Oct. 31 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 364   McCain 171   Ties 3
Senate Dem 59   GOP 41  
House Dem 251   GOP 183   Ties 1

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Presidential polls today: AZ CA CO FL IA IN KY LA MI MN MT NC NH NJ OH OK PA SC TX VA WI RSS
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO FL IA MO NV NM NC OH VA GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA SMS

PW logo A Graphical Look at Past Elections Research 2000: Arizona is Very Tight
SurveyUSA: Obama Blow Out in New Hampshire Obama Dominates on Radio
Obama Expands Ad Buy to New States Quote of the Day

News from the Votemaster

Obama Infomercial Drew 33 million Viewers

The 30-minute "infomercial" Barack Obama ran on Wednesday drew 26 million viewers on the major networks according to Nielsen, which compiles TV ratings. The total audience on all networks was 33 million.

Early Voting Data Are Starting to Come in

Several organizations are collecting data on early voting, which is possible in about 30 states this year. One of them is EVIC at Reed College in Oregon. In North Carolina, almost 1 million Democrats have already voted, but only half a million Republicans. In Georgia, 1.4 million people (25% of the electorate) have already voted, with black turnout especially high (33% have already voted). Data for other states are available on the EVIC Website.

George Mason University also has a Website with early voting data. It reports that 20 million people have already voted nationwide.

CNN has an interactive map showing the number of early votes and absentee votes already cast. In New Mexico, for example, 194,000 Democrats and 110,000 Republicans have already voted. In another swing state, Nevada, the data are available for only two counties, Clark (Las Vegas) and Washoe (Reno). In these two combined, 202,000 Democrats and 119,00 Republicans have already voted.

In Florida, blacks and elderly voters are turning out in droves, but younger voters aren't showing up yet. In the first nine days of voting, 1.4 million votes have been cast in the Sunshine state. About 54% were Democrats and 30% were Republicans even though Democrats comprise 42% of the registered voters and 36% of the registered voters are Republicans. The high Democratic turnout in Florida is not surprising. Obama has been pouring money into the state, with the weekly bill for TV ads running $5 million and 400 paid staff on the ground.

Palin Is Dragging McCain Down

A new NY Times/CBS poll shows that 59% of the voters feel that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be Vice President, let alone President. These people question McCain's ability to pick qualified people for his administration. The ironic thing is that the choice of Palin was probably forced on him by Steve Schmidt. McCain barely knew her (he met her once for 15 minutes), whereas he has traveled extensively with his long-time good friend Joe Lieberman. The choice of Lieberman would have enhanced McCain's maverick status, shown that he was willing to buck his own party ("Country first") and given the ticket an experienced politician who most people feel could be President (as demonstrated by polling in 2000). Schmidt undoubtedly told McCain that the base wouldn't accept him due to his pro-choice stance on abortion. The old McCain would have said: "Screw the base" to Schmidt, but McCain V2.0 did what he was told. If McCain loses, the conversation between McCain and Schmidt probably won't be real friendly.

Ohio Expects Heavy Use of Provisional Ballots

If a voter shows up at the polling place and is not on the voting list or does not have the correct form of identification, he or she may cast a provisional ballot (assuming they don't run out). After the election, the lawyers will wrangle about these, with each side trying to disqualify as many ballots as they can from precincts that harbor too many of the other guy's voters. Ohio has a troubled history on this score and most experts expect this year to be no exception.

The battles could end up in the courts again, revolving about issues like which precinct people whose house has been foreclosed should vote in (where the house is or where the homeless center they are now in is), etc. Also, what happens to someone whose name on the voter rolls doesn't match the name in the drivers' license data base (possibly due to a clerical error)? Both sides have thousands of lawyers already chartered to fight these cases in court. It is even conceivable that the Supreme Court makes a key decision again, as in 2000, and Obama doesn't accept it (as Gore did). There is one level appeal above the Supreme Court: Congress. The new Congress will be sworn on on January 5, 2009 and will count the electoral votes on January 6, 2009. If one or more members of both the House and Senate object to the electoral votes from some state claiming the election there was tainted, Congress will debate the matter. Ultimately, it could vote (with each member having one vote) to disqualify a state because the members do not believe the election there was run correctly. If no candidate gets 270 electoral votes after any disqualifications, then the House would elect the President, with each state getting one vote. It would be messy and controversial, but having 435 newly elected representatives elect the President would be a lot less controversial than having 9 appointed Supreme Court justices do the job. In some countries, the leader of the largest party in the lower house of parliament becomes Prime Minister, so the idea of the legislature choosing the executive is quite common. For an example where there was a dispute over the electoral votes, see this article on the 1876 election.


In a bit of miscommunication yesterday, John McCain thought Joe-the-Plumber was in the audience at a rally in Ohio and called out for him to come on stage. But Joe wasn't there. Apparently the campaign didn't tell him to come. He did catch up with McCain later in the day, but this kind of snafu just gives the impression that the campaign is disorganized. This kind of thing never happened to George Bush during his campaigns.

Today's Polls

We have 26 presidential polls today. In Arizona, John McCain is only 4 points ahead here, but since it is his home state, he will presumably win it. Barack Obama has small leads in Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, although the race is definitely tightening as the undecideds finally start paying attention. In the other states, not much has changed.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Arizona 44% 48% Oct 27 Oct 28 Mason-Dixon
California 55% 33% Oct 18 Oct 28 Field Poll
Colorado 48% 44% Oct 23 Oct 27 Financial Dynamics
Colorado 51% 45% Oct 27 Oct 28 Marist Coll.
Florida 45% 44% Oct 23 Oct 27 Financial Dynamics
Iowa 53% 39% Oct 27 Oct 29 Research 2000
Iowa 55% 40% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA
Indiana 46% 49% Oct 28 Oct 29 Rasmussen
Kentucky 43% 55% Oct 29 Oct 29 Rasmussen
Louisiana 40% 43% Oct 24 Oct 26 Loyola U.
Michigan 50% 38% Oct 26 Oct 28 EPIC-MRA
Minnesota 48% 40% Oct 27 Oct 28 Mason-Dixon
Montana 46% 50% Oct 29 Oct 29 Rasmussen
North Carolina 47% 43% Oct 23 Oct 27 Financial Dynamics
North Carolina 50% 48% Oct 29 Oct 29 Rasmussen
New Hampshire 53% 40% Oct 27 Oct 29 Suffolk U.
New Jersey 53% 35% Oct 23 Oct 29 Fairleigh Dickinson U.
Ohio 48% 41% Oct 23 Oct 27 Financial Dynamics
Oklahoma 34% 63% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA
Pennsylvania 47% 43% Oct 27 Oct 28 Mason-Dixon
South Carolina 42% 53% Oct 25 Oct 28 Princeton Survey
South Carolina 44% 52% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA
Texas 40% 51% Oct 15 Oct 22 U. of Texas
Virginia 48% 44% Oct 23 Oct 27 Financial Dynamics
Virginia 51% 47% Oct 26 Oct 27 Marist Coll.
Wisconsin 55% 39% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA

We also have nine Senate polls. In Kentucky, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is ahead of challenger Bruce Lunsford (D) 51% to 44% and in Minnesota, challenger Al Franken (D) is ahead of Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) 41% to 37%.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Iowa Tom Harkin* 61% Christopher Reed 35% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA
Kentucky Bruce Lunsford 44% Mitch McConnell* 51% Oct 29 Oct 29 Rasmussen
Louisiana Mary Landrieu* 49% John Kennedy 34% Oct 24 Oct 26 Loyola U.
Michigan Carl Levin* 54% Jack Hoogendyk 36% Oct 26 Oct 28 EPIC-MRA
Minnesota Al Franken 41% Norm Coleman* 37% Oct 24 Oct 28 U. of Minnesota
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen 48% John Sununu* 39% Oct 27 Oct 29 Suffolk U.
New Mexico Tom Udall 56% Steve Pearce* 41% Oct 28 Oct 28 Rasmussen
Oklahoma Andrew Rice 36% James Inhofe* 56% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA
South Carolina Bob Conley 39% Lindsey Graham* 58% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA

We also have two House polls. At one time it was thought that the Democrats might pick up NY-26, but that seems extremely unlikely at this point.

Cong. Distr. Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
IN-07 Andre Carson* 53% Gabrielle Campo 38% Oct 24 Oct 28 Research 2000
NY-26 Alice Kryzan 34% Christopher Lee* 48% Oct 28 Oct 29 SurveyUSA

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