Category Archives: Michigan

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.

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.

Romney +1 in Michigan — Foster McCollum White Baydoun (FMWB)

The latest from FMWB shows a neck-and-neck race in Michigan with Mitt Romney nosing out to a one point lead (really 0.6), 47 to 46 with 2% Undecided. A lot of naysayers want to down-play FMWB’s results but this polling firm only gets criticized because they provide full transparency unlike the other firms. They give you all the ugly data underneath the poll results which lets you know how the sausage really gets made. I have blogged my own thoughts on the firm when they first showed up on my radar and notably they provide a FMWB Public Opinion Polling Modeling Reliablity Press Release for those who want to dismiss results. Dismiss them if you will but we’ll all know on Tuesday night who was polling the electorate and who was polling Narnia:

Who are you most likely to vote for in the Presidential election – Democratic President Barack Obama, or Republican Nominee, Governor Mitt Romney, another candidate, or are you undecided?

Republican Nominee Mitt Romney 46.86%
President Barack Obama 46.24%
Another candidate 4.94%
Undecided 1.96%

Foster McCollum White Baydoun (FMW)B, a national public opinion polling and voter analytics consulting firm based in Michigan and representing the combined resources of Foster McCollum White & Associates (Troy Michigan) and Baydoun Consulting (Dearborn Michigan) conducted a telephone-automated polling random survey of Michigan registered and most likely November 2012 General election voters for Fox 2 News Detroit to determine their voting and issue preferences on the Presidential election.

The margin of error for this total polling sample is 2.24% with a confidence level of 95%.

Obama +5 in Michigan — Rasmussen

Rasmussen Reports has the latest in Michigan and President Obama is showing some daylight with only a few days left.  The President sports a 5-poimt lead 52 to 47:

President Obama continues to earn over 50% of the vote in Michigan in the final days of the campaign, but his lead over Mitt Romney in the state is down to five points. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Michigan Voters shows Obama with 52% support to Romney’s 47%. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and another one percent (1%) is undecided. This Michigan survey of 750 Likely Voters was conducted on November 1, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points

For President Percent
Barack Obama 52
Mitt Romney 47
Other 1
Undecided 1

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.

Obama +3 in Michigan — Detroit News

It is so on in the Great Lakes State.  Obama remains under 50%, leading 47.7 to 45 with 4% Undecided:

Mitt Romney is within striking distance of Barack Obama in Michigan in the final days before the election, buoyed by more who are convinced the Republican is a viable alternative to the president, with the ability to turn around the economy. Obama’s lead over Romney has shrunk to just under 3 points, 47.7 percent to 45 percent, with 3.8 percent undecided, according to a new Detroit News/WDIV Local 4 poll of likely voters. Obama’s lead was 6.7 points earlier this month and has eroded to within the poll’s 3.8 percentage point margin of error. It’s the smallest advantage for the Democratic president during the Michigan campaign.

“Mitt Romney’s numbers … are where they would need to be if he hopes to pull off an upset next week,” said Richard Czuba of Glengariff Group Inc., which conducted the poll. “But the question is: Is there enough for a final push?”

The Obama campaign Tuesday announced its first network TV ads will begin airing this week in Michigan. Neither candidate had bought airtime here, but earlier Tuesday, Romney’s super PAC launched a $2.2 million advertising final blitz in Michigan. That brings Restore Our Future’s investment in Michigan post-primary up to nearly $10 million, according to the PAC — which until now had been unanswered by the Obama campaign.

 

How serious is Romney in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Michigan?

Mark Murray of NBC has the ad spending numbers from the Romney campaign and his SuperPAC supporters:

Plenty of this money is the SuperPAC moreso than the actual Romney campaign, but the point stands that in these outer Battlegrounds Team Romney is committing serious dollars at a 3:1 pace over Obama.

Obama Ads Going Up in Michigan

Expanding the map … which is of course a sign of weakness in the Romney campaign according to Jim Messina. The final tweet below by Rick Wiley is important because look at what’s happening: Obama playing nothing but defense looking to hold FRINGE Battlegrounds while Romney is on nothing but offense. If you can’t tell which way this election is likely to fall, you’re not playing close attention:

From Mark Halperin:

Both sides have enough money for these end-game ad forays. The real issues remain candidate time/visits, the psy-ops involved here, and the belief of some Republicans that a combination of Minnesota, Michigan, and Pennsylvania could surprise on Election Day.

Who Will Do More? [Auto Industry]

The Romney campaign launches head-first into the debate over the auto bailout:

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.

All Tied Up in Michigan — Foster White McCollum and Baydou

Our friends from Foster White McCollum and Baydou (FWMB) have another intriguing survey of Michigan showing the race all tied up at 47 a piece (h/t cbpds):

Foster McCollum White Baydoun (FMW)B, a national public opinion polling and voter analytics consulting firm based in Michigan and representing the combined resources of Foster McCollum White & Associates (Troy Michigan) and Baydoun Consulting (Dearborn Michigan) conducted a telephone-automated polling random survey of Michigan registered and most likely November 2012 General election voters for Fox 2 News Detroit to determine their voting and issue preferences for the presidential election.

An initial qualifying statement was read to respondents asking them to participate only if they were very likely to vote in the November General Election.

Thirty five thousand (35,000) calls were placed, and 1,122 respondents fully participated in the survey. The margin of error for this total polling sample is 2.93% with a confidence level of 95%.

The 2012 United States Presidential election will be held on November 6, 2012. Who are you most likely to vote for in the election?

For President Percent
Barack Obama 47
Mitt Romney 47
Other 2
Undecided 4

For anyone quick to dismiss FWMB, read this post first, and dismiss the results at your own peril. Much of the criticism revolves around the fact that FWMB gives complete transparency with they numbers which allows people who don’t like the results cherry pick data and misrepresent the weightings and findings.  If you review the polls of FWMB that I’ve blogged they are rarely too far off the media and usually ahead of the curve.  If you poll enough you’ll have an outlier or two and that is true for FWMB.  But throughout this cycle I have been impressed with their transparency and willingness to face substantive critics head on. Considering how consistently awful Marist polls have been it is incredible people criticize FWMB but leave Marist unchallenged solely because Marist tells them what they want to hear.  On election night, we’ll all know how everyone did.

[link to follow when available]

Restore Our Future (Pro-Romney) SuperPAC Launches $17.7 million Ad Campaign

You can’t take it with you and Restore Our Future is unloading the ammunition (bayonets and all!)  in these final weeks:

Restore Our Future, the super PAC supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, released two new TV spots as part of a $17.7 million ad campaign launched Tuesday in 10 battleground states.

One ad, “Genuinely Cares,” features an on-camera testimonial from Sgt. Peter Damon, whose injuries while serving in Iraq left him a double amputee. Damon recalls meeting Romney when the GOP nominee was serving as Massachusetts governor and says Romney “helped make a huge difference” in his life. The commercial showcases the compassionate side of Romney, who has often struggled to connect and has been branded as out of touch by his opponents.

The second ad, “Better,” focuses on President Barack Obama’s economic policies. A narrator states that “high unemployment has become normal” during Obama’s first term, while also citing the debt and credit downgrades. The spot is a similar to previous ads that have targeted the president’s economic record.

Both ads will air between Oct. 23 and Oct. 29 and will be rotated across the ten states, according to a press release from the super PAC. A state-by-state breakdown of the ad buy is below. Not surprisingly, $7 million of the total is geared toward Ohio and Florida — considered the must-win states this cycle.

  • Colorado: $1.2 million
  • Florida: $4.0 million
  • Iowa: $1.2 million
  • Michigan: $1.6 million
  • Nevada: $1.6 million
  • New Hampshire: $0.5 million
  • North Carolina: $1.8 million
  • Ohio: $3.0 million
  • Virginia: $2.9 million
  • Wisconsin: $1.3 million

The selections are smart tactically as these states put Romney well over 270 so why get greedy and potentially leave one of these on the table.  Putting the bow on North Carolina but still no Pennsylvania 😦

Battleground State Polls, Campaign Schedules and Probabilities

Jamie Dupree of the Atlanta Journal Constitution offers his usual smart takes on the state of polling, campaign schedules and practical probabilities of who is winning the Battleground States.  I tried to blog this and by that I mean skinny it down to just the important stuff but nearly every sentence was good so by all means read the whole thing :

As President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney meet in their final debate on Monday night, let’s take a snapshot of where the race stands in the “swing states” that will determine which way the 2012 race for the White House goes.

  • Florida (29 Electoral Votes) – The polls continue to be shaded slightly in favor of Romney (just over 2% in the poll average).  Most interesting is that Romney has led in 11 of the last 13 statewide polls conducted in Florida – all of them done after the first debate in Denver.  [Obama] will hold an event in Delray Beach the morning after the debate.
  • Pennsylvania (20) – I’m not yet convinced that Pennsylvania is in play, but clearly the polling lead for the President has narrowed; it was at 4% in a Quinnipiac poll last week. On Saturday, Paul Ryan made a short stop in Pennsylvania, stoking hopes among Republicans, as a number of GOP volunteers from Maryland went in to the Keystone State to help this weekend as well.  The big question is obvious: was the Ryan stop outside Pittsburgh just for PR? Or will we see another Romney/Ryan visit?
  • Ohio (18) – Despite gains in other states, Romney has not been able to edge ahead in the Buckeye State, as many believe the auto bailout efforts by the Obama Administration have paid dividends here and in Michigan. [T]he President has been ahead in 9 of the last 13 Ohio polls – but – five of those polls have only given him an edge of one point, well within the margin of error.  The President goes here the day after the debate, Vice President Biden is in Ohio on Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday.
  • Michigan (16) – Romney is not advertising in Michigan (but there is Super PAC money on his behalf there) and the GOP standard bearer has not been in Michigan since a late August visit, though Paul Ryan was there last week for an event with Kid Rock. This may be the Democrats’ version of North Carolina as the President has led in the last 17 polls conducted in Michigan since the week of the Republican convention in August.
  • North Carolina (15) – This past week the Romney campaign all but sent out a news release saying they were going to win the Tar Heel State, as officials let it be known that the GOP is shifting resources to other states.  [T]he fact is the President has not been to the state since September 7. The poll edge is still with Romney, as he has been ahead in six of the last seven polls giving him a poll average advantage of over 5%.
  • Virginia (13) – The Old Dominion remains a toss up, as both sides have spent lot of time and money here. Last week, the Obama & Romney camps sparred repeatedly over women’s issues, as they ran ads on abortion only in that state. The President’s Friday speech in the Washington, D.C. suburbs was filled with references to women’s issues, the Romney “binders of women” comment and more.  6 of the last 8 polls – all taken since the first debate in Denver – have had Romney ahead in Virginia.
  • Wisconsin (10) –  The polls have definitely closed in recent weeks, but this is another state where the President had stubbornly held on to his lead. The GOP won the recall turnout fight; can they repeat that effort over the next two weeks? Like Pennsylvania, the overview of the polls doesn’t give much hope to Romney, as the President has led the last 15 state polls taken in Wisconsin, though Mr. Obama’s average lead is now under 3%.
  • Colorado (9) –  Both Romney and Obama are scheduled to stump in the Centennial State this week (Romney on Tuesday night, the President on Wednesday) so neither side is giving up. Romney has led in 6 of the last 10 polls in Colorado, but his lead in the poll average is under one point – in other words – a true toss up.
  • Nevada (6) – Also on the agenda for both campaigns this week is the Silver State; Democrats remain confident that they can deliver this state for the President – and as I showed last week – the polls have routinely underestimated Democratic voting numbers in 2004, 2008 & 2010. Will that happen again in 2012? Republicans thought this state was a big pickup opportunity.  In 24 statewide polls this year on this race, President Obama has led in 21 of the last 24 polls, with the other three a tie.  Still, the President’s poll average lead is only 3%.
  • Iowa (6) – Democrats have the edge so far in absentee ballots, but new figures show Republicans now have a very narrow overall edge in voter registration. The President was in Iowa last week and will be there again on Wednesday.  There have been five polls taken in Iowa since the first debate – the President led in three, Romney in one and the other was a tie, giving Mr. Obama an average lead of 2.4%.
  • New Hampshire (4) – Mitt Romney had not been able to parlay his status as a neighbor of the Granite State or that he has a home on Lake Winnipesaukee into any momentum until last week when several polls suddenly showed the race closing. In five polls taken since the first debate, Romney has led in two, there have been two ties, and the President was ahead in one – the poll average gives Romney a one point lead.

Path to 270

Romney’s route to victory most likely lies in the following breakdown: If Romney were to win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire, he would stand 18 Electoral Votes from victory.  A win in Ohio would provide that – but if the President wins Ohio, then Romney would need to put together two states, like Wisconsin and Colorado, unless he were to win Pennsylvania.

For the President, wins in Ohio, Nevada and Michigan would put him only 9 Electoral Votes away from victory, meaning he could seal the deal with either Colorado or Wisconsin.

Restore Our Future (Pro-Romney SuperPAC) Launches $12 Million Ad Buy

There’s not that much time left before election day so everyone is emptying their war chests. The SuperPAC Restore Our Future run by former Romney staffers announced a large ad buy across 8-states starting next week. The advantage of these SuperPACs is the allow you to leave certain states (North Carolina) while also priming other states (Michigan) for possible future visits. The reality of this 3rd party ad buy though, is you see the campaign’s true priorities: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin. Ohio is missing from the list but I’d wager that is a typo. In the article below they list Nevada twice where I think they meant to include Ohio. When you see that list, it is the west/mid-west firewall Team Obama is trying to hold together (Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Wisconsin) plus key high electoral states (Florida and Virginia). These are the states that could ensure getting to 270 so it’s understandable they remain the sole focus despite the election night dreams for some of us:

The “super PAC” supporting Mitt Romney is making its most aggressive and expensive push yet in the advertising wars with a $12 million ad buy in nine states. The expenditure represents a significant expansion of the group’s advertising campaign and will be a major boost for Mr. Romney with only two and a half weeks to go before Election Day. The group, Restore Our Future, had been advertising only in a handful of states in recent weeks. But its latest ad buy will include almost all of the major battleground states — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, North Carolina, Nevada, Virginia and Wisconsin — plus Michigan, which has been relatively quiet because President Obama is believed to have a sizable advantage there.

The money is for just six days of ads starting on Tuesday and includes some huge sums, according to a firm that tracks political advertising. Restore Our Future has reserved around $1 million in airtime for Iowa and Wisconsin, an amount that ensures its message will be on television in heavy rotation there because of their smaller-sized media markets. It has also committed $2.5 million to Ohio and $2.3 million to Florida.

Restore Our Future’s ads will help Mr. Romney remain competitive on the air. Until recently, the Obama campaign had been outspending the Romney campaign and its Republican allies in several battleground states. But Republicans believe that with polls showing the race tightening, and a small but potentially pivotal slice of voters still undecided, a messaging barrage in the final days before the election could make all the difference. Carl Forti, a senior strategist for the group, said Thursday that the ads for the latest campaign are still being worked on.

Obama +6 in Michigan — EPIC-MRA

Despite the rapid tightening of polls with Mitt Romney leading in many Battlegrounds, Michigan remains a tough state for the native born candidate.  Well respected EPIC-MRA conducted a poll for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and found President Obama holding on to a  6-point lead 52 to 46:

 President Barack Obama’s improved performance in Tuesday’s debate with Republican rival Mitt Romney appears to have boosted him to a wider lead among likely Michigan voters, a Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) poll shows. When counting undecided voters leaning toward either candidate, Obama, the Democrat, held a 52%-46% edge on Romney in an automated poll of 800 likely Michigan voters on Wednesday, a day after the men met in New York for the second of three debates.

Almost half — 46% — thought Obama won the most recent debate, compared to 35% who thought Romney won. Eleven percent called the debate a tie and 8% were undecided. A poll after the first debate showed voters overwhelmingly gave Romney the advantage. “I think the debate had a role” in Obama’s lead, said Bernie Porn, pollster for EPIC-MRA of Lansing, which conducted the survey for the Free Press and WXYZ-TV (Channel 7). “You look at people who watched the debate, they’re voting for Obama more than the state as a whole is. Only among people who didn’t watch the debate are they tied.” The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. Taken with other recent polls, the EPIC-MRA survey suggests that Obama is once again solidifying a lead in Michigan after seeing a spike in support for Romney following the first debate on Oct. 3 in Denver.

Romney Shifting Resources from North Carolina to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania?

The press will soon stop the charade of referring to North Carolina as a Battleground as we’re seeing it already disappear from the lexicon. The Associated Press’ Kasie Hunt gets the scoop on where those resources are likely heading:

[T]he GOP presidential nominee’s advisers and the Republican National Committee are looking to give Romney more routes to reaching the 270 Electoral College votes needed for victory. They are weighing whether to shift resources from North Carolina, where Republicans express confidence of winning, into states long considered safe territory for President Barack Obama, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Like we blogged in our weekly ad spending piece:

One of the “tells” we told you about MONTHS ago about this battleground map was to keep an eye on October and see where the battle was being waged more intensely. If it was in the New South battleground states of FL/NC and VA more than the Midwest, advantage Obama. Well, this list of markets tells you, the battle is in the Midwest, that’s good news for Romney.

Obama +4 in Michigan, Obama at 44% — Denno Research

Here again is another poll showing Obama leading by 4 points but his support level of 44% is incredibly low. This time in the state of Michigan.  The polling outfit, Denno Research, is run by the chief of staff of a Democrat state legislator, so read what you will into any “house bias.” Romney leads by 9 with Independent 39 to 30.  If Undecideds break 2/3 for the challenger Romney would be at 49.1% and Obama would be at 48.5%:

A new statewide poll shows a tight race between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, as well as growing enthusiasm among Republicans for their nominee. Released Wednesday, the poll of 600 likely voters showed Obama leading Romney in Michigan, 44.2 percent to 40.5 percent, but Romney also within the sampling error of 4 percentage points — meaning it’s a tight race.

The poll was conducted by the Michigan polling firm Denno Research and commissioned by Grand Rapids-based Lambert, Edwards & Associates, which also has offices in Lansing. Dennis Denno, president of Denno Research, also is chief of staff to state Sen. Virgil Smith Jr., D-Detroit.
The poll shows Obama had gained a lead over Romney since Denno’s last state poll in June, when both candidates were tied at 40 percent. However, the most recent poll was conducted before last week’s vice presidential debate and Tuesday’s presidential debate. About 13.5 percent of voters were undecided.

The research also revealed a significant swelling of support among Republicans for Romney. In the latest survey, 44 percent of Republicans said they were very excited to vote for the Michigan native, compared to 16 percent in the June survey, before Romney was formally nominated by his party. By contrast, 48 percent of Democrats reported being very excited to vote for Obama, up from 39 percent in June.

As reported at MLive.com:

Among voters identifying themselves as independents, Romney had 38.5 percent to Obama’s 29.8 percent, with 26.6 percent unsure. Romney was up among men overall, 43.3 percent to 40.7 percent, but trailed Obama among women, 47 percent to 38.2 percent.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 44.2
Mitt Romney 40.5
Undecided 13

Romney +5 in 12-State Battleground Poll — USA Today/Gallup

Mitt Romney holds a 5-point lead, 51 to 46, among the Battleground States identified by USA Today which include my ten plus North Carolina and New Mexico.

The states in USA Today’s survey are: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.  This is huge for Romney because the only true red state is North Carolins and it is balanced by New Mexico’s inclusion.  So no state is unnecessarily skewing the results one way of the other and if anything the inclusion of Michigan and Pennsylvania unnecessarily help Obama. The most surprising takeaway is Romney support among the women surveyed was dead even at 48 a piece.  If it is anywhere near that on election day, look for a blowout with Romney carrying all of the above mentioned states:

Mitt Romney leads President Obama by five percentage points among likely voters in the nation’s top battlegrounds, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, and he has growing enthusiasm among women to thank. As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, the survey of voters in 12 crucial swing states finds female voters much more engaged in the election and increasingly concerned about the deficit and debt issues that favor Romney. The Republican nominee now ties the president among women who are likely voters, 48%-48%, while he leads by 12 points among men.

“In every poll, we’ve seen a major surge among women in favorability for Romney” since his strong performance in the first debate, veteran Democratic pollster Celinda Lake says. “Women went into the debate actively disliking Romney, and they came out thinking he might understand their lives and might be able to get something done for them.” While Lake believes Obama retains an edge among women voters, the changed views of Romney could be “a precursor to movement” to the Republican candidate, she says. “It opens them up to take a second look, and that’s the danger for Obama.”

Battleground State Polls: Where are We Today?

After that craptastic effort by Neil King in the Wall Street Journal, it was refreshing to read a straight forward look at the polling changes in the Battleground States following the game-changing first debate.  My one nit is the author points out Romney’s lead in Florida is skewed by the one poll giving him a 7-point lead but he doesn’t point out the same issue exists on behalf of Obama in Ohio with an outlier poll giving him a 6-point lead.  Otherwise here is a clear, sober look at the state of the polling in the Battlegrounds with the electoral vote count in parenthesis:

Mitt Romney’s overwhelming debate victory has tightened the presidential race in the dozen or so battleground states that will determine the winner of the election.

Florida (29)

Romney enjoys a two-percentage-point advantage in the Real Clear Politics (RCP) average of polls after crushing Obama in their initial debate. He had previously trailed the president by 1.6 percentage points. But it’s possible Romney’s numbers are being boosted by one poll. The Tampa Bay Times released a survey Thursday that showed him up by 7 percentage points, a finding the looks like an outlier compared to other polls. The Tampa poll showed Obama’s 11-point lead among independents swing to a 13 point advantage for Romney. In addition, Hispanic voters in the poll favored Romney 46 to 44 percent over Obama, despite the president’s more than 50-percentage point lead among the group nationally.

Ohio (18)

Obama has only a 1.5 percent lead in the RCP average, a sign things could be tightening. The president has been ahead in Ohio for months and may have lost a chance to lock-up the state with his debate performance. It was thought before the debate that Romney might have to focus his resources on other states. Democrats are hopeful that gains made early in the cycle, when Obama effectively portrayed Romney as an out-of-touch corporate raider to the state’s blue collar voters, is enough to withstand the GOP challenger’s late charge — particularly since voting has already started.

Virginia (13)

Obama held a nearly 4-point advantage in Virginia in the RCP average heading into the debate, but that’s been completely wiped out and the candidates are now tied. In addition, the last two polls in the state show Romney with 1 and 2 point leads.

Wisconsin (10)

After Romney selected home-state favorite Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, the GOP ticket spiked in Wisconsin, but Obama has since regained his lead. But Obama’s lead has been greatly diminished in the wake of the debate, falling from 8 points in the RCP average to 2 points.

Colorado (9)

Colorado is the most fickle swing state for Democrats, who were hopeful the state’s popular Democratic governor, concentrated pockets of social liberalism and rising Hispanic population had flipped the state permanently in their favor. But Colorado has strong independent and libertarian streaks, and appears to be headed for a photo finish. Obama held his biggest recent lead of 3 percentage points in the RCP average heading into the debate. Romney has since inched ahead of Obama, although by less than one percent, with recent polls split and showing the candidates in a statistical dead heat.

Iowa (6), Nevada (6) and New Hampshire (4)

With the race essentially tied, any of these three small delegate prizes could tip the race either way. Obama presently has small leads in all three, although Romney is within the margin of error. Both Nevada and Iowa went for Bush in 2004 and Obama in 2008. New Hampshire has gone for the Democratic candidate the last two elections, but went for Bush in 2000.

Pennsylvania (20) and Michigan (16)

Obama appeared to be cruising to victories in both states before the debate, but things have tightened. A win by Romney would dramatically alter the race and greatly increase his chances of winning. That said, at this point a victory by Romney would be a surprise. Obama once had an eight-point average lead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls in Pennsylvania, but now has only a 4.5 percent advantage. The president had a commanding 10-point lead in Michigan before the debate, but Romney since then has closed to within 4 points in the RCP average.

Obama +7 in Michigan — Rasmussen

The Great lakes State will still be a tough one to turn for Team Romney but we know they are trying.  The latest from Rasmussen Reports in Michigan shows a sizable lead for President Obama at  52 to 45:

President Obama continues to earn over 50% of the vote in Michigan, but his lead over Mitt Romney has narrowed a bit this month. The latest Ramussen Reports national telephone survey finds 52% of Likely Voters in Michigan support the president, while 45% give their vote to Romney. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and another one percent (1%) is undecided. The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Michigan was conducted on October 11, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Candidate Percent
Barack Obama 52
Mitt Romney 45
Other 1
Undecided 1

Romney Still Battling for Michigan

Restore Our Future has a big ad buy in Michigan which is a great sign for Team Romney. The official campaigns cannot coordinate with the SuperPACs but don’t deceive yourself, these types of moves occur because the official campaign thinks it is money well spent. Restore Our Future is the SuperPAC run by all former senior Romney staffers.

Importantly, at  8:15am today there is a Victory Event at The Pinnacle Center in Hudsonville, Michigan hosted by Ann Romney. She will then drop by the Franklin Cider Mill in Bloomfield Hills at 2:40

The below excerpt if from Politico’s “Morning Score:”

RESTORE OUR FUTURE BUYING $1.5 MILLION IN MICHIGAN: The Romney super PAC will go on the air Saturday with “New Normal,” the economic-focused attack on President Obama’s record that they’ve run in a couple other states over the last few weeks. ‘Michigan is now a ‘toss up’ state for the Presidential race and it is no surprise that Mitt Romney is coming on strong in his native state,” writes Restore Our Future co-founder and counsel Charlie Spies. “Michiganders, who have felt the full weight of Barack Obama’s broken promises and failed policies, are increasingly energized by Mitt Romney’s clear vision for a stronger economy and better tomorrow.’

Obama +2 in Michigan — Gravis Marketing

The latest from Gravis Marketing in Michigan shows a tightly contested race with the President clinging to a slim +1.6% lead over Mitt Romney 46 to 44.4. The party ID was D +5 (Dem 36.5, Rep 31.2, Ind 32.3).  That’s a low Democrat advantage considering 2008 was D +12 (Dem 41, Rep 29, Ind 29) and 2004 was D +5 (Dem 39, Rep 34, Ind 27). Romney is going to need a turnout similar to this comparatively strong GOP turnout of he is going to flip this traditionally strong blue state:

Gravis Marketing, a nonpartisan research firm, conducted a survey of 1,122 likely voters in Michigan regarding their vote for a given Presidential candidate. Overall, Obama holds a 46.0% to 44.4% lead among likely voters and a 47.3% to 42.3% among registered voters. The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2%. Obama’s lead in Michigan is according to race and religious affiliation is shown in the top two graphs. Romney holds a 3.7% lead among Whites, while Obama has a 43.6% advantage among African American voters. When it comes to religious affiliation, Romney has the lead among Catholics and Other Christians, while Obama has the lead among Muslim, Jews, and not affiliated voters.

Candidate Percent
Barack Obama 46.0
Mitt Romney 44.4
Other/Undecided 10

6500 At Ryan Rally in Rochester, Michigan

That’s only 22-times more people in a fringe battleground (Michigan) than the typical Joe Biden rally in a core Battleground (Virginia) #enthusiasm

Obama +3 in Michigan — EPIC-MRA

The latest from well-respected EPIC-MRA has Obama leading by 3-points in Michigan, identical margin as the Foster McCollum poll below:

Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s strong performance in his first debate with President Barack Obama helped him trim Obama’s lead in Michigan to three percentage points, a poll released today to the Free Press shows. Obama’s 10 percentage point lead (47%-37%) in a poll conducted last month by EPIC-MRA of Lansing dropped to 3 points (48% to 45%), according to the poll of 600 likely voters conducted by EPIC-MRA of Lansing. The gap between Romney and Obama was within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Undecided voters shrank from the September survey’s 16% to just 7%. EPIC’s September poll and others last month appeared to put Michigan out of reach for Romney, a native son. “Romney has come back like gangbusters,” said EPIC-MRA President Bernie Porn. “Whether or not it’s long-lasting, only time will tell, but probably the remaining debates will be key.”

For President Percent
Barack Obama 48
Mitt Romney 45
Undecided 7

Obama +3 in Michigan — Foster McCollum White Baydoun (FMWB)

Another tight poll in a Battleground State thought to be trending strongly towards Obama.  For the critics of this polling organization, they have met the challengers head on and stand by their polls. In their latest survey of Michigan President Obama has a 3-point lead (3.45 to be exact) over Mitt Romney, 49 to 46.  This compares to a 2-point lead for Obama in their their survey last month:

The past three weeks have been a mixed series of positive and negatives for both President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney including an extremely weak debate performance for President Obama. In spite of these challenges for both candidates our current poll conducted on October 5 reflects President Obama opening up a slightly wider lead in Michigan. President Obama leads Republican nominee Mitt Romney 49.30% to 45.85%, a lead of 3.45 points, which is above the margin of error of 2.93%…The current shift from Romney back to Obama now is 7.25 points from August. “The past three weeks have not helped either candidate overall. President Obama has lost confidence of some Michigan voters with his debate performance and the handling of the embassy attacks in the Middle East,” per Eric Foster, chief pollster for Foster McCollum White Baydoun. “At the same time, Romney’s comments about 47% of Americans being dependent on Government and not taking responsibility for their lives hurt the Governor’s creditability significantly with women and senior voters in Michigan”. The data findings suggest that these candidate missteps have balanced each other.

Highlights:

  • Romney has a 14.14 point lead with self identified independent voters (Romney 51.03% to Obama 36.90%).
  • Romney and Obama are still statistically tied in the critical swing 4 county cluster (Oakland, Macomb, Monroe and Kalamazoo) group (Romney 48.55% to Obama 47.59%), which is critical to his viability.
  • 50.88% of Michigan voters stated that the Debate confirmed their choice and 35.71% stated that the Debate had no impact on their decision. Only 4.35% stated that the debate changed their opinion.
For President Percent
Barack Obama 49.30
Mitt Romney 45.85
Other 2.24
Undecided 2.61

Paul Ryan Rally in Rochester Hills, Michigan Monday (Oct 8) 7pm

Thank to commenter firebird4ever for the heads-up, but the future Vice President is stumping in the Great Lakes State on Monday … considering how valuable these resources are and Ryan draws thousands while Joe Biden draws ~300 (no exaggeration), more may be afoot in Michigan than the TV pundits would like you to believe …

You’re Invited to a Victory Rally with Paul Ryan in Michigan!

When: Monday, October 8th, 2012

Doors Open 5:00 PM | Event Begins 7:00 PM

Where: Oakland University’s Athletics Center O’rena

To register fro the event, click here.

Parking: Meadow Brook Music Festival, 3554 East Walton Boulevard, Rochester Hills, MI 48309

Shuttle Service to and from the event will be provided. No parking will be available at Oakland University. First Shuttle will depart at 4:30PM. Last shuttle will depart at 9:45PM.

All attendees will go through airport-like security and should bring as few personal items as possible. No bags, sharp objects, umbrellas, liquids, or signs will be allowed in the venue. Cameras are permitted.

For Questions, contact us at: TeamMI@mittromney.com | (248) 270-8354
For Important Campaign Updates: Text (MI) to GOMITT (466488)

Obama +4 in Michigan — Gravis Marketing

Just not clicking on all cylinders this morning over at battlegroundwatch headquarters.  Anyway, here is the latest from Gravis Marketing/Capitol Correspondent in Michigan.  The party ID is D +6 (Dem 34, Rep 28, Ind 38) which compares to D+12 in 2008 (Dem 41, Rep 29, Ind 29) and D +5 in 2004 (Dem 39, Rep 34, Ind 27).  Six months ago you could have convinced the turnout would look more like the 2004 election, but not so much today.  Michigan remains a Democrat-heavy state despite the hollowing out of the population due to the devastating effect of the failed Granholm years.  Nice top-line result for Romney but the sample likely favors him too much.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 50.0
Mitt Romney 46.2
Undecided 3.8

Obama +12 in Michigan — Rasmussen

Although this margin seems a bit high, the result is consistent with other recent Michigan polls and its not like Rasmussen Reports suddenly decided to change it’s sample make-up to indefensible levels:

President Obama now earns over 50% of the vote in Michigan. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in the state finds Obama with 54% support to 42% for Mitt Romney. One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, while three percent (3%) are undecided.This survey of 500 Likely Voters in Michigan was conducted on September 20, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 54
Mitt Romney 42
Other 1
Undecided 3

Obama’s Achilles Heel Continues to Grow

From the start of this cycle, there has been no question that Obama’s Achilles heel will be the weak economy looming over any distractions he and the media can create. We’ve blogged about some of the underlying weak economic data before but the horrific unemployment situation always looms largest.

Many times you have been told (never by pro-Obama talking heads though) that the unemployment rate only dropped because people were giving up looking for jobs or ran out of benefits — not because people were actually getting jobs. Every Obama shill in the media would trumpet the falling rate even if more Americans were actually out of work.  Now that statistical trick isn’t showing gains for Obama and we are seeing the unemployment rate drift back up — especially in the Battleground States.

Last month we showed the unemployment rate increasing in every Battleground State (save Ohio where it was flat). Now we have the latest data and the results are still not pretty:

  • One state saw a drop of 0.1% in unemployment (Colorado)
  • A large majority of the states have horrible unemployment rates (anything above 7.0%) and climbing
  • The national unemployment average dropped from 8.3% to 8.1% last month because an estimated 368,000 people gave up looking for work
  • Only media and political spin can believe the President benefits because a state’s individual rate is marginally better than the nightmarish national average of 8.1%

Battleground State Breakdown of Unemployment Increase:

Battleground State Unemployment % Monthly Change 2-Month Change
Nevada 12.1 +0.1 +0.5
Michigan 9.4 +0.4 +0.8
Florida 8.8 unchanged +0.2
Colorado 8.2 -0.1 unchanged
Pennsylvania 8.1 +0.2 +0.5
Wisconsin 7.5 +0.2 +0.5
Ohio 7.2 unchanged unchanged
Virginia 5.9 unchanged +0.2
New Hampshire 5.7 +0.3 +0.6
Iowa 5.5 +0.2 +0.4

Republican Ground Game to Make the Difference in November

I make fun of the absurdity of polls showing Obama outperforming his 2008 turnout advantage for three main reasons:

  1. First. it is based on sensationalistic hype surrounding an allegedly never-before-seen micro-targeting that will revolutionize turnout. I don’t buy sensationalistic marketing claims in any aspect of my life and especially when it comes from a guy who claimed he could cool the planet and push back the tides when he was running last time.
  2. Second, the enthusiasm among Obama’s “coalition of the ascendent”[the predicate for Democrat talk of dominance for decades to come] no where near matches 2008 levels, yet polling models assume even higher rates of these minority groups will turn out this year despite far lower enthusiasm.
  3. Third, the GOP ground game is vastly superior to its 2008 half-hearted effort. We’ve blogged dramatic shifts in voter registration in Iowa, a net change away from Democrats to Independents of nearly 1,000,000 registrations among Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina since the 2008, and serious ugliness for Democrats in Ohio yet our friendly unbiased pollsters see huge Democrat turnout advantages everywhere they look.

Now the Washington Post is picking up on this third point with a write-up on GOP successes on the ground this Fall that could add as much as 3% to Romney’s total:

Organizers from both parties report growing evidence that new voter-outreach programs funded by conservative groups could give GOP nominee Mitt Romney an edge if the race is close. In the key battleground states, Obama’s celebrated network of organizing experts and neighborhood captains is being challenged by a conservative coalition that includes the National Rifle Association, the billionaire-backed Americans for Prosperity and a newly muscular College Republicans organization with a $16 million budget The conservative groups “are fully funded and ready for hand-to-hand combat,” said Steve Rosenthal, a Democratic organizer.

  • Florida — Republican legislation effectively dampened pro-Democratic voter registration efforts during critical months in 2011 and 2012, resulting in registration gains for Republicans in the crucial Tampa Bay area since the 2008 election.
  • Ohio — the evangelical group behind a successful anti-same-sex-marriage amendment that helped mobilize conservative voters in 2004 says it has a network of 10,000 churches and a database of millions of rural voters who will be targeted with in-person visits and voter guides.
  • Wisconsin — conservatives have built a house-by-house turnout machine already tested in the successful campaign to fight a union-backed recall of GOP Gov. Scott Walker in June.

Experts say that if Obama’s lead in key states extends beyond a few percentage points, even the most effective field operation on the right may not be enough to prevent a Romney loss. But, they say, the operation can add two to three points to the Republican’s total and, in a close contest, that could be a significant difference…”It’s a much more robust field operation than the 2008 McCain campaign had, that’s clear,” said Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager.

Wisconsin

One of the major players on the right is Americans for Prosperity, a group co-founded by conservative billionaire David Koch. The group plans to spend $125 million on the 2012 campaign, half of it devoted to field organizing in political battlegrounds. AFP has 116 staff members on the ground targeting 9 million voters the group has found to be “up in the air” about how to assess Obama’s economic record, said its president, Tim Phillips. The group has honed many of its techniques in Wisconsin, where it spent millions on the effort to keep Walker in office. The group there is deploying a new smartphone application, Prosperity Knocks, to guide canvassers to the right doors. Of the group’s 120,000 members in Wisconsin, it has 4,000 super activists, dubbed “Prosperity Champions,” who have participated in multiple actions, the group says. “This is a totally new ballgame,” said Luke Hilgemann, the Wisconsin director for AFP, who oversees 12 full-time staff members and thousands of volunteers in his state. “We’re matching the left and exceeding them in lots of things that we’re doing.” Wisconsin Family Action, another social conservative organization in the state, is sending voter guides and DVDs to its network of 3,000 churches, said Julaine Appling, the group’s president. “Here in Wisconsin, we’ve become pretty well-schooled in ground games,” she said.

Ohio

Activists report similarly honed skills in Ohio. Phil Burress, chairman of the group Citizens for Community Values Action and the leader of the marriage campaign in 2004, said he has been operating half a dozen phone-bank centers since May. He said he has a database of 8.4 million Ohioans and plans to distribute 2 million voter guides to 10,000 churches, with a focus on rural parts of the state that he said posted low turnout in 2008. Burress said many of his activists are motivated by Obama’s recent announcement supporting same-sex marriage. “It’s like 2004 all over again,” he said.

College Republicans and the NRA

In Ohio and other states, an emerging force in conservative voter outreach is the College Republican National Committee, which has expanded this year to 63 paid, full-time field staff members and has formed a joint super PAC with American Crossroads, the group founded in part by Karl Rove, who was an adviser to President George W. Bush, to target young voters. Gun enthusiasts will be hearing with greater intensity this year from the NRA, which spent $30 million in 2008 and plans to focus less this year on television advertising and more on voter recruiting. The group has hired 25 campaign field directors and posted them in battleground states, while it has begun churning out hundreds of thousands of pieces of targeted literature, said Chris Cox, the group’s chief political strategist. Cox said advancements in technology have improved the organization’s voter-targeting abilities “from a traditional shotgun blast into more of a rifle shot.”

Florida

In Florida, the Atlas Project has identified Democratic vulnerability in critical areas of the state. For example, the organization found that Democratic Party registration in the counties in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area has dropped by about 64,000 since the 2008 election, while Republican registration has increased by more than 50,000. Obama campaign officials point out that registration in Florida and many other states will continue for several more weeks and that Democrats are on track to make big gains. For the past two months, they said, the number of registered Democrats has increased more than the number of registered Republicans in Florida and other key states with party registration. Even in 2008, a large share of the Democratic registration gains did not occur until the final push.

Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida who has studied the effects of voter laws, said his data show that Florida’s Republican-backed legislation dampened registration in 2011 and early 2012, as some liberal groups stopped signing up voters. But since the courts rejected the law in May, Smith said, “I think we are seeing an effective effort to catch up.” Democrats on the ground remain worried. “There’s no question the legislature and the governor made it more of a challenge” to register Democrats this year, said Dan Gelber, a former legislator from Miami Beach who has been assisting the Obama team with voter registration. “I would not counsel overconfidence in Florida, notwithstanding the daily missteps of the Romney campaign.”