News from the Votemaster
President Obama campaigned in Virginia yesterday and repeatedly used a new word he had just coined: Romnesia. It refers to Mitt Romney's forgetting what he has been saying all year and adopting new positions on many issues in the past 2 weeks. When addressing women, Obama said: "If you say women should have access to contraceptive care, but you support legislation that would let your employer deny you contraceptive care, you might have a case of Romnesia." He gave several other examples as well.
When the Republican superPACs got started, the Democrats didn't want to start their own because they hated the idea of wealthy individuals having so much clout in elections. Finally they conceded that to compete, they had to set up their own. Now Priorities USA, which backs President Obama, has reported that in September it raised $15 million. This amount is slightly more than its Republican counterpart, Restore Our Future, which raised $14 million in the same period. The other Democratic superPACs also raised millions. Majority PAC, which supports Senate Democrats, raised $10 million. House Majority PAC, which funds Democratic House races, raised $6 million.
Although a Pennsylvania judge ruled that the state cannot require voters to show photo ID, many of the 80-somethings who volunteer for poll worker duty are untrained and are probably not aware of the judge's ruling. They may ask voters for ID and turn away any that don't have it, even though legally they can't do this. Furthermore, buses are driving around the state with a big ad saying "SHOW IT," telling voters to bring ID. The ads were placed before the judge's ruling. To top that off, PECO, the Philadelphia power company sent a notice with its October bills telling people to bring photo ID. While this was well meant at the time, people who don't have ID may simply not bother to vote, thinking they need it. So although the voter ID law was reversed in court, it may still have the intended effect--keeping low-information and low-income voters from the polls.
This kind of political warfare is generally asymmetric. In states where Democrats have the power, they don't do this kind of thing. Imagine, for example, a Democratic Secretary of State who decided that terrorist attacks from car bombs were a threat to the integrity of the elections, so he banned parking within 100 yards of all polling places. Ostensibly, such a rule is politically neutral, but probably more Republicans drive to their polling place and more Democrats take the bus, so a parking ban might suppress more Republican votes than Democratic votes. But Democrats have been (mostly) trying for centuries to expand the original franchise (only white, male, landowners could vote when the Constitution went into effect), so they don't do this kind of thing even when they have the power. The one blemish on the Democrats' record occurred after the Civil Law, with the passage of laws intended to disenfranchise newly freed slaves.
Last month, Florida prosecutors started examining hundreds of suspicious voter registration forms submitted by a firm, Strategic Allied Consulting, paid by the Republican National Committee. The RNC immediately fired the firm and said the matter was closed. Now, Virginia police have charged a former intern for Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), with tossing voter registration forms into a dumpster in Virginia. The Virginia Republican Party stated that this was an isolated problem and not indicative of broader problems.
The problems of voter fraud and voter suppression are uniquely American. Other mature democracies have elections run by nonpartisan officials, with political parties having no role. For example, to eliminate voter fraud, many other countries send each voter a postcard giving the name and number of the voter a week before the election. The voter brings the card to the polling place as proof that he or she is entitled to vote, signs it and exchanges it for a ballot. This simple procedure eliminates all the issues associated with the cost and expense of getting ID cards or the cost and expense of getting birth certificates or other documents needed to get an ID card.
Newly released state-by-state unemployment numbers show a drop in unemployment in seven of the nine key swing states. It held steady in the others. Stronger yet, over the course of year, unemployment fell in eight battleground states. While the absolute number of unemployed remains high, historically voters have been more sensitive to the trend than to the actual number. If things are bad but getting better, voters tend to be happier than if things are decent but getting worse.
The three swing states where unemployment fell the most this year are Nevada (down 1.8%), Florida (down 1.7%), and Ohio (down 1.6%).
Earlier polls from CNN, CBS, and Ipsos all show that Obama won the second presidential debate, with margins of 7%, 7%, and 15%, respectively. Now a Gallup poll shows that Obama won 51% to 38%. Independents said Obama won by a 21-point margin.
Many election irregularities are possible and even expected on election day, including challenges to voters, arguments over provisional ballots, and much more. But even if the actual election goes fairly well, there is another potential problem: a tie in the electoral college.
Starting from today's map, suppose Mitt Romney wins Ohio and New Hampshire, making the score Obama 268 and Romney 270. But then suppose Obama wins congressional district NE-02, which he did in 2008, giving Obama one more electoral vote and splitting the electoral college down the middle, 269-269. (Actually, there are nearly 100 different ways it could be tied, as we discussed earlier.
According to the Constitution, the newly elected House would choose the President, with each state getting one vote. Probably most representatives would vote the party line, but the pressure on individual representatives to switch might be enormous. In the most likely scenario, Romney would be elected President by the House. But that is not the end of the story. If the Democrats hang onto the Senate, mostly likely the Senate would elect Joe Biden as Vice President. If the new Senate is split 50-50 when it convenes on Jan. 3, 2013, the sitting Vice President--Joe Biden--would break the tie. Judging from his attitude at the vice-presidential debate, Biden doesn't seem to think much of Paul Ryan and would probably vote for Joe Biden as Vice President.
What would a Romney-Biden administration be like? A lot depends on how Romney treats Biden. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all gave their Veeps lots of assignments. George H.W. Bush didn't think a lot of Dan Quayle and told him to stay in his room for 4 years. What would Romney do, given that he and Biden don't see eye to eye on anything and Romney can't realistically count on there being a funeral of a foreign leader every week to send Biden to.
At one extreme, Romney could completely shut Biden out of everything. No attendance at any important meetings, no work assignments, nothing at all. Absent a 50-50 split in the Senate, Biden would have nothing to do and might decide to spend the four years attacking everything Romney did, day and night, possibly in preparation for a 2016 run. It is doubtful that Romney would appreciate such a high-profile figure lambasting him day and night, but what could he do? At the other extreme, he could give Biden some actual work to do, assuming there were some items on the agenda where they actually agreed, but it is hard to see what they might be.
Having a President and Vice President from different parties is not a good idea. The country discovered this in the third presidential election (in 1796). At that time, the Constitution said that the guy with the most EVs got to be President and the guy with the next largest number got to be Veep. In 1796, John Adams, a Federalist, was elected President, and Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the modern Democratic Party, was elected Vice President. They didn't get along all that well. In 1800, Vice President Jefferson challenged and defeated President Adams. This sort of situation let to the twelfth amendment to the Constitution, which says that each presidential elector is to cast separate votes for President and Vice President, so coming in second for President doesn't buy you much, although you might get your own TV show on some friendly network.
While there is endless talk about the gender gap and how Latinos will vote, white working-class men are still an important--albeit shrinking--demographic. Many of them dislike Obama for taxing the people who give them jobs but also dislike Romney for being an aloof rich person. Nevertheless, they will probably mostly vote Republican. Obama got 41% of white men in 2008 (and an even smaller percentage of working-class white men since college-educated white men lean toward the Democrats). John Kerry got 37% of the white male vote; Al Gore got only 36%. If Obama can get 40% of white men and 80% of minorities, he can probably win, otherwise he will probably lose. Both parties are aware of these issues, which is probably why each one has a vice-presidential candidate who can appeal to working-class white men.
Many Democrats genuinely don't have a clue why Republicans hate President Obama so much. Is it racism? Probably not entirely since many Republicans love Rep. Allen West (R-FL), former representative J.C. Watts of Oklahoma, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. Is it the ACA? Maybe, but that is completely irrational because "Obamacare" is just Romneycare and was actually devised by the conservative Heritage Foundation as a Republican alternative to Hillarycare in the 1990s. "Make everybody take responsibility for their own health care and buy insurance from a private company" has been the Republicans' rally cry for 15 years. Until Obama agreed and passed their plan. Is it because he is a "socialist?" He did save General Motors, not usually known as a socialist icon. So what's left? Try this.
|California||51%||35%||Oct 11||Oct 15||Princeton Survey|
|D.C.||88%||08%||Oct 12||Oct 14||PPP|
|Florida||45%||48%||Oct 17||Oct 18||Fox News|
|Florida||46%||51%||Oct 18||Oct 18||Rasmussen|
|Florida||47%||46%||Oct 17||Oct 18||SurveyUSA|
|Florida||48%||49%||Oct 17||Oct 18||ORC International|
|Iowa||48%||49%||Oct 17||Oct 19||PPP|
|Maryland||60%||36%||Oct 11||Oct 15||Washington Post|
|Missouri||43%||54%||Oct 17||Oct 17||Rasmussen|
|New Hampshire||48%||49%||Oct 17||Oct 19||PPP|
|New Jersey||54%||40%||Oct 17||Oct 18||SurveyUSA|
|Ohio||46%||43%||Oct 17||Oct 18||Fox News|
|Virginia||47%||50%||Oct 18||Oct 18||Rasmussen|
|Wisconsin||50%||48%||Oct 18||Oct 18||Rasmussen|
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|California||Dianne Feinstein*||56%||Elizabeth Emken||32%||Oct 11||Oct 15||Princeton Survey|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||48%||Connie McGillicuddy||40%||Oct 17||Oct 18||SurveyUSA|
|Missouri||Claire McCaskill*||51%||Todd Akin||43%||Oct 17||Oct 17||Rasmussen|
|New Jersey||Bob Menendez*||53%||Joseph Kyrillos||33%||Oct 17||Oct 18||SurveyUSA|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||49%||Josh Mandel||44%||Oct 17||Oct 17||Rasmussen|
* Denotes incumbent
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