Obama 332
image description
Romney 206
image description
Dem 47
image description
Ties 4
GOP 49
image description
  • Strongly Dem (177)
  • Likely Dem (64)
  • Barely Dem (91)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (15)
  • Likely GOP (49)
  • Strongly GOP (142)
270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
New polls: (None)
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: IN NC
PW logo Obama Leads in New Jersey Reactions to Clinton's Speech
Democratic Convention Night Two How Obama Annoyed Ryan
Democrats Reinsert References to Jerusalem and God Clinton Hits All-Time High Favorable Rating

News from the Votemaster

Goode is Good Enough

The Democratic National Convention has begun, but in our view, the biggest story containing actual news is yesterday's decision by the Virginia Board of Elections to put Virgil Goode, the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party, on the Virginia ballot. Goode turned in 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot, even though 10,000 valid ones are all that is needed. Goode is way to the right of Romney and could wreak havoc with Romney's chances in Virginia.

Third-party candidates rarely get more than 2 or 3 percent in Virginia, but Goode could easily reach that level. He represented Virginia in Congress for 12 years and served in the state Senate for 24 years before that. With 36 years in public office, he has substantial name recognition in the southwestern part of the state, which is very conservative. Far-right voters who hate Obama but simply don't trust Romney might vote for Goode in protest. Virginia, which went for Obama in 2008, has been close all year, with Obama currently ahead 49% to 46%. If Goode can pull 2% from Romney and make it 49% to 44%, Romney will have a very difficult time winning Virginia and its 13 electoral votes. If Obama can win all the states the Democrats have won in the past five elections, plus the three western swing states, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico, he has 262 of the 270 electoral votes he needs. Virginia would put him over the top, meaning that he could survive losses in Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Missouri, and Iowa. Romney is certain to redouble his efforts to win Virginia now. Among other things, Team Romney will try to get the Virginia Attorney General, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, to remove Goode from the ballot.

However, not all the news out of Virginia is bad for the Republicans. Jill Stein, the Green party candidate for President, also qualified for the ballot (as did Libertarian Gary Johnson). But unlike Goode, Stein is from Massachusetts and has no natural base in Virginia there, so she is not likely to pull many votes from Obama. Democrats are also far more sensitive to the effects of third parties ever since Ralph Nader got 92,000 votes in Florida in 2000, in an election George Bush won by 537 votes. The Republicans have never had such an experience.

What remains to be seen is what happens next. Will the Koch brothers start running ads in Virginia attacking Goode and praising Stein? Will out-of-state partisans start hanging out at Goode's Website or Stein's Website and begin donating money? To some extent Ron Paul supporters may get involved since Goode supports some of the same issues as Paul, such as auditing the Fed, and is generally isolationist in foreign policy and immigration.

Democratic Convention Opens with Women and Latinos on Stage

The Democratic National Convention opened last night with an array of speakers, especially minorities and young people attacking Mitt Romney for his lack of empathy with ordinary people and his changing views on abortion and other topics to fit his current audience. The keynote speaker was 37-year-old Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio, a Latino and rising star within the Democratic Party. He went after Romney with both barrels. Castro was the first Latino keynote speaker at either convention and was there in part because Obama needs a big turnout among Latinos to offset an expected poor performance among white men and married white women.

Former Ohio governor Ted Strickland really laced into Romney, saying that if he were Santa Claus he'd fire the elves and liquidate the inventory. He also said Romney's money is so unpatriotic it spends the summer in the Cayman Islands and the winter in the Swiss Alps. He blew the roof off and will no doubt be seen frequently on the campaign trail in Ohio this Fall.

The main attraction wasn't a politician, but Michelle Obama, who knew she'd have a tough job topping Ann Romney's much-praised speech in Tampa. Her pitch was that her husband cares about people and that success is not measured by how much money you have, but how much of a difference you make in other people's lives. She talked about her early days with Barack, when they had love but no money and how (hint: unlike Romney) they lived the American Dream of rags to riches. For what it is worth--probably nothing--with a peak tweet rate of 28,000 tweets/minute, she doubled the peak tweet rate during Mitt Romney's acceptance speech. Of course, PTR (Peak Tweet Rate) says nothing about what engineers call signal-to-noise ratio.

Just as Romney used people he had helped as props on stage, so did Obama, but with a twist. His testimonials came not from people he had personally helped, but from people who have already benefited from the Affordable Care Act. For example, Stacey Lihn of Arizona was there with her toddler saying that if Romney wins, her daughter, who has congenital heart disease will be dropped by her insurance company and will die. All things considered, having a little girl on stage who will die if the Republicans repeal Obamacare is probably a more compelling image than Romney helping a 14-year-old boy write his will.

Romney's wealth came under attack, basically with the comment that money in Swiss bank accounts doesn't help create American jobs. A group of female Democratic representatives, including Nancy Pelosi and Nydia Velazquez, a Latina, came on stage to point out that the Lilly Ledbetter Act makes it easier for women to sue when they are paid less than men for the same work.

The roster of speakers says a lot about the Democrats' priorities. Here is what it reveals:

  • Uncompromising support for a woman's right to end an unwanted pregnancy
  • The party is rooted in big cities, hence the long list of mayors who did and will speak
  • Democrats love their representatives and senators while many Republicans distrust theirs
  • The Democratic bench of female stars is very broad and deep
  • The main focus is on speakers from swing states

CNN is reporting that the Democrats are planning to fight Hollywood with Hollywood. The Republicans featured tough old (82) Clint Eastwood on stage. If the report is correct, Thursday the Democrats will have actresses Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman, and Kerry Washington on stage. Assuming they don't flub their lines, the contrast between the Democrats' three young women (one of them Black) and the Republicans' old man speaks volumes about who the parties are targeting.

Conventions Are All Very Tightly Scripted

If you think what people say on stage at a political convention is whatever pops into their heads, you have been watching Clint Eastwood on YouTube too much. Everything said on the stage at the Democratic convention, other than the politicians' personal speeches, is written by a team of four people working in a cramped office deep in the bowels of the convention center. Nothing is left to chance. With the exception of Eastwood's speech, the Republicans operated the same way. If you think of a convention as a Broadway play or a Hollywood movie rather than a political gathering, it all makes sense. That's certainly how the parties think of these events.

Democrats Approve their Platform

Like the Republican platform, the Democratic platform goes on and on and on and on, virtually guaranteeing that almost nobody will read it. Furthermore, like the Republican platform it is all narrative prose rather than clear bulleted lists of what the party wants to do. If either party had produced a two-page platform listing the top 10 things the party wants, many people would have read it. But the Democrats have the same problem the Republicans have: the activists who write the platforms all want to maximize the number of square inches devoted to their cause. The result is a document nobody reads.

Like the Republican document, it is larded with dog whistles to very specific groups. For example, in the education section, rather than just saying the Democrats support universities that serve minorities, it says they support "Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Alaska, Hawaiian Native Institutions, Asian American and Pacific Islander Institutions, and other Minority Serving Institutions." For greater emphasis even common nouns are capitalized. It's almost like German.

Most of the coverage of the party platforms focuses on the same issues we have been hearing for years, including abortion rights, gay rights, bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows, and higher taxes for the rich. A few hot button issues are new, though, including saving Medicare (it was never under attack before) and getting rid of an unprecedented flow of money into politics released by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Nevertheless, the Democratic platform has not been constant over the years. It has wandered to and fro, depending on the spirit of the times.

Politics and Typography

Maybe relating typography to politics is going too far, but it stands out that the Republican platform is orderly. It is two-column, right justified, with a large font. Each of the six chapters starts at the top of an odd-numbered page, like a book. Each page has a page header and a footer with a page number, running from 1 to 54, including a four-page list of credits at the end. It looks very professional and is easy on the eye. Whether it is easy on the stomach depends on your politics.

The Democratic platform is single column, ragged right with a small font and each chapter starting two lines after the previous one ends. It looks more like a high-school term paper written in Microsoft Word and then converted to PDF as is. It is generally harder to read.

Both platforms are hierarchically organized with chapters and sections. The Democratic platform also has subsections, indicating a greater level of detail, The Republican platform puts more emphasis on broad themes. The Republican platform has sidebars that make short, clear policy statements in the middle of some pages. The Democratic platform has sidebars on the left and right on some pages, generally with an anecdote from somebody who was helped by something the Democrats have done.

Summary of the Republican Platform

The Republican platform focuses on traditional American values and personal responsibility. The government should get out of your way and let you make what you can out of your life. It's up to you, not the government. The six chapters in the platform can be summarized as follow. The chapter titles given below are taken exactly from the platforms.

1. Restoring the American Dream: Rebuilding the Economy and Creating Jobs (8 pages)

This chapter is all about the economy, It focuses on jobs, small business, competitiveness in the world, tax relief, balancing the budget, home ownership, trade, and (opposing) card check.

2. We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government (6 pages)

Here we have the Republican position on the Constitution, with sections devoted to amendments one (against laws making churches or Boy Scouts do things they object to), two (for gun ownership), four (against domestic spying by drones), five (against eminent domain), nine (against abortions), and ten (for moving power from the federal government to the states). It is also for a balanced budget amendment, the electoral college, and the flag. It is against an activist judiciary, subjecting U.S. citizen to foreign laws, and voter fraud.

3. America's Natural Resources: Energy, Agriculture and the Environment (5 pages)

A big pitch is made here to develop more of America's coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear power, as well as building the Keystone Pipeline and encouraging hydraulic fracturing. Renewable energy is fine as long as the taxpayers don't have to fund it. The platform says private stewardship of the environment works best and the EPA should be reined in.

4. Reforming Government to Serve the People (9 pages)

Republicans are the party of government reform, starting with changing Medicare from a defined-benefit program to a defined-cost program. Social Security needs to be reformed by giving workers control over their own personal retirement accounts. Government interference in the economy needs to stop. Having foreign governments have influence over the Internet is not acceptable. It must remain under the control of the (U.S.) private sector. Net neutrality is government micromanagement and a bad idea. Protecting too-big-to-fail banks has itself failed. What is needed is to let banks know they could be allowed to fail. TSA has been a failure and needs to be replaced by private companies that could develop new security systems to eliminate airport frisking. Legal immigration is great but illegal immigration must be stopped by building a two-layer fence along the southern border. One-size-fits-all regulation of Indian tribes must be ended. D.C. should not become a state but Puerto Rico is welcome as a state.

5. Renewing American Values to Build Healthy Families Great Schools and Safe Neighborhoods (8 pages)
Traditional marriage is the only legitimate kind. Public assistance programs should encourage work. Obamacare has to go. Medicaid should be turned into a block grant program run by the states. The FDA needs to stop its red tape and tort reform is essential. More choice is needed in education. Criminals should be punished harshly and at length.
6. American Exceptionalism (12 pages)

This chapter deals with foreign policy, starting with a long critique of Obama's foreign policy and an argument for a stronger military and more support for the troops. Specific sections deal with policy issues in the Pacific, South Asia, Taiwan, China, Europe, Russia, and Israel. Very briefly, Vietnam, China, Iran, and Russia are bad. Taiwan and Israel are good. European countries that supported the U.S. in Iraq get a special thank you.

Summary of the Democratic Platform

The Democratic platform focuses on working together, inclusion, and making sure every one has a fair shot at a better life. The platform has five chapters, summarized as follows. Again, the chapter titles are taken directly from the platform.

1. Moving America Forward (2 pages)

This election is a choice between two different paths. Democrats want to strengthen the middle class. Republicans don't. America prospers when we pull together and all Americans get a fair shot. Democrats are the party of inclusion.

2. Rebuilding Middle Class Security (10 pages)

When Obama took office, we were in the deepest recession since the 1930s. Obama moved swiftly to stop the job loss, in part by a big tax cut giving the average family $3600, but it will take time to finish the task. The ACA means insurers can no longer reject sick children, arbitrarily cancel coverage, put annual or lifetime limits on payouts, and charge women more than men. Medicare and Social Security work fine and need not be privatized or radically changed. Education is the key to the future so saving $60 billion by having the government loan money to college students without the banks in the middle was a big success. Everyone has to pay his or her fair share, especially the rich. The country needs to move to sustainable energy and strengthen America's manufacturing by having overseas jobs brought back home. To support future innovation, the government should support scientific research. Workers' rights must be protected. Small businesses have benefited from $55 billion in tax relief though 2011 and will be helped by the ACA in providing health insurance to their workers in 2014.

3. America Works When Everyone Plays by the Same Rules ((3 pages)

Wall Street needs to be forced to play by the same rules as Main Street, and the Dodd-Frank bill will end future bank bailouts. Government regulation to keep companies from shortchanging people is essential, but the rules should be simplified and stripped of special deals for specific industries that lobbyists got written into law in the past. Lobbyists need to be kept on a shorter leash and we need to take action against the Citizens United decision.

5. Greater Together (11 pages)

Democrats reject the Republican concept that people have to fend for themselves with the rich and powerful making the rules. Immigration reform is needed even though illegal immigration is at a 40-year low. Deporting criminals is a high priority but deporting law-abiding undocumented young people is a low priority. Democrats support the DREAM Act. Democrats want to support our veterans and people with disabilities better. The government needs to invest in rural areas, including water, sewers, and broadband. Women's rights need to be protected, including the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Laws that make it harder to vote need to be repealed. D.C. should become a state. People should be allowed to marry anyone they want to. Crime can best be prevented by ending the cycle of poverty in some communities. Protecting the environment is a priority.

5. Stronger in the World, Safer and More Secure At Home (14 pages)

Our foreign policy should be based on dialog and partnerships with other countries, not saber rattling. Obama kept his promise to end the war in Iraq and has severely damaged Al-Qaeda, including killing Osama bin Laden. Democrats support responsibly withdrawing from Afghanistan. They oppose nuclear proliferation and support working with the United Nations to put sanctions on Iran. American alliances with Europe and other regions need to be repaired after the damage inflicted by the Bush administration. America needs to work with China to get it to become more democratic, respect its people, and obey international law. Obama supports a just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. Democrats oppose drug smuggling from South America and people who commit atrocities in Africa. Free trade is fine, but it has to be fair, with all countries protecting the environment and the rights of their workers. To achieve these goals, we must continue to have the strongest military in the world.

Comparison of the Platforms

The two platforms differ in both philosophy and many details. They agree only on the vaguest of generalities, for example, that America should have a strong military. In general, if one had to sum up each platform in a single phrase, it would be "personal responsibility" for the Republicans (which the Democrats would call "you're on your own, buddy"). For the Democrats, it would be "We're all in this together" (which the Republicans would label as "socialism").

The platforms differ on many specifics. Democrats are for same-sex marriage, keeping abortion legal, Obamacare, the DREAM Act, regulation of business, keeping Medicare and Social Security as they are, and strong environmental protection by the government. Republicans oppose all these things. The parties also differ sharply on unions (Democrats for, Republicans against). On taxes, the Democrats want to make the rich pay more; Republicans don't. The Democrats want to take action to stop global warming and protect the environment generally. Republicans don't see global warming as a problem and think the best way to protect the environment is by having land privately owned so the owner has an interest in its protection. On foreign policy, the Democrats focus is achieving peace in the Middle East and the Republicans focus is shipping more weapons to Israel.

Some of the planks have little chance of ever being implemented and would appall the party if actually carried out. For example, the Republicans want to turn airport security over to private companies to stop airport frisking, something they see as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Ignoring the fact that airport security was in the hands of private contractors when the Sept. 11 attacks happened and President George W. Bush signed the law creating TSA as a response to the contractors' failure, how would airport security work without inspecting people for weapons? One approach would be to do what Israel does: look for bombers instead of bombs. In Israel, all passengers go through a lengthy personal screening with trained experts who ask why you are flying, what you plan to do there, who you have talked to recently, and many other intrusive things the Republicans would surely object to much more than a quick personal search.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Florida Bill Nelson* 45% Connie McGillicuddy 38%     Aug 31 Sep 02 PPP
Michigan Debbie Stabenow* 50% Pete Hoekstra 41%     Aug 31 Sep 02 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

Email a link to a friend or share:

---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Sep04 Democrats Reject Large Contributions to Pay for the Convention
Sep04 Voters Say Obama's Job Performance Does Not Warrant Another Term
Sep03 New Features Added Today
Sep03 Where Do We Stand Compared to 2008?
Sep03 Romney Does Not Get a Bump on Intrade
Sep03 No Bump for Romney in Florida Either
Sep03 Opportunities and Dangers for Charlotte
Sep03 Many Voter ID and Early Voting Cases in the Courts
Sep03 Latinos Gain Importance in North Carolina
Sep03 Democrats to Focus on 2012 but also 2016
Sep02 Why Didn't Obama Change Washington?
Sep02 Romney Campaigns in Ohio
Sep02 Valerie Jarrett is Obama's Spine
Sep02 Voting Starts this Month
Sep02 New York Attorney General Subpoenas Bain Documents
Sep01 Judge Allows Ohioans to Vote the Weekend before Election Day
Sep01 Fact Checkers Under Fire
Sep01 Al Gore Calls for an End to the Electoral College
Sep01 What Happens if the Republicans Win?
Aug31 Romney Accepts the Republican Nomination for President
Aug31 Republicans Speak to Latinos but Ignore Immigration
Aug31 Winners and Losers from the Convention
Aug31 Media Invent Euphemisms for Ryan's Speech without Saying He Lied
Aug31 What Obama Must Do in Charlotte
Aug31 Democrats Can't Find Their Voters
Aug30 Ryan Accepts Nomination, Attacks Obama on Medicare
Aug30 Ryan Speech Prompts Media Debate on How to Deal with Lying in Campaigns
Aug30 Republicans Give Women Starring Roles at Convention
Aug30 Race is Crucial in Election Calculations
Aug30 Boehner Has Never Read Republican Platform
Aug30 Turnout Among College Students Could be Crucial
Aug29 Republicans Nominate Romney
Aug29 Romney is Least Popular Nominee in Decades
Aug29 Republican Platform Moves Sharply to the Right
Aug29 Candidates Average 5-Point Bounce After Convention
Aug29 Republican Insiders Split on Top Task for Convention
Aug28 First Day of Republican National Convention Lasts 2 Minutes
Aug28 Seven Factors that Will Determine the Convention's Success or Failure
Aug28 Ann Romney's Speech Tonight May Be the Most Important One
Aug28 Americans More Interested in GOP Platform than Romney's Speech
Aug28 Is 2012 just 2004 All Over Again?
Aug28 Why Do Republicans Say Obama is Divisive?
Aug28 First Day of Republican National Convention Lasts 2 Minutes
Aug28 Seven Factors that Will Determine the Convention's Success or Failure
Aug28 Ann Romney's Speech Tonight May Be the Most Important One
Aug28 Americans More Interested in GOP Platform than Romney's Speech
Aug28 Is 2008 just 2004 All Over Again?
Aug28 Why Do Republicans Say Obama is Divisive?
Aug27 Why Did the Republicans Pick Hurricane-Prone Tampa?
Aug27 What Does Romney Have to Do at the Convention?