Obama 332
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Romney 206
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Dem 49
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Ties 3
GOP 48
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  • Strongly Dem (208)
  • Likely Dem (33)
  • Barely Dem (91)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (25)
  • Likely GOP (53)
  • Strongly GOP (128)
270 Electoral votes needed to win Map algorithm explained
New polls: KY VA
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: IN NC
PW logo Romney Defends Hidden Video Remarks Another Poll Shows Warren Taking Lead
Bonus Quote of the Day Romney Explains Obama Voters
Flashback of the Day Romney Leads in Indiana

News from the Votemaster

Americans Think Obama Will Win

A new Wapo/ABC poll shows that 59% of the voters think President Obama will be reelected vs. 34% who think Mitt Romney will win. Note that this is a completely different question than who the voter supports. The polling data on who people will vote for gave Obama a mere 3% lead, 49% to 46%. In other words, there are millions of voters who want Romney to win but don't expect him to do so.

Another take on this is to look at the betting site intrade.com where bettors are giving Obama a 67% chance and Romney a 33% chance. That is 2 to 1. Romney's problem is that he has tanked in the past week, presumably due to the furor around his criticism of President Obama, before he knew all the facts concerning the riots in Egypt and Libya, where four American diplomats were killed. Here is a chart of Romney's chances for the past 30 days.


Democratic spinners are saying expectations will drive the election because Republicans will not want to vote for a loser, so they will stay home. Republican spinners claim Democrats will stay home because they think it is in the bag. Probably neither is true with 7 more weeks and four debates to go. A lot can still happen.

Nevertheless, when the conventional wisdom becomes "Romney's going to lose" it has concrete effects. Who wants to donate money or pound the pavement for a losing campaign? Reporters begin to interpret events in this context ("he needed to win the debate big but failed"). Conservatives grumble. Stories about internal infighting emerge. It's a spiral downhill. Romney needs to do something and do it fast.

Voters Dislike Obamacare but Still Think Obama Cares

Many polls have shown that the voters dislike Obamacare (although when asked why, about 10-15% oppose it from left--they want a single-payer system like Canada has). Nevertheless, several recent polls show the voters trust Obama more than Romney on health care. How can that be? For starters, Romney has said he will repeal and replace Obamacare, but he has refused to say what he will replace it with. Some voters may think the replacement will be worse than Obamacare.

Second, although Obamacare in the abstract is not popular, many of the specific items in it are. Some have already taken effect so people are getting the benefit of them. For example, Obamacare requires insurance companies to accept all young adults up to 26 on their parents' plan and 3 million of them have taken advantage of this provision. Another popular provision is that insurance companies may not refuse to insure children, even if they have an expensive preexisting condition. Also, since Aug. 1, 2012, some forms of preventive care, including HIV and HPC testing, mammograms, and colonoscopies are free. People who have been informed of this by their insurance company may not want Romney to take these benefits away. Nevertheless, Paul Ryan reiterated that Republicans will start the process of repealing Obamacare on their first day in office.

Nevada a Tough Nut for Romney to Crack

If there is any state that should be a gimme for Mitt Romney it is Nevada. Unemployment is 12% there, the highest in the nation. Furthermore, the state has a large Mormon population and Romney is doing as well with Mormons as Obama is with blacks. Yet our current polling average puts Obama ahead 49% to 46%. There appear to be several reasons. First, the state's substantial Latino population is hostile to Romney's stand on immigration. Second, there is a small Democratic registration margin and most voters support their own party, no matter what. Third, the Republicans' ground game so far (getting more voters registered) hasn't been very good. Romney's problem certainly has not been lack of attention--he has visited the state 24 times. Nevertheless, unless something happens fast, he is going to have to spend more time, energy, and money in Nevada, all of which are badly needed in Virginia, Florida, and Ohio.

How to Hack Voters' Brains

Modern campaigns collect vast amounts of data from many (commercial) sources to get a better idea of whether individual voters will go to the polls and if so, who they will vote for. Magazine subscriptions, ownership of certain products (e.g., guns vs. iPhones) and things like that are put into sophisticated mathematical models to predict what a voter is probably thinking. Now campaigns are going a step further and using behavioral psychology to influence voters. Here are some of the techniques being used.

  • Make them visualize going to the polls by having them make a plan in advance
  • Make voting seem cool by telling them everybody is doing it
  • Predict what they are likely to do using microtargeting and give this to campaign workers who visit them
  • Use trick questions like "Are your neighbors racist?" to determine actual racial bias
  • Let them know they are being watched (who votes is public information in many states)

These ideas are just a few of those discussed in Sasha Issenberg's book "The Victory Lab."

Activists Try to Get Voters to Acquire ID Cards

The Democrats' attack on the voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and elsewhere is two pronged. First, they are fighting the laws in court. Second, they are trying to get as many voters as possible to acquire the necessary ID cards. This requires educating the voters that they are needed and helping them obtain birth certificates and other documents needed to apply for the cards. In Pennsylvania, the case about the ID cards was argued before the state Supreme Court on Thursday, but the Court is divided, with three Democratic appointees and three Republican appointees. If the decision is 3-3, the lower court ruling (which said the ID cards are constitutional) stands.

Three Republican Presidential Electors May Not Vote for Romney

When the voters go to the polls on Nov. 6, they are actually voting for electors pledged to the candidate they voted for. Presidential electors are actual people, with spouses, kids, dogs, opinions, and the rest of the stuff that goes with being people. They are not entries on some National Excel Spreadsheet. In some states electors are elected, just like convention delegates; in others, they are chosen by the state party. They will meet in their respective state capitals on Dec. 17 and cast their electoral votes for President. These electoral votes will be counted in a joint session of the newly elected Congress on Jan. 3, 2013.

Twenty-four states have laws requiring the electors to vote for the popular vote winner in their state (except Maine and Nebraska, which split electoral votes by congressional district), but if an elector decides to vote for someone else, that vote is still valid. Such an elector is called a "faithless elector," and could be punished, but none has ever been. In the other states, electors may legally vote for anyone they want to. Throughout history, 82 faithless electors have voted for the "wrong" candidate on their own initiative. Here is the list of faithless electors since WWII.

Year Note
2004 One Minnesota Democratic elector (accidentally?) voted for Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards.
2000 D.C. Democratic elector Barbara Lett-Simmons did not vote, as a protest for D.C's lack of statehood
1988 Lloyd Bentsen got 1 EV from a faithless elector in West Virginia
1976 Washington Republican elector Mike Padden voted for Ronald Reagan
1972 Virginia Republican elector Roger MacBride voted for Libertarian John Hospers
1968 North Carolina Republican elector Lloyd Bailey voted for George Wallace
1960 Oklahoma Republican elector Henry Irwin voted for Harry Byrd
1956 Alabama Democratic elector W.F. Turner voted for Walter Jones
1948 Tennessee Democratic elector Preston Parks voted for Strom Thurmond

While the parties try to pick electors they can trust, this year apparently Ron Paul supporters have managed to get themselves onto the slates that are supposed to vote for Mitt Romney, if they are chosen. Now three of them have come out and said they may not vote for Romney. There may be other stealth Paul supporters still in hiding, as Paul took control of five state caucuses. Others may be pretending to be Romney supporters but are not. There is no way to know if any will be faithless until the electoral votes are actually counted. If Romney were to win just over 270 electoral votes and enough electors were faithless to put him under 270 (even if he still had more than Obama), the President would be elected by the new House, with every state having one vote and the new Vice President would be elected by the new Senate. Conceivably we could have a President Romney and a Vice President Biden. Only twice has the House elected the President, in 1800 and 1824.

Campaign Ad Spending Passes $600 million

Radio and television ad spending by the campaigns has already hit $606 million, and the real campaign has just started. Romney has spent $319 million to Obama's $287 million, giving Romney a slight, but not overwhelming advantage. This does not include spending by superPACs and other outside groups. More than half of it has gone into three states: Florida (Romney $60 million, Obama $61 million), Ohio (Romney $53 million, Obama $64 million), and Virginia (Romney $42 million, Obama $48 million). Those numbers give a clear indication that these three states are both candidates' top priorities.

Today's Presidential Polls

Yet another poll shows Obama with a lead in Virginia, one of the most crucial swing states of all. Losing Virginia could doom Romney's campaign, which is why he has put so much money into the state, along with Ohio and Florida. Romney's fundamental problem is the state's changing demographics: too many northerners have moved into Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William counties near D.C. and they have brought their old political opinions with them. An additional problem is the presence of former congressman Virgil Goode on the ballot. He is far to the right of Romney and could siphon off 1-2% of Romney's vote, which in a tight race could matter.

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Kentucky 39% 53%   Sep 11 Sep 13 SurveyUSA
Virginia 51% 46%   Sep 13 Sep 16 PPP

Today's Senate Polls

We have two new polls in the tight Massachusetts Senate race. Both have Elizabeth Warren ahead of Sen. Scott Brown. In one case she is up +2 points and the other +6 points. If we average them, she is ahead +4 points, her biggest lead so far. Still, this is a very volatile race and anything could still happen here.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Florida Bill Nelson* 47% Connie McGillicuddy 40%     Sep 12 Sep 12 Rasmussen
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren 48% Scott Brown* 46%     Sep 13 Sep 16 PPP
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren 50% Scott Brown* 44%     Sep 06 Sep 13 Western New England U.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Sep16 For Romney, Now Is the Time to Make His Case
Sep16 Democrats Winning on Medicare
Sep16 Obama Getting Just Enough White Voters
Sep16 Obama Maintains a Huge Lead with Jewish Voters
Sep16 SuperPACs Go Downticket
Sep16 Libertarian Candidate Gets on the Pennsylvania Ballot
Sep15 Right-Wing Christians Behind Anti-Islam Film that Caused Riots
Sep15 Protests against the United States Spread throughout the Muslim World
Sep15 In New Hampshire, Voter Registration Battles Are about College Students
Sep15 More Jobs Created During Obama's Term than during Either Bush Term
Sep15 Romney Surge Needed for Republicans to Capture Senate
Sep15 Romney Asked Potential Veeps for Ten Years of Tax Returns
Sep14 Romney Doubles Down on Foreign Policy
Sep14 Advice from Conservatives to Romney
Sep14 Parties Settle on Early Voting in Florida
Sep14 The L Word Banned in Wisconson
Sep14 The L Word Banned in Wisconsin
Sep14 Fed To Buy Bonds, Stock Market Surges
Sep14 Married Voters Like Romney, Singles Like Obama
Sep13 Obama: Romney Shoots First, Aims Later
Sep13 Republicans Are Deeply Worried about Ohio
Sep13 Voter ID Laws Could Affect Downticket Races
Sep13 Florida Finds Far Fewer Noncitizens on the Voter Rolls than Expected
Sep13 Libertarian Gary Johnson on the Ballot in 47 States
Sep13 Incomes Are Back to 1989 Levels
Sep13 The Speech Ann Romney Didn't Give
Sep12 Romney Losing Men
Sep12 Biden and Ryan Can't Wait for their Debate
Sep12 Three Under-the-Radar Senate Races Get Attention
Sep12 Obama Won't Meet Netanyahu in New York
Sep12 Romney's Wealth Could Be a Problem in the South
Sep12 Ryan Buys Ads for His House Race
Sep12 Romney Wants to Replace Obamacare but Doesn't Know with What
Sep12 Some Questions for the Debates
Sep11 Obama Gets Substantial Bounce from the Convention
Sep11 What's Going on in the Nine Swing States
Sep11 Three Factors that will Determine Who Wins the Presidency
Sep11 Economy Is Doing Better in Swing States than Nationally
Sep11 Could Romney Be Swiftboated on National Security?
Sep11 In Maine, the Republican Party is Supporting the Democrat
Sep11 Battle for the House to Begin This Week
Sep11 Of Tuna and Poverty
Sep11 Obama Gets Substantial Bounce from the Convention
Sep11 What's Going on in the Nine Swing States
Sep11 Three Factors that will Determine Who Wins the Presidency
Sep11 Economy Is Doing Better in Swing States than Nationally
Sep11 Could Romney Be Swiftboated on National Security?
Sep11 In Maine, the Republican Party is Supporting the Democrat
Sep11 Battle for the House to Begin This Week
Sep11 Of Tuna and Poverty