Aug. 22 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 269   McCain 256   Ties 13
Senate Dem 56   GOP 43   Ties 1
House Dem 242   GOP 193  

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PW logo The Money Is On Biden Turnout Among Unmarried Women Key for Obama
WSJ Retracts Report Kaine is Chosen Franken Moves Ahead of Coleman in Senate Race
Senate Republicans Fail in Fundraising Effort Edwards Said to Be On Short List

News from the Votemaster

Obama Has Selected His Running Mate

Yesterday Barack Obama announced that he had selected his running mate. He just wouldn't say who he or she was. He said: "I want somebody who's independent, somebody who can push against my preconceived notions and challenge me so we have got a robust debate in the White House." Could he have picked Dick Cheney? The convention starts Monday so he'll probably make the announcement today or tomorow. Several Republican sources say McCain will pick Mitt Romney (but see below).

Fusion Tickets: A Bad Idea

Some people are urging Barack Obama to choose Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and John McCain to pick Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) as their Veeps. Hagel is a Republican, albeit one critical of the war in Iraq. Lieberman used to be a Democrat until he lost the Democratic primary in 2006 and then ran and won as an "Independent Democrat." History shows choosing someone not of your party can be a disaster.

Case 1: In 1840, Whig William Henry Harrison chose John Tyler as his running mate. Technically, Tyler was a Whig, but it was a recent and not terribly convincing conversion. Harrison won and his inaugural speech droned on for two hours on a cold and wet day. He caught pneumonia and died a month later. Tyler became President and instantly reverted to his old Democratic self, vetoing all the legislation sent to him by the Whig congressional majority. The Whigs were infuriated.

Case 2: The second fusion ticket was even worse. In 1864, Republican Abraham Lincoln chose a southern Democrat, Tennessee senator Andrew Johnson, as Veep. The idea was to attract votes in border states that were still part of the union. Lincoln was assassinated six weeks after his second term began. Johnson took over and began acting like the Southern Democrat he was. He clashed with the Republicans in Congress over everything. They wanted to punish the breakaway states severely and expand the rights of the former slaves. Johnson wanted no part of this and was happy to allow the southern states to disenfranchise the former slaves. He strongly opposed the 14th amendment, which grants all Americans equal protection under the law. The conflict escalated to the point that Congress passed legislation (over his veto) forbidding him from removing from office any Senate-approved cabinet officer until the Senate had approved his successor. He did it anyway and was impeached and came within one vote of being convicted for it. He tried to get the Democratic nomination in 1868 and failed.

If Obama were to pick Hagel and die in office, Hagel would surely govern as the conservative Republican he has always been, infuriating the Democrats. If McCain were to pick Lieberman and die in office, Lieberman would surely govern as the moderate Democrat he has always been. He is pro choice, supports gay rights, and all the rest. Republicans would be horrified. If a President wants to demonstrate his willingness to work across the aisle, the best way is to appoint members of the other party to his cabinet. Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton all had one or more cabinet members from the other party. The big advantage of this is that a President can still fire a cabinet Secretary who has gone too far; he can't fire the Vice President.

McCain's Houses Become a Major Issue

John McCain was recently asked how many houses he had and he didn't know. Later, a staff member said there were at least four. New data show that the McCain family owns at least eight houses. All are in his wife's name or in the names of their minor children, or are owned by trusts or companies they control. One is their real home, a "ranch" in Sedona, Arizona. In addition they have a three-bedroom condo in Arlington Virginia, where they live when the Senate is in session and a house in La Jolla, CA, where Cindy McCain's aunt lives. Politico reports that the McCains also own three condos in Phoenix and two beachfront condos in the chic suburb of Coronado just outside San Diego. However, other reports put the number of McCain's properties at 10.

The Democrats are going to use the fact that McCain has so many houses he can't remember them all to pummel him as totally out of touch with the economic reality facing millions of Americans who don't own any houses or who own one and are scared to death of losing it. If he picks Mitt Romney as his running mate, a completely reasonable choice given Romney's experience in politics and the business community's respect for him, the problem gets much worse. Cindy McCain is worth a mere $100 million. Romney is worth over $200 million. Obama has had trouble connecting with struggling working class people in Appalachia. It doesn't take a lot of creativity to imagine the ads Obama will be running in West Virginia before long: "The people vs. the plutocrats." Even if McCain has already chosen Romney, if the flap over the houses stays in the news for another week, he may be forced to reconsider and choose someone with a tad less in the bank, in which case the odds go up for Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN).

Colorado Will be a Key Swing State

CQ Politics has a good rundown on the election in Colorado, which is expected to join the group of key swing states. Many Colorado voters are attracked to John McCain's "maverick" image. On the other hand, the large Latino population tends to go for any Democrat. There will be a big battle here, and with the Democratic convention in Denver (no accident, by the way), the Democrats may get a boost.

New Fact Checking Sites

There are many rumors and a lot of disinformation floating around about both Barack Obama and John McCain. Two new Websites, Obama Fact Check and McCain Fact Check try to dispel some of the falsehoods swirling around each candidate. There are links to them on the Poliitical Websites page in case you need them later.

Today's Polls

Lots of new polls today. ARG has a poll out confirming yesterday's Rasmussen poll in New Hampshire: it is a statistical tie there. Both pollsters put Obama 1 point ahead. Another key swing state is Nevada. Research 2000 has it a statistical tie there, too, with Obama leading 44% to 43%. Both states have a strong libertarian streak and McCain's "maverick" image plays well there. Michigan, in contrast, is a bread-and-butter economic issues state, and Obama is maintaing his lead there. he's ahead 46% to 39% now according to Ann Selzer (who is based in Des Moines, IA, but occasionally does polls in neighboring states). Even Florida is close again, with McCain's lead dwindling to 1 point according to a new ARG poll. It looks like quite a few states are going to be very close again this year. But not all. McCain leads by 23 points in Kansas and Obama leads by 10 in Minnesota. Even if McCain picks Pawlenty, Minnesota will be a tough nut to crack.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Florida 46% 47% Aug 18 Aug 20 ARG
Kansas 35% 58% Aug 18 Aug 20 SurveyUSA
Michigan 46% 39% Aug 17 Aug 20 Selzer
Minnesota 48% 38% Aug 07 Aug 17 U. of Minnesota
New Hampshire 46% 45% Aug 18 Aug 20 ARG
New Mexico 47% 41% Aug 20 Aug 20 Rasmussen
Nevada 44% 43% Aug 18 Aug 20 Research 2000
Pennsylvania 45% 40% Aug 19 Aug 19 Rasmussen

The current electoral vote score is Obama 269 McCain 256. If McCain wins Virginia, it is a tie at 269 to 269. In that case, the newly elected House of Representatives chooses the President, with each state having one vote. That means the 53 California representatives vote as a delegation and whoever comes up on top gets California's one vote. In South Dakota it is easier. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) just sits down and decides who she wants to vote for. If her state goes for McCain by 30 points, she could still vote for Obama claiming "the people of South Dakota elected me to represent them because they trust my judgement" but she would be under immense pressure from both sides. There are other states where there is only one representative who face the same problem. In Alaska, there is a fierce primary on the Republican side and then a tough general election battle after than. The issue of how the representative would vote in case of an electoral college tie could become a campaign issue. Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming also have a single representative.

We have three Senate polls today, all roughly as expected. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) is cruising to an easy reelection in Kansas. Jeanne Shaheen (D) is well ahead of Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) in New Hampshire, and Rep. Tom Udall (D) has a big lead over Rep. Steve Pearce (R) in New Mexico.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Kansas Jim Slattery 31% Pat Roberts* 58% Aug 18 Aug 20 SurveyUSA
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen 52% John Sununu* 41% Aug 18 Aug 20 ArkansasG
New Mexico Tom Udall 51% Steve Pearce 41% Aug 20 Aug 20 Rasmussen

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