding it in Minnesota.

Thompson and Baldwin Actually Debate Each Other in Wisconsin Senate Race

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and former governor Tommy Thompson (R) actually had a debate--that is, they addressed each other, rather than having two parallel job interviews as most "debates" are. Thompson was a popular governor who was elected four times, but Baldwin tried to deflect that by pointing out that he has spent the last seven years employed as a Washington lobbyist working for all the special interests she has spent her entire career opposing. Her slogan is: "Tommy: He's not for us anymore." Thompson emphasized the tax cuts he signed as governor and said Baldwin was too extreme for Wisconsin. The two will go at it again on Oct. 27 in Milwaukee.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Colorado 50% 47%   Oct 16 Oct 18 PPP
Connecticut 53% 44%   Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Iowa 51% 43%   Oct 15 Oct 17 Marist Coll.
Michigan 44% 41%   Oct 09 Oct 10 Denno Research
Michigan 52% 46%   Oct 17 Oct 17 EPIC MRA
North Carolina 46% 52%   Oct 17 Oct 17 Rasmussen
Ohio 49% 48%   Oct 17 Oct 17 Rasmussen
Oregon 49% 42%   Oct 16 Oct 18 SurveyUSA
Virginia 49% 48%   Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Washington 52% 43%   Oct 01 Oct 16 U. of Washington
Wisconsin 51% 45%   Oct 15 Oct 17 Marist Coll.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Connecticut Chris Murphy 48% Linda McMahon 44%     Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Minnesota Amy Klobuchar* 58% Kurt Bills 30%     Oct 12 Oct 14 SurveyUSA
Nevada Shelley Berkley 40% Dean Heller* 46%     Oct 11 Oct 15 SurveyUSA
Nevada Shelley Berkley 43% Dean Heller* 50%     Oct 15 Oct 15 Rasmussen
Virginia Tim Kaine 50% George Allen 45%     Oct 15 Oct 16 PPP
Washington Maria Cantwell* 58% Michael Baumgartner 35%     Oct 01 Oct 16 U. of Washington
Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin 49% Tommy Thompson 45%     Oct 15 Oct 17 Marist Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Oct18 Second Debate Watched by 66 Million People
Oct18 Tax Policy Center Says Romney's Math Does Not Add Up
Oct18 Both Candidates Make Pitches to Women
Oct18 Only Eight States Matter
Oct18 What Happened to Republicans in the Senate?
Oct18 Romney Has Massive Lead Over Obama in the South
Oct18 Could Team Mormon Work Together?
Oct18 The Danger of Relying on Electoral Precedents
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