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********

Thank you very much,


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.


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.

Post 2012 Changes

You can’t lose the way Republicans did in the Senate and give away possibly the most winnable Presidential election in 40 years without changing a few things.  Ben Howe at RedState has some great suggestions:

The overriding problem that we as a party have is that we have two distinct camps. The Tea Party wing and the Establishment wing. Whether or not the names are fair, they basically summarize what people have come to know as the competing interests in the party. Unfortunately, both miss the most crucial part of winning elections: messaging.

Our rhetoric must change. It must stop only preaching to the choir. What our messaging must do is inform and educate. Not only the portion of the electorate that we currently aren’t winning, but our own base as well. Too often I’ve heard the angry tones deriding the welfare recipient for being a taker instead of a producer. And while I agree with the sentiment that entitlements are bankrupting our country, the problem isn’t solved by simply adjusting the numbers. We can’t fix things by addressing the fiscal problems associated with entitlements until we’ve changed the minds of the people that are entitled.

But instead of working together on this messaging, we’re at each other’s throats pointing fingers and declaring that one side is the problem. The principled vs the strategic. The conservative vs the moderate. The Tea Party vs the Establishment. Both sides are wrong and both sides are right. We must be strategic and we must be principled. But we must also be intelligent. We must also be compassionate. We must also be empathetic and we must also be clever.

Without those additional qualities we are doomed to continue failing to win while retaining our principles, or sacrificing our principles to achieve our victories.

I spent the last four years fighting. That much will remain the same but added to that list, and I hope for the Republican Party as well, will be working to craft our message so that it appeals to the people that don’t vote for us yet. Honesty and principles must prevail. If not then what’s the point of fighting? The cost of winning can’t be so high that we lose ourselves. But our ability to explain how & why others should agree with us must improve.

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.


[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.


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:

Must Read: Sean Trende Estimates ~7 Million Few Whites Voted in 2012

The numbers are all still fuzzy and incomplete right now which is why I’m holding off analysis and two smart people (Jay Cost and Sean Trende) can be looking at 2 very different numbers. Trende over at Real Clear Politics takes a stab at the remaining votes to be counted and looks at the Demographic changes (or lack thereof) in what drove the 2012 election results.  Read the whole thing at Real Clear Politics:

For Republicans, that despair now comes from an electorate that seems to have undergone a sea change. In the 2008 final exit polls (unavailable online), the electorate was 75 percent white, 12.2 percent African-American, 8.4 percent Latino, with 4.5 percent distributed to other ethnicities. We’ll have to wait for this year’s absolute final exit polls to come in to know the exact estimate of the composition this time, but right now it appears to be pegged at about 72 percent white, 13 percent black, 10 percent Latino and 5 percent “other.”

But that is just percentages.  The actual turnout tells a much different story:

[T]he 2012 elections actually weren’t about a demographic explosion with non-white voters. Instead, they were about a large group of white voters not showing up. As of this writing, Barack Obama has received a bit more than 60 million votes. Mitt Romney has received 57 million votes. Although the gap between Republicans and Democrats has closed considerably since 2008, Romney is still running about 2.5 million votes behind John McCain; the gap has closed simply because Obama is running about 9 million votes behind his 2008 totals. Of course, there are an unknown number of ballots outstanding. If we guesstimate the total at 7 million (3 million in California, 1.5 million or so in Oregon and Washington, and another 2.5 million or so spread throughout the country), that would bring the total number of votes cast in 2012 to about 125 million: 5 million votes shy of the number cast four years ago.

2012 actual vote estimates based on exit polls

With this base line, and armed with the exit-poll data, we can get a pretty good estimate of how many whites, blacks, and Latinos cast ballots in both 2008 and 2012. Assuming the 72/13/10/5 percentage split described above for 2012, that would equate to about 91.6 million votes cast by white, 16.6 million by blacks, 12.7 million by Latinos, with the balance of 6.3 million votes spread among other groups. Compare this with 2008, when the numbers were 98.6 million whites, 16.3 million blacks, 11 million Latinos, and 5.9 million from other groups.

Changes in non-white turnout:

In other words, if our underlying assumption — that there are 7 million votes outstanding — is correct, then the African-American vote only increased by about 300,000 votes, or 0.2 percent, from 2008 to 2012. The Latino vote increased by a healthier 1.7 million votes, while the “other” category increased by about 470,000 votes.

Change in white turnout:

This is nothing to sneeze at, but in terms of the effect on the electorate, it is dwarfed by the decline in the number of whites. Again, if our assumption about the total number of votes cast is correct, almost 7 million fewer whites voted in 2012 than in 2008. This isn’t readily explainable by demographic shifts either; although whites are declining as a share of the voting-age population, their raw numbers are not. Moreover, we should have expected these populations to increase on their own, as a result of overall population growth. If we build in an estimate for the growth of the various voting-age populations over the past four years and assume 55 percent voter turnout, we find ourselves with about 8 million fewer white voters than we would expect given turnout in the 2008 elections and population growth.

Demographics were not destiny in 2012

Had the same number of white voters cast ballots in 2012 as did in 2008, the 2012 electorate would have been about 74 percent white, 12 percent black, and 9 percent Latino (the same result occurs if you build in expectations for population growth among all these groups). In other words, the reason this electorate looked so different from the 2008 electorate is almost entirely attributable to white voters staying home. The other groups increased their vote, but by less than we would have expected simply from population growth. Put another way: The increased share of the minority vote as a percent of the total vote is not the result of a large increase in minorities in the numerator, it is a function of many fewer whites in the denominator.

Where did they go? It doesn’t appear to be the evangelicals

My first instinct was that they might be conservative evangelicals turned off by Romney’s Mormonism or moderate past. But the decline didn’t seem to be concentrated in Southern states with high evangelical populations.

Obama negative ads worked?

Where things drop off are in the rural portions of Ohio, especially in the southeast. These represent areas still hard-hit by the recession. Unemployment is high there, and the area has seen almost no growth in recent years. My sense is these voters were unhappy with Obama. But his negative ad campaign relentlessly emphasizing Romney’s wealth and tenure at Bain Capital may have turned them off to the Republican nominee as well. The Romney campaign exacerbated this through the challenger’s failure to articulate a clear, positive agenda to address these voters’ fears, and self-inflicted wounds like the “47 percent” gaffe. Given a choice between two unpalatable options, these voters simply stayed home.

Implications for 2016

But in terms of interpreting elections, and analyzing the future, the substantial drop-off in the white vote is a significant data point. Had Latino and African-American voters turned out in massive numbers, we might really be talking about a realignment of sorts, although we would have to see if the Democrats could sustain it with someone other than Obama atop the ticket (they could not do so in 2010). As it stands, the bigger puzzle for figuring out the path of American politics is who these non-voters are, why they stayed home, and whether they might be reactivated in 2016 (by either party).


~10,000,000 Fewer Whites Voted in 2012 Than 2008 (Jay Cost)

Jay Cost counts up the racial breakdown and finds 10 million missing White Voters.  The question remains why did they not vote?

One of my intuitions was that the Democratic non-white vote would not rise very much this year because of the big jump in 2008, in particular in non-competitive states like Illinois, Mississippi, and California. Looking at the hard numbers, that turned out basically to be correct (although the Latino vote looks to have increased modestly).

What I did not anticipate was a steep drop in the white vote. My back of the envelope calculation suggests that the white vote was off by almost 10 million votes relative 2008. [This is the primary reason why Mitt Romney will end up winning fewer votes than John McCain, but have a larger share of the total electorate.]

So, the polls that showed a big Obama edge, often due to a loose likely voter screen, were right for an ironic reason. Turnout was down, suggesting a tighter screen would have been better, but because turnout was down so substantially among whites, the actual electorate looked a lot like more like the broader population than it has in years past (even in 2008). Thus, a loose screen produced the better reflection of the voting public.

A tip of the cap to those who figured it would go the other way. Job well done!

You Can’t Win If You Can’t Get Your People to Vote

That had been the Democrats problem for decades.  It changed in 2008 and repeated itself in 2012.

The limits to running such an insular campaign out of Boston, Massachusetts reared its head at the worst possible moment for Mitt Romney.  The more numbers that come out the more it shows the GOTV effort was an epic failure that likely cost him the election. It sure seems like they etch-a-sketched enough conservatives out of the fold to prevent Romney from overcoming Obama’s greatly reduced vote from 2008.

Like I wrote on election night when I was still optimistic:

I’m watching the turnout % in Dem precincts.  We know Republicans will show up, the question is how many Dems are still left out there and will they show up.  Anecdotal things look really good right now but I know how the #s ebb and flow and then suddenly in a deep urban precinct 120% of votes come in and everything you were modeling goes out the window.  The only states I’m watching are Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin — the acknowledge Obama firewall.

The fatal flaw is obvious now.  I’m incredulous.

This captures my attitude today every time I look at the data:

Colorado Post-Mortem by David Ramos

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

An election wrap from Colorado …

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

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

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

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

— David Ramos

The Difference

Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt said it best:

Those Pollsters Were Right; We’re a Much More Democratic County, at Least in Presidential Years

The exit polls indicate a 39 percent Democrat to 33 percent Republican split, only a percentage point behind 2008. I was incorrect in my skepticism that the electorate would be closer to D+3 or D+4. Nate Silver, take a bow. Public Policy Polling, your samples weren’t as wacky as I believed they were.

The Obama campaign has put together a fantastic get-out-the-vote machine. We saw in Virginia and New Jersey in 2009 and Massachusetts in early 2010 and all over the country in the midterms that Obama’s personal charm did not transfer to other candidates like Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds and Martha Coakley.

Republicans need to confront the fact that because of demographics and a party infrastructure that has gotten very, very good at bringing out the vote in presidential years, Democrats are going to be very, very tough every four years. One of the strange aspects of this year is that I would have argued that Obama wasn’t all that charming. His favorable numbers dipped. He was dismissive in that first debate, snarky and combative in the second, constantly saying things that his campaign had to explain — “you didn’t build that,” “the private sector is doing fine,” “Romnesia,” “voting is the best revenge” . . . and he still won.

Ari Fleischer points out the silver lining is that so far, Romney is winning independents. That’s not a silver lining, that’s worse news: Democrats don’t really need independents anymore.

The Sun Came Up

Well it’s Wednesday, I still have no Internet and Obama is still President. So nothing’s changed.

It will be interesting over the coming days when the final data comes out to see where/how Obama did well and where/how Romney fell short.  The states I will be sifting through are Florida, Virginia and Colorado.  Each of those seemed to be trending away from Obama with enough room that the race ends in Ohio. Right now it looks like had Romney gotten as many Ohio votes as McCain he would have won.  Just incredible when you think about it.  It will take days (weeks?) to get reasonably accurate data so I’m going to refrain from too much campaign criticism at this juncture until I have time to dig into the numbers but between the apparent Romney prevent defense in a race they weren’t winning and Chris Christie’s over-the-top embrace of Obama down the stretch changing the narrative for Obama Republicans have to look at this race as one they let slip away.

Like I wrote last night, you have to give full marks to the Obama ground game.  They got enough of their people to vote to eek out wins in those above states by ~100k in each state — not that close in a race with billions available for the GOP to have done a better job finding and motivating their base. We know they are out there but either they didn’t show up or they didn’t pull the lever for Romney and that is a big problem. The only state Gary Johnson would have made a difference was Florida so it’s not a third party issue.  A lot of soul searching is in order.

The debacle for Republicans extends far beyond the Presidency.  In each one of the Battlegrounds Mitt Romney received little to no help from down ballot candidates.  For every honorable Senate candidate who went down in defeat (Josh Mandel or Tom Smith) Republicans fielded a party-insider retread the likes of whom the base has been rejecting every chance they can since 2010.  Is should be no surprise Tommy Thompson, George Allen or Connie Mack lost. Each of these politicians represent the failed Republican politics that galvanized the Tea Party in the first place.  The movement may have come together around Obama’s big government but it was frustration with Republican spending that drove them to that point.  Offering the public a replay of these failed politicians leaves the party exactly where they find themselves, out of power and in the minority.  By the way, has any party leader been worse than National Republican Senatorial Committee head John Cornyn?  He has failed more miserably between 2010 and 2012 than any party leader imaginable. Close scrutiny of his record reveals every Senate success is someone he didn’t recruit and his embarrassing failures only grow in number.

Which brings us to Todd Akin and Richard Murdouck. This blog doesn’t deal with social issues but talk about a wing of the party that needs soul searching…Each of these morons cut their noses off to spite their face. If you believe in the cause look what you did.  Each of you went a long way towards enabling Barack Obama to appoint more extrajudicial Supreme Court Justices like Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor who will make up law to further their left-wing ideology. Congrats. Todd Akin’s comments were disqualifying and only those who buried their head in the sand couldn’t see that.  The Mike Huckbees and similar who rallied to Akin’s defense share equal blame in that abortion of a campaign.

I’ve seen comments from people I respect like Glenn Reynolds saying,”If Obama wins, I’ll be as gracious and generous as the Democrats were in 2000 and 2004.”  I disagree. I know Glenn was only emoting in the moment, but never play down to their level. Republicans lost because they failed to harness the energy from 2010 and coalesce that into a national message for 2012.  Mitt Romney was the best of a very bad lot of Republican choices. He is an honorable and decent man but deeply flawed as a representative of the Tea Party energy and the desperate need for smaller government and entitlement reform. Republicans still control ~60% of the governorships and the reforms being enacted at those levels lay the blueprint for the coming reforms at the Federal level. That’s not a prediction.  We as a country either choose reform or reform chooses us in the form of austerity cuts. A reform Governor will be needed to fix this country in 2016 so that is what we have to look forward to.

We lost the battle yesterday but the war goes on.

I am Breitbart.

Congratulations to President Obama

I know Karl Rove is saying it’s not over, but if it is, I toasted you four years ago and I hope no matter what happens the next four years are better than the last.

If the turnout was unprecedented and in your favor I concede defeat honorably.

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.

Guess the Blogger

My $0.02.  Everything is fine so far.  Stay off the ledge.  We’ll know a lot more in 30 minutes (9:00pm ET). I’m watching the turnout % in Dem precincts.  We know Republicans will show up, the question is how many Dems are still left out there and will they show up.  Anecdotal things look really good right now but I know how the #s ebb and flow and then suddenly in a deep urban precinct 120% of votes come in and everything you were modeling goes out the window.  The only states I’m watching are Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin — the acknowledge Obama firewall.  Biden chasing the RR planes is funny.  I love their bravado. Such phonies. I keep thinking Romney is stronger in Ohio than most realize and Obama’s early vote margin was surprisingly weak.  If the cannibalizing was true then it’s over in that state.  Iowa is going to be close no matter who wins.  And Wisconsin is round 3 of the Walker recall.  We’ll see how that plays out.  I loved that in Obama’s phone bank stop he was calling WI #s.

Below is the photo of the first drink.  We randomly picked up drinks to not give away identities, I’ll only promise I’m one of them:

Open Thread

It has been great fun and I hope everyone has a good night.  Be nice win or lose.  Don’t take the worst from either side and make that the norm.

Have at it guys.

First drink in 11 weeks.  Here’s to whomever wins tonight:


Election Night Tips

I’ll update this post over the next 18-24 hours and bump it as needed. Regardless of the outcome, celebrate democracy and the privilege we share. At 7pm on election night in 2008 I opened one of my best bottles of wine, toasted Barack Obama and wished him well in his Presidency. The outcome was obvious beyond an election day miracle and I’m not the biggest fan of deceiving myself. I hope both sides of the aisle will do the same Tuesday night whenever the winner is announced. We are all better off under those circumstances. Tomorrow’s going to be really interesting and a lot of fun. Enjoy the moment, it only comes around every four years.

Below are various tips from myself or others where noted:

  • Beware false stories of unprecedented lines at some precincts and desolate lines at other precincts. They may well all be true but voting patterns shift every election and getting too despondent or overjoyed based on random and possibly inaccurate anecdotes will make you crazy.  Both sides have quite possibly the strongest ground games in election history so anything is possible on election day.  Let it play out.
  • Ignore the “too close to call” game. If the media doesn’t have enough precincts reporting in a Republican state they will say the race is “too close to call.” If they don’t have enough precincts reporting in a Democrat state they will say the polls just closed so it’s too early to say anything. They do this EVERY election.
  • I put this on my Facebook page election night 4 years ago and have left it there.  It’s as true today as it was then and is a good thing to remember no matter the outcome. “A prophet is the one who, when everyone else
    despairs, hopes. And when everyone else hopes, he despairs. You’ll ask me why. It’s because he has mastered the Great Secret: that the Wheel turns.”

Election Day Report from Colorado — David Ramos

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Battleground Counties to Watch on Election Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s when you know you’re gonna win” — Mitt Romney to Pittsburgh fans at airport

Mitt Romney arrived in Pittsburgh for his final rally. He was greeted by hundreds of fans across the street from the tarmac at an airport garage trying to get a glimpse of the next President. He waved to them and according to the press got a little choked up saying “That’s when you know you’re gonna win”:

I Don’t Know or Care if This is Fake

But this is awesome:

(h/t Steupz (@Bourgy)


If Media Don’t Like Poll Results, They Have the Results Changed

Since NBC/WSJ/CBS/New York Times/ABC pay for the poll why should they have to report results running counter to their politics?  John Podhoretz at Commentary Magazine has the scoop:

A stunning tale today in the Salt Lake Tribune, however, reveals the dirty little secret of polls paid for by the media. The results are, in effect, owned by the media, and the media can insist that they be rejiggered.

The Tribune published a poll done by the respected Mason-Dixon firm that showed a 10-point lead for the county’s Republican candidate for mayor. The poll was released on Thursday. Later, editors for the paper objected to the results on the grounds that the poll had an insufficient number of Democrats in its sample:

Tribune editor Nancy Conway acknowledged the problem. “We are as concerned about this as anyone,” she said Monday. “As soon as we understood there was a problem we worked to correct it. “We had no reason to doubt the poll until we saw others conducted over the same period and could see differences in the numbers. That raised questions,” Conway said. “We contacted our pollster who did additional research on Salt Lake County demographics and found there was indeed a flaw. “We knew right then that we needed to correct our mistake and that’s what we are doing,” Conway said.

And so it was done, as the story explains.

These are stunning admissions:

To recap: A newspaper pays for a poll. It doesn’t like the look of the results. So it asks the pollster to reexamine them and alter them by changing his “weights.” He does so; he may agree with the call (as the Mason Dixon pollster says he does in the story) or he may be simply serving the interests of his paying client.

And it will do so based on the partisan split—the very controversy that is dismissed so cavalierly by media types. We only know about this one because of the highly unusual circumstances of its revision. The question you have to ask yourself now is: How many times does this happen before a poll is published?

But people like myself have been called every conspiratorial wacko name in the book for looking at the data, saying it is obviously wrong and charging the polling organizations with either incompetence or bias.  Turns out it is both.

The Most Important Tweet of the Day (for Me)

This is why I have taken up residence in The Coffee Bean.  Tonight I will be blogging from the satellite office in midtown and try to share things not readily available on the Networks.  Also at the request of multiple people we’ll have an Open Thread around 6 or 7pm.  I may even throw in an “Ask Keith” post this afternoon where you can ask me any question with minor restrictions (only one question, no follow-ups, if multiple questions I choose one and no repeats).  Major Garrett used to do this on Twitter and I always thought it was fun.  Anyway those are my thoughts as I exit The Bean for a bit.

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 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.

Romney leading between 3-5 points in New Hampshire Bellwether Towns — Suffolk Polling (Nov 4)

DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT today’s exit polling data.  The poll was conducted Nov 1 -4 and published Nov 5.

Suffolk polling takes it a step further and tracks the preferences of Battleground Towns Epping and Milford in New Hampshire and find Mitt Romney with slight leads:

Two New Hampshire towns, Epping and Milford, have mirrored the statewide New Hampshire vote in four out of four presidential elections going back to 1996. In Milford, Romney led Obama 51 percent to 46 percent and in Epping, a closer bellwether, Romney led Obama 49 percent to 47 percent.

Below is a comparison of which presidential candidate won in New Hampshire statewide and the comparative votes of Epping and Milford:

1996 – Clinton
Statewide: 50 percent
Epping:      50 percent
Milford:     48 percent

2000 – Bush
Statewide: 49 percent
Epping:       48 percent
Milford:      50 percent

2004 – Bush
50 percent
Epping:       50 percent
Milford:      51 percent

2008 – Obama
: 54 percent
Epping:       53 percent
Milford:      52 percent

Romney +4 in Ohio Battleground County (Lake) — Suffolk Polling (Nov 4)

DISCLAIMER:  This is NOT today’s exit polling data.  The poll was conducted Nov 1 -4 and published Nov 5.

I wish I saw this yesterday as this is the exact type of Battleground County polling I would have loved to see this cycle.  Suffolk Polling does a great service digging down on this bellwether county and has some interesting results:

In Lake County, Romney led Obama 47 percent to 43 percent with Independent Richard Duncan receiving 4 percent and Stewart Alexander (Socialist Party) receiving 1 percent, while 2 percent were undecided and 4 percent refused a response. Romney led 49 percent to 44 percent among those planning to cast ballots and led 43 percent to 41 percent among those who had already voted. Duncan, an Ohioan listed on the presidential ballot, received most of his support from voters who have already cast ballots for him in Lake County, causing neither major candidate to reach a decisive 50 percent there.

“What better place to decide this presidential election than on the banks of Lake Erie,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “A word of caution about Lake County. It is widely recognized as an Ohio bellwether, correctly predicting the last four presidential elections. But there have been some elections where it has trended more Republican. That was the case in 1996 and 2008, where Lake County voted for the Democratic nominees who won, but still leaned more Republican than the statewide vote.”

Below is a comparison of which presidential candidate won in Ohio and percentage of votes received statewide and the comparative vote of Lake County:

1996 – Clinton
:    47 percent
Lake County: 44 percent

2000 – Bush
:     50 percent
Lake County: 50 percent

2004 – Bush
:     51 percent
Lake County: 51 percent

2008 – Obama
:     52 percent
Lake County: 50 percent

Ohio Early Vote Update

Get It Out of the Way Early

The sooner the better.

Here is the front of the line at 6:45-7am:

All while the college kids sleep the day away…

This message is brought to you by The Coffee Bean (free wi-fi! — damn you Verizon)


It all comes down to that.  Stay safe everyone. I’m going to bed.