Obama 332
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Romney 206
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Dem 48
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Ties 3
GOP 49
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  • Strongly Dem (198)
  • Likely Dem (61)
  • Barely Dem (73)
  • Exactly tied (0)
  • Barely GOP (0)
  • Likely GOP (78)
  • Strongly GOP (128)
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News from the Votemaster

Obama: Romney Shoots First, Aims Later

Just in case you haven't followed the Egypt/Libya story, very briefly, on Sept. 10, a Florida pastor, Terry Jones, put a video on YouTube announcing the Sept. 11 screening of a video mocking the Prophet Mohammed. Many people in the Muslim world, not realizing that the U.S. government cannot control crazy hatemongers, were furious. Early on Sept. 11, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which was worried about being attacked, tweeted: "US Embassy condemns religious incitement," which was clearly aimed at Jones. Later in the day demonstrators stormed the embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag. In Libya, a mob stormed the American consulate in Benghazi. Jihadists took advantage of this and killed the American Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, and three other diplomats.

Shortly thereafter (but before he knew what had actually occurred), Mitt Romney said in part: "It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks." Romney's statement was reinforced by a tweet from RNC Chairman Reine Priebus at 12:01 A.M. on Sept. 12 saying: "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic." Here is a minute-by-minute timeline of the fast-moving events.

The only problem is that Romney's and Priebus' statements are completely false. Both Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the attacks in the strongest possible words and certainly didn't sympathize with the attackers. Romney is now under fire from the media and also from Republicans for making a false statement before he knew the facts. Republican leaders in the House and Senate, realizing that Romney blundered by introducing raw politics at a time when Americans would normally come together, have been conspicuously silent.

On Wednesday, Obama spoke with reporters and said: "And I think -- you know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that." This event is certainly going to reverberate for several days and raise the question of whether Romney has the temperament to be Commander-in-Chief. It is sure to come up during the third presidential debate, just before the election, and which will be about foreign policy.

It could have been different. As Fred Kaplan at slate.com put it: "Imagine if Romney had called President Obama, asked how he could be of assistance in this time of crisis, offered to appear at his side at a press conference to demonstrate that, when American lives are at risk, politics stop at the water's edge." Romney would have appeared presidential and Obama's equal at a joint press conference. Instead, he appears to be trying to profit from a tragedy.

On the betting site Intrade, the chance of Romney's winning the election dropped from 43% to 36% in 2 days.

Republicans Are Deeply Worried about Ohio

In an era when partisanship trumps everything, the National Review Online has a surprisingly pessimistic article about Mitt Romney's chances in Ohio. The National Review, founded by the late William F. Buckley, Jr. in 1955, has been probably the leading intellectual voice of the conservative movement for decades. Normally it sings the praises of Republicans in a careful, reasoned way (as opposed to, say, redstate.com, where invective and blind hate are the order of the day, every day). So an article that bemoans the fact that Romney is way behind in Ohio and says it would take an incredible amount of good luck for that to change is surprising. The article quotes Ed Rollins, a long-time Republican operative and Ronald Reagan's campaign manager saying: "This year, it's going to come right down to the wire, and Romney is going to have to push all of the right buttons to win there." The article concludes with Rollins also saying: "Look, if we don't win Ohio, we don't win the presidency." All in all, the bottom line is while it ain't over 'til it's over (per Yogi Berra), right now things don't look so good for Romney in Ohio.

Voter ID Laws Could Affect Downticket Races

While it is rare for a statewide election to be determined by fewer than 1000 votes (although George W. Bush won Florida in 2000 by 537 votes), congressional and local offices sometimes are this close. Consequently, the oral arguments today before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in a lawsuit filed by a 93-year-old great grandmother could have impact on many races. The plaintiff in the case being heard today, Viviette Applewhite, never had a driver's license and can't get her birth certificate so the law effectively disenfranchises her, in violation of the state constitution. No matter what the court rules in Pennsylvania, there are legal challenges to recent changes to election laws all over the country, and these challenges are likely to continue past the election, possibly leading to chaos in some races.

Florida Finds Far Fewer Noncitizens on the Voter Rolls than Expected

The Florida Dept. of State announced yesterday that by comparing its voter rolls to a federal immigration data base it had found 207 people who were not citizens. Earlier this year, Florida began purging the rolls, claiming there were thousands of noncitizens registered to vote. The purge has been the subject of lawsuits because many citizens were incorrectly purged due to having the same name as someone known to be a noncitizen. The 207 noncitizens registered represent 0.002% of Florida's voters. The controversy is about whether preventing many citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote is a good tradeoff for scrubbing such a small number of noncitizens from the rolls.

Libertarian Gary Johnson on the Ballot in 47 States

The candidate of the Libertarian Party, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, is on the ballot in 47 states. He is in court fighting to get on the remaining three: Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. Johnson is not expected to win any state or even get 10% of the vote in any state, but he could pull 1-2% from Romney in states like Colorado and New Hampshire and possibly tip the states to Obama.

Third-party candidates always poll much better than they actually do. When called by a pollster, people who support Johnson are happy to announce their support since it helps their candidate and costs nothing. But when they are in the voting booth they have to decide whether a protest vote is really worth helping the candidate they hate win. Usually they come down for the lesser of two evils and don't make a protest vote.

Libertarians are fairly consistently for freedom from government, so they don't fit the modern left-right axis well. They are against taxes and government regulation of business, but are also against laws prohibiting abortions and the use of marijuana for the same reasons: it's none of the government's business. Nevertheless, Republicans dissatisfied with Romney are more likely to see him as a suitable protest vote than Democrats unhappy with Obama. The party's Website is www.lp.org, where a small quiz is offered so you can see if you are actually a Libertarian without realizing it.

Incomes Are Back to 1989 Levels

A new report from the Census Bureau shows that the 2011 median family income of $50,054 is lower than the inflation-corrected 1989 median family income of $50,624. Many economists have realized for a long time that the U.S. economic problems are much deeper than the housing bubble and current recession. The causes and possible cures are the subject of much (political) debate, but some of the possible causes are:

  • Globalization. Europe is as advanced as the U.S. and Asia is catching up fast and jobs can be moved anywhere
  • Technology. Companies are automating many jobs and telecommunications makes it easier to outsource others
  • Inequality. High wages for the educated and weak unions means the people at the bottom get less than they used to
  • Debt and government. Conservative economists put the blame on big government and too many public services

Obama and the Democrats believe the first three items are the real causes and seek the solution in a better educated workforce and more equality among social classes. Romney and the Republicans say the problem is that the U.S. is becoming more like a European-style social welfare state and that has to be reversed. No matter what the cause, in international rankings of standard of living, the U.S. is no longer an undisputed #1. In fact, in five major indices, it is not even in the top three.

Index U.S. Rank Out of
Human Development Index 4 172
Purchasing power 7 183
GDP 9 183
Quality-of-Life Index 13 111
Human poverty index 17 19

The Speech Ann Romney Didn't Give

While Ann Romney got generally good marks for her speech at the Republican National Convention, she may have blown her opportunity to do what she was supposed to do: humanize her husband. Judith Grey has written an excellent piece on what she should really have said. She should have focused on her multiple sclerosis and how her husband stood by with unwavering support through good times and bad times. Off stage he once said to her: "I don't care how sick you are. I don't care if you're in a wheelchair. I don't care if I never eat another dinner in my life. I can eat cereal and toast and be just fine. As long as we're together, everything will be OK." That is infinitely more powerful than the vague generalities she used in her speech. It could have moved female voters to tears and maybe even into the Republican column. But she barely mentioned her illness.

It is hard to imagine that while planning her speech the Romneys didn't think of this approach, but Mitt is notoriously private and probably vetoed anything this personal. It is certainly possible that he genuinely didn't think it would have much impact.

Today's Presidential Polls

Monday we had a poll showing that Obama's lead in New Mexico was down to 5 points, but another poll today puts it back in double digits, where it has been most of the year, confirming that New Mexico has become a blue state and ceased to be a swing state. Today's Michigan poll strongly suggests that the state is not in play, despite it being the state where Romney was born and his father was governor.

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
California 57% 35%   Sep 09 Sep 11 SurveyUSA
Michigan 47% 37%   Sep 08 Sep 11 EPIC MRA
Montana 45% 50%   Sep 10 Sep 11 PPP
New Mexico 53% 42%   Sep 07 Sep 09 PPP
Washington 53% 42%   Sep 07 Sep 09 PPP

Today's Senate Polls

Today's Senate polls have good news for the Democrats. California, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico are going to be easy wins. Montana is still close, but now the Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) is a tad ahead. But probably the most important poll is in Missouri, where Todd Akin's statement about "legitimate rape" looks like it is going to take him down. He has until Sept. 25 to petition a court to remove him from the ballot but he has said over and over he's staying in. If he stays in and Tester beats Rehberg by a hair, the Democrats will almost certainly retain control of the Senate.

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
California Dianne Feinstein* 55% Elizabeth Emken 37%     Sep 09 Sep 11 SurveyUSA
Michigan Debbie Stabenow* 49% Pete Hoekstra 38%     Sep 08 Sep 11 EPIC MRA
Minnesota Amy Klobuchar* 55% Kurt Bills 34%     Sep 06 Sep 09 SurveyUSA
Missouri Claire McCaskill* 49% Todd Akin 43%     Sep 11 Sep 11 Rasmussen
Montana Jon Tester* 45% Denny Rehberg 43%     Sep 10 Sep 11 PPP
New Mexico Martin Heinrich 50% Heather Wilson 41%     Sep 07 Sep 09 PPP

* Denotes incumbent

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Previous Headlines

Sep12 Romney Losing Men
Sep12 Biden and Ryan Can't Wait for their Debate
Sep12 Three Under-the-Radar Senate Races Get Attention
Sep12 Obama Won't Meet Netanyahu in New York
Sep12 Romney's Wealth Could Be a Problem in the South
Sep12 Ryan Buys Ads for His House Race
Sep12 Romney Wants to Replace Obamacare but Doesn't Know with What
Sep12 Some Questions for the Debates
Sep11 Obama Gets Substantial Bounce from the Convention
Sep11 What's Going on in the Nine Swing States
Sep11 Three Factors that will Determine Who Wins the Presidency
Sep11 Economy Is Doing Better in Swing States than Nationally
Sep11 Could Romney Be Swiftboated on National Security?
Sep11 In Maine, the Republican Party is Supporting the Democrat
Sep11 Battle for the House to Begin This Week
Sep11 Of Tuna and Poverty
Sep11 Obama Gets Substantial Bounce from the Convention
Sep11 What's Going on in the Nine Swing States
Sep11 Three Factors that will Determine Who Wins the Presidency
Sep11 Economy Is Doing Better in Swing States than Nationally
Sep11 Could Romney Be Swiftboated on National Security?
Sep11 In Maine, the Republican Party is Supporting the Democrat
Sep11 Battle for the House to Begin This Week
Sep11 Of Tuna and Poverty
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