Obama 332
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Ties 15
Romney 191
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Dem 51
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Ties 2
GOP 47
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  • Strongly Dem (204)
  • Likely Dem (71)
  • Barely Dem (57)
  • Exactly tied (15)
  • Barely GOP (0)
  • Likely GOP (44)
  • Strongly GOP (147)
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News from the Votemaster

First Debate Is Tonight

It is do-or-die time for Mitt Romney tonight. With another batch of swing state polls showing Obama ahead everywhere, tonight's debate is his first--and maybe only--chance to turn the race around. He's promised zingers and provided a few in the speech he gave in Colorado Monday:

  • Obama doesn't just like picking winners and losers. He likes picking losers
  • We've had 43 straight months with unemployment above 8 percent, and what does the president have to say to all this? He says `forward.' I think `forewarned' is a better term
  • He's out of ideas, he's out of excuses, and on November 6th you're going to put him out of office
  • He's making us more and more like Europe. I don't want to be like Europe. Europe doesn't work in Europe

The Republican base will lap it up and cheer each one. But crude putdowns of the President are not likely to convince many undecided voters to vote for Romney and are even less likely to make potential Obama voters switch sides.

Probably the most clever remark of any debate was the one Lloyd Bentsen made to Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate: "Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy." Quayle was stopped in his tracks. But it didn't change the election results. In January 1989, Quayle was inaugurated as Vice President, not Bentsen. In other words, even a very clever remark or two is not likely to affect the election and ham-handed ones may do more damage than good.

A lot also depends on moderator Jim Lehrer and how hard he pushes the candidates. If he asks Romney, for example, to name one tax loophole he would close as President and Romney refuses, Lehrer could point out that he didn't answer the question. In one of the primary debates, Newt Gingrich got into a fight with moderator John King. But in a debate where Romney has to act presidential, he has to avoid that at all costs.

In addition to listening to the candidates' words, television viewers also react to their gestures and body languages. Here is a guide.

Politico has a list of things to watch for in the debate.

  • Can Romney win the first half hour? If not, it may be too late
  • Can Obama attack and remain both presidential and likable?
  • How do "47%" and "Libya" play?
  • Has Obama forgotten how to debate? It's been 4 years after all
  • Will Bill Clinton show up? Will Romney use him for a good cop bad cop routine?

Pennsylvania Judge Blocks Voter ID Law

A Pennsylvania judge blocked the state's new law requiring voters to show government-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote. The case reached the state Supreme Court, which sent it back to the judge for the final decision. Now he had made it: ID will not be required. This decision is a major victory for Obama and a major loss for Romney since up to 10% of the state's voters--nearly all Democrats--might have been prevented from voting by this law. Now it is virtually certain that Obama will carry Pennsylvania.

In other states, similar laws have been enjoined, blocked, or weakened. They have been removed entirely in Wisconsin and Texas. In addition, early voting has been restored in Florida. All in all, the hopes Republicans had of suppressing Democratic turnout are likely to be dashed.

Romney Hints at Limiting Deductions to $17,000

Yesterday, Mitt Romney gave a hint of one thing he might do to recapture some revenue after lowering tax rates. Romney suggested allowing taxpayers to have total deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, state and local taxes, and other items be limited to $17,000. This proposal is sure to generate howls of protests from bankers, charities, and state governments and would be hard to get through Congress. Nevertheless, it is Romney's first attempt at filling in the details of his tax plan.

Obama Getting 70% of Latino Voters

A new CNN poll of likely Latino voters shows that 70% of them will vote for Obama and only 26% for Romney. This is even better for Obama than 2008, when he won 67% of the Latino vote. In 2004, 53% of Latinos voted for John Kerry.

Early Voting Has Started in Ohio

Early in-person voting has now started in Ohio, one of the three most important swing states (along with Florida and Virginia). Currently, Obama leads there, with different polls giving numbers in the 5-10% range. Obama hopes to bank as many votes as possible now while he has such a large lead. To kick off his "vote early" campaign, Obama sent his wife, Michelle, to address a rally in Cincinnati.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Arizona 42% 46%   Sep 25 Sep 26 Moore Consulting
Florida 46% 43%   Sep 27 Sep 30 Suffolk U.
North Carolina 49% 47%   Sep 29 Oct 01 SurveyUSA
New Hampshire 54% 39%   Sep 27 Sep 30 U. of New Hampshire
New Mexico 51% 40%   Sep 27 Sep 27 Rasmussen
Rhode Island 57% 33%   Sep 26 Sep 29 Fleming and Assocs.
Virginia 47% 39%   Sep 19 Sep 28 Roanoke Coll.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Arizona Richard Carmona 40% Jeff Flake 43%     Sep 25 Sep 26 Moore Consulting
Florida Bill Nelson* 40% Connie McGillicuddy 34%     Sep 27 Sep 30 Suffolk U.
Ohio Sherrod Brown* 49% Josh Mandel 41%     Sep 27 Sep 30 PPP
Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse* 56% Barry Hinckley 30%     Sep 26 Sep 29 Fleming and Assocs.
Virginia Tim Kaine 47% George Allen 37%     Sep 19 Sep 28 Roanoke Coll.

* Denotes incumbent

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Oct02 Romney To Broaden Focus
Oct02 Voters Think Obama Will Win
Oct02 Romney Leads in Parallel Universe
Oct02 A Penny for Your Thoughts, a Dollar for your Vote
Oct02 Unsung Heroes: Media Buyers
Oct02 Suppose Todd Akin Were to Win
Oct02 Early Voting Calendar
Oct01 The Shadow of the Debates Looms Large
Oct01 Supreme Court Starts a New Term Today
Oct01 CNN: Polling Criticism is Nonsense
Oct01 Romney Continues to Fall on Intrade
Oct01 Candidates Pay Lots of Attention to One Small Rural County in Ohio
Oct01 Obama Approaches 10 Million Donors
Sep30 Republican Strategists Tell Romney to Stop Playing It Safe
Sep30 Romney Trapped by His Money
Sep30 Lawsuits about Voting Laws Continuing
Sep30 Are the Debates Really Debates
Sep30 Scott Brown's Party Status Is Causing Him Problems
Sep30 Democrats Starting to Compile Wish Lists
Sep29 How Does the Presidential Race Compare to Previous Ones?
Sep29 Romney Campaigns Half-Heartedly in Pennsylvania
Sep29 GOP Donors Might Desert Romney
Sep29 What Obama Has to Do in the First Debate>
Sep29 DSCC Buys Ad Time in Maine
Sep29 Republicans Drop Voter Registration Company that May Have Committed Fraud
Sep28 You Are the 100 Millionth Visitor
Sep28 Swing-State Voters Oppose Changes to Medicare
Sep28 Maybe Mitt's Problem is Mitt
Sep28 Is Romney In the Right State?
Sep28 Provisional Ballots Could Cause Chaos after Election Day
Sep28 Have Candidates Always Debated?
Sep28 First Swing State Starts In-Person Voting
Sep28 The Undecided Voters Are Uninterested Voters
Sep28 George Soros Gives $1 Million to Obama superPAC
Sep27 Both Candidates Are Campaigning in Ohio
Sep27 Does Romney Have a Plan B?
Sep27 Is Arizona in Play?
Sep27 Some Interesting Debate Questions
Sep27 Romney's Problem is the Republican Party
Sep27 McCaskill Opens Fire on Akin in Missouri Senate Race
Sep26 New Feature Starting Today: Tipping-Point Table for the Senate
Sep26 Conservatives Set Up Their Own Polling Website
Sep26 Romney Cratering on Intrade
Sep26 Takeaways From Today's Ohio and Florida Polls
Sep26 The Microtargeting of 338,020 Women Could Swing the Election
Sep26 The Republican Brain Drain
Sep25 Ryan Became Romney Instead of Romney Becoming Ryan
Sep25 Could the Money Go Downticket?
Sep25 Conservative SuperPACs Are Working Together
Sep25 New Laws Could Affect 10 Million Latino Voters