Tag Archives: electoral college

Half-Time Poll Time:

Dan Balz Steals My E-Mail

I’m only kidding about that headline but today’s Dan Balz columnn echos an exact point I made in a private e-mail to a friend 24-hours earlier:  “This coming week may decide the campaign between the next debate, the unraveling story over the Embassy attacks, the refusal to provide security and the deception in the aftermath. Just need to keep Romney from getting in the way of the circular firing squad forming around Obama.”

Here is Dan Balz opening:

Every week after Labor Day is touted as a critical week in presidential politics. The coming week may actually live up to that characterization. During the next eight days, President Obama and Mitt Romney will meet for their final two debates — Tuesday night at Hofstra University on Long Island and the following Monday in Florida. At that point, it should be clear whether the momentum that Romney picked up from the first debate in Denver has stalled or whether he continues to gain ground against the president. In the meantime, the front-page headline in Saturday’s Columbus Dispatch should serve as a warning to Obama’s headquarters in Chicago. It read, “Romney on the rise in Ohio.”

Whistling past the graveyard:

Obama advisers were saying earlier in the past week that they believed the post-Denver Romney surge had stopped. But virtually every recent poll since Denver, here in Ohio and in other battleground states, has shown movement toward the Republican challenger. Obama may still lead in enough states to win reelection, but the margins are no longer comfortable.

Romney surge

On Friday night, a huge crowd filled the town square in nearby Lancaster to greet Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, for a joint appearance after Thursday’s vice-presidential debate…Romney spoke of seeing a “growing crescendo of enthusiasm” around the country. All candidates say that in the final weeks of a campaign, but there is more than a little truth to it in this case. Republicans are energized in ways they weren’t before, still driven more by their anti-Obama feelings but increasingly happy with their nominee.

Pressure on Obama to perform

The pressure is squarely on the president Tuesday night, given his performance in Denver.

Pressure on Romney to sustain momentum

But Romney, too, needs a strong evening to cement the first. He cannot afford any backsliding. His advisers know that if, as expected, the president does a better job Tuesday, stories will inevitably be written about his bounce-back. No one expects a second mismatch.

The Benghazi bungle

[Romney is expected to criticize Obama regarding] the recent attacks in Libya that killed four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, and the administration’s changing stories about what happened, are symptomatic of broader weaknesses in Obama’s foreign policy. Romney has pressed the Libya issue aggressively in recent days, but his advisers are still trying to gauge just how much political traction it may provide. Obama advisers believe it will not be as significant as Romney hopes.

Obama’s empty agenda

There’s one other weakness in Obama’s message: the question of what his second-term agenda actually is. He has been vague about this throughout the campaign, preferring to focus on criticisms of Romney and defense of his first-term achievements. If he has something important to say about a second term, Tuesday night affords him the opportunity to say it.

Diminishing impact of debates

The last two debates have the potential to change the race again — and the candidates will prepare accordingly — but it’s likely that the biggest impact has already occurred.

Ground game and Turnout

Increasingly, both campaigns are focused on the real competition, which is turning out identified supporters and winning over the few remaining undecided voters.

Ohio for all the marbles

Romney, for example, has been spending much more time in Ohio in an apparent attempt to turn around a state that remains crucial to his White House hopes. He campaigned here Tuesday and Wednesday, he and Ryan campaigned in different parts of the state Saturday, and Ryan will be back Monday. Romney can get to 270 electoral votes without Ohio, but he would have to win Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada and either New Hampshire or Wisconsin. In other words, he would have to win just about every other battleground state. Obama advisers have expressed confidence about Ohio. They see Romney as a flawed candidate for the Buckeye State this year: a corporate takeover artist mismatched with a state where blue-collar workers who have seen their jobs disappear over the years are wary of someone with his profile, and where the auto bailout, which Romney opposed, has helped boost confidence. But Obama, too, is taking precautions in Ohio. His campaign staffers and volunteers are trying to bank as many early votes as possible, knowing that they have a bigger challenge in turning out their voters than does Romney. The president will campaign in Ohio the day after the Hofstra debate. And on Saturday, the campaign announced a big rally for Thursday that will feature former president Bill Clinton and Bruce Springsteen — an event clearly designed to get the president’s base to the polls and to win over undecided voters.

Battleground State Maine? The Electoral Vote the Could Decide the Race

When you look at the competitive nature of so many Battlegrounds, the chances of an electoral tie between the two candidates is probably higher this year than at any time in the last century.  What gets lightly covered though are the states where it is not “winner take all” like Maine and Nebraska who carved out an electoral votes by congressional districts where a candidate can steal the vote in a state that otherwise votes for his opponent.  Barack Obama did that in Nebraska in 2008 stealing 1 electoral vote in the Omaha area.  This time around Omaha looks ever more safe to vote along with the red state of Nebraska but Maine has a rogue electoral vote that may flip to Mitt Romney.  Thanks for the eagle eyes of perdogg in our comments section, we see that Mitt Romney is actually leading in the 2nd Congressional district of Maine:

According to a new poll shared exclusively with POLITICO, Mitt Romney is leading President Obama in a congressional district in Maine — raising the possibility of the GOP nominee winning an electoral vote in a deep blue state. The live-call poll, conducted by Glen Bolger of NMB Research and provided to POLITICO by American Crossroads communications director Jonathan Collegio, shows Obama winning statewide 48 percent to 44 percent. That result already puts Romney in a surprisingly competitive position in a nominally blue state. But in Maine’s second congressional district, Romney actually tops Obama 49 percent to 44 percent.

The second congressional district, encompassing the northern and western part of the state, is largely rural and overwhelmingly white — groups that Obama has never done well among. During redistricting, the Republican legislature also shifted two towns — Waterville and Winslow — that went heavily for Obama in 2008 from the second congressional district into the first — giving the GOP ticket a boost by removing two population centers from the district.

The poll surveyed 500 statewide likely voters, polled October 7-8 — giving the poll a margin of error of about plus or minus 4 percent.

Suffolk Polling Stops Polling Florida, North Carolina and Virginia — Calls All States for Romney

Now I’m no pollster with inside knowledge, but I’m thinking Virginia is a knife fight through election night.  But to hear an Independent polling outfit make such moves is incredible.

Thanks to my commenters AussieMarcus, Kevin and Jeff for the tip:

State of the Race — Mark Halperin

Between the volatility in the polls and the ever changing campaign themes (at least from the Obama camp), it is sometimes easy to get lost in the weeds.  Mark Halperin takes a step back and identifies the fundamentals that should continue to drive this race through election day (or at least the next debate):

One, Romney’s campaign trail performance is without a doubt better than it was before, but it is also getting more attention and being given gentler reviews by voters and the Gang of 500. As long as the Republican is on a roll, even the Old Romney will be seen through new, more forgiving eyes.

This is both the bandwagon effect (everyone likes a winner) plus a tacit admission the media were covering Romney unfairly prior to his debate performance.  The media will want access to a Romney Administration so they need to curry favor and cover for their all-out advocacy over the prior months.

Two, the message discipline reversal continues. Romney is running on a theme he can sustain through Election Day (“we can’t afford four more years of Obama”), while Chicago has switched from “Romney is an extremist” to “Romney is a liar who hates Big Bird.” The Obama campaign has some sorting out to do on this, especially in the eyes of the Gang, and, perhaps, with voters.

This is a big deal.  The Obama campaign has no second term agenda that even their staunchest advocates in the media reluctantly concede. Ever since the disastrous first debate performance their campaign and messaging has been floundering while the Romney campaign has sprouted wings. Even today’s juxtaposed Sesame Street ads speak to a substance-less Obama message versus a wonderful jiujitsu reversal to substantive issues like Syria and jobs in the Sesame Street/RNC graphic.

Third, momentum and confidence matter a lot in politics. Until at least the next debate on October 16, Romney and his forces are likely to have more of both, barring some huge intervening event.

This is a cautionary warning to the Romney campaign that folds into the prior point of message discipline. The Romney campaign in the primaries and even during the general election had an uncanny ability to steal its own thunder when events and momentum were on its side.  Coming out of the debate the campaign has achieved the opposite by augmenting their advantages most notably with Romney opening up about the incredible and poignant service he has done in his community for many years with no fanfare.  Absent Europe collapsing (still possible) or another terrorist attack the current framing and construct of the campaign should last until the next Presidential debate — sorry Paul, the VP debate doesn’t matter, just ask President Dukakis.

Fourth, while the horserace poll numbers are eye-catching, watch to see if there is Romney improvement on “cares about people like me” questions and on “has better ideas on the economy and jobs.” Those are among the most critical areas.

There’s more to the empathy issue than meets the eye. While economy and jobs are the overriding principles of this election, we’re down a single percent of Undecided/persuadable voters.  And when they are in the voting booth they need to “feel” comfortable with Mitt Romney.  He’ll never come close to passing President Obama in this category ahead of the election but it would hugely valuable if this softer-side metric continued to rise as the public sees the different side of Romney evidenced by the personal stories he shares.

Fifth, and most important, the President still has an advantage in the Electoral College, both in the individual battlegrounds and in terms of more paths to 270. Whatever progress Romney has made in the wake of Denver, he hasn’t eliminated the Obama edge there, and, obviously, nothing else really matters.

This is the reality of incumbency and what ever more looks like a the 50/50 electorate we had in 2000 and 2004. Obama’s support may be soft underneath in any number of states, but he does have a base support that gets him all the way to 47% no matter how you slice the electorate. It only takes a small amount more to put him over the top.