News from the Votemaster
The national polls--with the exception of Gallup, which is undersampling minorities--are very close, but as always, it is the electoral college that matters. If Obama wins the states the Democrats have won in the last five elections (which seems likely) plus New Mexico (which is almost certain), he has 247 electoral votes. Throw in Ohio and he is at 265. From there, winning just one swing state bigger than New Hampshire is enough. Without Ohio, Romney has no chance. If Romney wins only his base plus Ohio, he's not home free yet, but if he wins Ohio, he is very likely to win North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida as well, and that would get him very close to 270. So in the last two weeks, there will be a lot of focus, energy, and money poured into Ohio.
The other states that will get attention are Florida and Virginia, because they are big enough to change the dynamics. The only other states likely to get much play are Colorado, Nevada (although it may be too late for Romney there), Iowa, and maybe New Hampshire. These are the big seven. The rest don't count. Sorry about that if you live in one of the other 43--although there might be an exciting Senate or House race nearby.
Looking at today's map is instructive. It shows that Obama can get to 270 electoral votes even without Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Iowa, and Colorado, as long as he holds Ohio. But if he loses Ohio and gains any one of those four states, he still wins.
At the start of this year, almost all pundits were convinced that the Republicans would capture the Senate and keep the House. Now the conventional wisdom is that the Democrats will keep a tiny majority in the Senate and make gains in the lower chamber, but not enough to capture the House. Most likely, control of the Senate will come down to eight races. Here is the list and the most recent poll in each one. Incumbents are marked with an asterisk.
|Massachusetts||Elizabeth Warren||53%||Scott Brown*||44%|
|Connecticut||Chris Murphy||48%||Linda McMahon||47%|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||49%||George Allen||48%|
|Wisconsin||Tammy Baldwin||50%||Tommy Thompson||47%|
|Indiana||Joe Donnelly||43%||Richard Mourdock||41%|
|North Dakota||Heidi Heitkamp||45%||Rick Berg||50%|
|Montana||Jon Tester*||46%||Denny Rehberg||44%|
|Arizona||Richard Carmona||44%||Jeff Flake||40%|
A footnote about Arizona is in order though. Last Thursday, Richard Carmona and Jeff Flake debated and things got pretty heated. At one point the moderator, Brahm Resnik, said: "Now I know how Candy Crowley felt." Carmona shot back: "You're prettier than her." Bad move. Many women are going to see that as an insult to Crowley, who was put on the stage not because she is a model but because she is a very experienced journalist. Making it worse for Carmona is that right-wing blogs have said Crowley is too fat to moderate a debate, as if her weight had something to do with her political skills. By making this flippant remark though, Carmona may have had his "macaca" moment and blown an otherwise winnable race.
A lot of people watched the three presidential debates, specifically, 67 million, 66 million, and 59 million, viewers respectively. Did they learn anything, however? Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post has a nice column about what we did and did not learn from the three debates. Her highlights in a nutshell:
- Romney's Etch-a-Sketch works good enough to let him defend contraception, the DREAM Act, and the auto bailout
- Nobody cares about the fiscal cliff over which we will soon drive and land in recession again unless a deal is made
- Gay marriage? Who cares. Old news not worth even mentioning once
- So we have had mass shootings all over the place. Not a good time to talk about gun control
- Letting the candidates roam freely like unleashed dogs is distracting. Give them chairs or chains
- Tell the candidates in advance that whining to the moderator is like telling your mother: "He hit me first"
- Women vote. You have to be nice to them
- The next President is likely to name at least one Supreme Court justice. The subject could have come up
- Al Gore took a lot of flak for sighing once. These guys were all body language all the time and it was fine
- The candidates really, really dislike each other although Romney's near-smirk disguised it slightly
- When all is said and done, it is still the economy, stupid
In each debate, a different Mitt Romney showed up. The first debate featured a confident, assertive Romney who overrode the moderator and often the President. The second debate, the town hall one, had an aggressive and often petulant Romney. The third Romney was meek, peace loving, and certainly not about to hurt anyone. It has been a remarkable metamorphosis. Psychiatrists watching were probably scratching their heads and thinking about multiple personality disorder.
There was only one Obama present at the debates, but during the first one he was peeved that he had to waste 90 minutes on his 20th wedding anniversary being in a big room full of people, one of whom kept asking him nasty questions that he wasn't in the mood to answer. The other two debates featured an Obama who was consistent and seemed to be having more fun.
From the get go, Obama's plan has been to paint Romney as a vacillating, out-of-touch, ultrawealthy, clown beholden to the craziest elements of the tea party. It didn't work. Romney's first debate appearance made the impression of a guy who could be a plausible President, thus rendering months of Obama's attack ads irrelevant.
For weeks now, top Democrats have been urging Obama to stop attacking Romney and focus on what he would do if reelected. Gradually, Obama has come around to seeing that they are right, so he has now belatedly released a 20-page pamphlet describing what he would emphasize in a second term and had millions of copies printed to be mailed out in swing states. He is also airing television ads to highlight his plans. Here is a short summary of the main areas discussed in the pamphlet. In it, he says he will try to
- Invest in education, small businesses, and clean energy
- Increase manufacturing jobs
- Cut taxes for the middle class
- Develop multiple energy sources while protecting the environment
- Reduce tuition growth at colleges
- Bring the troops home from Afghanistan
- Provide health security for all Americans
- Let women make their own health-care choices
- Improve Medicare
- Pass the DREAM Act
Of course, all of these things require Congress to go along and there is no evidence the House Republicans will be any more friendly to Obama in a second term than they were in his first term, so probably none of these will happen except those he can do unilaterally, like ordering the troops home from Afghanistan.
A new WSJ/NBC poll shows that people are getting more upbeat about the direction of the economy. Among registered voters, 45% think the economy will get better next year vs. only 9% who think it will get worse. Voters are responding to improvements in the housing market as well as the reduction in unemployment. Historically, the direction of the economy is more important than the number of unemployed in determining how people vote, so this incipient optimism may help Obama a bit.
Republican Senate candidates seem to have a lot of interest in rape this year. First Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin said that women can't get pregnant after "legitimate rape." Now Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock said that pregnancy from rape can be "something that God intended to happen." Mourdock's opponent, Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), instantly pounced on this comment and said: "The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen--ever." It seems that in their zeal to prevent all abortions, Republicans, especially tea party candidates, are minimizing or justifying rape in order to support laws that prevent all abortions, even those resulting from rape. These kinds of statements not only hurt the individual candidate who utters them, but can hurt other Republicans in other states. No doubt candidates like Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts are going to saying "my opponent is a decent person but do you want to put his party in charge of the Senate?"
While there has been a lot of talk about the economy this year--especially from Republicans--one key aspect has been underreported: the stock market. While Republicans act like they are better for the economy, as measured by the Dow Jones Industrials Average, that is not true. The market was down 2% yesterday, but is nevertheless up 64% since Obama was inaugurated. Let us consider how the DJIA has performed under the last two Democratic and last two Republican Presidents, that is, from Jan. 20, 1989 until today, as shown in this graph.
During the two Bush administrations, the Dow went up 41% and down 26%, respectively. Under Clinton and Obama, it went up 229% and 64%, respectively. These numbers represent annualized growth rates of 9%, 16%, -4%, and 14%, respectively. So measured by the Dow, Obama has not done quite as well as the go-go '90s under Clinton, but he is not far off.
To make these number clearer, suppose Mitt Romney had invested $10,000 in the stock market on the day George H.W. Bush was inaugurated (instead of betting it on something). On Clinton's first day in office imagine Romney sold his stocks, expecting a disaster from the Democrats. He would have had $14,100 in cash. Then when George W. Bush took over, imagine he bought a Dow index fund with his $14,100. When Obama took office, Romney would have had $10,434, a net profit of $434 for 12 years of investment.
Now suppose Barack Obama had sat out the Bush 41 years and put $10,000 into a Dow fund on Jan. 21, 1993. He could have sold it for $32,900 the day George W. Bush got the keys to the White House. If he had invested his $32,900 the day he took office himself, his holdings would be worth $53,950 now, a profit of $43,950 in almost the same 12 year period. While unemployment affects about 8% of the population, more than half of all Americans have an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement fund (or in some cases a pension invested in stocks) and they are a lot better off now than they were 4 years ago. But this fairly obvious economic fact gets surprisingly little attention.
Talking about running a country is easier than actually doing it. It you want to see how well you can do, take a look at simcountry.com, a free online multiplayer game where you get to be president of a country. You have to make decisions about taxes, unemployment, education, social security, defense, transportation, and a hundred other things, while keeping your people happy and dealing with sometimes hostile neighboring countries. If running a country isn't your thing, you can also opt to be CEO of a multinational corporation.
|Connecticut||52%||45%||Oct 21||Oct 21||Rasmussen|
|Minnesota||51%||46%||Oct 21||Oct 21||Rasmussen|
|North Dakota||32%||57%||Oct 12||Oct 15||Essman Research|
|New Hampshire||47%||49%||Oct 19||Oct 22||ARG|
|Nevada||49%||47%||Oct 19||Oct 22||ARG|
|Ohio||47%||44%||Oct 20||Oct 22||SurveyUSA|
|Utah||20%||71%||Oct 09||Oct 13||Key Research|
|Virginia||50%||43%||Sep 19||Oct 17||Old Dominion U.|
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Connecticut||Chris Murphy||48%||Linda McMahon||47%||Oct 21||Oct 21||Rasmussen|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||45%||Connie McGillicuddy||41%||Oct 17||Oct 18||PPP|
|Indiana||Joe Donnelly||43%||Richard Mourdock||41%||Oct 17||Oct 21||Global Strategy|
|Maryland||Ben Cardin*||53%||Dan Bongino||22%||Oct 11||Oct 15||Washington Post|
|Minnesota||Amy Klobuchar*||56%||Kurt Bills||33%||Oct 21||Oct 21||Rasmussen|
|North Dakota||Heidi Heitkamp||40%||Rick Berg||50%||Oct 12||Oct 15||Essman Research|
|North Dakota||Heidi Heitkamp||45%||Rick Berg||50%||Oct 17||Oct 18||Rasmussen|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||43%||Josh Mandel||42%||Oct 20||Oct 22||SurveyUSA|
|Utah||Scott Howell||22%||Orrin Hatch*||61%||Oct 09||Oct 13||Key Research|
* Denotes incumbent
Email a link to a friend or share:
Previous HeadlinesOct23 Obama Wins Third Debate
Oct23 National Polls Show a Statistical Tie
Oct23 It May All Come Down to 106 Counties
Oct23 Obama Leads Among Ohioans Who Have Already Voted
Oct23 Dead People Can Vote in Ohio
Oct23 Could Nov. 6 Bring on a Crisis?
Oct23 Obama Abandons North Carolina
Oct22 The Final Debate is Tonight
Oct22 Dueling Polls Are in Deep Conflict
Oct22 It All Comes Down to Turnout
Oct22 Each Campaign Will Raise a Gigabuck
Oct22 The Ten Biggest Political Blunders of the Year
Oct22 The Billboards Are Coming Down
Oct22 Do Businessmen Make Good Presidents?
Oct22 It is Getting Harder to Vote
Oct22 Some Notes about the Website
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