News from the Votemaster
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Obama Continues to Surge in the National Polls
Eight national polls were published yesterday. In five of them, Obama is leading. In the other three he is tied. However, he was trailing in two of the tied polls from the same pollsters earlier, so he is gaining. In politics, a week is a long time, but a day isn't so long and Romney has only a day to stop Obama's momentum. Here are the data.
Dutch Newspaper Reports Romney Avoided $100 Million in Taxes
This morning, investigative reporters at a quality Dutch newspaper, De Volkskrant, published a story that Mitt Romney avoided $100 million in dividend taxes using a complex route that ran through The Netherlands. The mechanism used an arcane clause in the tax treaties that determine which country can tax which type of income when a construction, in this case a private equity fund, runs through multiple countries. Some of the data came from legal documents filed with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce. The reporters repeatedly asked Romney to comment on the story but he refused. Here is a translation of the article.
Analysis of Key Races in All 50 States
The Washington Post has a great analysis of the top races in all states. The state of the presidential race is well known at this point. Obama is slightly ahead in New Hampshire, Iowa, and Nevada. Romney leads in North Carolina. The only states where nobody is really ahead are Florida, Virginia, and Colorado. The top Senate races are also well known, as shown here. What the WaPo analysis gives is a look at close House races. Embattled incumbents include Rep. Allen West (R-FL), Rep. John Barrow (D-GA), Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Rep. Frank Guinta (R-NH), Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH), and quite a few others.
Florida Election in the Courts Already
Florida elections and lawsuits seem to be an enduring couple. Vast numbers of early voters in Florida yesterday overwhelmed the polling stations. Some voters waited in line for 7 hours. Others couldn't vote at all. Some voters in Miami-Dade County were told to cast absentee ballots but when they tried to get them, the office issuing them closed down. In short, it was chaos in South Florida yesterday.
The Democratic Party sued the state in an effort to make adequate voting facilities available. Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) just brushed off the problems and said everything was running smoothly. Last year the Republican-controlled legislature reduced early voting days from 14 to 8 in a more-or-less naked attempt to discourage voting in South Florida, which is strongly Democratic. Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties are where 32% of Florida's Democrats live. The judge doesn't have a lot of time to study the case and render a decision since tomorrow is election day.
Voting Equipment Still Not Verifiable
Another election problem is that some electronic voting machines do not have a paper trail. They are still in use and could be pre-programmed to silently flip some votes or report an incorrect total and no one would have any way of auditing them. The Verified Voting Foundation has been fighting for voting systems with an audit trail for years, with mixed success. For the most part, each of the over 3,000 counties in the U.S. can buy whatever voting equipment it wants to. Few of the counties have any expertise in voting system security and just believe whatever their supplier tells them. The Verified Voting Foundation Website has a great deal of information about voting equipment and procedures, including a map showing the dominant equipment in each state. Florida and Virginia, for example, have a mixture of paper ballots and unverifiable electronic voting machines. Colorado has a mix of paper ballots and electronic voting machines, some with a paper trail and some without. Nevada and Utah are the only states with electronic voting machines all of which have paper trails. The paper trails are essential for an honest election since in the event of a close election, the paper ballots can be manually counted.
Could Unreadable Signatures Be the Hanging Chads of 2012?
Voting machines aren't the only potential source of controversy in this election. Absentee ballots that are mailed in could lead to battles this time. Over 20% of the voters in Ohio and Florida mailed in absentee ballots in 2010 and this year the number is expected to be greater. The ballots are sent back in official envelopes that the voter must sign. If the signature does not match the one on file--in the opinion of whoever is doing the checking--the ballot will be rejected. Nationwide, over 2 million absentee ballots were rejected for bad signatures in 2008. In a close election, fights over signatures could erupt, with handwriting experts replacing lawyers as the key professionals in the fights.
Positive Campaign Ads Have Essentially Vanished
In earlier elections, candidates spent a lot of money explaining to the voters why they were qualified to be President and what they would do if elected. For example, 56% of John Kerry's Ads in 2004 were positive and 42% contrasted him with Bush. This year, 59% of Obama's ads were negative and 27% contrasted him with Romney. Only 14% were positive ads, talking about why he should be reelected. Romney's ads were a tad less negative, but not much. Few people expect the situation to improve in future elections.
Russia Lambasts the U.S. for Undemocratic Elections
With individual donors giving millions of dollars to campaigns, state legislatures doing their best to minimize the number of people who vote, voters being made to wait 7 hours to vote, international observers being sent packing in Texas and Iowa, and voting machines that can't be checked, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said the U.S. election system is the worst in the world. That is certainly not true, but a case could be made that it is the worst among mature democracies, none of which experience the kinds of problems the U.S. has, from outsized influence of a few wealthy individuals to governmental attempts to suppress the vote to chaos at the polling stations. While the U.S. system is far better than the Russian one, that is setting the bar pretty low.
Neither Presidential Candidate Seems to Have Senatorial Coattails
There are hard fought Senate races in many states, including Massachusetts, Virginia, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona, but the presidential race doesn't seem to be having much impact on them. The Senate races have gotten so much publicity on their own and the candidates are so much larger than life that most voters are going to be making conscious choices in the Senate races, and not just voting a straight party line. In Massachusetts, Obama will win in a landslide, but the Senate race between Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and Elizabeth Warren is close. Romney will sweep Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Montana, and Arizona, but that is cold comfort to the Republican Senate candidates in those states who are in very competitive races. So the bottom line is that we are likely to see quite a few split tickets this year.
New Jersey to Allow Ballots to be Sent in By Email
Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R-NJ), who is the state's top elections official, has decreed that voters who can't vote due to Hurricane Sandy's aftermath may send absentee ballots in by email. Even under the best of circumstances, with careful planning, the possibility of fraud with email ballots is gigantic and in an emergency situation with no security controls in place, it is even worse. Fortunately, there are no competitive races in the state for any federal office, but there could be for state offices.
Today's Presidential Polls
|Arizona||46%||53%||Nov 02||Nov 03||PPP|
|Colorado||48%||48%||Nov 02||Nov 04||IPSOS|
|Florida||46%||46%||Nov 02||Nov 04||IPSOS|
|Florida||47%||49%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Zogby|
|Florida||48%||50%||Oct 29||Oct 29||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Iowa||50%||48%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Massachusetts||57%||37%||Oct 31||Nov 03||U. of Mass.|
|Massachusetts||58%||40%||Oct 26||Nov 01||Western New England U.|
|Minnesota||52%||41%||Nov 01||Nov 03||SurveyUSA|
|Missouri||45%||53%||Nov 02||Nov 03||PPP|
|Montana||43%||53%||Oct 29||Oct 29||Rasmussen|
|Montana||43%||53%||Oct 29||Oct 31||Mason Dixon|
|Montana||45%||52%||Nov 02||Nov 03||PPP|
|North Carolina||49%||49%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|New Hampshire||50%||48%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Ohio||48%||44%||Nov 02||Nov 04||IPSOS|
|Ohio||48%||46%||Oct 29||Oct 29||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Ohio||50%||42%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Zogby|
|Ohio||52%||47%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Pennsylvania||49%||46%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Muhlenberg Coll.|
|Pennsylvania||49%||46%||Oct 30||Oct 30||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Virginia||47%||46%||Nov 02||Nov 04||IPSOS|
|Virginia||49%||48%||Oct 30||Oct 30||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Virginia||50%||44%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Zogby|
|Virginia||51%||47%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Wisconsin||49%||48%||Oct 30||Oct 30||Pulse Opinion Research|
Today's Senate Polls
|State||Democrat||D %||Republican||R %||I||I %||Start||End||Pollster|
|Arizona||Richard Carmona||46%||Jeff Flake||51%||Nov 02||Nov 03||PPP|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||50%||Connie McGillicuddy||46%||Oct 29||Oct 29||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||52%||Connie McGillicuddy||38%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Zogby|
|Florida||Bill Nelson*||54%||Connie McGillicuddy||39%||Nov 02||Nov 04||IPSOS|
|Massachusetts||Elizabeth Warren||48%||Scott Brown*||49%||Oct 31||Nov 03||U. of Mass.|
|Minnesota||Amy Klobuchar*||60%||Kurt Bills||30%||Nov 01||Nov 03||SurveyUSA|
|Missouri||Claire McCaskill*||48%||Todd Akin||44%||Nov 02||Nov 03||PPP|
|Montana||Jon Tester*||45%||Denny Rehberg||49%||Oct 29||Oct 31||Mason Dixon|
|Montana||Jon Tester*||48%||Denny Rehberg||46%||Nov 02||Nov 03||PPP|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||43%||Josh Mandel||36%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Zogby|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||50%||Josh Mandel||42%||Nov 02||Nov 04||IPSOS|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||50%||Josh Mandel||43%||Oct 29||Oct 29||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Ohio||Sherrod Brown*||54%||Josh Mandel||44%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Pennsylvania||Bob Casey*||46%||Tom Smith||45%||Oct 30||Oct 30||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Pennsylvania||Bob Casey*||48%||Tom Smith||42%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Muhlenberg Coll.|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||48%||George Allen||46%||Nov 02||Nov 04||IPSOS|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||48%||George Allen||48%||Oct 30||Oct 30||Pulse Opinion Research|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||49%||George Allen||41%||Nov 01||Nov 03||Zogby|
|Virginia||Tim Kaine||52%||George Allen||46%||Nov 03||Nov 04||PPP|
|Wisconsin||Tammy Baldwin||47%||Tommy Thompson||48%||Oct 30||Oct 30||Pulse Opinion Research|
* Denotes incumbent
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Previous HeadlinesNov04 Obama Appears to Have Momentum
Nov04 Thanks to the Supreme Court, Early Voting Is Still Taking Place in Ohio
Nov04 Will the Aftermath of the Storm Affect the Election?
Nov04 Obama's Gamble on Demographics
Nov04 Maybe Pot Smokers Will Determine the Next President
Nov04 What Do People Want from the Next President?
Nov04 Conservatives Are Seeing the Beginning of the End for Romney
Nov04 Close Elections Are Nothing New
Nov03 Employment Up But Unemployment Also Up
Nov03 Ethnic Mix of the Electorate May Determine the Winner
Nov03 Early Results from Ohio on Election Day May Be Misleading
Nov03 Republicans Are Praying for Rain on Election Day
Nov03 Outside Groups Spent Half a Billion Dollars in October
Nov03 Probe into Voter Registration Fraud in Virginia Widens
Nov03 Betting Site Has Romney as the Favorite--in 2016
Nov03 Are Pollsters Asking the Wrong Question?
Nov02 Both Candidates Back on the Campaign Trail
Nov02 October Unemployment Numbers Will Be Out at 8:30 A.M. EDT Today
Nov02 Forget the Middle Class, It's Elite vs. Elite
Nov02 Romney Ad in Florida Ties Obama to Latin American Dictators
Nov02 Bipartisanship Flourishes--with a Couple of Footnotes
Nov02 Tuesday Will Be National Lawyer Day
Nov02 It's Dirty Tricks Time
Nov02 Get-Out-the-Vote Effort Backfires
Nov01 New Batch of Polls Welcome News for Obama
Nov01 Poll: Obama Doing a Good Job Dealing with the Storm
Nov01 Can Romney Expand the Map?
Nov01 Jobs Report Will be Issued Friday at 8:30 A.M.
Nov01 Will the Loser Blame It on Sandy?
Nov01 Native Americans Sue Montana over Voting Rights
Nov01 Same-Sex Marriage Initiative Tied in Maryland
Nov01 Dick Morris Predicts a Romney Landslide and Republican Senate
Oct31 Now Comes the Hard Part for the Campaigns
Oct31 Effects of the Storm on Voting
Oct31 Voter-Fraud Vigilantes Could Affect Voting
Oct31 Hurricane Damage Will Affect Polling All Week
Oct31 Could the Popular and Electoral Vote Be Different?
Oct31 Chrysler CEO Rebuts Romney on Jeeps
Oct31 More Republicans Than Democrats Have Voted in Colorado
Oct31 Charlie Crist Campaigning with Bill Clinton in Florida
Oct30 One Week to Go
Oct30 Obama Cancel Events to Stay in Washington
Oct30 Obama Cancels Events to Stay in Washington
Oct30 Five Hidden Factors That Could Affect the Election
Oct30 Hurricane May Delay Final Jobs Report Scheduled for Friday
Oct30 Who Gets the Blame for the Loss?
Oct29 National Polls Are Divided
Oct29 Where Do We Stand Now?
Oct29 Sandy, Barack and Mitt