Category Archives: Virginia

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.

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:

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.

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.

Romney +2 in Virginia — Rasmussen

In a state that I though would be a knife fight into election day, Virginia remains very close with Rasmussen showing a 2-point lead for Romney 50 to 48. It’s likely that Romney has opened a significant enough lead to call this state earlier in the evening tomorrow than I would have thought a few months back but people still have to show up and you never know the results so don’t get cocky:

Mitt Romney still earns 50% support in Virginia just before Election Day. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Virginia Voters shows Romney with 50% of the vote to President Obama’s 48%. One percent (1%) likes another candidate, and another one percent (1%) is undecided. This is unchanged from two weeks ago and the week before that when it was Romney 50%, Obama 47%. Virginia which is critical to Romney’s fortunes in the election remains a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College Projections as it has been in surveys for months.  Polls close in Virginia tomorrow at 7 pm Eastern. The results from the state will be an early indicator of how the election is going: If Romney loses Virginia, he is unlikely to win the election.

Ninety-three percent (93%) of the state’s voters say they have made up their minds how they will vote, and the race is 50%-50% among these voters. Romney has the support of 90% of Virginia Republicans and leads 58% to 37% among voters not affiliated with either of the major parties. The president has 93% backing from the state’s Democrats. Virginia voters trust Romney more when it comes to handling the economy by a 51% to 45% margin. The challenger leads the president by two points – 49% to 47% – in terms of voter trust when it comes to national security and energy policy. These numbers are essentially unchanged from two weeks ago.

While the economy remains the number one issue on voters’ minds as they go to the polls,  neither candidate has convinced voters in the state that he is clearly the better alternative.  Forty-six percent (46%) think the economy will get better if Romney is elected and Republicans take over Congress, but only slightly fewer (40%) say the same is true if Obama is reelected and Democrats take charge of Congress.  Thirty-eight percent (38%) expect the economy to get worse if Romney wins, compared to 43% who predict a worsening economy if the president wins. This, too, has changed little. The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Virginia was conducted on November 4, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 48
Mitt Romney 50
Other 1
Undecided 1

It’s a Little Crowded at the Romney Rally in Newport News, Virginia

10 O’Clock at night in 40 degree weather on a Sunday night and Romney’s packing the house (or in this case hangar):

Waiting for Romney to deplane:

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.

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.

Romney +5 in Virginia, Romney +26 with Independents — Roanoke College

In the latest poll of Virginia from Roanoke College, Mitt Romney leads by 5-points, 49 to 44 with 5% Undecided. Among the Undecided, 27% are leaning towards Romney and 9% towards Obama.  The party ID is D +4 (Dem 35, Rep 31, Ind 30). This compares to 2008 of D +6 (Dem 39, Rep 33, Ind 27) and 2004 of R +4 (Dem 35, Rep 39, Ind 26). Maybe a shade towards the Democrats but at least it is between the past two elections.

Interesting how Roanoke has a similar lead among Independents as Quinnipiac, but a 7-point swing towards Romney.  Did they not get the memo to cheerlead their lungs out for Obama? Oh wait, Roanoke isn’t party to the DC cocktail circuit so they will have to rely on their reputation which makes the play it straight and this is an awful poll for the President.

From the at the cross-tabs:

  • Each side locks down its base with ~95% support
  • Romney leads with Independents by +26 which explains the lead in the poll
  • Obama support among Whites is an awful 33%
  • Obama support among Blacks is 89%, approximately the historical norm for a Democrat but well-off his lofty 2008 levels of ~96%
  • Obama leads by only 1-point among women 48 to 47
  • Romney leads among men 52 to 39
  • Obama job approval is at 44%
  • Third party candidates get 4% of the vote but when pressed to pick Obama or Romney, Obama leads 56 to 37 among these voters
  • Obama is viewed favorably 48 to 46
  • Romney is viewed favorably 49 to 39

CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac Survey Narnia, Find Obama Leading

We’re six days out from the finish line so there’s not much time left for the press to get in their final push for their preferred candidate. Lucky for the Left there is the wonderfully incompetent trio of CBS/New York Times/Quinnipiac to rush into the fray and magically find polls with Obama winning just close enough that when it flips on election day they can shout “Margin of Error!” and head back into their cocoon.

The economy remains the paramount issue in this election with ~50% saying it is the top priority and ~20% saying it is the #2 priority across all three states polled.  No other topic is even close.  Despite this the lead questions in the survey were “which candidate cares about the needs and problems of people like you?”, “who cares about the middle class?” and “who cares and understands the needs and problems of women in the workplace?”  I’m not making this up. These are straight out of Obama stump speeches. For the uninitiated, polling is as much art as it is science and question order greatly affects responses of those surveyed.  PPP does this in a very biased way all the time which which is among the countless reasons I will never blog them. In the Q-poll, even in their pro-Obama wave of questions, when they get to whether candidate X is a strong leader, Obama still solidly lags Romney polling at ~56% while Romney polls ~64 across the 3 states.

After 9 straight ostensibly pro-Obama questions, they ask about the economy which again is the TOP issue in everyone’s book and happens to be THE issue in every Romney stump speech.  With 9 questions ramping up good feelings about Obama, Romney barely leads on this issue in Florida and Virginia and trails by one in Ohio.  Well done Quinnipiac. Now, if you’ll just survey far more Democrats than have ever shown up at the polls in these state the Death Star may finally be fully operational and Obama can pull out an election that he is almost assuredly losing right now.  On to the states!

Florida: The Lion

  • Obama leads +1 at 48 to 47 with 3% Undecided; Romney leads with Independents by 5
  • Party ID wasD +7 (Dem 37, Rep 30, Ind 29). In 2008 it was D +3 (Dem 37, Rep 34, Ind 29). In 2004 it was R+4 (Dem 37, Rep 41, Ind 23). Good show Quinnipiac!  In a state with a GOP governor and massive increases in congressional delegations, popular GOP Senator, and strong state house swings to the GOP since 2008, you found Democrat strength equal to 2008 while Republican flight since 2004 continues unabated. You found the Democrat identification advantage in your survey more than doubles the advantage they enjoyed in 2008 despite a nearly net 300,000 swing towards Republicans in voter registrations. Your Florida poll is unassailable…at least in Narnia.
  • Obama job approval +1 at 49/48 … if Quinnipiac surveyed only Dade County and even there I’d double check the numbers

Ohio: The Witch

  • Obama leads +5, 50 – 45 with 4% Undecided; Romney leads with Independents by 6
  • The party ID was D +8 (Dem 37, Rep 29, Ind 30). This compares to D +8 in 2008 (Dem 39, Rep 31, Ind 30) and R +5 in 2004 (Dem 35, Rep 40, Ind 25).  There is no chance the Democrat turnout advantage will meet Obama’s 2008 best in a generation turnout which we write as D +8 based on the CNN party ID generally used.  This is even though the actual 2008 party ID was really only D +5 making this D +8 that much more implausible. How many statistics on changes in enthusiasm favoring Republicans, unrealistic Democrat demographic assumptions and elimination of Obama’s early vote advantage do you need to see before they start polling an electorate dissimilar to 2008 when their dream candidate fulfilled their liberal inner guilt and healed a nation or whatever BS they were peddling at the time? Quinnipiac is not going to let silly facts get in the way of its mission to buck up the Lefties and turn this contest into a horse-race. One more piece to the puzzle before the Death Star is complete.
  • Obama job approval +3 at 50/47 — Can you imagine what it would be if they surveyed Ohio?

Virginia: The Wardrobe

  • Obama leads by 2, 49 – 47 with 3% Undecided; Romney leads with Independents by 21
  • The party ID is D +8 (Dem 35, Rep 27, Ind 35). This compares to 2008 of D +6 (Dem 39, Rep 33, Ind 27) and 2004 of R +4 (Dem 35, Rep 39, Ind 26). Who knew the blue wave continues so far South of the DC Beltway?  Certainly not Virginia and certainly not Governor Creigh Deeds. Just because Virginia flipped its state delegation dramatically in favor of Republicans doesn’t mean the voters turned their back on Democrats, it’s just there must have been a good TV rerun of Martin Sheen spouting non-sensical liberal tripe on the Left Wing that distracted Democrats from voting.  Good thing Quinnipiac found these ultra-micro-targeted hidden Democrats only Project Narwhal knows about because otherwise, without those gnomes (Step 1: Call random #s only in Fairfax County, Step 2: ???, Step 3: Obama wins!) I’m not sure we’d have a fully operational Death Star. Come November 6, we’ll see how well those gnomes delivered for this survey of a fantasy electorate.
  • Obama job approval flat at 49/49 — Really?  49% with a D +8 turnout in a state closer to even D/R?  Suuuuuuuure.

Romney Campaign Aids Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort

Here are more details on the Romney campaign using its resources to assist states with relief efforts from the hurricane:

With eight days remaining until Election Day and a major storm slamming the East Coast, Romney is putting some of his resources onto preparation and relief efforts. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, canceled Monday and Tuesday campaign events and returned to the White House to monitor the storm and federal government response…The campaign is loading supplies into a campaign bus for delivery in Virginia. In Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania – all battleground states in the presidential campaign and all expected to be impacted by this storm – Team Romney is collecting supplies at their campaign offices for local relief efforts.

Here is a link to the Romney campaign offices in Virginia where relief supplies can be donated.  At the bottom there is a button to see additional Virginia offices near you.

Romney Using Campaign Resources for Storm Relief Efforts

This isn’t new for Team Romney, back in July:

As more becomes clear on the storm’s impact, I expect more Romney campaign resources to be used similarly. News will be similarly sparse on these efforts so if you see something shoot it my way.

Romney +2 in Virginia — Fox News

Mitt Romney has a 2-point lead in the latest Fox News poll of Virginia leading 47 to 45.  That leaves plenty of Undecideds (7%) in a race that was expected to go down to the wire but appears to be trending Romney’s way. Pre-debates this poll had President Obama with a 7-point lead and Independents evenly split at 43 a piece.  Independents now break decidedly for Romney 53 to 31. If that margin holds up through election day Virginia will flip back to red on the electoral map. The party ID is D +5 (Dem 39, Rep 34, Ind 23). This is fairly close to the 2008 turnout of D +6 (Dem 39, Rep 33, Ind 27) and far off the 2004 turnout of R +4 (Dem 35, Rep 39, Ind 26).  It looks like they have too many Democrats and far too few Independents which is doubly good for Obama because Romney is dominating the Independent vote.  No wonder there are rumors flying everywhere that he is pulling resources from the state.

Highlights:

  • Foreign policy: Obama leads 49 to 43
  • Protecting medicare: Obama leads 48 to 43
  • Improving the economy: Romney leads 50 to 44
  • Reducing the Federal deficit: Romney leads 53 to 38
  • Obama job approval: tied at 48 to 48
For President Percent
Barack Obama 45
Mitt Romney 47
Other 1
Undecided 7

Romney +2 in Virginia — Rasmussen

The latest from Rasmussen Reports in Virginia has Mitt Romney leading by 3-points 50 to 47:

Mitt Romney still earns 50% support in Virginia, but the presidential race remains a toss-up in the Old Dominion. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Virginia Voters finds Romney with 50% support to President Obama’s 48%. Only one percent (1%) remains undecided. Last week, Romney hit the 50% mark for the first time here, while Obama earned 47% of the vote. With the exception of last week, however, the candidates have been within two points or less of each other in every survey in Virginia since April.

Virginia continues to be a Toss-Up in the Rasmussen Reports Electoral College Projections. Ninety-two percent (92%) of the state’s voters now say they’ve made up their minds whom they will vote for. That’s up four points from last week. Romney leads 52% to 48% among these voters. Virginia voters trust Romney more than the president by a 51% to 46% margin when it comes to handling the economy. This is unchanged from a week ago. When it comes to national security and energy policy, it’s a near tie, with Romney posting a one-point edge over Obama in terms of voter trust on both issues. These findings are comparable to voter attitudes nationally. Forty-eight percent (48%) in Virginia expect the economy to get better if Romney is elected and Republicans take control of Congress. Just 38% think that’s likely if Obama is reelected and Democrats take charge of Congress. If Romney wins, 38% believe the economy will get worse, compared to 42% who feel that will be the case if Obama wins.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 48
Mitt Romney 50
Other
Undecided 1

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.

Romney SuperPAC Goes Retro Targeting Battleground Voters

I like the “different” thinking by the pro-Romney SuperPAC Ending Spending Action Fund.  This group is better know by its main backer Joe Rickets, founder of TD Ameritrade:

This is the point in the presidential race where voters have been slammed with so many TV ads that campaign strategists wonder how they can possibly cut through the clamor.

And that can lead to some unorthodox tactics.

In a retro move for a new media age, one conservative super PAC is spending more than $1 million in Wisconsin and four other battlegrounds on a breezy, pro-Romney, 12-page color “magazine” for insert into daily and weekly newspapers. It features boosterish profiles of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and even comes with a campaign-themed crossword puzzle (clue for 1 Down is the “the burger company where Paul Ryan worked as a kid”).

“We’re trying to get outside the clutter box,” says Will Feltus, who did media buying and targeting for the 2004 Bush re-election effort, and is now working on the $10 million independent ad campaign funded by conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade.

A lot of that $10 million has gone into TV, radio and online ads. But the newspaper insert, so popular with big retailers, is an unusual vehicle for a political campaign. The group’s rationale is two-fold:

  • the airwaves are almost hopelessly saturated with TV spots, and
  • newspaper readers are highly cost-effective targets for political communications because of their propensity to vote.

The group, Ending Spending Action Fund, says it has printed more than 4 million inserts for distribution in Wisconsin, Ohio, Iowa, Virginia and Florida. They will show up in some weekly papers on Thursday and daily papers on Sunday.

“The basic idea is that print is the new ‘new media,’” says Feltus, citing data from Scarborough Research that shows the correlation between voting and media consumption is stronger for newspaper use than for TV, radio or the Internet. The chart below was put together by Feltus’ firm, National Media Inc., based on Scarborough’s 2011 surveys of more than 200,000 adults.

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.

Romney +3 in Virginia (post-debate) — Rasmussen

The latest from Rasmussen Reports shows Mitt Romney with a slight lead over President Obama in Virginia, 50 to 47.  Romney leads among Independents by 4-points and kisses the important 50% threshold:

Per Rasmussen:

Mitt Romney has now hit the 50% mark in Virginia. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Virginia Voters, taken two nights after the second presidential debate, shows Romney with 50% support to President Obama’s 47%. Two percent (2%) remain undecided. The survey of 750 Likely Voters in Virginia was conducted on October 18, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points.

For President Percent
Barack Obama 47
Mitt Romney 50
Other
Undecided 2

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.

The War on Coal

The coal industry has been a political battleground ever since then-candidate Obama said he would implement a cap-and-trade program that would bankrupt anyone who started a new coal-powered plant:

[W]e would put a cap-and-trade system in place that is more — that is as aggressive if not more aggressive than anybody else’s out there … so if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.

This issue has continued to dog the President as his EPA policies stifle the coal industry as energy prices sky-rocket and jobs are harder to find in these regions The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the politics of coal in this election:

Coal has improbably risen to become one of the top issues of the presidential campaign, with dueling ads about coal in swing states and attacks by each candidate on the other’s position. The battle is escalating even though coal employment is just a shadow of what it was a few decades ago and its use in power generation is steadily declining, from 48% of U.S. electricity in 2008 to 38% in the 12 months ended July 2012. The industry retains outsize importance in part because of its operations in the contested states of Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. The candidates have turned coal into a linchpin in their different visions of America’s energy future. Mr. Romney’s energy plan calls for large increases in domestic production of fossil fuels, including coal, while seeking to roll back environmental regulations.

Tricky politics

The fight over coal is tricky for both men. As governor, Mr. Romney championed a regional program to cap emissions of greenhouse gases, which would have hurt the coal industry. But he later abandoned the program, during his first presidential run. For Democrats, coal is even more contentious. Some conservative Democrats, especially in the upper Midwest, fear the decline of the coal industry will lead to higher electricity prices. Those worries led Senate Democrats to scuttle a bill in Congress in 2010 that would have capped greenhouse-gas emissions. Mr. Obama has defended multibillion-dollar investments in “clean coal,” even though many of his supporters who have concerns about the environmental adamantly oppose any federal support for coal. The Obama campaign says coal-industry employment has risen 10% in Ohio since 2008, a message those supporters are loath to hear.

Stabilizing constituency

The U.S. has about 88,000 coal miners, according to government figures, down from more than 700,000 in the 1920s, but up from 75,000 a decade ago.

Natural gas threat

The greatest difference between the candidates comes in environmental rules targeting greenhouse gases and mercury emissions, which fall most heavily on coal-fired plants. Mr. Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency has aggressively pursued the rules, while Mr. Romney says they amount to a death sentence for coal-fired plants. Energy analysts say a bigger factor is the increase of abundant and cheap natural gas in the U.S. Demand for coal is growing elsewhere globally, though, which is one reason employment in the industry has notched up in recent years despite coal’s slipping rank among power sources. The U.S. has become a major supplier of coal to countries including China, India, Brazil, the Netherlands and Britain. The U.S. has exported more coal so far this year than in all of 2009, and is on pace for a record level of coal exports.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is XVII

MSNBC dishes most of the red meat this week with weekly ad buys.  We don’t have the details for each market but the markets included (and not included) tell a much bigger story.  Look at the week-over-week shift.  Last week had the Romney campaign’s entire 3-2-1 strategy for winning the election: Virginia (2x), Ohio (2x), Florida (2x), Colorado (1x), Iowa (2x) and Wisconsin (1x). This week the front-half of the 3-2-1 strategy carpet bombs Ohio (4x) but thins appreciably after that: no Virginia, Florida down to one market, and it’s the back-half of the 3-2-1 strategy that remains: Colorado (1x), Wisconsin (2x), Iowa (1x) with the expansion to Nevada (1x). This Battleground ad spending shift is a huge win for Romney. As MSNBC writes:

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.

Without the ad points (we asked for them) it’s hard to tell the saturation but MSNBC reported the gross dollar figures which are staggering:

This week alone, more than $58 million is being spent. Obama leads the pack with $20 million spent, but Romney is close at $16.5 million (of course, he is getting less bang for the buck because of when his campaign books ads). With outside groups factored in, Team Romney’s outspending Team Obama this week, $34 million to $24 million.

Regarding the ad points, according to MSNBC:

Romney has more ad points than Obama narrowly in Denver, Mason City, and Orlando.

A quick guide: RNC is the Republican National Committee, ROF is Restore Our Future (Romney Super PAC); AFP is Americans for Prosperity (pro-Romney group); CWA is Concerned Women for America (pro-Romney group); NRA is National Rifle Association (pro-Romney); AFF is American Future Fund (pro-Romney); and Priorities is Priorities USA Action (pro-Obama Super PAC).

Hottest Markets for the week 10/15-10/21 Hottest Markets for the week 10/8-10/14
1. Green Bay, WI
2. Denver, CO
3. Cincinnati, OH
4. Columbus, OH
5. Madison, WI
6. Toledo, OH
7. Rochester-Mason City, MN-Austin, IA
8. Cleveland, OH
9. Orlando-Daytona Beach. FL
10. Las Vegas, NV
1. Orlando, FL (Obama 1600, Romney1600, ROF 775, Priorities 630, ROF 215)
2. Norfolk VA (Romney 1500, Obama 1300, ROF1200, Priorities 350, NRA 300)
3. Cleveland, OH (Romney 1500, Obama 1500, AmCrossroads 1200, Priorities 400)
4. Denver, CO (Romney 1500, Obama 1500, AmCrossroads 1200, Priorities 300)
5. Toledo, OH (Romney 1500, Obama 1500, AmCrossroads 1100, Priorities 300, NRA 250)
6. Des Moines, IA (Romney 1500, Obama 1300, ROF 1000, Priorities 350, American Future Fund 360)
7. Roanoke, VA (Romney 1500, ROF 1500, Obama 750, Priorities 300, NRA 400)
8. Cedar Rapids, IA (Romney 1500, Obama 1300, ROF 780, American Future Fund 415, Priorities 400)
9. Green Bay, WI (Romney 1500, ROF 1500, Obama 500, Priorities 500, NRA 400)
10. Tampa, FL (Romney 1,500, Obama 1500, ROF 675, NRA 250)

MSNBC takeaways:
Ohio, Ohio, Ohio. Four of the top 10 hottest markets this week (in terms of advertising points from Oct. 15-21) are in the Buckeye State. Wisconsin has two, including Green Bay in the top spot. One striking thing about this week’s top markets — no Virginia. Markets like Norfolk, Roanoke, and Richmond have routinely been in the top 10, but they have dropped out to 16, 21, and 22, respectively. The Obama campaign has maintained its levels in Norfolk and Richmond, but cut it in half in Roanoke, from 1,500 points to 795 this week. The Romney campaign, on the other hand, INCREASED its spending in that market. The Obama campaign increased in places like Mason City, IA.