Obama 332
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Romney 206
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Dem 47
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Ties 3
GOP 50
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  • Strongly Dem (177)
  • Likely Dem (48)
  • Barely Dem (107)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (15)
  • Likely GOP (49)
  • Strongly GOP (142)
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New polls: CT IA
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: IN NC
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News from the Votemaster

Republicans Nominate Romney

It's now official. Willard Mitt Romney is the nominee of the Republican Party for President. Not that there was a lot of doubt about it, except maybe in the minds of Ron Paul supporters. Ann Romney gave the expected speech trying to humanize him. She talked about him as her high-school sweetheart and how he was always there for her, especially when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as well as her breast cancer scare. It was an emotional speech and she brought the house down.

After her speech, Mitt Romney strode onto the stage and hugged her, a move reminiscent of Al Gore's too-long kiss of Tipper, his now-ex-wife, in 2000. Wooden politicians seem to think that making out with your wife in public helps your image. There is scant evidence that it does although in Gore's case, he was trying to deal with the memories many voters had of the Bill & Monica show. Romney has no fidelity problem to deal with, although when he talks about the Biblical definition of marriage, some people may bring up the fact that his great grandfather, Miles Park Romney, fled to Mexico in 1885 with his three wives to get away from the pesky one-man, one-wife rule the 1882 Edmunds Antipolygamy Act enforced much more vigorously than existing law. Mitt Romney's grandfather and father were born in Mexico, the latter later immigrating to the United States. When Romney talks about immigration policy, it is useful to remember that this own father was an immigrant from Mexico, probably undocumented, since people didn't care much about documentation in those days.

Time has a long biographical piece on Ann Romney. Only two generations removed from being a Welsh coal miner, she is the perfect country-club Republican wife, with five handsome sons, a room full of grandchildren, a stable full of Olympic-quality horses, and a garage full of Cadillacs. She plays a mean game of tennis and has always been her husband's biggest fan and supporter. She will be a huge help during the rest of the campaign, mostly because her husband desperately needs her now to show that he cares about anything other than Excel spreadsheets. The situation is not symmetric at all. While Michelle Obama is a plus, the President doesn't really need anyone to vouch for his likability. He can handle that on his own.

Ann Romney's speech was not the only event last night. There were also two hurricanes present: Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Christie. Although CNN devoted more of its pixels to Christie, Isaac was present in the corner of the screen as a reminder that it is still a player. Many people had expected Christie to be a category 5 storm, but he was only a category 1 storm, with less wind than predicted. He didn't call anybody stupid or an idiot, as he has in the past, and didn't really criticize Obama as much as forecasters were expecting. He did speak about the difference between the parties, though, and how the Democrats were whistling a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff. He didn't mention that the fiscal cliff the country is potentially going to go over at midnight Dec. 31 was caused by the tea party Republicans' unwillingness to accept the grand bargain that Obama and Speaker John Boehner had worked out earlier this year. Christie talked quite a bit about himself and the struggles his family had overcome. To some extent it seemed like the subtitle of the speech was: "If Romney loses, don't forget about me in 2016."

As Sherlock Holmes once pointed out, sometimes the dog that didn't bark is important. With Republicans, it's the politician who didn't speak: Sarah Palin. She electrified the convention in 2008 with more red meat than a herd of Texas cattle, but is missing from this year's lineup. The explanations are murky. Most likely, she was asked to speak on the same conditions Ron Paul was: give the speech to team Romney well in advance to edit, then read the edited speech from a Teleprompter. Having to give a tastes-like-chicken speech rather than a red-meat speech was probably unacceptable to Palin, who normally does not shun the spotlight. With Paul Ryan on the ticket to represent the views of the party's right wing, Palin is going to be eclipsed and her influence reduced to the occasional tweet. She had her chance and turned it down. In such a weak field, she might have been able to get the nomination, but 2016 or 2020 will be too late, with heavyweights like Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Paul Ryan likely to be in the ring.

Romney is Least Popular Nominee in Decades

A new ABC/WaPo poll released last night shows that only 40% of Americans view Romney favorably while 51% view him unfavorably. For President Obama, it is 50% favorable, and 47% unfavorable, not great, but a lot better than Romney. No candidate has ever been elected President with favorability numbers as bad as Romney's. He will get a major chance to shore them up when he makes his acceptance speech, but he is unlikely to do so since that would require talking about how he is going to save the country. But he seems incapable or unwilling to do that. Virtually all of his speeches the entire year have simply been attacks on Obama. Such attacks can lower Obama's numbers but can't raise his.

Republican Platform Moves Sharply to the Right

Official party platforms are generally written by party activists often as a consolation prize for not getting the nominee they really wanted. To a large extent, that is true of the Republican platform this year as well. It is far to the right of even the Republican platform of 1980, which called for more mass transit, help for people whose first language was not English, and recognized that different people have different views on abortion.

The 2012 Republican platform is far more radical. For starters, it embodies the Ryan plan for Medicare. It would change the current system, which pays doctors and hospital bills, to a system in which seniors are given vouchers and told to go get their own insurance, if they can. It calls for English to become the country's official language, a plank the Democrats are sure to harp on in Spanish-language ads in Florida, Colorado, and Nevada. The platform supports displaying the ten commandments in public places but it is more noteworthy for what it opposes. The items include big government, high taxes, same-sex marriage, limits on how many bullets a gun magazine can hold, and all abortions, including abortions for rape victims.

While activists may be happy with the platform, Romney is not likely to talk about it much, and certainly not about the most controversial aspects like ending Medicare as it has been for four decades and forbidding abortions to rape victims. It will get a bit of attention this week and then sink like a stone, except for planks the Democrats decide to campaign against.

Romney is not the only Republican unhappy with the platform. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, whose wife, Columba, was born in Mexico, told reporters that he feels a more inclusive position on language and immigration would be helpful with Latino voters. He later said that if Asians and Latinos, the fastest-growing demographic groups in the United States, did not not feel comfortable in the party, Republicans were going to lose elections.

Candidates Average 5-Point Bounce After Convention

Unless something unusual happens in the next two days, Romney can expect his support to go up by about five points after the convention. That is normal. Since 1964, the Republican bounces have ranged from 2 points (George W. Bush in 2004) to 8 points (Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George W. Bush in 2000). Even Barry Goldwater, who was buried in a landslide in 1964, got a 5-point bounce.

The bounce is likely to be short, however, since the Democratic convention follows so closely on the heels of the Republican one this year. The Democratic bounces show more spread, ranging from -1 points (John Kerry in 2004) to 16 points (for Bill Clinton in 1992, although that was complicated by Ross Perot's temporary exit from the race). But bounces aren't everything. Jimmy Carter shot up by 10 points after the Democratic convention in 1980 but still lost the election.

Republican Insiders Split on Top Task for Convention

While conventions no longer determine who the nominee will be in some back smoke-filled room as in days gone by, scripted as they are, they are not pointless. Unfortunately, Republican insiders and activists are not united on what they need to accomplish in this year's convention. A poll of Republican officials and activists conducted by the National Journal was sharply divided, with 54% saying the Republicans need to lay out a clear agenda for the next four years and 43% saying the main task was to improve Romney's personal image (the likability factor). Only 3% said the main job was attacking the Obama administration.

The insiders are going to be disappointed. It is very unlikely that Romney will give a detailed plan of what he would do as President. He has carefully avoided getting into specifics all year and is not likely to start now. The problem is that the numbers don't add up. He can't have a huge tax cut (especially for upper-income people) and reduce the deficit without spending cuts that would be so draconian as to destroy his candidacy. So the solution is to just talk in generalities, point out his business experience, and relentlessly attack Obama.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Connecticut 52% 45%   Aug 22 Aug 26 Quinnipiac U.
Iowa 47% 45%   Aug 23 Aug 26 PPP

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Connecticut Chris Murphy 46% Linda McMahon 49%     Aug 22 Aug 26 Quinnipiac U.
Nevada Shelley Berkley 45% Dean Heller* 47%     Aug 23 Aug 26 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Aug28 First Day of Republican National Convention Lasts 2 Minutes
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