Category Archives: Colorado

The Post-Motems Continue to Roll In

The exit polling data around election day has a notoriously wide margin of error, so as the “final” data comes rolling in, most notably through the Current Population Survey, more accurate inferences can be drawn from an election it is still hard to fathom that Barack Obama won.  This AP news write-up draws more of the same conclusions many of us already know: white people stayed home, african-americans voted in droves, wash, rinse, repeat:

America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

Census data and exit polling show that whites and blacks will remain the two largest racial groups of eligible voters for the next decade. Last year’s heavy black turnout came despite concerns about the effect of new voter-identification laws on minority voting, outweighed by the desire to re-elect the first black president.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, analyzed the 2012 elections for the AP using census data on eligible voters and turnout, along with November’s exit polling. He estimated total votes for Obama and Romney under a scenario where 2012 turnout rates for all racial groups matched those in 2004. Overall, 2012 voter turnout was roughly 58 percent, down from 62 percent in 2008 and 60 percent in 2004.

The Battlegrounds:

Romney would have erased Obama’s nearly 5 million-vote victory margin and narrowly won the popular vote if voters had turned out as they did in 2004, according to Frey’s analysis. Then, white turnout was slightly higher and black voting lower.

More significantly, the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Colorado would have tipped in favor of Romney, handing him the presidency if the outcome of other states remained the same.

Colorado GOTV: Reconciling Election Results & Exit Poll Data by David Ramos

This is a look at the aftermath of the Colorado GOP ground game by reader David Ramos:

The pundits have had their two cents commenting what the election results and exit polling data says and does not say. In this case, a summary of how Colorado voted in the election using exit polling data available at Fox News and election vote numbers available at the Denver Post. Please note exit polling data and actual vote data may have changed over the past few days.

The D/R/I split –

In the 2008 election, the party split on election day was Democrat 30%, Republican 31% and Independents 39%. If the election were based strictly on these numbers, Romney would have carried the state. Both sides did very well in keeping their core voter bases. If there was any crossover voting, it was pretty much a wash. Neither gained much from these type of voters. The unaffiliated (independent) voters, according to exit polling, went for Romney by a 50-45 margin. This would indicate unaffiliated voters in Colorado essentially returned to their conservative-leaning roots. Following the party ID D/R/I split, it appears Romney was the preferred choice.

This poses the question on how Romney, then, could not carry Colorado by leading with unaffiliated voters by a 5-point margin. Brit Hume on election night alluded to “moderate” voters. Hume surmised many who call themselves “moderate” are actually reliably liberal Democrat voters. They don’t view themselves holding extreme positions, or consider themselves to ever vote for a Republican. When the exit poll asked “how you view your political alignment, liberal-moderate-conservative”, moderates in Colorado broke for Obama by 8-10 points. That alone, Obama was able to negate whatever vote advantage Romney may have had with the D/R/I split.

Down Ballot Influence –

With no statewide offices or contentious initiatives on the ballot, there was very little or no influence that could sway the presidential race in one direction or another. The congressional races were pretty much tame, with the incumbents expected to hold their seats. In the Republican held congressional districts, it appears some voters may have split their ballot – keeping their Republican congressmen and voting for Obama.

The most serious challenge the Democrats made was in CD 6, a district that has reliably voted Republican since the lines were first drawn. Reapportionment had shifted more Democrat voters into the district. As such, the Democrats thought they may have a chance of beating popular Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. Coffman held his seat by a 50-45 margin, even narrowly carrying Arapahoe County, a swing county that was carried by Obama. In CD 5, the Republicans had no Democrat challenger, allowing incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn to handily win re-election. Yet, one county in CD 5 was carried by Obama and two counties were narrowly won by Romney. Lamborn won those same counties by comfortable margins. In Republican stronghold El Paso County, the centerpiece of CD 5, apparently there were unaffiliated voters who chose Obama over Romney. Romney won El Paso County by a 57-43 margin, slightly improving on McCain’s 55-45 win in 2008. For a Republican to strongly compete for Colorado and help offset the Democrat margins in the Denver Metro area, El Paso County needs to be carried by at least a 65-35 margin. In 2000, Bush 43 carried the county by a 68-32 margin. In 2004, Bush 43 won by a 75-25 margin (best-ever).

Reconciling the numbers –

With reports of widespread failures in the Project Orca GOTV, it might be quite fair to say Colorado slipped away from the Romney column in the same way. Heading into election night, Team Romney believed it would be able to flip Colorado into their column. There was good optimism and high enthusiasm based on the huge Red Rocks rally and the Fiddler’s Green rally (Nov 3). But, then again, large rallies are not good indicators of election results. George McGovern, for example, was drawing large rally crowds at the end of his campaign. And, John Kerry drew a crowd of 80,000+ in Madison, only to win Wisconsin in 2004 by a narrow margin.

Shortly before the polls closed in Colorado, Team Romney believed their numbers pointed to a win. With 1.9 million early votes cast, a possible 800,000 votes could be cast on election day. As noted previously, no one knew how anyone voted in the early voting period. PPP suggested Obama held a 6-point lead among unaffiliated voters, giving him a slight lead going into election day. From exit polling, unaffiliated voters were breaking for Romney 50-45. It appears unaffiliated voters actually broke for Obama instead, and not Romney.

It appears, though, the difference between the Romney and Obama campaigns is the turnout model. The Obama campaign thought they would be able to recreate a portion of their 2008 turnout by getting the turnout they needed from the groups they needed. The Romney campaign turnout model was based on turnout levels would return to historical norms. Dick Morris, Karl Rove, and others on the conservative side believed turnout levels would return to historical norms. While Obama lost half of his victory margin in Colorado compared to 2008, a reduction in victory margin was likely calculated into their turnout model.

— David Ramos

0.3% is the Difference Between President Romey and President Obama

A strategic shift in 0.3% of the vote changes the President of the United States. Of course it matters greatly where those 0.3% are located as Team Obama knew from Day 1 while Team Romney keeps smacking their forehead saying “Now they tell us!” Jim Geraghty keeps up with the turnout math:

[H]ere is an updated set of numbers, according to the results this morning on the New York Timesresults map:

Florida: 73,858

Ohio: 103,481

Virginia: 115,910

Colorado: 113,099

Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.

Obama’s margin in some other key states:

Nevada: 66,379

Iowa: 88,501

New Hampshire: 40,659

At this hour, 120,556, 279 votes for Obama and Romney have been counted nationwide.

More Reports of Project ORCA Fail

Here is a report from one of our own readers Tom in Arizona on the epic failure of the Romney Get Out the Vote effort:

I volunteered for the Romney campaign election day task force on 10/21/2012.  I received the following email on 10/22/2012:

Hi Tom,

 Thank you very much for your interest in being involved with the Romney-Ryan Election Day Task Force! Your help will be vital on Election Day. It will take up to 2 days to process you into our volunteer system, but we will be in touch with further information very soon.

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to e-mail me at C********o@mittromney.com.

Thank you very much,

dc

To keep this short, after four days of no further contact, I started trying to contact the campaign myself over the remaining days before the election.  I tried the above email on 6 different occasions with no further replies.  I tried calling 3 different victory centers, most of which went to voice mail, and some of those voice mail boxes were full.  I spoke with “live” people twice, both of which said they’d get back to me.  Neither did.  I’m in AZ and I told them I could go to CO if necessary or help by making phone calls from home if they already had enough volunteers in CO.  I also told them I could do anything else they need, just let me know.  I NEVER HEARD BACK!  It failed before it began.

I saw your post on Gravity yesterday and why they wouldn’t use that is beyond me.  The private sector had the solution and Romney failed to use it.  How ironic.

Regards,

Tom in Arizona

The blame lies far higher than the Romney staffer in the above email but this is only the latest example of how Mitt Romney’s staff failed him at the least opportune time.  Considering there were 37,000 volunteers for Project ORCA, if each person gotten people to the polls across Colorado, Ohio, Virginia and Florida we would be talking about President Romney today.

The Epic Failure That Was Team Romney’s Get Out the Vote Fiasco

If you care at all about the how and why the Romney campaign failed so miserably to turnout the vote, you have to read this entire entry by John Ekdahl at Ace of Spades:

What is Project Orca? Well, this is what they told us:

Project ORCA is a massive undertaking – the Republican Party’s newest, unprecedented and most technologically advanced plan to win the 2012 presidential election.

Pretty much everything in that sentence is false. The “massive undertaking” is true, however. It would take a lot of planning, training and coordination to be done successfully (oh, we’ll get to that in a second). This wasn’t really the GOP’s effort, it was Team Romney’s. And perhaps “unprecedented” would fit if we’re discussing failure. The entire purpose of this project was to digitize the decades-old practice of strike lists. The old way was to sit with your paper and mark off people that have voted and every hour or so, someone from the campaign would come get your list and take it back to local headquarters. Then, they’d begin contacting people that hadn’t voted yet and encourage them to head to the polls. It’s worked for years.

After giving you a blow by blow recount of this colossal failure that you must read, he concludes:

[T]he end result was that 30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help. Like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc. We lost by fairly small margins in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado. If this had worked could it have closed the gap? I sure hope not for my sanity’s sake. The bitter irony of this entire endeavor was that a supposedly small government candidate gutted the local structure of GOTV efforts in favor of a centralized, faceless organization in a far off place (in this case, their Boston headquarters). Wrap your head around that.

Good Thing They Didn’t Air the Romney Bio Piece in Prime Time

Or air those personal testimonials when they had the nation’s attention at the national convention in Florida.

Idiot Eric Fehrnstrom has already been quoted as saying the Bain attacks were ineffective “like arrows bouncing off us” in the primaries.  No reason to give a full-throated defense or detailed endorsement of business success that will actually get people working again.   Thankfully Fehrnstrom can etech-a-sketch himself into oblivion now.

Team Romney said they were going to buy media time and run the bio in Battleground States.  Did anyone see it?  I have no reports of it airing.

Here is what I wrote in a private communication on September 28 to someone involved in the Romney campaign in Ohio:

Romney’s short-coming is he has yet to make the compelling case why the country should hire him (so far he’s really just been the not-Obama candidate).  In Romney’s corporate speak this is the longest job interview of his life and all he is doing is telling everyone he can [do] the job better (a losing interview strategy) when he needs to demonstrate he can do the job better (a winning interview strategy).

When the media cries for specifics, don’t dodge the question as he is doing or answer with policy specifics that will be used against him.  Launch into what it was like to create the companies he names in his speeches but doesn’t talk in detail about.  Talk about how many people have been employed over the life of the companies (not just the amount of employees today). Talk about late nights and tightening belts to make payroll and keep the lights on.  Talk about the sacrifices made to get to the next milestone to hopefully turn a fledgling company into a great success.  Demonstrate how these companies are doing great things in states A, B & C but he wants to bring that innovation and opportunity to Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin (depending on the location of the speech).  Beg the Obama campaign to bring up the steel mill where that guy’s wife died of cancer.  Talk about how the company was dying when Bain showed up.  Tell how many steel companies went under while Bain tried to retool and save the company.  Talk about how many more the years the company stayed open with thousands collecting paychecks because Bain kept the doors open as long as they could and this was 6-8 years longer than they would open have had Bain never been there. That’s thousands of people keeping paychecks and having an opportunity thanks to Bain not the other way around.  Demonstrate his great success and how it touched countless lives at every stage of his career. Demonstrate how he can do that for America instead of just talking about it.  We tried that last time.

Ads or Votes? You Decide

This is a lesson for candidates and organizations who want to win rather than consultants who want to bilk clients for millions in fees:

Judging by the current vote totals, Romney’s nationwide operation fell far short of McCain’s in 2008.  In fact, Romney currently trails McCain by around 2 million votes.  2 million!  That number is mind-boggling.  How did the Republican candidate facing the worst president in modern history manage to get 2 million fewer votes than in 2008? Granted, that number may narrow a bit as more votes are counted, but it’s astonishing that Romney’s votes are even in the neighborhood of McCain’s.

GOTV Fail

[T]he Republican party establishment’s micro-targeting of voters, from surveying voters to a get-out-the-vote, or GOTV, operation — if you can even call it an operation — was a joke.  Take Colorado, Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, for example.  Had Romney won those states, he would be celebrating victory today.  The media would have you believe that he was trounced there.  That’s not the case. Romney lost all four states — and the presidency — by less than 400,000 votes.  He lost Colorado by 111,000, Florida by 47,000, Ohio by 100,000, and Virginia by 108,000.  That’s it. Romney was locked out of the White House by about 366,000 votes.

Ads versus votes

Now imagine an alternate universe in which the Republican party’s consultants, power brokers, and money men invested in legitimate micro-targeting and GOTV efforts with technology that works (like Gravity. . . not Orca). Instead, millions were spent on endless ads that not only failed to move the needle in the age of TiVo and DVR but will keep the lights on for many TV stations that are less than friendly to the conservative movement.

Priorities

According to news reports, American Crossroads — by far the best-funded force outside the RNC and the congressional committees — and its affiliates raked in $300 million during the 2012 election cycle.  Imagine if a fraction of that money had been spent on voter identification and GOTV efforts in the states mentioned above. It’s not like it was a secret as to where this election was going to be won or lost. It was a universe of no more than 9 states. Think about just $2M per state invested into GOTV. That’s $18M well spent. Instead, that money now pads the bank accounts of various individuals who, if not already millionaires before this cycle started, certainly are now.

It’s the difference between President Obama and President Romney

Team Romney GOTV Excuse Making Doesn’t Pass the Laugh Test

Per usual, Mike Murphy remains the very last person the GOP should ever listen to:

Colorado Post-Mortem by David Ramos

The below write-up is by one of our readers David Ramos:

An election wrap from Colorado …

The breakdown of voting patterns will roll out over the next few weeks. The keys for a Romney victory, that were outlined previously, quickly fell by the wayside.

Minding the gap – Based on early voting ballot returns, the Republicans did a good job on minding the gap in the swing counties and keeping the gap as close as possible in the Democratic stronghold counties of Denver, Boulder, Adams, and Pueblo. Of course, nobody knew how any ballot was marked until counting began after the polls closed. As the counting proceeded, the swing counties of Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Larimer were swinging in Obama’s direction – which he eventually carried. In the Democratic stronghold counties, the margins in Denver, Boulder, and Adams established by the Democrats held. In Pueblo County, Romney did a good job cutting the 65-35 Obama lead by 10 points. One of the little electoral secrets here in Colorado is that reliably Democrat Pueblo County has been trending Republican since 2006.

Running up margins in Republican strongholds – In the stronghold counties of El Paso, Douglas, Mesa, and Weld, the margins the Republicans established in the early voting period were reduced. The 68-32 margin was reduced significantly in El Paso County to a 60-38 split. In Douglas County, the 71-29 margin  was reduced to a 63-36 margin. In Mesa County, the 69-31 margin was reduced to 65-32. And, in Weld County, the 62-38 margin was reduced to a 55-42 margin.  In each case, it may be fair to conclude Obama took away enough unaffiliated (independent) voters in those counties to reduce the Republican strength.

Win a majority of unaffiliated voters – The assumption regarding the voting pattern of unaffiliated voters voting similar to where they live is quite logical. Estimates suggested this group would break narrowly for Romney. With that said, Obama is one of those candidates in which conventional wisdom seems not to apply. PPP suggested that Obama had a six-point lead among unaffiliated voters going into Election Day. It appears PPP made a correct call, wiping out the R+1.8 to +2.6 advantage, and giving Obama his four-point win.

— David Ramos

Super Quick Thoughts Before It’s Over

The bottom line is the Obama ground game was outstanding win or lose.  Full marks to them.  Even though at this juncture the inside straight of Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado are available for Romney the reality is Team Obama out-flanked Team Romney in the fringe Battlegrounds.  Everywhere I expected there to be insufficient Democrats to match the polls, Team Obama appears to have found votes to outperform Romney’s supposed advantage with Independents. We’ll see what the internals say over the coming days but no matter the national outcome, Democrats win in the Senate and Republicans win in the House means both sides need to better evaluate how best to move the country forward regardless of who wins the top of the ticket prize.

Election Day Report from Colorado — David Ramos

Below is the election day report from reader David Ramos who has been tracking early voting for Battlewatch.com:
On the ground
The weather is beautiful, temps around 70.Wait times are not extraordinarily long despite an early report from KMGH 7 (ABC) in Denver saying the lines had wait times of an hour or more. With a very short ballot here in the state, it takes less than 5-7 minutes. If your read everything, of course, it’ll take 45 minutes or longer. If you bring a cheat sheet of how you’re going to vote, less than 3 minutes. The other Denver stations did not report any waiting problems.Yesterday, the Secretary of State’s office checked out those voting machines recording an Obama vote, in Pueblo county (strong Dem) when the Romney button was pushed. It was determined those touch-screen machines were set to the most sensitive setting. That said, when the Obama button was pressed, the vote was recorded as Obama. Call it curious.
The numbers
The Secretary of State’s office finally put in the clarification that vote totals include in-person early voting, received mail-in ballots, and received absentee ballots, which makes better sense numerically speaking. As of this morning’s report, 1,909,969 votes have been cast. This would leave around 800,000 people casting votes today in their precincts. The total number of active voters is roughly 2.7 million. Another 912,000 voters are classified as inactive. Inactive voters include those that some sort of problem with their registration, primarily address. If an inactive voter showed up to vote, they would have to vote provisional. Whether it would be included in the final tally would be at the discretion of the county election official. The D/R split in the this morning’s report is R+2.6. The D/R split with all parties is R+1.8.
Battleground counties
Arapahoe County
Has tightened up considerably over the weekend as more mail-in and absentee ballots have been received. The Republicans have a 390 ballot lead over the Democrats. This county will be decided by the unaffiliateds (independents). In the morning report, 62,936 unaffiliated ballots were received. What may tip the election is that many people living in this county have mortgages that are underwater. Also, it was the epicenter of bank foreclosures and bankruptcies in 2009-10, before easing last year. However, the foreclosure rate is starting to pick up.
Jefferson County
The lead has held, slightly increasing to 6,639 more Republican ballots than Democrat. The big race, however, is for CD 6. The Democrats have made a serious run for this seat and it’s considered by RCP as a toss-up. It’s likely to be held by Republican incumbent Mike Coffman, who is quite popular in the Denver Metro area.
Stronghold counties
Denver-Adams-Boulder-Pueblo
The Democrats are holding their large lead in Denver County by a 76-24 margin. In Boulder County, the Democrats appeared to have woken up and has provided an equally impressive 70-30 margin. In Pueblo County, the Democrats have established a comfortable 65-35 margin. It appears they are performing as expected. The lone standout is Adams County, it appears the Republicans have made an effort to mind the gap where the Democrats have a 57-43 margin. Adams County has been solid blue as Denver in previous election cycles.
El Paso-Mesa-Douglas-Weld
Similarly, the Republicans are holding fast in their strongholds. In El Paso County, the Republicans hold a 68-32 margin. In Douglas County, a 71-29 margin. In Mesa County, it is a 69-31 margin. And, in Weld County, it is a 62-38 margin. In the rural counties, The Republicans hold a sizeable lead over the Democrats in the rural counties, at least a 60-40 margin.
Key to victory
The key are firmly held in the hands of the unaffiliated voters. If they split according to the county they live in, the split would 51-49 in favor of the Republicans. Public Policy Polling has claimed the Obama campaign holds a 6-point lead among the independents, thus giving him the upper hand coming into election day. The 6-point lead is very similar to the advantage Obama held in 2008. If Obama is holding a 6-point lead, why he is down 35K votes at the start of the day. For Romney to win, it comes down to today’s GOTV effort and how well Romney connected with the independent voters here. If the rallies are any indication, he may be in good shape. The same can be said for Obama.
Hope you have a good evening.
— David Ramos

Team Romney Thinking on Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin and New Hampshire

Robert Costa of National Review is as dialed in as any reporter out there when it comes to the Romney inner thoughts.  Here is his dispatch as of 5:09pm:

Romney officials tell me that they’re seeing strong early numbers in Colorado, especially in Adams County. “We will probably win in Adams, which often leans Democrat,” an adviser says. “We’re also running up big margins in the conservative areas, such as Archuleta and Moffat counties.”

Iowa is also looking good. “The northwest part of the state, where Steve King is congressman, is turning out at historic levels,” the adviser says. “The suburban turnout in Ankeny and Clive is quite high.”

The Romney team is also optimistic about Wisconsin and New Hampshire due to reports of high turnout in GOP towns. “We’re seeing big turnout in McCain’s Ohio counties, too,” the adviser says. “In Pennsylvania, the turnout in upper Bucks County, which is a strong Republican area, is great.”

Seven Battleground Counties to Watch on Election Night

Same original author as the earlier piece (Chris Palko) but an election night spin on each county with few repeats.  This guy does good work. Lots of smart info:

Looking for some shortcuts when it comes to projecting which candidate has the edge Tuesday night? Once returns start coming in, turn your focus to these seven counties—they will be small scale indicators of that state and national results:

Prince William County, VA
Virginia will be one of the first states to report results on Tuesday night, and Prince William County is the most important county there. Romney needs to win the county to win Virginia. George W. Bush and Bob McDonnell were able to win the county rather solidly. There has been an influx of immigrants in the past decade, and as a consequence it has a somewhat more Democratic lean than before. This will also be a good check to see if the Romney and Obama campaigns’ assumptions about the demographics of the electorate are correct.

Lake County, OH
This is the closest county in the most important state. Lake County is the eastern suburbs of Cleveland and the best gauge for how the entire state will vote. In 2004, Bush won the county by the same margin as he won the state. Obama ran a bit worse than his state percentages in 2008 but was able to win.  Watching Lake County is the best shortcut for projecting Ohio results on election night.

Bucks County, PA
In the critical suburban Philadelphia area, Chester County is most likely going for Romney and Montgomery and Delaware Counties will go for Obama. The swingiest of them all is Bucks County, north of Philadelphia.  Monday’s Romney rally that garnered some 30,000 supporters was held here for exactly that reason. In 2004, Bucks went for John Kerry by three percentage points, the exact same margin as the rest of the state. It has trended right in the past few years, as Republican Pat Toomey won the county 53 percent to 47 percent in his 2010 Senate race. Romney has to keep the margins close in suburban Philadelphia, and he has to win Bucks to do so.

Jefferson County, CO
In a heavily polarized state, the Denver suburbs hold the balance of power. Jefferson County, along with its suburban neighbors, voted for Bush in 2004 by small margins and then flipped to Obama in 2008. Romney had one of his most memorable campaign rallies at Red Rocks Amphitheater, which is in Jefferson County. Whichever candidate wins this county is going to win Colorado.

Washoe County, NV
The dynamic of Nevada politics is Democratic Clark County against Republican outstate areas, with Reno in the middle. For Romney to win Nevada, he has to win Washoe County. In 2004 and 2008, it matched the state percentages for Bush and Obama. A win here doesn’t guarantee Romney a victory in Nevada, but it is a necessary component.

Racine County, WI
Racine County is slightly more Republican than Wisconsin as a whole. Bush narrowly won it in 2004, while he barely lost the state overall.  Even so, anything more than a narrow Romney victory would augur well for him in a county that is a representative blend of urban, suburban and rural areas. It’s also worth watching due to the potential gains in Southern Wisconsin that could accrue with Paul Ryan, their congressman on the ticket. The potential for adding independents and some Democrats, who have voted for Ryan for years, to the Romney column could be decisive in a close state.

Oakland County, MI
The county that Mitt Romney grew up in is worth watching for a few reasons. First, if Romney wants to pull an upset in Michigan, he must win Oakland County. Second, it is precisely the sort of northern affluent suburb Republicans have had problems with at the presidential level for the past 20 years. Gains here would be indicative of Romney strength in other affluent suburbs in key states and a significant difference between a winning Romney coalition and the previous winning coalition that George W. Bush assembled.

8 Battleground Counties to Decide the Election

Addendum:  This is a re-post from September 20 that I think has held up pretty well.  The biggest difference I’d say is Florida is almost certainly out of reach for Obama so look at Scott County, Iowa as a good one tonight.  You can also scroll through the numerous posts on various Battleground Counties across the county.

[Begin Original Post] That headline is a bit of a stretch but reader Roland Tilden sends a link to a story by Smart Media Group’s Chris Palko who breaks down 10 counties he believes Romney must win to carry the election.   And since we love Battleground Counties almost as much as we love Battleground States, this was right up our alley. What is consistent about the counties selected is each is a big population center so that understandably impacts election outcomes and each was a Bush 2004 and an Obama 2008 county. Not coincidentally Mitt Romney’s original bus tour in June hit a great many of these counties and will almost certainly do so again this time.

The only thing I don’t like about the list is 2 counties are in North Carolina which is not a Battleground in my opinion. In Palko’s defense, this story was originally published in April so his choices are really excellent so far out. As for North Carolina, it’s a state Romney will win by 5-10%. And until President Obama actually campaigns in the state (he hasn’t in all of 2012 outside of his Convention), it’s very likely a GOP pickup with minimal effort from this point forward and not worthy of much attention beyond that acknowledgement.

We have profiled a number of these counties whose links I provide below.  Where there is a battlegroundwatch.com post specifically on one of the cities he mentions, I provided the link as well in addition to my “Battle for [State]” series for each state. With that said, here are the eight Battleground Counties (in reverse order of impact according to Palko) that will go a long way to deciding the election: Hillsborough County, N.H. , Prince William County, Va., Chester County, Pa., Jefferson County, Colo., Arapahoe County, Colo., Hamilton County, Ohio, Pinellas County, Fla., Hillsborough County, Fla.

#8: Hillsborough County  New Hampshire
2004: Bush 51 – 48 2008: Obama 51 – 48
Population: 400,721 Largest city: Manchester

Palko: Most of New Hampshire’s population is close to the Massachusetts state line, which Hillsborough County straddles. It contains a vital grouping of towns and cities including Manchester and Nashua, the two largest cities in the state. Both are swing communities, in the electoral sense.

Battlegroundwatch: This is the location of Mitt Romney’s summer home, the place where he launched his Presidential bid and where he kicked off his June bus tour. They have spent money on the air, these voters are Mitt Romney kind of Republicans and the state has had a Republican resurregence.  Ripe for the plucking but it will be a battle to the end.

#7: Prince William County Virginia
2004: Bush 53 – 47 2008: Obama 58-42
Population: 402,002 Largest community: Dale City

Palko: Prince William County is an exurban county about 25 miles southwest of Washington D.C. It’s on the edge between the traditional, conservative Virginia, and the more progressive suburbs outside the capital. Prince William has become very diverse in recent years, particularly in the I-95 corridor. A hard swing towards Obama was key for him winning Virginia.

Battlegroundwatch: I would have ranked this much higher and definitely in the top 3. This is Obama’s bread-basket: upwardly mobile suburban moderates who trended strongly for Obama in 2008 but whose support has softened in the difficult economic environment. This is where Romney will need to make his mark if he is going to stem the tide of Northern Virginia dominance by Democrats.

  #6 Chester County Pennsylvania
2004: Bush 52 – 47.5 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 498,886 Largest city: West Chester

Palko: Of the four suburban Philly counties, Chester was the only one that Bush won in 2004. The tail end of the prestigious Main Line is in the county, but so is the disadvantaged city of Coatesville. In between, there are plenty of middle-class suburbs, and even still some farmland. This is one of the few counties in Pennsylvania showing substantial population growth, so its importance is increasing.

Battlegroundwatch: It was no accident that the “youthful” Paul Ryan (early-40s is still youthful, right?) and the Romney sons have hit this area hard .  Similar to the suburban growth outside of DC in Virginia, this area outside Pennsylvania is full of persuadable Romney voters.  To win the state, Republicans must begin performing well here and in neighboring counties and they’ll never crack this nut.

#5 Jefferson County Colorado 
2004: Bush 52 – 47 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 534,543 Largest city: Lakewood

Palko: Colorado is a heavily polarized state divided between very liberal Dems in Denver and Boulder, and very conservative Reps in Colorado Springs and the rural areas. The balance of power is held by the handful of counties in suburban Denver. Jefferson County to the west of the city is truly a purple county closely mirroring Colorado’s overall results in the last two presidential contests.

Battlegroundwatch: Filled with one of my favorite stories this cycle about battleground Precinct 7202330176 in Lakewood, a neighborhood who has called all but one statewide race correct since 2000. The swingiest of swing voters, Jefferson has been a regular stop for both sides all election season. Crowd sizes have been huge for Romney and flipping suburban white voters will be the key like they were in 2008 when they flipped for Obama.

#4  Arapahoe County Colorado
2004: Bush 51 – 48 2008: Obama 56 – 43
Population: 572,003 Largest city: Aurora

Palko: Arapahoe County is to the southeast of Denver and, like Jefferson, it’s a purple county that determines which party wins CO. It contains most of Aurora, the second biggest city in the Denver area. The county, and Aurora in particular, has seen a major increase in its Hispanic population in the past decade. This development has made the county a bit more Democratic than its neighbors.

Battlegroundwatch: The key here are the unaffiliated voters who much like Jefferson County swung for Obama in 2008.  Economy is the key.  These are upper middle income workers who often commute to Denver but fall into the pure suburban stereo-type.  Issues like taxes and jobs resonate strongly with this crowd who has unfortunately seen its fair share of recent tragedies.

#3 Hamilton County Ohio
2004: Bush 52.5 – 47 2008: Obama 53 – 46
Population: 802,374 Largest city: Cincinnati

Palko: Cincinnati is one of the most Republican metro areas outside of the South, but the central city county of Hamilton is a swing county. Hamilton County is worth watching, in part, because African-American turnout will be crucial. Sustaining high African-American turnout can make or break Obama’s reelection hopes. [Obama was] the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to carry the county.

Battlegroundwatch: A great boon for Obama in 2008 in a state where he underperformed national margins, his win in Hamilton was a shocker.  This is Rob Portman country so look for the debate prep partner and VP short-lister to be featured prominently in efforts to flip this back. This once reliable GOP region must flip if Romney is to have any chance in Ohio.

#2 Pinellas County Florida
2004: Bush 49.6 – 49.5 2008: Obama 54 – 45
Population: 916,542 Largest city: St. Petersburg

Palko: The top counties are both part of Florida’s I-4 Corridor, which runs through the Daytona Beach, Orlando and Tampa areas. The I-4 is the most important region in this presidential election. In Pinellas County, St. Petersburg has some neighborhoods that are solidly Democratic, but most of the territory is split 50/50. Every precinct could make the difference between winning and losing.

Battlegroundwatch: I would have inserted Henrico Couty, VA here (bigger Battleground, Florida trending GOP). But Pinellas is an interesting county w/a lot of conflicting politics.  It was a strong Romney county in the primaries where he doubled his nearest competitor. Unsurprisingly Ann Romney has been featured prominently in this county next door to the Republican Convention.

#1 Hillsborough County Florida
2004: Bush 53 – 46 2008: Obama 53 – 46
Population: 1,229,226 Largest city: Tampa

Palko: The most crucial county this fall is on the other side of Tampa Bay from Pinellas, the runner-up. Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa and its immediate suburbs, is the only county listed with more than one million residents. Still, it’s a fairly accurate small-scale version of America. It has a solidly Democratic central city that includes large African-American and Hispanic populations, and some outlying areas that are heavily Republican. The immediate suburbs are closely split. Whoever wins Hillsborough County in November is most likely the next occupant of the White House.

Battlegroundwatch: If Mitt Romney doesn’t win Florida, he probably doesn’t win the election.  And if he doesn’t win Hillsborough County, he probably doesn’t win Florida. Home of the Republican Convention and probably more campaign attention than any in the state.  This target rich county at the base of the I-4 corridor, this county is as closely contested as any in the country.  Of the 1.95 million votes cast in presidential elections since 1992, Republican nominees won only about 14,000 more than Democratic nominees. The outcome in the Tampa Bay market has run within 2 percentage points of the statewide result in every presidential election since 1992.

Electoral Vote Prediction: What Will Happen Tomorrow?

About one week after this blog began its 5+ month odyssey (when I still could not walk and ate pain killers like they were candy) I wrote: “If the poll shows the Democrat with a slight lead, it’s tied.  If the poll shows the race tied, the Republican is winning.  And if the poll shows the Republican winning? well then the race is over.”

Sadly I thought by this point Romney would be up a point or two in the polls and could confidently predict a 330 electoral vote win. But Hurricane Sandy changed the dynamic of the race.  President Obama was “Presidential” for once and appeared in a bi-partisan light with a great assist from Chris Christie. Had his first term been more bi-partisan like he showed during the Hurricane he would have a far better shot at re-election. But his recent political deathbed conversion runs contrary to what this country has lived through over the last four years.  The most divisive President since the disgraced Richard Nixon can give a good speech and wears the genial veneer of a uniter, but his four-year record of division has left the country worse off from his choices.

You can’t swing a dead cat today without hitting a national poll showing the race a dead heat between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. But the polling today and political commentary reminds me so much of two mid-term elections: 1994 and 2010 — admittedly non-Presidential years.  The press consensus was a “status quo” election in 1994 while they mocked firebrands who were talking about a revolution. The result was historic drubbings in the House and Senate flipping control of both to Republicans. The same press more recently tried the same dodge in 2010 focusing on likely Republican failures Christine O’Donnell and Sharon Angle rather than the transformative Republicans like Kristi Noem, Tim Scott, Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio. The arrogant Obama consoled Democrats ahead of this mid-term saying the difference between 1994 and 2010 was that this time they had him. Of course Republicans famously delivered a “shellacking” at the voting booth.  My favorite gawd-awful pollster, Marist, had the Congressional race dead even ahead of the greatest drubbing ever. As the Washington Examiner’s Michael Barone wrote “you could argue that this is the best Republican showing ever.” Rather odd they seem to always underestimate Republican performance, don’t you think?

Today the press write 50 stories on Missouri’s Todd Akin and barely acknowledge Nebraska’s Deb Fischer.  If Fischer were a Democrat, the upstart Senator-in-waiting would be paraded around Sunday talk-shows like Cleopatra but you see nary a passing mention of Fischer taking down the formidable Bob Kerrey.  The Tea Party of 2010 was misrepresented, relentlessly smeared with false accusations of racist behavior and ultimately dismissed by the press until they kicked the door in. Instead of trying to coalesce into a national movement  they retrenched locally and have been planting the political mustard seeds in Battleground districts across this country.  You already see the fruits of their labors in the great voter registration changes and early voting of low-propensity Republicans. They don’t talk big or preen for the cameras, they just go about their business changing the entire dynamic of American politics. Today’s polls capture none of this and represent an electorate much the same as the dynamic 2008 Democrat wave when there is no evidence to support such enthusiasm or turnout.

Democrats still have to explain away Obama and his plan for the future because he has yet to offer one. The national polls say despite his poor first term record and lack of a second term agenda he is tied nationally but more importantly leading among the Battleground State polls. But as Bob Krumm writes: “The last two times that a Republican challenged a Democratic incumbent (1996 and 1980) the polls overestimated Democratic support by 5.1 and 7.2 points.  And ‘96 was not even in bad economic times.”  (h/t @JohnEkdahl). Add to that the majority of this blog relentlessly focused on breaking down state poll internals demonstrating time and again those same polls were over-representing Democrat voters and misrepresenting the various state electorates. When you combine these two, the reality is that yes, the polls are wrong and this is not a new phenomenon. The major difference in this election is the sheer volume and relentless use of these polls as political advocacy for a preferred candidate.

In those same polls Mitt Romney has consistently led by double digits among Independent voters while locking down Republican partisans. But Independents are not always the greatest indicator in Presidential elections. John Kerry won Independents nationally by ~1% and by double digits in Ohio ~19 points and still lost the election by 3 points. and Ohio by 2-points.  It is this statistic Democrats cling to while Republicans, including myself, scoff at tied polls with Romney leading with Independents by 20-points. George Bush overcame that Independent deficit because he had a historic turnout of Republicans that had never been seen before. Barack Obama also achieved a historic partisan advantage for modern elections in the 2008 turnout but also carried Independents by 8-points and won overall by 7-points. In 2012 his entire re-election is staked on achieving this again but under far less advantageous circumstances. The greatest difference between 2004 and 2012 is George Bush had a passionate following on the most prominent issue of the day–national security–while today Obama is at his weakest on the most prominent issue of the day–the economy–with passion inspired only in the cult of Obama. This is why Obama is so consistently capped at 47 or 48% in nearly every poll. His impassioned followers won’t abandon him but he attracts few others.

This means the only way Obama wins is a turnout superior to his historic 2008 election when his greatest assets, insurmountable early voting leads and enthusiasm unparalleled in American history, are absent. Maybe he’ll pull it off, but the evidence says he will not. Mitt Romney has run a competent campaign and caught fire in the first debate when President Obama’s lack of vision stood in stark contrast to the energized and vibrant Romney. Since that juncture the enthusiasm, initiative and momentum have all been on one side of the contest.  Today the Romney ground game does no worse than match the vaunted Obama ground game with evidence that Team Obama is desperately robbing Peter (cannibalizing election day high propensity voters) to pay Paul (boost weak early voting).

If political directors at ABC, NBC and CBS were told 6-months ago President Obama’s final days would be spent defending Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin (to crowds far smaller than even John Kerry) while Romney is drawing 30k in Philadelphia suburbs in near unanimity they would conclude Obama is losing the race. Today states like Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania show up in political discussions the way Indiana and North Carolina were in 2008. It doesn’t take much more to know which way the wind is blowing. The Obama campaign’s ground game is a strong operation and plenty of states will be won by less than 1% of the vote, much like 2000 and 2004 so his ability to pull of an election night surprise should not be underestimated. But too many fundamental problems exist for Obama: stubbornly awful economy, eroding trust on foreign policy, formidable opponent, enthusiastic opposition and potentially fatal concerns with the turnout of key demographics (Hispanics and youth) for him to likely win tomorrow.

All of this adds up to the following states falling into Romney’s column: Florida, Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The only rain on Romney’s parade is his inability to carry his “home state” of Michigan but it will be close. The billions in tax-payer losses on the auto bailout at least bought Obama something.

Final electoral prediction, Romney 331, Obama 207. I guess the fundamentals of the race overwhelmed even Hurricane Sandy.


Special thanks to Matt Margolis at Blogs4Victory for the map.

GOTV Raw Meat for the Converted

Here is the memo from the RNC’s Rick Wiley on tomorrow’s Get Out the Vote designed to bury the Obama machine

Enjoy:

[W]e are poised to blow the Obama campaign out on Election Day thanks to a superior GOTV program and a historical GOP Election Day advantage In the four party-registration states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada), we are poised to win the Election Day vote by even greater margins than we did in 2008. That’s right, Jeremy Bird, we beat you on Election Day even in 2008. This time around we have over 150,000 volunteers across the battleground who have already contacted over 53 million voters and expect to contact millions more from now until the polls close tomorrow night.

Who is the cannibal?

In Colorado there are over 26,000 (34%) more high-propensity Republican voters available than high-propensity Democrat voters. In Florida there are 166,000 (21%) more; 85,000 (47%) more in Iowa; and 16,000 (22%) more in Nevada.

And in Ohio, Republicans have 368,000 more high-propensity voters available than Democrats–72 percent more, in fact–and enough to off-set the Obama campaign’s most optimistic (and unrealistic) early vote math.

Field Office trash talk

The Obama campaign’s superior ground game is a myth. They claim they have double and triple the people and offices across the country, yet poll after poll has shown voters have been contacted equally if not more by the Romney campaign and the Republicans. It goes to show you what big government bureaucracy gets you.

I’m glad Democrats are so eager to talk about their ground game. The more they talk, the more they prove the numbers don’t add up. It’s (ground) game over.

Republicans Erase Obama Early Vote Advantage

Apologies to everyone, but I’m working remotely (again).  The lower Manhattan Verizon network is down so my home computer is useless. Even my much delayed wrap up of Clark County, Nevada is on hold.  Thankfully the below write-up by Rick Klein gives the macro view from Nevada which is very good for the GOP although I believe all parties were hopeful for an even better showing. Early voting was Obama’s real secret weapon in 2008 but in state after state that advantage is getting wiped away making election day all the more precarious to his re-election chances.  Our own David Ramos has done an amazing job breaking down ColoradoRick Klein takes a look at Nevada and Florida and other Battlegrounds as we inch closer to November 6 …. one more day! … one more day! … one more day!

Nevada

Take a look at the key battleground state of Nevada, for example, where early and absentee voting made up about 67 percent of the total votes cast in the state in 2008. Democrats outperformed Republicans in early voting that year by a little less than 12 percentage points, 47.6 percent of the early votes cast came from registered Democrats, while 35.8 percent came from registered Republicans. This year, that gap has narrowed to roughly 7 points, with registered Democrats accounting for 43.9 percent of the votes cast already, and Republicans making up 37 percent, according to figures from the United States Election Project.

Florida

In Florida in 2008, registered Democrats cast 44.9 percent of the early votes, while registered Republicans only cast 37.9 percent. This year, that gap is down as well. Registered Democrats have accounted for 42.6 percent of the early vote, registered Republicans 39.5 percent.

Nationwide

Across the board, in 2008, Democrats held an 11 percentage point advantage over Republicans going into Election Day in the battleground states where party registration was available, but this year, that gap has been cut down to about a6 point advantage, according to one GOP official.

To cannibal or not to cannibal

One of the reasons for Republican gains in early voting has to do with an improved get-out-the-vote operation (commonly referred to as “GOTV”) from 2008. In 2008, Republicans had a weaker operation than Democrats. This year, Republicans amped up their game, targeting “low-propensity” voters, or people who, when they vote, vote Republican, but have not consistently turned out in elections. “If you live in Ohio and Iowa, for example, and you’re a low-propensity Republican voter, you voted in a primary or you’re registered Republicans but you’ve missed some, what you’re going to get form the Romney campaign and the RNC is somebody coming to your door with an absentee ballot, you’re going to get mail that has absentee-ballot request forms,” Republican National Committee  spokesman Tim Miller said.

Minding the gap doesn’t mean victory

From a simple mathematical standpoint, however, Democrats are ahead in the vote count in four out of the five battleground states that offer in-person early voting and register voters by a political party: Nevada, Iowa, Florida and North Carolina.

Firewall lacks clarity

The key Midwestern states that permit in-person early voting – Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin – do not register by party affiliation, so it is impossible to make any definitive statement about which party is ahead in the vote count. Those three states have been identified as a kind of Electoral College firewall for Obama that offers him a path to 270 electoral votes even if he loses in all of the other battleground states

Republicans Early Voting Strong in Colorado — David Ramos

Another dispatch from reader David Ramos:

Final totals on early voting in Colorado from the Secretary of State’s office:

Total ballots cast – 1,640,023
Total Republican voters – 605,586
Total Democratic voters – 567,569
Total Unaffiliated (Independent) voters – 449,720
Total third party voters – 17,148

In the swing counties

Arapahoe County – Republicans lead by 1,327
Jefferson County – Republicans lead by 6,602
Larimer County – Republicans lead by 7,004

In the strong Democratic counties

Denver – Democrats lead by 68,736
Boulder – Democrats lead by 11,488
Adams – Democrats lead by 11,416
Pueblo – Democrats lead by 10,702

In the strong Republican counties

El Paso – Republicans lead by 45,204
Douglas – Republicans lead by 39,166
Mesa – Republicans lead by 14,183
Weld – Republicans lead by 12,600

What the numbers mean:

The Democrats – Their GOTV effort need to run up their totals in their strong counties. If there’s a surprise in the EV numbers, it’s from Boulder County. In the state, Boulder is commonly referred to as the “People’s Republic of Boulder.” For Democrats to be ahead only by 11,488, it may be a sign the more extreme elements of the Democrat party are disappointed with Obama.

The Republicans – If they’ve saved their turnout for Election Day, they need to run up their totals in El Paso County – we’re talking at least a 65-35 split. The best margin of victory ever was Bush 43 in 2004 where he won El Paso County 75-25. Douglas County has a strong Libertarian bent, but are reliably Republican in their voting pattern.

The Unaffiliateds (Independents) – They have the key to victory. It would be safe to assume unaffiliateds in strong Democratic areas to identify and vote closer to the Democratic side, and unaffiliateds in strong Republican areas to identify and vote closer to the Republican side. The unaffiliated voter bloc to watch will be in the swing counties of Jefferson, Arapahoe, and Larimer.

Total unaffiliated (independent) early voters – swing counties

Arapahoe – 48,625
Jefferson – 60,600
Larimer – 37,485

If they split along the same percentages as the R/D pairing in these counties, this is what you would see:

Arapahoe – 24,546 voted Republican
Jefferson – 31,666 voted Republican
Larimer – 20,381 voted Republican

The Republican lean among unaffiliated voters in these three swing counties is averaging 52-48 in favor of Romney.

Based on these numbers, the early voting pattern is showing Romney is doing what he needs to do to carry Colorado: mind the gap – especially in the swing counties, lead among independent voters, and increase his margin in solid Republican areas.  Please note these totals only reflect those ballots cast on voting machines at EV sites. Mail-in and absentee ballots are counted on election night.  Hope this gives a better view of how Colorado stands heading into election day.

— David Ramos

Video of Huge Crowd at Romney Rally in Colorado

Sorry I can’t embed it here.  Only Youtube videos.

Link here.

Reuters/Ipsos Finds the Wardobe, Polls Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Colorado

I’m tempted not to blog these polls.  Reuters/Ipsos polled Virginia, Ohio, Florida and Colorado and have a likely voter screen but the internal data they provide is the registered voter information.  WHO CARES?  THEY ARE NOT VOTING.  THAT IS WHY YOU HAVE A LIKELY VOTER SCREEN.

For example, in the very first state you see two very curious things among the worthless registered voter group.  Allegedly Romney only gets 87% of the Republican while Obama gets 93% of the Democrat vote.  Highly suspect in a state breaking hard for Romney right now.  Next we see Obama, not Romney, leads by 12-points among Independents 39 to 23.  Who did they poll? Northern Virginia “Independents” Chuck Todd and John Harwood? Was this Virgil Goode’s hometown?  These polling organizations are just wasting time at this point.  I’ll give you the data but these are just more unrealistic polls to feed into the Obama narrative.

Virginia

Obama leads by 3-points, 48 to 45. Third party candidates get 2% and 5% remain Undecided

The party ID is D +3 (Dem 33, Rep 30, Ind 33). This is at least is in between the last two Presidential elections but a shade  closer to the 2008 turnout of D +6 (Dem 39, Rep 33, Ind 27).  In 2004 the 2004 turnout was R +4 (Dem 35, Rep 39, Ind 26).  Also Independents are a little low but the polling results on Independents as indicated above is bizarre to the point of disqualifying.

Ohio

Obama leads by 1-point, 46 to 45.  Third party candidates get 3% and 6% remain Undecided.

Reuters make the long-distance call to Marist in Narnia to come up a “representative” sample of Ohio. The party ID was D +9 (Dem 38, Rep 29, Ind 29). This compares to D +8 in 2008 (Dem 39, Rep 31, Ind 30) and R +5 in 2004 (Dem 35, Rep 40, Ind 25).  And as we have shown you numerous times, the real 2008 party ID was really D +5. Obama leads among Independents by 23-points 46 to 23.  Umm-hmm. Just because Obama’s entire victory in 2008 was based on his phenomenal early vote advantage and it has completely disappeared in 2012 doesn’t mean he isn’t going to BEAT his 2008 performance.  Silly me to complain.  I must be a poll-truther.

Florida

All tied up 47 to 47 with 2% voting third-party and 5% Undecided

The party ID is R +1 (Dem 35, Rep 36, Ind 25).  Seems to be a fair split between the previous 2 Presidential elections. In 2008 it was D +3 (Dem 37, Rep 34, Ind 29). In 2004 it was R+4 (Dem 37, Rep 41, Ind 23). Funny how Obama doesn’t lead when polls don’t overwhelmingly sample Democrats. Independents support Obama 49 to 28 and Kate Upton is grilling me a steak in my kitchen right now.  Yea, that’s the ticket.  Too few Independents are sampled in this survey but like I wrote earlier, this poll has non-sensical numbers throughout it and I need to get to that steak or Kate gets grumpy so on to the next state.

Colorado

Romney leads by 2-points 47 to 45 45 with 4% voting third-party and 4% Undecided

The party ID is R +3 (Dem 27, Rep 30, Ind 41). A fair party ID that splits 2008 R +1 (Dem 30, Rep: 31, Ind: 39) and R +9 (Dem: 29, Rep: 38, Ind: 33) in 2004.  The slight shade towards Democrats is plausible in a state trending that way. What do you know, a fair party ID and Romney’s winning.  I’m on pins and needles wondering what we will see on Tuesday! (I’m not really) Romney leads among Independents by 13-points, 38 to 25.  Even showing Romney winning this is dumb since it is registered voters and there are no many not choosing a candidate.  But Notre Dame won despite doing everything humanly possible to not win so I’ll be nice and go see how Kate and my steaks are doing.

Colorado: State of the race, early voting and polls — By David Ramos

Here is a guest post by one of our readers:

Readers expressed concern on the state of the presidential race in Colorado – particularly after reading a Denver Post article suggesting Obama is leading in early voting despite Republicans voting in greater numbers than their Democratic counterparts. To address those concerns, below is an overview on polling and voting dynamics in Colorado.

Though Colorado’s demographics have changed the past few years, especially with the influx of people from the west coast moving into the state. Most have resettled in the Denver suburbs located in Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. Changes in voting patterns in those two counties began to change in 2004. Despite those changes, Bush 43 comfortably won those counties in 2004 albeit by a narrower margin compared to 2000. The bulk of Democratic votes in the state come from Denver, Boulder, and Adams counties, and Pueblo county in the southern part of the state. To win statewide, both parties rely on the independent (unaffiliated) voters to provide the margin of victory.

Through Friday morning, early voting in Colorado has the Republicans with a narrow lead:

Total number of ballots cast – 1,462,163

Republicans voting – 547,150
Democrats voting –  509,091
Unaffiliated (independent) voting – 390,875
Third party voting – 15,047

In three swing counties considered crucial to the Romney campaign, there is evidence suggesting he’s likely to be ahead:

Jefferson County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 6,160.
Larimer County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 4,624.
Arapahoe County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 3,209.

These numbers do not include those absentee and mail-in ballots that have been returned. The total number of registered voters is approximately 3.6 million.

Colorado, as a whole is a difficult state to gauge. While voters may be willing to vote Republican at one level, they’re willing to turn around and vote Democratic at another. Floyd Ciruli, who polled for Gary Hart, said this is what makes Colorado voters unpredictable, and polling them especially difficult. In 2004, while it was clear Colorado voters were willing to re-elect Bush 43, voters turned around voted in the Democrats into the majority in the state legislature. While many national polls suggested Colorado was tied at 48, Ciruli said Bush 43 was never in danger of losing the state – he would win by a narrower margin (which he did 52-48).

Other examples of an unpredictable Colorado electorate are:

In 2002, when incumbent Republican US Senator Wayne Allard was running for re-election, many pollsters (national and local) considered Allard to be roadkill. Allard won re-election by a comfortable 5-point margin.
In 1996, polling indicated Clinton would carry the state. When Dole carried the state, it was considered to be quite a surprise.
In 1992, Perot had siphoned away votes from Bush 41 to allow Clinton to carry the state with only 43% of the vote. Bush 41 was expected to carry the state by a razor thin margin.

In 2004, the Kerry campaign and the DNC began to organize large voter registration drives, in conjunction with ACORN, to develop a more friendly voter base in hopes of carrying the state. Despite the effort, they were unable to register enough Democratic voters to flip the state. If 2004 taught the Democrats anything, it was to begin the voter drives earlier and have them more often. In 2008, the Obama campaign and the DNC, again with help from ACORN, organized the voter drives, registering large numbers of voters (I want to say around 100,000 new voters, but am unsure of the total) particularly in the Denver metro area.

In 2008, Obama established a 40-33 lead in early voting over McCain. The lead was evaporated by the end of the early voting period. The McCain campaign, however, was poorly organized in Colorado. Voter contact (phone, in-person, robo-call) was quite limited, TV and radio advertising was less than half than Bush 43 levels in 2004. Even direct mail was substantially less than Obama. The campaign stops weren’t many – may be five or six total. You knew McCain was going lose. While Obama was better organized, McCain lost Colorado by being an uncompetitive candidate. Independents were willing to give Obama a chance, voting for him by a 9-point margin. Moreover, enough Republican voters stayed home to cement McCain’s loss.

With the changing demographics in Colorado, Ciruli indicated that for Republicans to be successful, they need to keep the margins close in Democratic and swing areas (minding the gap), win a simple majority of independents, and run their vote totals up elsewhere in the state – particularly in the Republican strongholds of Colorado Springs (El Paso County) and Grand Junction (Mesa County) must be carried by at least a 65-35 margin. Colorado is largely a conservative state outside the Denver metro area. For Democrats to be successful, Ciruli said they need to carry the solid Democratic areas by large margins, run even on independents, and hope they have enough total votes at the end.

In 2008, Obama won independents 54-46. In the Colorado Springs and Grand Junction areas, McCain won 55-45. In the Democratic and swing areas, McCain did little to keep those margins close. Clearly, McCain’s poor effort gave Colorado to the Obama column.

Seeing how Bush 43 ran his 2000 and 2004 campaigns, the Romney team built their campaign in the state along similar lines. That is, identify and develop their reliable voter base, then expand upon it. While polling suggested Colorado was slightly leaning Obama or even, the reality was/is it’s not the case. The independents in Colorado are deeply dissatisfied with Obama. Those that voted for Obama see him as a bait-and-switch politician. Though initially hesitant of Romney, the first debate at DU (University of Denver) was more than enough to convince them to vote for Romney. Whether it’s enough to flip it back to the Republican column, the early voting numbers and strong rallies suggest it may.

I hope this gives you a flavor of how things are unfolding in Colorado.

— David Ramos

Red Rocks

Obama +2 in Colorado — CNN/ORC International

State polls are still filing in down the home stretch.  CNN/ORC International’s latest has Obama leading in Colorado 50 to 48. The party ID is D +2 (Dem 33, Rep 31, Ind 35). This compares to 2008 of R +1 (Dem 30, Rep 31, Ind 39) and 2004 R +9 (Dem 29, Rep 38, Ind 33). Colorado is trending Democrat but this is an unusually pro-Democrat turnout compared to the last two elections.  Not good news for the President.

The poll’s Thursday release also came just two hours after Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP running mate, headlined a rally in Greeley, Colorado. The top line results of the CNN survey are very similar to an American Research Group poll conducted this past weekend which had Romney at 48% and Obama at 47%, and an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll conducted last week which suggested the race was tied up at 48%.  “If you didn’t know why President Obama and Paul Ryan are here today, and Mitt Romney is coming Saturday, now you know,” said CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, who was reporting Thursday from Colorado. As in most swing states, there is a fairly big gender gap, with the CNN poll indicating Romney ahead among men by 10 points and Obama winning women by 13 points.  In the battle for crucial independent voters, the poll indicates the president has a 49%-47% edge.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 50
Mitt Romney 48
Gary Johnson 1
Undecided 1

Breaking Down the Campaign Travel Math

Jame Dupree of the Atlanta Journal Constitution breaks down the final campaign stops for both candidates and looks for insights based on where they are going and maybe more importantly where they are not. This is a time to sure up your base support to make sure the people you need to show up remain engaged.  At the same time you will push the envelope only within the context of 270 electoral votes not 300 so the fringe Battlegrounds absence is less surprising:

The President’s schedule over the next four days will take him to Ohio on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, twice to Wisconsin and Colorado and once to Nevada, Iowa, New Hampshire, Virginia and Florida. Meanwhile, Romney’s schedule has him making stops in Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Colorado and twice in New Hampshire; both men still have a few holes left to fill in their schedule before Election Day.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the President is spread fairly thinly across 8 states while Romney is comparatively focused on 6 states. Does that mean the President is vulnerable in more areas so he has to play defense across the country?  Or does that mean Romney has fewer paths to victory?  We’ll see.  Here’s Dupree:

Ohio is getting the most attention by far of any state, as the President will be there Friday, Saturday and Sunday; Romney will be there at least on Friday. Colorado, Iowa and Wisconsin will also get visits from each candidate. Romney will stop Saturday in New Hampshire and is scheduled to hold a final rally the night before the elections in Manchester next Monday, as the four Electoral Votes in the Granite State are getting a lot of attention from both sides.

No surprise Ohio has both campaign’s full attention. The incredible investment by Obama in Ohio shows they know they lose without the state and the internals don’t match the farcical public polls. To be honest that level of investment seems to indicate they may actually be losing the state at this juncture. New Hampshire getting two visits from Romney in interesting.  Romney must see some favorable movement in those four electoral votes to give him reason to double down in these final days.

Maybe more telling the Battlegrounds where they are not going:

As of now, Romney may not be going back to Florida, the largest swing state prize – the President is slated to make only one stop in the Sunshine State, Fort Lauderdale on Sunday; South Florida was where Mr. Obama ran up big margins in 2008 against John McCain.

Clearly Romney is comfortable in Florida to leave it off the schedule. This is a big deal. His campaign did some chest thumping about a double-digit win and while that seemed a bit high to be I’d expect a solid win in the state for Romney.

Also, Romney at this point is not going to Nevada, a state that seems to be leaning towards the Democrats again this year, despite its swing state status.

This one is interesting.  Romney doesn’t need the state but he certainly invested in the state.  Obama is playing defense there which is smart.  Early voting is not nearly as strong for Obama a they had hoped but he still seems to have the edge overall in the state. Senator Dean Heller is running a great campaign for re-election there against a deeply unethical opponent  and his margin of victory may help drag Romney across the finish line in the Silver State.

Not on the travel log for either Romney or Obama right now are states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina and/or Minnesota – all of which have been mentioned a lot in recent days as possible pickups for Republicans.

For any student of campaigns, these should come as no surprise.  Neither campaign needs them to get to 270 so while they may fall to either campaign in a late breaking wave, campaign resources are focused at this juncture on 270 and 270 only.  No matter whether your number is 271 or 351, they still call you President all the same.  It’s smart campaign strategy.

This is the schedule – subject to change – for each candidate in coming days:

Thursday November 1
Obama: Wisconsin, Nevada, Colorado
Romney: Virginia

Friday November 2
Obama: Ohio
Romney: Wisconsin, Ohio

Saturday November 3
Obama: Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Virginia
Romney: New Hamphshire, Colorado

Sunday November 4
Obama: New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Colorado
Romney: n/a

Monday November 5
Obama: n/a
Romney: final rally in New Hampshire

Expect changes and additions to this schedule as we get closer to Election Day.

UPDATE: kostby in the comment section did the analysis I should have.  I’m trying to get on those Marist polls (who doesn’t enjoy a good game of “whack-a-poll” on the morining?) but if you look at kostby’s analysis within the Karl Rove 3-2-1 context you have to feel really good about his chances. 3: Indiana (done), North Carolina (done), Virginia (virtually done). 2: Florida (done) and Ohio (all the marbles). 1: Colorado (strongest play), New Hampshire, Iowa, Wisconsin all better bets than Nevada. You have to like Romney’s chances looking at the travel schedule with that context.  Thanks to kostby for inspiring the additional analysis.

I look at Romney’s schedule like this.

He needs NC, FL, VA, Ohio + one of Colorado, NH, WI, or Iowa. NC and FL are in the bag. So you hit VA once even though the polling is good. The one last visit gets you local TV coverage and excites your campaign workers. Ohio is the whole enchilada so you hit it hard even IF you are winning. Then you hit Wisconsin because you can win it to improve your mandate, but also because it is key to alternate paths if Ohio doesn’t work out.

Assuming NC, Fl, and VA are already in the bag for Romney then you have these alternatives to win:

Alternative 1 — Ohio + any one of CO, NH, IA, WI
Alternative 2 — WI + CO + either NH or IA
Alternative 3 — CO, NH, IA, and NV

I’m starting to feel like it’s going to be: OH, CO, WI, IA, NH as well. That would put Romney at 295.

Release the Kraken: Romney campaign to hit the road with 100 surrogates

There are only 6 days left to campaign and following the Hurricane Sandy pause Team Romney is gearing up for a final push to close out the cycle that would dwarf any prior campaign’s effort.  According to CNN, Team Romney will hit 11-states with all-stars from the GOP’s deep bench, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin:

Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, will kick off a four-day tour starting Friday, where they’ll be joined by their wives and 100 surrogates in the final days of the White House race, his campaign announced Wednesday.

The tour starts off with a rally in West Chester, Ohio, the hometown of House Speaker John Boehner. Aside from Boehner, featured guests that day include former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Boehner will depart on his own bus tour in Ohio from Saturday to Monday.

In the four days before Election Day, the surrogates will fan out across eleven battleground states: Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A campaign source confirmed that Romney will be at the Verizon Center in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday night, and Kid Rock will perform, as well.

On Wednesday, Romney and Ryan resume the campaign trail after canceling some events due to conditions related to Superstorm Sandy. Romney will travel to Florida for three campaign events, where he’ll appear with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack. Ryan, meanwhile, will make stops in Wisconsin.

Help Get Out the Vote in Ft. Collins, Colorado

Thanks to Mike for the heads-up.  Get involved if you can help:

The early voting numbers are in for Larimer County, and it needs to increase. As of Tuesday, October 23, 7.7% of registered Republicans have voted, but 8.3% of registered Democrats have cast their ballots. That’s over 11,000 people, but the Republican number needs to go up if Romney is going to win the key swing state of Colorado.

The Colorado GOP is organizing a “get out the vote” deployment, and they need help. There are a large contingent of Republicans coming into Larimer County from Idaho this weekend (Oct. 25-28). The “Victory Office” needs van drivers for this event.

The Victory Office is renting vans and needs drivers aged 25+ who know Fort Collins. If you can help out, call Alex Blake, the Fort Collins Regional Field Director at 720-985-6344 or e-mail Alex at Alex@cologop.org.

If you want to be informed, click subscribe at the top of this article and you’ll receive notification when articles are published relating to Northern Colorado Republican issues.

Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan @ Red Rocks, CO Tuesday Oct 23

NBC/WSJ/Marist Grudgingly Concede Nevada and Colorado Are Close

The worst polling alliance of this cycle comes back for a few more surveys and gives it the old college try to keep Obama close as the race begins slipping away in Colorado.  The Nevada poll skews towards the Democrats but otherwise seems to be a fair poll:

Colorado

  • Dead heat at 48 to 48 with 2% Undecided
  • Party ID: D +1 (Dem 34, Rep: 33, Ind: 32) versus 2008 R +1 (Dem 30, Rep: 31, Ind: 39) and R +9 (Dem: 29, Rep: 38, Ind: 33) in 2004
  • Colorado is trending Democrat but I highly doubt the Obama machine will achieve a 2pp greater margin than 2008.  Probably too many Dems and Reps and not enough Inds
  • Racial demos in the poll: White 77%, Hispanics 16%, Blacks 3%.  This compares to 2008 of White: 81%, Hispanics: 13%, Blacks: 4%.  A 4pp decline in the White vote?  Highly doubtful as well as the sizable rise in Hispanics 3%.
  • Playing with the racial make-up which again is a conscious choice of polling organizations is their latest attempt to make Obama poll far better than reality.
  • Even with the two above advantages heavily weighted towards Obama, he can remains below 50% and can do no better than a tie.
  • Romney’s personal favorability is +1 48 to 47 even after half-a-billion dollars in negative ads

Nevada

  • Obama +3, 50 to 47 with 2% Undecided
  • Party ID is D +6 (Dem 39, Rep 33 , Ind 27) versus 2008 of D +8 (Dem 38, Rep 30, Ind 26) and 2004 of R +4 (Dem 35, Rep 39, Ind 26)
  • Still skewed towards the Democrats record turnout in 2008 when Obama was battling an unarmed opponent who gave up on contesting the state.  Good luck with that one on Nov. 6
  • Racial demos: White 70%, Hispanics 16%, Blacks 7%.  This compares with 2008 of White: 69%, Hispanics 15%, Blacks 10%.  Fairly reasonable break-down.  The key will be whether the enthusiasm gap depresses Hispanic turnout
  • Romney’s personal favorability is +2 48 to 46 even after half-a-billion dollars in negative ads

Colorado in Focus

Dan Balz has a really good write-up of the western states and specifically the campaigns’ focus on Colorado.  He does an especially good job of capturing the energy around Romney’s visit to Red Rocks Tuesday:

It was after sunset as the flashing lights of Mitt Romney’s motorcade began the steep and winding climb up the hills west of Denver on Tuesday. By the time the Republican candidate arrived at the Red Rocks Amphitheater, the rocks were rocking. Blue lights bathed the rock walls flanking the seating area. The Romney campaign’s stylized “R” logo was projected in white against the rocks. At the opposite end of the vast open-air setting, five American flags were hanging high up at the back of the big stage. The stage had a faux-autumn, western setting of fence posts, artificial grass, rocks and shrubs. The night air was seasonably warm. A crowd estimated at 12,000 people jammed into the outdoor concert venue. Romney patted his heart in response to the thunderous and sustained applause that greeted him when he was introduced on stage by running mate Paul Ryan. Spectators enthusiastically smacked together their red and white thunder sticks with the drop of every zinger or one-liner. For Romney, it was everything he might have hoped for.

The Republican presidential candidate had spent much of the day in the air. A five-hour flight took him from Florida, the scene of his final debate with President Obama, to Las Vegas, where he addressed another enthusiastic, though smaller, crowd at another, though less spectacular, outdoor amphitheater. He declared his campaign supercharged by the debates, and the crowd responded with an enormous roar. Then it was back into his motorcade for the quick drive across the dry, desert Nevada landscape to his campaign charter plane and the flight into Denver for his last stop of the day, to the most competitive of the Western battlegrounds and one that Romney’s campaign may need if he hopes to defeat the president in less than two weeks.

Western Battlegrounds

Four years ago, the Rocky Mountain West was the newly discovered hot spot in presidential politics, a region often ceded to Republicans in presidential campaigns but suddenly on everyone’s radar as a place the Democrats might make a breakthrough that could scramble long-held assumptions about the electoral map. Bill Clinton had won a few of these states when he was running for president, but his success was attributed more to the presence of Ross Perot on the ballot than some seismic shift in the electoral fortunes of national Democrats. Then the rising Hispanic population in states such as Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Arizona began to change the political landscape. Democrats took note four years ago and poured money and effort into the region. They set their convention in Denver, and Obama gave his acceptance speech before more than 80,000 people at the stadium where the Denver Broncos play football. His campaign organized effectively, registering voters enough to significantly shift the partisan balance in some states. He won Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico on his way to victory.

Colorado in Focus

Colorado, with nine electoral votes, remains the big prize. Given the landscape in Nevada and New Mexico and Romney’s thread-the-needle path to 270 electoral votes, Colorado is a state he cannot afford to let slip away. Can he win without it? Yes, but as is the case with some other battlegrounds, without those nine votes, his route to victory becomes more difficult. Obama has now felt the highs and lows of mile-high Denver. Four years ago, it was the highs. He won the caucuses against Hillary Rodham Clinton on his way to the nomination and seemed to have a special attachment to the state and city. In the closing days of the 2008 race, he drew a crowd of 100,000 people in Denver, one of his biggest rallies in the city. This year, it could be remembered as the city where his campaign unraveled. His performance in the Denver debate three weeks ago marked a low point for the president. He has been fighting to recover ever since. Obama was scheduled to arrive in Denver on Wednesday afternoon for a big rally, an answer to Romney’s Tuesday evening appearance. His quick stop, part of his 48-hour swing through battleground states all across the country, was aimed at energizing the cadre of voters who were excited by hope and change four years ago and whose enthusiasm is needed to hold the state for a second time. The Denver debate brought a surge of energy to the state’s Republicans, which pulsated at Red Rocks on Tuesday night.

Where the race is won

Republicans need a big turnout in the more conservative areas but say they have little doubt they will get it. Ryan, whose pick cheered conservative Republicans, was working those areas this week. One GOP strategist said enthusiasm among Republicans is way up compared with four years ago. The keys, as has been said repeatedly, are the two big suburban counties around Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe. There will be plenty written about Ohio, Florida and Virginia over the next dozen days. But no one should lose sight of the competition underway in this Rocky Mountain battleground.

Michael Barone Sees a Suburban Swing Towards Romney

Michael Barone has his usual smart take on the election with a great little nugget for why Romney is closing strong in Pennsylvania and Michigan but isn’t seeing the comparable moves in Ohio:

Barack Obama’s campaign spent huge sums on anti-Romney ads to create a firewall in three states that the president won narrowly in 2008 — Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. But post-debate polling shows Romney ahead in Florida and tied in Virginia. National Journal’s Major Garrett reported last week that Obama strategist David Plouffe omitted Florida and Virginia in a list of key states but mentioned Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Obama carried the latter three by ten, ten, and twelve points respectively in 2008. So much for the firewall. In addition, polling shows Romney ahead in Colorado, which Obama carried by nine points last time, and the race closing in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, which Obama carried by 14, 10, and 16 points respectively.

That tends to validate my alternative scenario that Mitt Romney would fare much better in affluent suburbs than have the previous Republican nominees since 1992, and would run more like George Bush did in 1988. The only way Pennsylvania and Michigan can be close is if Obama’s support in affluent Philadelphia and Detroit suburbs has melted away. This also helps explain why Romney still narrowly trails in Ohio polls. Affluent suburban counties cast about one-quarter of the votes in Pennsylvania and Michigan but only one-eighth in Ohio.

A pro-Romney swing among the affluent is confirmed by the internals of some national polls. The 2008 exit poll showed Obama narrowly carrying voters with incomes over $75,000. Post-debate Pew Research and Battleground polls have shown affluent suburbanite Romney carrying them by statistically significant margins. In particular, college-educated women seem to have swung toward Romney since October 3. He surely had them in mind in the foreign-policy debate when he kept emphasizing his hopes for peace and pledged no more wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan.