Obama 328
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Ties 4
Romney 206
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Dem 52
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Ties 1
GOP 47
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Can Romney Duplicate Bush's 2004 Path on the Electoral College?

In 2004, George Bush won 31 states and 286 electoral votes. An obvious question is: "Can Romney follow Bush's path?" The answer appears to be no. If Romney were to win all the Bush states, he would have 292 electoral votes due to changes from the 2010 census. For starters, New Mexico looks hopeless and Iowa not much better bringing Romney from 292 to 281, still enough to win though. Increasingly, Ohio looks tough for him. Without its 18 electoral votes, he is down to 263 and a loss. Furthermore, Virginia is looking ever more Democratic. Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and North Carolina are tossups now. Unless something changes quickly, the Bush path is not going to work for Romney.

Republicans Advise Romney To Be Himself in Debates

Mitt Romney has changed his positions so many times that nobody knows who he is and what he stands for. Republican operatives are advising him to just be himself in the debates. He should claim to be a successful businessman and governor and just talk about himself and his vision for the country. So far that has proved quite difficult for him, however. But to win, he has to come off as a sincere, credible leader. Just attacking Obama day and night over the economy won't get him where he needs to be.

Democrats are already trying to raise the debate stakes for Romney by pointing out the fact that Romney is a very experienced debater, having participated in 20 primary debates this year, while Obama hasn't debated since 2008 and is a bit rusty. But it is true that Romney needs a clear win, not a tie, in the first debate to start getting momentum.

Romney Taking the Bus this Week

While Mitt Romney's normal mode of transportation is the chartered aircraft, this week he is taking the bus. In particular, he is planning to barnstorm through Ohio, a state he absolutely must win and in which he now appears to trail. He will travel around the state for three days, stopping in Cleveland, Dayton, Columbus, and Toledo. He hopes to be able to connect with the voters after spending the weekend in Southern California at high-dollar fundraisers with wealthy donors.

It's Triage Time for the National Committees

For many congressional candidates, especially ones running for the first time, the lifeblood of their campaign is financing from the parties' national committees, the DCCC and NRCC, respectively. Now that the national conventions and Labor Day have come and gone, the national committees are taking stock. Those candidates deemed able to win on their own won't get any money. Those expected to lose no matter what won't, either. Only those whose victory depends on national money will get financing. It won't be pretty for the people cut off but the parties are hard headed about this. In some cases, superPACs and others may disagree with the parties' judgment and come to the aid of the candidates cut off, but it is up to the candidates to arrange this. The chairman of the DCCC is Rep. Steve Israels (D-NY). The NRCC is run by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX). Neither of these is in any danger, so both can devote all their time to helping other candidates in need.

The parties also have Senate committees, the DSCC, chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and the NRSC, chaired by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). They perform similar roles but are not as critical as senators and senatorial candidates are much better known than ones running for the House and are often better at scrounging up money, so they are not as dependent on the national committees as House candidates. This is also true for first-time candidates since nobody gets to be a Senate nominee in a competitive state without a bruising primary and winning that means the candidate is capable of fundraising.

Congress May Let the Voters Decide What To Do about the Fiscal Cliff

If Congress does the one thing it is really good at--nothing--the Bush tax cuts will expire at midnight Dec. 31, 2012. In addition, automatic budget cuts will take effect for both social programs and defense as a result of Congress kicking the can down the road on the budget. Nobody wants to go over the fiscal cliff but Democrats and Republicans have totally different visions of what should be done to avert the crisis. More and more voices in Congress are saying: let the voters decide. What this means in practice is that if President Obama is reelected and the Democrats keep control of the Senate, mainstream Republicans in the House will side with the Democrats and approve some tax increases. The tea party Republicans will howl at the moon, but assuming the Democrats pick up some seats, they plus the mainstream Republicans will have enough votes to move the bill. Senate Republicans will understand they have to go along with the deal. If Romney is elected President and the Republicans capture the Senate, then Democrats will understand that they have to accept tax cuts for the rich.

If the verdict is mixed, it gets dicier. With Obama as President and Republican control of Congress, Obama could play hardball and just go over the cliff. Then in early January he could announce that he is willing to sign a bill with tax cuts for the middle class but not for incomes over $250,000. If the Republicans refuse the deal, then all taxes will stay at the levels they were during the Clinton administration, something the Republicans desperately want to avoid. It could get messy. Both sides hope the voters will give them a clear mandate and the other side will be forced to concede.

Distrust of the Media at an All Time High

A new Gallup poll shows that 60% of Americans have little or no trust in the media. In contrast, in the 1970s, trust in the media was as high as 72%. Republicans think the media are in the tank for Obama. When they say this, they are probably thinking only of the New York Times, not the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, or Rush Limbaugh, all of which have bigger audiences than the Times. Democrats who don't trust the media feel that when Republicans lie, the media generally ignore it, even though the reporters know the truth. Nevertheless, more Democrats trust the media (58%) than Republicans (26%).

Forty years ago, there were fewer news outlets and most people got their news from Walter Cronkite, the Huntley-Brinkley report, or Howard K. Smith, all of whom tried very hard to be neutral. Also, there was not much controversy about the general role of government in America and politicians who lied got called on it fast. Now with a vast choice of news sources, people tend to live in an echo chamber of their own choosing and never hear opposing views. They tend to assume everyone outside their bubble is hostile to them without even knowing what is being said out there.

Eleven Governor's Mansions Up for Grabs in November

While most of the attention this year has been on the presidential and Senate races, 11 states are having elections for governor. Of these, eight are currently governed by a Democrat and three by a Republican. Five of the positions are open (four Democratic ones and one Republican one). Here is a brief rundown of the races. For more, see this article. Let us first examine the eight states where the governor is a Democrat.

Delaware. Gov Jack Markell (D-DE) is the head of the National Governor's Association and the only Jewish governor in the country. He is expected to cruise to an easy reelection against former insurance executive Jeff Cragg.

Missouri. Gov. Jay Nixon (D-MO) is running for a second term against local businessman Dave Spence, who is funding his own campaign. Nixon can point to the jobs he has brought to the state and the budgets he signed without tax increases. Spence once claimed to have a college degree in economics when it was actually in home economics. Romney is likely to carry the state but Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is also favored to win. Still, Nixon is the favorite here.

Montana. With the incumbent, Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D-MT), term limited, Montana is an open-seat race. While there are more registered Republicans than Democrats in the state, most of the statewide office holders are Democrats, but generally of a conservative bent. The Democratic candidate is Attorney General Steve Bullock and the Republican is former congressman, Rick Hill. The state has a budget surplus and a big issue is what to do with it.

New Hampshire. The voters picked the candidates just last week, so the race has barely begun. The Democrat is former state Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan. The Republican is Ovide Lamontagne, a lawyer and former tobacco company lobbyist who has previously run and lost for governor and senator. The only poll shows that the voters don't know anything about either candidate. This is an open seat because Gov. John Lynch (D-NH) is retiring. The term is only 2 years in New Hampshire.

North Carolina. Democrats have controlled the governorship here for two decades, but the current one, Gov. Bev Perdue (D-NC) is so unpopular she is not running for a second term. Running in her place is Lt. Gov. Walton Dalton (D-NC), the next in line. He is being challenged by former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory. Expect lots of outside money to pour into the state.

Vermont. Gov. Peter Shumlin (D-VT) is a progressive in the mold of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and is a supporter of a single-payer health insurance system. He is the clear favorite in a race against state senator Randy Brook (R).

Washington. With the presidential and Senate races a done deal, the governor's race is the one getting all the attention. It features former congressman Jay Inslee (D) against Attorney General Rob McKenna (R). In this blue state, Inslee is leading. The current governor, Christine Gregoire, is retiring.

West Virginia. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV) got his job in a special election after Gov. Joe Manchin was elected to the Senate. In that special election, he faced businessman Bill Maloney, who is running again. Tomblin has been careful to keep his distance from Obama, since Obama's positions on coal are unpopular in the state. With a larger Democratic turnout in a presidential election year than in a special election, Tomblin is the clear favorite.

Now let us look at the three states with a Republican governor.

Indiana. In 2008, Gov. Mitch Daniels (R-IN) was reelected even as Barack Obama carried the state. Now he is term limited and going off to run Purdue University, leaving an open seat behind. Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) is the Republican candidate against John Gregg (D) former speaker of the state House. A Libertarian, Rupert Boneham, is also in the mix. Pence is favored.

North Dakota. Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R-ND) got his job when Gov. John Hoeven was elected to the Senate. Now he is running for a full term. He is running against the minority leader of the state Senate, Ryan Taylor. Like Montana, the state budget is in surplus (due to an oil boom in the western part of the state) and a major issue is what to do with the money. For example, each candidate has his own property tax relief plan.

Utah. Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) faced a tea party rebellion but staved it off. Now he faces Gen. Peter Cooke. Given how Republican Utah is, Herbert is the overwhelming favorite.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Colorado 51% 45%   Sep 20 Sep 23 PPP
Florida 50% 46%   Sep 20 Sep 23 PPP
Montana 42% 51%   Sep 17 Sep 19 Mason Dixon
Nebraska 40% 51%   Sep 17 Sep 20 Wiese Research Assoc.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Nebraska Bob Kerrey 42% Deb Fischer 52%     Sep 17 Sep 20 Wiese Research Assoc.
Pennsylvania Bob Casey* 49% Tom Smith 42%     Sep 19 Sep 19 Rasmussen

* Denotes incumbent

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Previous Headlines

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