Obama 286
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Ties 17
Romney 235
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Dem 53
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Ties 1
GOP 46
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  • Strongly Dem (194)
  • Likely Dem (43)
  • Barely Dem (49)
  • Exactly tied (17)
  • Barely GOP (55)
  • Likely GOP (46)
  • Strongly GOP (134)
270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
New polls: FL MO
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: FL IN NC
PW logo Reaction to the Third Presidential Debate Has Obama Given Up in North Carolina?
The Third Presidential Debate Race Deadlocked as Romney Gains on Foreign Affairs
No Second Debate Bounce How Are You Being Targeted?

News from the Votemaster

The Final Debate is Tonight

The third and final presidential debate will take place tonight at Lynn University in Boca Raton, FL. It will be about international relations and foreign policy. The format will be the same "parallel job interviews" format used in the first debate. Bob Schieffer of CBS will try to moderate it.

Schieffer has announced that the debate will be broken into six segments, each starting with a question from him. The topics of the questions are as follows.

  • America's role in the world
  • Our longest war - Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Red lines: Israel and Iran
  • The changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism I
  • The changing Middle East and the new face of terrorism II
  • The rise of China and tomorrow's world

Undoubtedly President Obama will talk a lot about his getting Osama bin Laden, something George Bush promised for 7 years but failed to do. Obama will surely also emphasize that he promised to end the war in Iraq, and did, and is on schedule to end the war in Afghanistan in 2014. He will probably also call out Mitt Romney for flying to England in July and immediately insulting the Brits by questioning their preparedness for terrorist attacks at the Olympics. Foreign policy is not Romney's strong suit, but he will almost certainly try to attack Obama on the deaths of four Americans in Libya last month. All he can really do is criticize Obama since his experience in foreign affairs is limited (unless opening bank accounts in Switzerland and the Cayman Islands counts).

Iran (and what to do about it) is bound be contentious. The problem for Romney here is that if Obama asks him point blank what he would do differently with respect to Iran, Romney will be hard put to give a specific answer other than "bomb them," which is not likely to play well in a country already weary of two wars in the Middle East in the past 10 years.

While we won't know until tomorrow which candidate won the debate, one certain winner is Lynn University, which is spending $5 million to prepare for the debate. It is a gamble for the university that the publicity will put them on the map and increase enrollments.

Dueling Polls Are in Deep Conflict

Yesterday's Gallup poll brought good news for Mitt Romney: he leads Obama 52% to 45%, well outside the margin of error. However, yesterday's Wall Street Journal poll said it is an exact tie at 47%. Both polls surveyed likely voters but one of them is clearly wrong. Why do they differ? Assuming both pollsters did their work carefully, four things come to mind. First, how did they deal with cell phones? Second, what is the likely voter screen each one used? Third, did either one force the data to some model of how many Democrats and how many Republicans will vote? Fourth, are minorities correctly represented in the sample? Errors in any of these could throw the results way off. When other national polls are considered, it is more likely that Gallup is the outlier here since most of the other polls are consistent with the WSJ poll and show a very tight race.

It All Comes Down to Turnout

Forget the half-dozen voters in each swing state who haven't made up their minds, aren't paying attention to the campaigns, and may not even vote. The real battle for each side is getting their supporters, who are ardent about the candidate but who find voting to be a big chore, to get to the polls between now and election day. The election is likely to be decided to which party is better at its get-out-the-vote operation, known in the trade as the "ground war." Democrats did a much better job at this in 2008 than Republicans but Republicans are fixated on not letting this happen again. Both sides have tens of thousands of volunteers pounding the pavement to get people to vote. In some states, for example, the list of who has already voted is posted on precinct doors every few hours on election day. The precinct workers check these regularly and then go to the houses of nonvoters known (from previous visits) to be friendly and offer rides, babysitting services, or whatever it takes to get the voters to the polls. A few votes per precinct nationwide can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Each Campaign Will Raise a Gigabuck

Obama's campaign has raised $969 million. Romney's is only slightly behind at $919 million. However, Romney went into October with a $43 million cash advantage due strategic differences with Obama's campaign. Obama spent money freely all summer defining Romney before he was well known. Romney hoarded his money for a big blitz at the end. Now it is blitz time, with Romney blanketing the airwaves with negative ads about Obama. However, Romney's cash edge is less than it appears because much of Romney's money was raised by the Republican National Committee rather than the campaign itself. The RNC is free to run any ads it wants to, but by law, the campaigns get the lowest rates stations charge any advertisers whereas stations can charge the RNC and DNC whatever the traffic will bear.

Also, the RNC has transferred a sizable chunk of its haul to the state parties, which may decide to spend some of it on races for the Senate, House, or even governorships. Very little of Obama's money has gone to the state parties, giving his campaign manager, Jim Messina, direct control of how nearly all of it is spent.

The Ten Biggest Political Blunders of the Year

OK, the campaigns raised a lot of money (and possibly stimulated the economy a bit) but not everybody got everything right. Politico has compiled a list of the worst political blunders of the year, summarized as follows.

  • The many Romney premortems: it's not time to stick a fork in him quite yet
  • The convention sites: Tampa had a hurricane and North Carolina was a bridge too far for the Democrats
  • Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman's candidacies: neither was even remotely ready for prime time
  • Romney's focus on "You didn't build that" didn't move the polls a whit
  • The Democrats not wanting superPACs until the last minute
  • David Axelrod's Boston press conference which Romney supporters drowned out
  • The Iowa GOP calling the wrong winner on caucus night
  • Romney's foreign trip: he insulted the Brits and Palestinians and suffered when an aide swore in Poland
  • Scott Brown signing an agreement to reject outside money and then be vastly outraised by Elizabeth Warren
  • Team Romney's decision not to define the candidate much earlier

The Billboards Are Coming Down

As a follow up to our story yesterday about the anonymous billboards designed to scare people into not voting, Clear Channel is responding to all the negative publicity about them and is starting to remove them today. Civil Rights groups and others saw them as a naked attempt to intimidate voters and Clear Channel didn't like the bad coverage it was getting about them.

Do Businessmen Make Good Presidents?

Since the start of the 20th Century, only three Presidents have been voted out of office after a single term. All three, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush, were businessmen. It is startling but true that GDP has grown 45 times faster under Presidents with little or no business experience than when these businessmen were in office. The Presidents who had the best stock market growth, FDR, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, and Obama had essentially no business experience. The Dow has gained 16.8% per annum under Democrats with no business experience and lost 3.7% per year under Republicans with business experience. It is not clear why having business experience makes you a bad President; most likely there is no correlation between the business experience of the President and his performance on the economy.

Another interesting question is whether experience in government makes one a good President. To find out, click here.

It is Getting Harder to Vote

The New York Times has a story about how recent changes and attempted changes to voting laws in 41 states all have the effect of making voting more difficult. The changes fall into four broad categories:

  • Reductions in the days and hours polling places are open
  • Putting restrictions on groups that organize voter-registration drives
  • Laws requiring voters to show photo ID to vote--something low-income voters often lack
  • Tougher laws about felons who have served their time getting their voting rights back

Nearly all of these changes are in the name of stopping in-person voter fraud, which is completely negligible, while nothing is being done about absentee ballot fraud, which actually exists.

Some Notes about the Website

If you have a blog or Website and would like a little icon that gives your visitor an up-to-date electoral vote and Senate score, please go to electoral-vote.com/evp2012/Info/bloggers.html and cut the text for the icon shape you want and then paste it into your blog or Website. That's all you have to do. Then your visitors will see the current score when they visit your page.

This Website contains many more pages than the front page and Senate page. If you are curious about which ones are the most popular, take a look at a new statistics page: electoral-vote.com/evp2012/Info/pages.html. The pages listed there are clickable, so you can see what they are. As with all links to pages on the site, you need to use the Back Button to return to where you were.

Thanks for all the donations! Ads for the site are now running on a dozen blogs and will continue to run until election day. This is the third batch of ads launched this year. The server's performance has also been upgraded to handle additional load, although it is coping very well so far.

If you know people who are interested in politics, please tell them about this site. Even better, if you know people who are not interested in politics (but who may moan about the election after it is over), tell them.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Florida 47% 48%   Oct 17 Oct 18 PPP
Missouri 46% 52%   Oct 19 Oct 21 PPP

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Missouri Claire McCaskill* 46% Todd Akin 40%     Oct 19 Oct 21 PPP
Virginia Tim Kaine 49% George Allen 48%     Oct 18 Oct 18 Rasmussen
Washington Maria Cantwell* 52% Michael Baumgartner 37%     Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Oct21 Could Popular Vote Winner Lose the Election?
Oct21 DSCC Outraises NRSC in September
Oct21 Newspapers Continue to Endorse Candidates
Oct21 International Monitors to Watch U.S. Elections
Oct21 McCain-to-Obama Defectors Are Older White Men from the East
Oct21 Reports: Iran Agrees to Talks about Nuclear Weapons
Oct20 Obama Coins a New Word: Romnesia
Oct20 Democratic SuperPACs Begin Raising Serious Money
Oct20 Voter Confusion Expected in Pennsylvania
Oct20 Voter Registration Fraud Surfaces in Virginia
Oct20 Unemployment Drops in Seven Swing States
Oct20 Fourth Poll Says Obama Won the Second Debate
Oct20 What Happens If the Electoral College Is Tied?
Oct20 Many White Men Dislike Romney but Will Vote for Him Anyway
Oct20 Why Do Republicans Hate Obama So Much?
Oct19 Romney's SuperPAC To Spend $12 Million in Nine Swing States
Oct19 Could Latinos Decide Colorado, Florida, and Nevada?
Oct19 Early Voting Favors Democrats in Iowa
Oct19 Women Consider Abortion the Top Issue, Men See Jobs As Key
Oct19 Once-Secret Conservative Groups Opening Up
Oct19 Voter Intimidation Becomes an Issue
Oct19 Could Third Parties Decide the Election?
Oct19 Maryland Likely to Approve Same-Sex Marriage in November
Oct19 Thompson and Baldwin Actually Debate Each Other in Wisconsin Senate Race
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