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Expanded Poll Graphs Now Available

So many polls are being reported now that the poll graphs are getting cluttered and unreadable. Starting today, when you click on a state, for example, Colorado, the first graph will show only the Sept-Oct-Nov polls on an expanded scale. Below it is the graph of all polls for the entire year. Just click on any (swing) state on the map to see this.

What Biden Needs To Do Tonight

Since at least one former occupant of the office (John Nance Garner) said the vice presidency was not worth a bucket of warm piss, one might think the vice-presidential debate tonight is worth even less. But due to President Obama's lackluster performance in the first debate and his failure to point out that what Mitt Romney was saying on stage was often completely opposite to what he has been saying on the campaign trail all year, tonight's debate has taken on great importance. If Biden "wins" it could stanch the bleeding. If he loses, the media will report the score as Republicans 2, Democrats 0.

What should Biden do? Some people are urging him to call Romney and Ryan liars but that could easily turn off independent and muddled voters. As an alternative, Matt Miller has written a synopsis of what Biden needs to do. Basically, what he should say is that Romney governed as a reasonable, moderate governor of Massachusetts, enacting Romneycare, the model for Obamacare. But when he hit the Republican primaries, he moved very sharply to the right, repudiating his own health-care plan, flipping his position on abortion, and generally trying to erase everything he did in Massachusetts. What would he do as President? Cut taxes for the rich? Defund Planned Parenthood? Who knows? The stakes are too great to let him win and find out later. A careful walk through of Romney's history and how he has kowtowed to the Paul Ryans of the Republican Party might do the job.

Of course, other people have advice. David Brooks suggests that Biden should not focus on the fact that Ryan's budget does not add up. People can't do simple arithmetic, and certainly not with 12-digit numbers. Instead, Biden should focus on the moral issue of throwing granny under the bus. Ryan's budgetary knowledge won't help him there.

Ryan has a different task. He has to come over as a young reformer intent on fixing a broken system. Since his plan to replace Medicare with a voucher system is wildly unpopular, though, he has his work cut out for him.

"Don't scratch your ear, even if it itches" is the advice candidates get from their debate coaches. The problem is the split screen that all the networks use. So even when a candidate is not speaking, 60 million people are looking at him and any tic or strange movement could spell defeat in November. In a slightly more rational world, scratching your ear would not mean you don't get to be Vice President, but in our world that's how it is.

Forget the National Polls, It's All about Nine States

Despite Mitt Romney's post-debate bump, the fundamentals of the presidential race have not changed. Everything comes down to six big swing states (Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Colorado) as well as three smaller ones (Nevada, Iowa, and New Hampshire). The result is a race in which both campaigns are ignoring 41 states. Romney's path to the White House is still very limited. He has to win Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and probably Virginia to get to 270. If Obama hangs onto Wisconsin--a traditionally blue state--and wins the two western swing states, both of which are historically trending blue, he needs only one of the four biggest swing states. Currently, he still has a substantial lead in Ohio, without which no Republican has ever been elected President.

Fight over Provisional Ballots Expected to Go to Court in Ohio

Ohio is the new Florida. It will be ground zero for legal challenges from now to election day and probably beyond. A case involving whether the state can prevent all voters except military families from voting on the weekend before the election is already headed to the Supreme Court. Now a second case is headed for the courts. This one concerns provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct due to poll worker error. Democrats think they should be counted; Republicans are opposed to counting them, The case will soon be heard by the Sixth Circuit and may also end up in the Supreme Court. If election administrators would just try to run honest elections and not use their offices for partisan advantage, these problems would not come up, but such is not the case. Maybe the U.S. really has to rethink the idea of having partisan elected officials run elections. The temptation to engage in monkey business is just overpowering.

Why Did It Take So Long for Romney V2.0 to Repudiate Romney V1.0?

Mitt Romney V1.0 ("the severe conservative") has been upgraded to Mitt Romney V2.0 ("the Massachusetts moderate"). The question Stu Rothenberg asks is not "How come?" but "Why did it take so long?" It is a truism of American politics that politicians run to the extremes in the primaries and run to the center in the general election. But why did Romney wait until the first debate to do this?

Rothenberg has a couple of reasons. For one, the right never trusted Romney from day 1 so a quick turnaround would only confirm their worst fears. Some of them might stay home and pray for an Obama win in 2012 so a real conservative could run in 2016. Another reason is that fundamentally, Romney is a businessman who likes to make deals, even if they require compromises. To many people in the modern Republican Party, "compromise" is just a synonym for "treachery" or maybe even "treason." Under these conditions, it is understandable that Romney would wait as long as possible before announcing he might be willing to work with the Democrats to get things done.

Jamie Dimon Supports Higher Taxes for the Rich

Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, the nation's largest bank, has said he has no problem paying higher taxes, including higher capital gains taxes, to put the country on better economic footing. Dimon also supports the Simpson-Bowles report, which cuts spending but also raises new revenue, in a ratio of 3:1. Dimon also feels that having more equality is good for America.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Florida 49% 45%   Oct 01 Oct 09 U. of North Florida
Maine 51% 37%   Sep 24 Sep 28 Pan Atlantic SMS
Montana 41% 52%   Oct 08 Oct 10 PPP
New Hampshire 48% 48%   Oct 09 Oct 09 Rasmussen
New Mexico 54% 43%   Oct 08 Oct 08 Rasmussen
Nevada 47% 46%   Oct 03 Oct 08 SurveyUSA
Nevada 51% 47%   Oct 08 Oct 10 PPP
Ohio 46% 42%   Oct 07 Oct 09 Zogby
Pennsylvania 51% 46%   Oct 09 Oct 09 Rasmussen
Rhode Island 58% 32%   Sep 26 Oct 05 Brown U.
Wisconsin 51% 49%   Oct 09 Oct 09 Rasmussen

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Maine Cynthia Dill 12% Charlie Summers 24% Angus King 50% Sep 24 Sep 28 Pan Atlantic SMS
Montana Jon Tester* 45% Denny Rehberg 43%     Oct 08 Oct 10 PPP
Nevada Shelley Berkley 44% Dean Heller* 47%     Oct 08 Oct 10 PPP
Nevada Shelley Berkley 45% Dean Heller* 48%     Oct 08 Oct 08 Rasmussen
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 38% Josh Mandel 37%     Oct 07 Oct 09 Zogby
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 42% Josh Mandel 38%     Oct 05 Oct 08 SurveyUSA
Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse* 59% Barry Hinckley 30%     Sep 26 Oct 05 Brown U.

* Denotes incumbent