Tag Archives: North Carolina

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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Battleground State Polls, Campaign Schedules and Probabilities

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

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

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

Path to 270

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like we blogged in our weekly ad spending piece:

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

The Remaining (Expanding) Battlegrounds: Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada … Minnesota and Pennsylvania?

Yesterday, in the National Journal, Major Garrett reported the following:

What also became clear after the dust began to settle from the rumble on Long Island was the electoral map has narrowed and Obama’s team, while conceding nothing publicly, is circling the wagons around Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Plouffe said that Obama remains strong in all four states, but he would not discuss the specifics of internal polling or voter-contact analytics, saying only that Obama has “significant leads” in all four places.

It is uncharacteristic of Team Obama to concede any terrain, but Plouffe offered no such assurances about Obama’s position in North Carolina, Virginia, or Florida. Romney advisers have seen big gains in all three states and now consider wins likely, although not guaranteed, in all three. They are similarly upbeat about prospects in Colorado but not confident enough to predict victory. That Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling.

I saw this story and thought people were making mountains out of molehills. Major Garrett is a serious non-partisan reporter and if his conversation with the Obama campaign strategist revealed they were de-emphasizing North Carolina, Virginia, Florida and Colorado or even ceding the states to Romney as he implied that would be the blaring headline of the story. But it was buried deep in his story so I thought this may have been off the cuff remarks where a reporter kind of knows it may be a story but its more likely a situation where the campaign can both effortlessly walk it back or blow it out of the water with an updated campaign schedule.

But the series of events after this story blew up make me think there is far more truth to the Garrett story the I originally believed. First, Plouffe is no dummy no matter how much partisans may disagree with his politics. He is a real pro and not the type of surrogate who makes mistakes of omission of this magnitude.  Second, the push-back from campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki that the campaign was “absolutely not” giving up efforts in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia hit the wrong note with me.  It screamed “methinks she doth protest too much” when if the story were false the campaign laughs it off and effortlessly releases its campaign schedule or ad buys emphasizing those same states, especially Virginia, Florida and Colorado since North Carolina is the one state  pretty much conceded.

Now today, Jamie Dupree of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes the correct follow-up story which is the campaign’s schedule speaks louder than any words of protest:

We are at the point now in the race for the White House where decisions must be made by both campaigns on where to spend precious time in the final days of this race, as what seems like a simple decision not to campaign in a certain state can quickly blossom into a major story…The President spent the day after the second Obama-Romney debate in Iowa and Ohio.

He goes on to point out what you already know that North Carolina is off the schedule and off the Battleground States list.  He then gets back to the campaign schedule which is incredibly revealing:

On Thursday, the President goes back to New Hampshire – the four Electoral Votes of the Granite State could still be very important…Both candidates will be in Florida next week for Monday night’s final debate; when the candidates leave town, they will have 14 days of campaigning left and ten states to choose from. On Friday, the President will go to Camp David for several days of debate prep; Romney meanwhile will go to Florida early as he stops in Daytona Beach on Friday and then stays in the state to get ready for the final faceoff with Mr. Obama.

So other than the mandatory trip to Florida for the debate, no state mentioned in his campaign schedule is one of the allegedly ceded Battlegrounds. This supports Garrett’s thesis far more than any words of protest from a campaign spokeswoman.  But Dupree, like Major Garrett before him, buries the lede: “the President will go to Camp David for several days of debate prep”???  These locations are never an accident.  For the first debate, he prepped in suburban Nevada (his most important region in the Battlegound State).  For the second debate he prepped in rural Virginia (his weakest region in the Battleground State). Now President Obama goes to Camp David? He hates Camp David. This is well known throughout Washington and in the press. But Camp David is located right on the border of rural Pennsylvania which will generate local press in a state far more competitive than the media or campaign wishes. Sounds like we have another concession from Team Obama that Pennsylvania is a Battleground State according to the campaign’s own chosen debate prep site.

Dupree closes appropriately:

Once the debate ends on Monday night, both candidates will have 14 days to deal with 10 swing states – 11 if you want to expand it to include Pennsylvania or maybe Minnesota, where the Obama campaign is buying radio ad time and sending in the wife of Vice President Biden. So that brings about a simple question for the final two weeks of the campaign. Where do you go? No campaign wants to see a story that says the candidate is giving up on a certain state – but not every swing state may make the cut before Election Day. Where do you send your candidate next week? The answer is more than just Ohio and Florida.

This is all big news and something that speaks a lot louder about the campaign’s prospects than  fuzzy polls or bravado about competing in states already conceded.

Bye Bye North Carolina

The political press is beginning the drumbeat of something readers at BattlegroundWatch.com knew all along:

Where’s the Tar Heel love?
By DAVID CHALIAN

Due to the shifting demographics (younger and less white) and a concerted organizing push surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, the Obama team has long promised to play there all the way until Election Day.  The president’s campaign has remained on the television airwaves and his wife made a prominent debate-day push in advance of early-voting kicking off in the state.

However, President Obama has not stepped foot in the state since his convention drew to a close nearly six weeks ago.  After he touches down in Iowa and New Hampshire this week, every other battleground state will have gotten some in-person Obama post-convention love except for the Tar Heel state.

Making predictions is something I tend to avoid as much as possible.  As Yogi Berra famously said, it’s particularly hard when trying to do so about the future.  My reservation didn’t stop me from sending a tweet a little over a year ago that predicted Obama would be unlikely return to North Carolina to campaign after he departed following his convention speech.

I recall several folks from Team Obama mocking me about what a silly prediction that was at the time.

There are three weeks left in the campaign and plenty of opportunity for the president to touch down in North Carolina. In fact, he promised tens of thousands of disappointed supporters that he’d be back after he had to move his big Bank of America Stadium acceptance speech indoors due to the threat of inclement weather.

I’m pretty sure a soon to be released campaign schedule will likely prove my prediction wrong, but six weeks is a long stretch of time without setting foot in a battleground state. It’s hard to imagine Ohio or Florida getting similar treatment.

Romney Campaign Announces $12 million Ad Buy Across 9 States

Not much going on out there in news-land (btw, anyone seen my trolls?  They disappeared again ….) so I thought I’d blog some ad spending.  With ~190 million cash-on-hand following the $170 million September fundraising cycle, the Romney campaign is unleashing one of its largest ad buys of the election. The math seems to be quite clear on Michigan and Pennsylvania: Mitt Romney may well win those states, but to do so he will have already cleared 270 electoral votes in one of the enumerated states below.  Therefore why spend money on states that don’t necessarily win the election for you but only increase your margin:

The Romney campaign, flush with cash from its impressive haul of $170 million last month, is reserving large quantities of airtime for the coming week. In one of his biggest ad buys of his campaign so far, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee, has booked about $12 million worth of television advertising for a six-day rotation of commercials that will begin on Wednesday.

The ad buy — timed to start the day after the second presidential debate — will cover both cable and broadcast television in nine states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin. The biggest amounts will be spent in Ohio (about $2 million), Virginia ($1.5 million) and Florida (more than $3 million).

The advertising onslaught coming from the Romney campaign only adds more political noise to the thoroughly saturated airwaves in battleground states. From now until Election Day, candidates and “super PACs” have set aside more than $83 million for advertising, all of it concentrated in 10 states. (Michigan is the one state where neither campaign is advertising, despite the efforts of a pro-Romney super PAC there.)

And the barrage of ads is only going to get heavier. The Romney campaign typically books its advertising time only a few days in advance because it is wary of tipping its hand to Democrats. But with so much money at its disposal — and a group of top advisers who have long said the election will be decided in the final days of the race — the campaign is certain to buy heavily over the next three weeks.

Commercial time in many states like Nevada, which is the epicenter of the 2012 political advertising binge, has been completely bought out on some programs. Las Vegas is the most saturated media market in the country, data from Kantar Media show. Cleveland is No. 2, followed by Denver, Reno and Columbus, Ohio, rounding out the top five.

Romney Running Up the Score in the Rural Battlegrounds

Any analysis of the Obama campaign strategy typically talks about demographics and Obama running up huge margins with the “coalition of the ascendent” to offset dwindling White support.   However the exact same analysis is also based on geography where Obama needs to run up insurmountable leads in urban America to offset Romney and Republican strength in rural areas. Since 2004 is often the model used for this election, here is a county-by-county map of the 2004 election results where you see how red geographically the country is compared to the more balanced red state/blue state divide:

Thanks to a tip from Michael in the comments section, we see that NPR in conjunction with the Daily Yonder did a great expose on Romney’s growing advantage in rural counties across 9 Battleground States:

As Mitt Romney and President Obama get ready for their second debate, a new bipartisan survey shows a surge for Romney in a key voter group following their first debate Oct. 3. The random cell phone and landline poll of 600 likely rural voters in nine battleground states Oct. 9-11 has Romney at 59 percent among the survey’s respondents. Obama’s support is now down to 37 percent among rural battleground voters, a plunge of 10 points from the actual rural vote in those states four years ago. “What Republican candidates need to do is to rack up big margins in rural areas in order to offset smaller [Republican] margins in urban and suburban areas,” says Dan Judy of North Star Opinion Research, the Republican polling firm that participated in the survey.

Quick Note:  The factually accurate report above is misleading.  They mention the 10-point drop for Obama in this survey which is true, but they leave off the other half of the change from 4-years ago which translates into a actual 20-point swing … hide the decline!

Thankfully the Daily Yonder who focuses on rural America is on top of things:

In 2008, Barack Obama lost among rural voters in swing states by just a little more than two percentage points. According to the latest National Rural Assembly poll, rural voters in swing states favor Mitt Romney by 22 points. Rural voters polled last week said they preferred Romney to President Barack Obama by a 22-point margin, 59 percent to 37 percent.  In a similar poll from mid-September, Romney led Obama among rural voters in swing states by 14 points, 54 percent to 40 percent. The poll questioned 600 likely voters living in rural counties in nine swing states  — Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The poll documents a continuing  — in fact, accelerating — collapse of support for President Obama among rural voters. Rural voters had been staunchly Republican in 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. George W. Bush won a nearly 20-point advantage among rural voters over John Kerry in 2004. In 2008, however, candidate Obama lost the rural vote in 13 swing states by just a little more than two percentage points.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a firm that works for Democratic candidates, conducted the poll. A Republican firm, North Star Opinion Research, helped devise and interpret the poll’s results. The poll was commissioned by the National Rural Assembly and the Center for Rural Strategies; it was paid for by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

To see a full copy of the poll’s results, click here.

Tons of great data at the Daily Yonder. I highly recommend you real the whole thing.

The Romney Scenario

I love watching the Lefties get nervous.  They can’t help themselves as the house of cards come tumbling down.  With North Carolina already banked, Florida steadily slipping away, and insiders whispering Virginia showing some separation between the candidates. Mitt Romney’s path to 270 gets a lot easier really really fast.  Add in the incredible commitment from the Romney campaign in Ohio — I believe they have had an official rally in the state by either Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan in each of the last six days — and suddenly Team Romney is in the catbird seat through election day. The uber plugged-in Mark Halperin runs an electoral map under this scenario and it is sending shivers down the spine of the Obamatons:

Here’s why some Democrats are worried tonight. If Romney wins the three Southern battlegrounds (FL, NC, and VA) and OH, he is at 266 electoral votes. Leaving the other five battlegrounds unallocated, that means Obama would be at 237 and Romney would only need to win one of the remaining five states to get to 270+. See the map above.

One senior Democratic official expressed real concern tonight unlike I have heard before about Ohio potentially slipping away from Obama (the state has been trending Republican in statewide races, Rob Portman has become a force, religious and gun groups are flooding the state with voter contacts, two of Romney’s top strategists have recently won a statewide race there, etc).

This doesn’t mean Romney has the upper hand right now. But it is no longer at all implausible that he could take the three Southern battlegrounds and Ohio. If he does that, he sure as heck would have the upper hand. And that leaves at least some Democrats with the shakes.

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

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

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

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

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

Who is Winning the Voter Registration Battle?

We have covered the voter registration rather extensively and often found the GOP making great strides compared to their 2008 effort (even in gawd awful Nevada).  With the voter registration window closing in most every state, Dante Chinni, who studies these Battlegrounds even where there isn’t an election, stepped back to look at who is actually “winning” the voter registration battle. It’s not as easy to assess as you might think because with most statistics in an election season, both side can make compelling arguments why their side has the advantage:

 Every few years America’s major political parties get very interested in getting people registered to vote – or maybe more accurately, in getting the “right” people registered to vote. It’s a lot easier to come up with a winning hand on Election Day when the deck is stacked in your favor. So, for months now, supporters of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have been knocking on doors and standing corners trying to register like-minded people. election every vote may count, particularly in the swing states.

Who’s winning?

That depends on the state you look at and the comparison point you choose. Both sides can point to some numbers in their favor. But when you step back and look at the numbers in fuller context, the real question may be how much those Democratic and Republican registrations will really matter. The Obama team is up in registrations in key states, as they noted this week, but overall it could be argued Obama is having a bit of a down year. The percentage of voters registered as Democrats in every one of these states is lower than it was in 2008.  And there were drops of two percentage points or greater in Florida, Iowa and North Carolina. That said, 2012 has not been a gangbusters year for the GOP either. The percentage of Republican registrations is up in one state compared to 2008 – Iowa – slightly down in three others – Colorado, Nevada and North Carolina – and they are flat Pennsylvania and Florida. On the whole, however, when you look at all the current numbers, as a measure of enthusiasm or interest, compared to 2008 they would seem to indicate: advantage GOP.

Is 2008 the correct comparison?

Using the 2008 election as a measuring stick is problematic, though. It was not a normal race. There was big enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle. Voter registration counts were up in most states across the country – in some cases sharply. And remember Mr. Obama won that race comfortably, by seven percentage points and nearly 200 electoral votes. In other words, team Obama probably doesn’t need to match those figures to win — and if you use a different year as your comparison point, the question of “who’s winning” in the registration war shifts considerably.

2004?

Consider the registration numbers from 2004, the last time the Republican candidate won the White House. If you compare the most recent 2012 registration numbers to 2004 figures, the percentage of voters registered as Democrats is up in four of the six states – all but Florida and North Carolina. Meanwhile, the percentage of voters registered as Republicans is down in five of the six states. It is up in only Iowa. So, using that measure: advantage Democrats.

Caveats

But before either party celebrates anything, there are a few points worth noting. While it’s tempting to think that registrations are some kind of indicator for a coming election – and we’re sure to hear a lot about them in the next few weeks – they can also be deceptive, particularly when it comes to national elections. There are often local issues, political and historical, that can push voters to register as Democrats or Republicans.

New Hampshire

Only 27% of the people in the Granite State were registered as Democrats in 2004, while 31% were registered as Republicans – yet the Democratic candidate, Sen. John Kerry, won the state by a little more than one percentage point. In 2008, the Democrats saw a slight improvement in registrations, up to 29.5%, but Mr. Obama won the state in a landslide – by almost 10 percentage points. In fact, he won every county in the state.

The Independent trump card

Right now the 2012 election looks like its shaping up to be very close. And yes, a few more registrations for Democrats or Republicans may matter. But look closer at the registrations numbers in those states. In every one of them one group has grown in every state since 2008, independents – voters who aren’t registered with either party. They make up double-digits of the electorate in each state, and the way they split their vote will likely be decisive.

Thankfully for us, Romney is up HUGE with Independents.

Fun Thought/Rumor to End the Night

Gabrial Malor writes for the New York Daily News:

Romney’s Debate Dividends

Karl Rove checks in on voter registration efforts and find Mitt Romney capitalizing in more area than just the polls following his thrashing of Obama in the debates:

How big an impact did Mitt Romney’s performance in last week’s debate have? Huge. Mr. Romney not only won the night, he changed the arc of the election—and perhaps its outcome.

Enthusiasm

An Oct. 7 Pew Research report found that before the debate, Romney voters were four points more likely than Obama voters to give the election “a lot of thought.” After it, Romney-voter engagement was 15 points higher than that of Obama voters. This enthusiasm gap already expresses itself in voter registration and is now influencing early voting.

Voter registration

In the eight battleground states that register voters by party, Republicans have maintained their advantage or cut into the Democrats’ in all but one (Nevada). Since September 2008, Republicans have kept their registration advantages in Colorado and New Hampshire. They’ve added more new Republican registrations than Democrats did in Florida, Iowa and North Carolina. And they’ve lost fewer voters from the rolls than Democrats did in New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Early voting

  • Republicans are also getting the better of Mr. Obama in early voting. In 2008, Democrats made up 51% of the North Carolina early vote while Republicans were 30%. This year, Republicans have cast 54% of the ballots returned so far, Democrats only 28%, according to state data compiled by George Mason University’s Michael McDonald for his United States Election Project.
  • In Florida, 46% of absentee ballots returned by September’s end came from Republicans (compared with 37% in 2008) while just 38% came from Democrats (they were 46% of the total in 2008). More Republicans have requested absentee ballots in Colorado, a state where Democrats edged out Republicans in early voting last time.
  • Republicans have also made up ground in Ohio. For example, in 2008 Democrats requested 5% more absentee ballots in Franklin County (Columbus), 4% more in Greene County (Xenia), and 11% more in Wood County (Bowling Green). This election, Republicans have more ballot requests than Democrats in these counties by 5%, 19% and 1% respectively.

Fundraising

The Romney campaign saw a $12 million surge in online contributions following the debate, and major GOP fundraisers are again opening their checkbooks. True enough, Hollywood stars and rich San Francisco liberals wrote big checks during Mr. Obama’s two-day California swing this week. But it isn’t clear what overall impact the president’s poor debate performance will have on his fundraising. The small Internet donors that produced an eye-popping $181 million fundraising total in September may be disappointed in his debate skills and waiting to see if he improves.

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:

Early Vote Continues to Trend Republican

I was holding off putting a post together on early voting trends since the numbers are often small and at times indeterminate of actual party support.  But the trends are fairly consistent across the states where early voting is measured and every one is good for Team Romney.  The Washington Post takes a look at four states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina and pieced together available data that I will supplement where appropriate:

Obama dominated early voting in key states four years ago, giving him a big advantage over Republican John McCain before Election Day even arrived. In Colorado, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina, Obama built up such big leads among early voters that he won each state despite losing the Election Day vote, according to voting data compiled by The Associated Press.

Early voting for the presidential election has started in more than 30 states — much of it by mail, though some in person — and some important numbers are starting to dribble in. No votes will be counted until Nov. 6. However, North Carolina, Florida and Iowa report the party affiliation of people who have cast ballots. Other states will follow.

North Carolina

Among the 29,400 voters who have cast absentee ballots in North Carolina, 54 percent are registered Republicans and 28 percent are Democrats, according to the United States Elections Project at George Mason University. It’s a small sample — more than 2.6 million people voted before Election Day in North Carolina in 2008. And these are all mail ballots, which have historically favored Republicans; in-person voting starts Oct. 18 in North Carolina. Nevertheless, Republicans are encouraged because McCain lost the state’s early vote by 11 percentage points.

Florida

Florida’s sample is even smaller — only 14,500 votes so far — but it too favors Republicans over Democrats, 53 percent to 32 percent. In 2008, nearly 4.6 million voters in Florida cast ballots before Election Day.

Iowa

Democrats have a big lead in Iowa — as they did in the past two presidential elections. About 60 percent of the 127,100 voters who have cast absentee ballots so far were registered Democrats. Twenty-two percent were Republicans and 18 percent were unaffiliated, according to the United States Elections Project.

Note: Thanks to the stellar information from Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign operative Adrian Gray, we find out Romney is trending ahead of Bush’s 2004 pace when he carried the state. Also Democrats always have huge early leads but in 2010 the GOP reduced that lead to low single digits by election day which state officials expect to be repeated in 2012.

Ohio

In Ohio, a perennial battleground state, Democrats have an edge over Republicans among people who have requested absentee ballots, though relatively few completed ballots have been submitted. Among the 691,000 people who have requested absentee ballots in 49 of the state’s 88 counties, 30 percent are Democrats and 24 percent are Republicans. Forty-six percent are unaffiliated voters, according to data collected by the AP.

Note: Thanks to a regular battelgroundwatch.com commenter, the most accurate information on Ohio is kept here.  And we see what was a Democrat advantage of 14 percent in 2008 is a 6 percent advantage today…minding the gap.

Early voting heats up late

About 35 percent of voters are expected to cast ballots before Election Day, either by mail or in person, a small increase over four years ago, according to Michael McDonald, an early voting expert at George Mason University. McDonald tallies voting statistics for the United States Elections Project. “Most of the early vote doesn’t happen until the last week of the election,” McDonald said.

Here Comes the Cavalry

Group troops become increasingly important entering the final month of the campaign. The Romney and Obama teams are quite robust in their own right but it is great to see the campaign tapping outside resources to bolster the already meaty operations in the Battleground States:

More than 200 Republicans from across Alabama will descend on Ohio, North Carolina, Florida and Virginia later this month in hopes of tilting the presidential election toward Mitt Romney. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, and Alabama Republican Party Executive Director T.J. Maloney announced the “Alabama’s Battleground Patriots” program this morning at Limestone County GOP headquarters.

With Alabama expected to vote overwhelmingly for Romney and running mate Paul Ryan on Nov. 6, state GOP officials are paying to send several busloads of Alabama Republicans to the “battleground” states that will decide the election. Brooks will lead a delegation of more than 70 Huntsville-area Republicans to Dayton, Ohio, from Oct. 24-28.

Republicans from the Birmingham area will spend six days campaigning for Romney in Charlotte, N.C., and Virginia Beach, Va., while a group from Mobile will travel to Jacksonville, Fla. Republicans in Georgia and South Carolina are also mobilizing to help Romney carry those swing states, but Maloney said he believes Alabama’s program is the largest of its type.

While in Dayton, Alabama GOP volunteers will also campaign on behalf of Ohio Congressman Mike Turner and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Josh Mandel, who is trying to unseat Democatic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Joe Biden: Middle Class “Buried The Last FOUR Years” (Under Obama)

How he didn’t get dumped from the ticket, I’ll never understand.  But he’s their guy and we’re all the better for it:

Fun with Polls: NBC/WSJ/Marist Complete the Cycle Without Finding Romney Leading Any State — Race OVER!

We’ve gone after this unholy alliance of polling hard over the last few weeks and not without cause. Now I blog their aggressive samplings of Democrats more out of sadness than anger.  They spent a lot of money to bolster President Obama and it seems like even these fiascos of polls are coming back to reality with closer races despite the turnout models with 0% chance of occurring on election day.

This week we have New Hampshire, Nevada and North Carolina.

New Hampshire — Obama leads by 7; 51 to 44, one vote other and 4 Undecided

Party ID is even with Dem 25, Rep  25, Ind 47.  This compares to 2008 D +2 (Dem 29, Rep 27, Ind 45) and 2004 of R +7 (Dem 25, Rep 32, Ind 44).  A shade high on Democrats since the state is probably R +2 or R +3.  But a good poll for the President.

Nevada — Obama leads by 2; 49 to 47, one vote other and 3 Undecided

Party ID is D +7 (Dem 38, Rep 31 , Ind 30) versus 2008 of D +8 (Dem 38, Rep 30, Ind 26) and 2004 of R +4 (Dem 35, Rep 39, Ind 26). Again with the repeat of the once-in-a-generation turnout from 2008 that almost certainly will not be repeated.  But with such an aggressive turnout model Obama only leads by 2?  Very bad poll for him.  I’ll turn it over from here to a guy who knows a lot more about Nevada politics and polls than me, Jon Ralston:

  • Looked at full demos for NBC/WSJ/Marist. Look good. Dems may not like, but could argue it favors them. although the Hispanic sample may be slightly high (20 percent)
  • Latinos in NBC/WSJ/Marist are 62-36 in NV for Obama. 2 percent undecided.

North Carolina I will barely mention considering it is such a Battleground Obama refuses to campaign there and they are pulling all their money out of the state.  So I’m certain this poll is accurate … not. Obama leads (of course) leads by 2 and the party ID is D +8 in a state I will bet you $1000 will be pro-Republican on election day.  Split was R +1 in 2004 and since 2008 the Democrat Party has embarrassed itself statewide the likes of which few parties have imploded. One of the states with a large missing White vote is North Carolina.  This state is not a Battleground regardless of what polling the DNC tells these news outlets.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is XV

Very disappointed this feature fell by the wayside.  But we are at the mercy of publicly disclosed information and for two weeks during the Convention and then again last week NBC did not publish the data (UPDATE: Props to NBC, Mark Murray says he is shooting me last week’s data.  Big ups to the guy!).  As such we have gaps and the thread in ad buying trends gets harder to piece together.  One thread this that isn’t hard to piece together is the recurring absence of North Carolina. The only reason the state appeared in the top 10 over the last 2 months was due to spending from the Romney campaign to put the state to bed while Team Obama slowly left the state.  The drop is ad dollars every week told us this but since our data lately is sporadic we can only comment that North Carolina is not in the top 10 and won’t be again as evidenced by the recent Obama ad buy leaving North Carolina on the chopping block.

Below, we see Wisconsin resting comfortably in the King’s throne thanks to Obama’s recent visit and also the Milwaukee market bleeds into Paul Ryan’s district. After that we get few surprises:  4 Virginia (DC market in Northern Virginia), 2 Ohio and 2 Florida. That said here is this week’s top 10:

Below are this week’s 10 hottest TV markets in the presidential contest (in terms of advertising points from September 24-September 30).

Hottest Markets for the week 9/24-9/30 Hottest Markets for the week 9/10-9/16
1. Madison, WI: Obama 1540/Restore 1480/Romney 940/Priorities USA 860
2. Orlando, FL: Obama 1700/Romney 1240/AJS 890/Crossroads 620/Priorities 250
3. Cleveland, OH: Romney 1540/Obama 1500/AJS 710/Priorities 440/Crossroads 400
4. Tampa, St. Pete, FL: Obama 1710/Romney 1300/AJS 670/Crossroads 480/Priorities 280
5. Washington, DC: Obama 1800/Romney 1500/AJS 570/Crossroads 250
6. Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA: Romney 1500/Obama 1340/AJS 670/Crossroads 530
7. Norfolk-Portsmouth, VA: Obama 1450/Romney 1440/AJS 730/Crossroads 215/Priorities 200
8. Dayton, OH: Romney 1540/Obama 1390/Crossroads 570/AJS 360
9. Richmond-Petersburg, VA: Romney 1475/Obama 1360/AJS 490/Crossroads 400/Priorities 230
10. Toledo, OH: Romney 1500/Obama 1110/AJS 680/Crossroads 270/Priorities 330
1.  Columbus, OH (Romney 1200, Obama 800, Priorities 500, American Crossroads 250)
2. Des Moines, IA (Romney 1100, Obama 1000, American Crossroads 270, Priorities 245)
3. Richmond, VA (Obama 1100, Romney 1100, American Crossroads 220, Priorities 180)
4. Norfolk, VA (Obama 1200, Romney 1000, American Crossroads 200, Priorities 100)
5. Cleveland, OH (Obama 1200, Romney 780, Priorities 270, American Crossroads 180)
6. Raleigh, NC (Romney 1200, Obama 880, American Crossroads 365)
7. Tampa, FL (Romney 1000, Obama 880, American Crossroads 250, Priorities 230)
8. Toledo, OH (Obama 1000, Romney 815, American Crossroads 340, Priorities 240)
9. Reno, NV (Romney 980, Obama 845, American Crossroads 545)
10. Las Vegas (Obama 1000, Romney 800, American Crossroads 500)

MSNBC takeaways:

It’s worth noting that Obama’s lead in the current polls comes as the GOP continues to enjoy an ad-spending advantage in the presidential race. This week — from Sept. 24-30 — Team Romney (campaign and outside groups) are outspending Team Obama (campaign and outside groups), $24.4 million to $18.6 million. Last week’s GOP edge was a bit smaller, $22 million to $19.3 million. In the general election to date, more than $650 million has been spent on ads, with Team Romney at $356 million and Team Obama at $308 million.

Media Bias Test: Will they Report North Carolina is Not a Battleground?

Advocates for Obama masquerading as independent journalists are quick ti flip any state possible in favor of President Obama and away from Mitt Romney. You saw that earlier this week when NBC flipped Iowa out of the toss-up category and into lean Obama based solely off wholly biased polls and “what they were hearing on the ground” — most likely from the Obama campaign.

What is now filtering through the press is Obama’s latest Ad buy. Here is Jeremy Peters of the New York Times tweeting out the details:

Colorado, New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Nevada — all respectable Battlegrounds, including the absurdly “lean Obama” state of Iowa. But one alleged Battleground State is missing: North Carolina.

The Romney campaign went public that Team Obama was making a stealth withdraw from the state. North Carolina was none of the top 10 ad markets this week (sorry for not blogging that) and likely hasn’t been for weeks (NBC sat on the data and wouldn’t make it public — I asked). And Obama doesn’t campaign there or even Joe Biden, although he may think he did.

Now Obama is making his plays for the true Battlegrounds and there is no North Carolina. This is unquestionably not being contested and is a Romney state. The media has a hair trigger flipping any state in favor of Obama. I hit Jeremy Peters (New York Times), Major Garrett (National Journal) and Chuck Todd (NBC) about the missing North Carolina.  Let’s see how long it takes the media to concede North Carolina is not a Battleground now that the Obama campaign has.  My guess is at most they will painstakingly allude to the missing North Carolina but refuse to move the state out of toss-up category — and that’s at best.

Voter Registration: GOP Ground Game by the Numbers

To set the stage for the below voter contact numbers, according to Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign operative Adrian Gray: “[the Romney-Ryan campaign has made] 26 million volunteer contacts (per @rick_wiley memo). In 2004, BC’04 had made 7,451,466 by now”

A few days ago I blogged the incredible voter contacts Romney Victory Offices were achieving across the battleground: 1,000,000 contacts in Nevada and Colorado, 1,000,000 contacts in Iowa, 3,000,000 contacts in Ohio and 6,000,000 contacts in Florida. But that is only the first step in re-branding the GOP and turning out the vote. The next step is registering these people to offset the incredible advantage Barack Obama enjoyed on election day in 2008. You don’t have to win every one of these battles but Republicans definitely need to shrink Democrat’s lead.  Jim Geraghty at National Review’s Campaign Spot has a rundown on the latest voter registration figures across a great many Battlegrounds and the results are impressive:

  • Iowa — Today 20,000 more registered Republicans in Iowa than registered Democrats. In January 2009, Iowa Democrats enjoyed a 110,000 voter registration advantage. Net gain for the GOP 140,000 votes
  • Florida — This is a state with a large “Unaffiliated” segment.  However, in a state with 11.5 million registered voters, today Democrats have a 454,752-voter advantage, down from 694,147-voter advantage in 2008. Net gain for the GOP 240,000 votes
  • Nevada — In a state with 1.4 million registered voters, Democrats have an advantage of 47,000, down from 100,000 in 2008. Net gain for the GOP 53,000 votes
  • Pennsylvania — Democrats have a 1,086,006-vote advantage.  Bad right?  Many of those vote straight like Republican and the advantage is down -150,000 since 2008 (25% of Obama’s entire winning margin). Net gain for the GOP 150,000 votes
  • Colorado — GOP advantage today is 98,000, up from 9,000 in 2008. Net gain for the GOP 91,000 votes

Outer Burroughs:

  • New Mexico — Democrat advantage today of 196,758 voters, down 20,000 from 2008.
  • North Carolina — Today: Democrat advantage of 769,926 voters, down 95,000 from 2008. Like Pennsylvania, many of these Democrats are straight-line Republican voters.

Note: Virginia does not register by party affiliation

Republican Ground Game to Make the Difference in November

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wisconsin

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

Ohio

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

College Republicans and the NRA

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

Florida

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

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

Inside the Rebel Alliance Base — Must Read

While Chicago continues to construct it’s new and improved Death Star (the super duper secret Project Narwhal to micro-target the universe), Guy Benson at Townhall.com sat down with Team Romney and its rag-tag band of rebels tucked away in Boston:

Behind the façade of a nondescript building in Beantown’s north end, Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign headquarters is buzzing with activity…The campaign is accelerating into a full sprint as the 2012 presidential race enters its final leg. Fewer than 50 days remain. More than 400 Romney staffers are manning Boston battle stations during this electoral home stretch, more than double the manpower the campaign boasted as the primary season petered out in the spring. The third floor is home to the campaign’s brain trust, where high-ranking aides are hunkering down for seven weeks that will paradoxically feel interminable, yet will be over in a flash…In an exclusive discussion with Townhall, a cluster of top Romney campaign rainmakers offer frank assessments of the current state of play and attempt to address those very questions.

Asked about rumors that Ohio is in danger of falling off the map for Romney, he shakes his head. “I’m going to push back really hard on that Ohio stuff,” he says. “There is absolutely nothing we’ve seen that has showed Ohio is remotely out of reach.” The campaign’s polling guru, Neil Newhouse, isn’t as delicate. “I’ve seen every single poll out of Ohio. My firm is also [polling] the Senate race out there. It’s baloney. I’d use stronger language if [Townhall] weren’t a family publication.”

Karl Rove’s 3-2-1 Model — although not Romney’s strategy, the top campaign brass entertain that template to discuss the Battlegrounds:

Under [Rove’s calculus] Romney would have to flip six states from blue to red to win the presidency. Of the first three – Indiana, North Carolina and Virginia – the campaign is most concerned with the Old Dominion State. “Virginia is very competitive,” Newhouse says, “I’m not going to make any news there.”

Bullish on Florida

“I feel pretty bullish on Florida,” Beeson says. “Obama’s issue metrics are really weak there, on unemployment and on foreclosures.” He also name-checks two key surrogates who will help limit Obama’s advantage among Hispanic voters in the Sunshine State: Senator Marco Rubio, “who is extremely effective all around the state, and especially down in Miami Dade” county, and Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno, who is an asset with the large Puerto Rican population along central Florida’s I-4 corridor. “Florida was a turnaround state for us in the primaries because of our turnout operation,” Newhouse recalls. “We feel really good about our ground operation in Florida.”

Ohio knife fight

Ohio is a separate beast. Both Beeson and Newhouse insist that people writing Romney off in the Buckeye State are far off base, but concede that there’s work to be done. It’s not an easy state, they say, but the campaign is devoting a special effort to winning it. “Ohio is going to be a knife fight until the very end. It’s that simple” Beeson intones. “Low single-digits, and a battle” Newhouse says flatly.

One

If Romney manages to win those first five states, the final piece of Rove’s puzzle is “one.” One additional state — any additional state — to put the GOP ticket over the top. Beeson brands this part of the conversation “fun,” eagerly pointing to a large US map on a wall perpendicular to his desk.

Iowa in focus: polls show a virtual tie. “Iowa launched [Obama] in 2008, but the thrill is gone. He’s been camping out in Iowa for a reason,” Beeson says. “And he didn’t move the numbers there,” Newhouse adds, finishing Beeson’s sentence…Iowans have an acute intolerance for debt, a topic Romney ads have hammered in the Hawkeye State.

The rest

Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada: Cautious optimism (“rosier’)

  • Beeson circles back to his home state of Colorado. “We’re doing pretty damn well, all things considered,” he says. “It’s legitimately a one point race. It’s going to come down to [Denver’s] collar suburbs.” He rattles them off, pointing at the laminated map.

New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania:  heavy lifting needed

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New American Crossroads $8.3 Million Ad Campaign

National Journal has the goods on the latest from American Crossroads:

A new, $8.3 million ad campaign by the conservative super PAC American Crossroads attacks President Obama on the climate for small businesses during his term, with speakers lining up to assail the president on his record. The ad buy will air in eight states for one week: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia. In the 30-second ad, entitled “Next,” Bill Schams, identified as in the “family business” since 1949, has this to say about the president: “There’s a reason there aren’t more jobs. Obama has made a lot of bad decisions. He treats us like we are his enemy.’

Democrat Perspective: Why Obama Will Win

Mark Halperin posted a couple documents regarding ostensibly a dispassionate credible assessment of the state of the Presidential race by Democrat Doug Sosnik:

Doug Sosnik is one of the smartest people in American politics. A Democrat, who worked for, among others, Bill Clinton, he is the rare partisan who is able to engage in dispassionate analysis about the two major parties and their candidates. If you want a good a snapshot of where the race stands today — and why — read Sosnik’s analysis here and look at his PowerPoint slides here.

While some people have serious issues with Halperin I actually like his work a lot despite his occasional lurches to the Left.  That said, I wanted to thoroughly analyze the points Sosnik makes to get a better sense of the state of the race.  I genuinely enjoy smart opinions that challenge my own — it only makes us sharper. This 8-page write-up and slide presentation makes some good points regarding Romney’s weaknesses (‘failure to connect with voters’) but I did not find his arguments either factually accurate nor persuasive.  He largely identifies 8 characteristics of this campaign followed by extensive exposition why these factors likely add up to a President Obama re-election. I will offer counter-factuals point-by-point:

1. Obama’s Job Approval Ratings have Held Steady (at 48%)

  • Job approval below 50% is nearly always the mark of an elected official about to lose his job.  Jay Cost of The Weekly Standard went to great lengths demonstrating how job approval percent almost exactly correlates with the popular vote total of a President. 48% of the popular vote is likely a 4 percentage point loss in November. Additionally, even high job approval doesn’t always translate into electoral wins.  In 2004 George Bush lost every battleground State where is job approval was 53% or lower — a daunting statistic for a president at 48%.

2. Obama has Maintained a Year-Long Lead in the Race

  • This is the big rub I have with Sosnik’s piece. A great many of his arguments ultimately rise or fall based on polling numbers that have been shown to be likely wholly unrealistic samplings of the public–always greatly in favor of President Obama. This is the straight forward argument that Obama has led all year by ~3-5 points so what’s going to change over the next 53 days? Nothing, in Sosnik’s view, but if Democrats show up on election day 8 percentage points higher than Republicans as happened in 2008, he’s probably correct.  The problem is all the polling evidence says a repeat of the 2008 turnout imbalance is simply not going to happen due to voter registration changes, enthusiasm changes and a far more competent campaign than McCain 08.

3. Almost 9 in 10 Obama and Romney Supporters are Certain about Their Vote

  • I found this to be a neutral point.  Both sides have consolidated their base (begging the question: is one base measurably bigger than the other like 2008?)

4. Obama’s Support has Remained Stable Despite Voter Disappointment with the Direction of the Country

  • The public’s view whether the country is on the right-track or wrong-track is a horrible statistic for Obama. Sosnik argues that in February this split was 30% right track versus 62% wrong track while in the three Battleground State polls this past week by NBC/WSJ/Marist, all states were at least 42% saying the country is on the right track. While still low, the trend shows meaningful positive momentum heading to an election for an incumbent. Here again Sosnik relies of polling that is heavily biased through massive oversampling of Democrats.  If these polls aren’t reflective of the public opinion (Democrats will have a 10-point turnout advantage in Ohio in November?  I don’t think so)  than yes, President Obama is on his way to victory. But if those polls don’t accurately reflect the voter make-up today, then he’s basing his opinions on discredited poll results.

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Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is XIV

We had a hiatus due to the back to back National Conventions and then almost missed this one when all political events were overtaken by the events overseas. But MSNBC remained on top of things with the top 10 markets for ad spending. North Carolina remains in the discussion thanks to Team Romney spending but expect the stealth withdrawl to begin post haste.  Notably Nevada has two representative in the top 10 while Virginia and Ohio remain the top dogs overall.

Below are this week’s 10 hottest TV markets in the presidential contest (in terms of advertising points from September 10-September 16).

Hottest Markets for the week 9/10-9/16 Hottest Markets for the week 8/20-8/26
1.  Columbus, OH (Romney 1200, Obama 800, Priorities 500, American Crossroads 250)
2. Des Moines, IA (Romney 1100, Obama 1000, American Crossroads 270, Priorities 245)
3. Richmond, VA (Obama 1100, Romney 1100, American Crossroads 220, Priorities 180)
4. Norfolk, VA (Obama 1200, Romney 1000, American Crossroads 200, Priorities 100)
5. Cleveland, OH (Obama 1200, Romney 780, Priorities 270, American Crossroads 180)
6. Raleigh, NC (Romney 1200, Obama 880, American Crossroads 365)
7. Tampa, FL (Romney 1000, Obama 880, American Crossroads 250, Priorities 230)
8. Toledo, OH (Obama 1000, Romney 815, American Crossroads 340, Priorities 240)
9. Reno, NV (Romney 980, Obama 845, American Crossroads 545)
10. Las Vegas (Obama 1000, Romney 800, American Crossroads 500)
1. Des Moines, IA (Obama 1100, Romney 870, ROF 700, AFP 550, RNC 200)
2. Colorado Springs, CO (Romney 1000, ROF 760, Obama 700, AFP 650, RNC 300)
3. Roanoke-Lynchburg, VA (Romney 875, ROF 860, Obama 730, AFP 675, RNC 175)
4. Toledo, OH (Obama 950, Romney 700, ROF 600, AFP 550, RNC 225)
5. Denver, CO (Obama 1000, Romney 700, ROF 500, AFP 450, RNC 250, Priorities 150)
6. Cedar Rapids, IA (Obama 1000, Romney 630, ROF 630, AFP 500, RNC 200)
7. Richmond-Petersburg, VA (Obama 1000, Romney 700, ROF 415, AFP 400, RNC 200, Priorities 135)
8. Quad Cities, IA (Obama 1000, Romney 725, ROF 450, AFP 400, RNC 130)
9. Charlotte, NC (Romney 800, ROF 700, AFP 500, Obama 450, RNC 250)
10. Cleveland, OH (Obama 1000, Romney 500, ROF 445, AFP 300, RNC 200, Priorities 120)

MSNBC takeaways:

This week – from Sept. 10-16 –Team Romney (the campaign and outside groups) is outspending Team Obama (campaign and outside groups), $10.7 million to $9.4 million. Here’s the breakdown: Obama camp $7 million, Romney camp $6.9 million, American Crossroads $2.7 million, Priorities USA $2.1 million, Americans for Prosperity $1 million, and SEIU/Priorities $240K. Note: These numbers are a bit smaller than in past weeks because the campaigns pulled down their ads on Sept. 11.

State of the Race: The 10 Battlegrounds

From the start of this blog I have argued North Carolina is not a Battleground State and Pennsylvania is.  Both were somewhat controversial and I expected one of these assertions to become less controversial (North Carolina) and one to become more greatly contested (Pennsylvania) as the election wore on. Today, unfortunately, only one of those assertions remains controversial (North Carolina, although the evidence continues to lean my way) and the other one continues to fade from contention (Pennsylvania, still contestable but far less likely to flip).  McClatchy news service  takes advantage of is newspaper reach and gets excerpts from reporters about each of the 10 Battleground States (they include North Carolina and drop Pennsylvania):

Get ready for an all-out brawl in 10 too-close-to-call battleground states as President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney begin a two-month sprint to Election Day. They will deluge those states with personal visits, stacks of direct mail, automated phone calls and an unprecedented barrage of TV ads in tossup states Florida, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado, Nevada, Michigan and Ohio. They’ll probably all but ignore the rest of America. Strategies for easing what’s become chronic economic pain are the most prominent topic everywhere, though different states have different concerns. Nevada is stuck with a historic housing crisis. Ohio and Wisconsin are trying to revive struggling manufacturing industries. Virginia and North Carolina, once the economic jewels of the New South, have lapsed.  With dispatches from McClatchy newspapers around the country, here’s a state-by-state look:

FLORIDA (29 electoral votes)

Florida reflects the nation: the southeast of the state is akin to the Northeastern U.S.; southwest Florida is tied to the Midwest, and the north of Florida is like the Deep South. Then there’s Miami-Dade, the state’s largest and most Hispanic county, which functions as a Latin American capital. Romney and supporters have dumped an estimated $45 million on television ads in Florida just for the general election. Obama and his allies have spent about $25 million. The Republicans held their convention in the Tampa Bay area, the most hotly contested battleground region of the state. Romney holds an edge in money, but Obama’s so-called “ground-game” organization of thousands of volunteers and nearly 100 field offices appears unmatched. The two are essentially tied, with Obama narrowly ahead of Romney by an inside-the-error margin lead of about 2 percentage points, according to the averages of the latest reputable statewide polls. Obama won Florida by fewer than 3 percentage points in 2008, but the toll of the bad economy has hurt his standing. The unemployment rate stands at 8.8 percent, and Florida’s foreclosure rate is the third highest in the nation.

OHIO (18 electoral votes)

Ohio loves its reputation as one of the most unpredictable of the bellwether states, and 2012 is no exception. Obama has visited the Buckeye State 27 times since taking office in 2009, including 11 this year. Romney has been to the state 13 times since last year. Obama and Romney are locked in a statistical dead heat in Ohio. The Columbus Dispatch recently recorded its closest presidential poll in modern history, with Romney leading Obama by only 0.22 percentage points, a figure well within the survey’s margin of error. As in other states, the economy is the dominant issue in Ohio, and voters appear evenly divided on whether Obama or Romney would provide better leadership on the issue. Though Ohio is a Rust Belt state, it’s doing better on jobs compared with other parts of the country. The state’s July unemployment rate was 7.2 percent – lower than the nation’s 8.1 percent jobless rate. John Green, a political scientist at the University of Akron, said that because of the state’s comparatively lower unemployment picture, the election could hinge on second-tier issues like the environment or abortion.

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