Obama 332
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Romney 206
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Dem 47
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Ties 4
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (182)
  • Likely Dem (77)
  • Barely Dem (73)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (0)
  • Likely GOP (64)
  • Strongly GOP (142)
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Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: IN NC
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News from the Votemaster

One minute of silence for the people who died on Sept. 11, 2001 please. Below is a photo of the WTC Memorial.

WTC memorial

Obama Gets Substantial Bounce from the Convention

Five polls released yesterday show Obama with leads nationally. However, convention bounces rarely are permanent and are unlikely to last in the face of a massive ad blitz that will attack everything related to him, from his health-care law to the color of Michelle's shoes. Here are the polls.

Pollster Obama Romney Spread
ABC/WaPo 49% 48% Obama +1%
Gallup 49% 44% Obama +5%
Opinion Research 52% 46% Obama +6%
Rasmussen 50% 45% Obama +5%
TIPP 46% 44% Obama +2%

One item of note is that the ABC/WaPo poll shows Obama ahead by 1 point among likely voters but ahead by 6 points among registered voters. This could indicate an enthusiasm gap. Apparently there are many voters who like Obama but aren't going to go to the trouble of actually voting. Also to keep in mind: the screens used to separate likely from unlikely voters are not very exact. Furthermore, after watching the debates, some people may change their minds about voting.

Romney's pollster, Neil Newhouse, wrote a memo attacking the polls saying Obama's bounce is a "sugar high" that will soon disappear. He said people are disappointed with Obama's handling of the economy and Romney will triumph in the end. He pointed to a long list of states Romney will win and noted that Obama won't be able to compete without resources. The only things lacking from his memo were (1) polling data and (2) any mention of the fact that Obama outraised Romney in August.

Political guru Charlie Cook's take on the campaign is that if Romney wins, it will be despite his awful campaign. Cook can hardly believe that Romney waited until his convention to actually introduce himself to the voters, especially since Obama has been pounding him as an out-of-touch rich guy for months. Cook said that while debates are a good forum to demonstrate that you have the knowledge to be President, they are a much tougher venue for convincing people that you care about them and they should trust you. Cook's view is that the voters are open to firing Obama but if they don't trust the other guy, they will grudgingly give Obama more time to finish the job.

What's Going on in the Nine Swing States

Politico has a good rundown on what is going on in the nine swing states that will decide the election. Briefly summarized, here is the situation on the ground.

Colorado. In 2008, Colorado was very close until October, when Obama began running away with it. This year he has had a small lead most of the year. Obama's formula is high turnout among Latinos and women. This is why he brought Sandra Fluke to campaign with him in August. They'll be back. Romney's formula is a big turnout in the energy-oriented Western Slope and with evangelicals around Colorado Springs.

Florida. This is a must-win state for Romney. Obama can get to 270 without it but Romney can't. Obama can count on a big turnout in South Florida, where Medicare and Israel are big issues. Romney needs to win big along the I-4 corridor between Orlando and Tampa. The choice of Tampa for the RNC was not an accident. Latinos in Florida can be divided into Cuban-Americans and others (largely Puerto Ricans). Cuban-Americans have traditionally been Republican, but the fast-growing non-Cuban Latino population is Democratic. As usual, Florida could be close and turnout is everything.

Iowa. Even though the state has only 6 electoral votes, Obama took a three-day bus tour through it in August. He is probably thinking about the 242 electoral votes from the traditionally blue states, plus the three Western swing states (Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico), which gives him 262--eight short of 270. Iowa could be six of them and New Hampshire four, meaning he can lose Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida and still win. The western part of Iowa is very conservative and Republican, but the cities are Democratic. Republicans have a 22,000 voter registration edge, but that is probably due to many independents and Democrats who reregistered in December so they could vote in the Republican caucuses. Unemployment in Iowa is only 5.3%, one of the lowest in the country, so Romney's argument that Obama has failed to produce jobs may not work here. Still, the polls here keep going back and forth.

Nevada. Unlike Iowa, with its very low unemployment, Nevada has the highest unemployment in the country. Nevertheless, the race could come down to Mormons vs. Latinos, both of which are well represented in the state. Also factors are former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who is well known and on the ballot on the Libertarian line, and "None of the above" which is an actual ballot choice. Most observers think that "None of the above" will attract voters who are disillusioned with Obama but don't trust Romney. If the line weren't there (and it is still involved in a court battle), probably most of the people who will choose it would hold their noses and vote for Romney.

New Hampshire. In 2008, Obama won by 10 points, but Romney has a home in Wolfeboro and is well known from having been governor of Massachusetts 2003-2007. A possible problem for him is the gender gap. The Democratic candidates for governor and both House seats are women, so this is surely going to get a lot of women to the polls.

North Carolina. Obama won by only 14,000 votes in 2008 and everyone expects this to be his steepest hill to climb again. Black turnout will be critical as will the turnout in Research Triangle, which is full of universities, high-tech companies, and financial institutions, whose workers lean strongly Democratic. The western part of the state is rural, conservative, and Republican. This state is Romney's best shot among the swing states.

Ohio. Thousands of people work for companies that supply parts to the auto industry and Obama is not going to let them forget who saved it and who wanted to let it go bankrupt. Romney's hope is in the rural southern and western parts of the state, where coal mining is important. It is a given that Obama will sweep Cleveland and Columbus big time, so Romney has to make that up in the rural areas. The state is also relatively heavily unionized, so if the unions run a strong ground game, it will help Obama enormously. As has been said a thousand times, no Republican has ever been elected President without Ohio so Romney absolutely must win Florida and Ohio, whereas Obama can skate through with the western states, Iowa, and New Hampshire (or Virginia).

Virginia. It's all about Demographics. As northerners pour into Loudoun, Fairfax, and Prince William counties near D.C., the state is getting bluer by the year. Before too long it is going to be South Maryland. This year, on balance it is still close, although Obama has led much of the year. For Obama, the battle is all about maximizing turnout in the D.C. suburbs, the area around Charlottesville and Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, which has a large Black population. Also a factor is Virgil Goode, who held elective office for 36 years in the state and is running on the Constitution Party line. He could easily pull 1-2% from Romney and that might just be enough to sink him in a close race.

Wisconsin. This is traditionally a blue state, but the presence of Rep. Paul (R-WI) Ryan on the Republican ticket gives Romney at least some hope of picking it up for the GOP for the first time since 1984. Obama has led all year in the polls, but with the Ryan factor now in the mix, the race is tightening. These 10 electoral votes are part of the 242 "baseline" Obama was counting on, so if it really becomes a nail biter, he will have to pick them up somewhere else and has less margin for error.

Make a note of the dog that didn't bark: neither New Mexico nor Missouri is on the list. New Mexico is probably in the bag for Obama and Missouri is almost certainly going to go for Romney. They are rapidly losing their swing.

Three Factors that will Determine Who Wins the Presidency

Princeton professor Julian Zelizer has listed three factors that will determine who wins. We agree with him. They are:

  1. The ad campaigns and their attempts to destroy the opposing candidate (the air war)
  2. The debates. Remember Nixon's 5 o'clock shadow and George H.W. Bush glancing at his watch?
  3. The effectiveness of each side's get-out-the vote operation (the ground war)

However, we would add a fourth factor: the legal war. There are fights all over the country about new laws that try to make voting harder, either by reducing early voting days and hours, requiring official government-issued photo ID to vote, or other measures. These have uniformly been done by Republican-controlled legislatures, nominally to reduce in-person voter fraud (which is virtually nonexistent), while not tackling absentee-ballot fraud (which has flipped various races in the past).

Almost all these laws end up in court and so far, the Democrats are doing well. Last month, for example, seven Republican-sponsored measures have been voided by the courts, but all will be appealed. It is possible that many of them will end up in the lap of the Supreme Court, which is probably not looking forward to their arrival. Many people believe that Chief Justice John Roberts voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act not because he liked it, but because he is planning to be Chief for another 30 years and didn't want the Court dragged through the mud by voiding a major law that Congress duly passed. If that reasoning is true, the last thing he wants is to determine the outcome of another presidential election, even though he was not on the Court in 2000.

Economy Is Doing Better in Swing States than Nationally

While people get a lot of information about the economy from the news media, they also experience local conditions directly. If the media are howling about how bad things are and people see "help wanted" signs all over town, they are not going to be convinced that things are so bad. Conversely, if the media talk about the 30 consecutive months of job growth and you know many people seeking work, you are not going to be impressed. As a consequence, sorry Texans and Californians, your unemployment figures don't matter so much as those in Iowa and Nevada. Here are the unemployment numbers for the swing states for July, the last month for which they are available. The national average, 8.3% in July is also listed for comparison, even though it dropped to 8.1% in August.

State Unemployment Electoral votes
Iowa 5.3% 6
New Hampshire 5.4% 4
Virginia 5.9% 13
Ohio 7.2% 18
Wisconsin 7.3% 10
Pennsylvania 7.9% 20
Colorado 8.3% 9
National average 8.3% 538
Florida 8.8% 29
Michigan 9.0% 16
North Carolina 9.6% 15
Nevada 12.0% 6

So in the 11 swing states listed, the economy is better than the national average in six (with 71 EVs), worse in four (with 66 EVs), and tied in one (9 EVs). But the absolute numbers don't tell the whole story. In Michigan, for example, it was much worse and is improving rapidly. The news there is often about companies expanding and hiring, so that puts people in a more upbeat mood than in, say, Nevada, which has the worst unemployment in the country and is fairly stable.

Could Romney Be Swiftboated on National Security?

Mitt Romney's failure to salute the 75,000 American troops still fighting in Afghanistan could prove to be a serious blunder. Modern campaigns frequently pick up a tiny mole hill and make a giant mountain range of it, witness Romney's taking Obama's "you didn't build that" remark out of context and making it a major theme. Now it appears the Democrats are going to play that game, too. Retired general Wesley Clark, a Democrat, said yesterday that Romney's slight of the troops was "unbecoming of someone who wants to become commander in chief." Expect more Democrats to pound Romney as a guy who doesn't respect our troops. It will be hard for Romney to hit Obama on national security and foreign policy as his reply will be succinct: "Osama bin Laden." Up until now, national security hasn't been much of an issue, but to the extent Obama can drive the news cycle to it for the next week, it is a week the focus is not on the economy.

In Maine, the Republican Party is Supporting the Democrat

The Senate race to replace the retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) has taken a weird turn. The Democratic candidate, Cynthia Dill, is largely unknown in the state and has no money, in no small part because the Democratic Party has told potential donors to sit on their wallets. The Democrats expect Independent former governor Angus King to win and caucus with them. So what are the Republicans doing? Helping Dill! Their reasoning is that by pumping up Dill, they can split the Democratic vote and hope their candidate can get a narrow plurality. It seems unlikely to work, however, as King's lead looks like it is insurmountable.

Battle for the House to Begin This Week

The final congressional primaries are tomorrow, so the battle for control of the House will begin Wednesday, once all the candidates are known. The Democrats need 25 net pickups to recapture it. While that is a lot, in 2006 31 seats flipped, in 2008 20 seats flipped, and in 2010 63 seats flipped. Anything is possible, although most observers expect the Democrats to gain, but not 25 seats.

Of Tuna and Poverty

At the Republican convention, Ann Romney tried to humanize her husband saying they knew poverty as students when they ate tuna fish and pasta all the time. In his column Richard Cohen skewers her and says she knows nothing of real poverty. Mitt was the son of an auto company CEO and Ann attended an elite prep school. Often the children of middle- or even upper-class families don't have so much money while they are in college, but the mere fact that the are in college separates them from people who are genuinely poor, have no education, no skills, and no chances to escape from poverty. One might be tempted to talk about the "legitimate poor," except for the fact that Todd Akin has given the adjective a bad name of late.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Minnesota 50% 40%   Sep 06 Sep 09 SurveyUSA
North Carolina 43% 53%   Sep 04 Sep 06 SurveyUSA
Washington 54% 38%   Sep 07 Sep 09 SurveyUSA

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---The Votemaster

Previous Headlines

Sep10 Early Voting Has Started
Sep10 State of the Electoral College
Sep10 Republicans Hold the Edge in the Senate
Sep10 Election May Depend as Much on Judges as on the Voters
Sep10 Romney and Romney Want to Close Loopholes but Refuse to Say Which Ones
Sep10 Romney and Ryan Want to Close Loopholes but Refuse to Say Which Ones
Sep10 Obama and Romney Are Even in August Fundraising
Sep10 Has New Mexico Become a Blue State?
Sep09 Romney Pulls Ads from Michigan and Pennsylvania
Sep09 Obama in Florida; Romney in Virginia
Sep09 Gay Rights Meets States Rights
Sep09 People Are Speculating about Pelosi's future
Sep09 Obama Got 700,000 Donations during the Convention
Sep08 Bump Time
Sep08 Obama's Speech Had More Viewers and More Tweeters than Romney's
Sep08 Romney to Start Ad Blitz
Sep08 Ohio Secretary of State Concedes to Federal Judge
Sep08 Early Voting Starts Today in North Carolina
Sep07 Obama Accepts the Democratic Nomination
Sep07 Gabrielle Giffords Recites Pledge of Allegiance
Sep07 Villaraigosa Says Romney Will Push Immigrants to Self Deport
Sep07 Winners and Losers from the Democratic Convention
Sep07 Jobs Report Will Be Out Today
Sep07 European Central Bank Takes Action to Avert Crisis
Sep07 A New Generation of Kennedys Will Be in Congress in January
Sep06 The Big Dog Talks
Sep06 Elizabeth Warren Makes a Big Gamble
Sep06 Secret Service Investigating Alleged Theft of Romney's Tax Returns
Sep06 Obama's Speech Moved from Football Stadium to Basketball Arena
Sep06 God and Jerusalem Are Back in the Platform
Sep06 What is Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Future?
Sep05 Goode is Good Enough
Sep05 Democratic Convention Opens with Women and Latinos on Stage
Sep05 Conventions Are All Very Tightly Scripted
Sep05 Democrats Approve their Platform
Sep05 Politics and Typography
Sep05 Summary of the Republican Platform
Sep05 Summary of the Democratic Platform
Sep05 Comparison of the Platforms
Sep04 Democrats Reject Large Contributions to Pay for the Convention
Sep04 Voters Say Obama's Job Performance Does Not Warrant Another Term
Sep03 New Features Added Today
Sep03 Where Do We Stand Compared to 2008?
Sep03 Romney Does Not Get a Bump on Intrade
Sep03 No Bump for Romney in Florida Either
Sep03 Opportunities and Dangers for Charlotte
Sep03 Many Voter ID and Early Voting Cases in the Courts
Sep03 Latinos Gain Importance in North Carolina
Sep03 Democrats to Focus on 2012 but also 2016
Sep02 Why Didn't Obama Change Washington?