Tag Archives: voter registration

Colorado: State of the race, early voting and polls — By David Ramos

Here is a guest post by one of our readers:

Readers expressed concern on the state of the presidential race in Colorado – particularly after reading a Denver Post article suggesting Obama is leading in early voting despite Republicans voting in greater numbers than their Democratic counterparts. To address those concerns, below is an overview on polling and voting dynamics in Colorado.

Though Colorado’s demographics have changed the past few years, especially with the influx of people from the west coast moving into the state. Most have resettled in the Denver suburbs located in Arapahoe and Jefferson counties. Changes in voting patterns in those two counties began to change in 2004. Despite those changes, Bush 43 comfortably won those counties in 2004 albeit by a narrower margin compared to 2000. The bulk of Democratic votes in the state come from Denver, Boulder, and Adams counties, and Pueblo county in the southern part of the state. To win statewide, both parties rely on the independent (unaffiliated) voters to provide the margin of victory.

Through Friday morning, early voting in Colorado has the Republicans with a narrow lead:

Total number of ballots cast – 1,462,163

Republicans voting – 547,150
Democrats voting –  509,091
Unaffiliated (independent) voting – 390,875
Third party voting – 15,047

In three swing counties considered crucial to the Romney campaign, there is evidence suggesting he’s likely to be ahead:

Jefferson County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 6,160.
Larimer County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 4,624.
Arapahoe County – Republican ballots lead Democrats by 3,209.

These numbers do not include those absentee and mail-in ballots that have been returned. The total number of registered voters is approximately 3.6 million.

Colorado, as a whole is a difficult state to gauge. While voters may be willing to vote Republican at one level, they’re willing to turn around and vote Democratic at another. Floyd Ciruli, who polled for Gary Hart, said this is what makes Colorado voters unpredictable, and polling them especially difficult. In 2004, while it was clear Colorado voters were willing to re-elect Bush 43, voters turned around voted in the Democrats into the majority in the state legislature. While many national polls suggested Colorado was tied at 48, Ciruli said Bush 43 was never in danger of losing the state – he would win by a narrower margin (which he did 52-48).

Other examples of an unpredictable Colorado electorate are:

In 2002, when incumbent Republican US Senator Wayne Allard was running for re-election, many pollsters (national and local) considered Allard to be roadkill. Allard won re-election by a comfortable 5-point margin.
In 1996, polling indicated Clinton would carry the state. When Dole carried the state, it was considered to be quite a surprise.
In 1992, Perot had siphoned away votes from Bush 41 to allow Clinton to carry the state with only 43% of the vote. Bush 41 was expected to carry the state by a razor thin margin.

In 2004, the Kerry campaign and the DNC began to organize large voter registration drives, in conjunction with ACORN, to develop a more friendly voter base in hopes of carrying the state. Despite the effort, they were unable to register enough Democratic voters to flip the state. If 2004 taught the Democrats anything, it was to begin the voter drives earlier and have them more often. In 2008, the Obama campaign and the DNC, again with help from ACORN, organized the voter drives, registering large numbers of voters (I want to say around 100,000 new voters, but am unsure of the total) particularly in the Denver metro area.

In 2008, Obama established a 40-33 lead in early voting over McCain. The lead was evaporated by the end of the early voting period. The McCain campaign, however, was poorly organized in Colorado. Voter contact (phone, in-person, robo-call) was quite limited, TV and radio advertising was less than half than Bush 43 levels in 2004. Even direct mail was substantially less than Obama. The campaign stops weren’t many – may be five or six total. You knew McCain was going lose. While Obama was better organized, McCain lost Colorado by being an uncompetitive candidate. Independents were willing to give Obama a chance, voting for him by a 9-point margin. Moreover, enough Republican voters stayed home to cement McCain’s loss.

With the changing demographics in Colorado, Ciruli indicated that for Republicans to be successful, they need to keep the margins close in Democratic and swing areas (minding the gap), win a simple majority of independents, and run their vote totals up elsewhere in the state – particularly in the Republican strongholds of Colorado Springs (El Paso County) and Grand Junction (Mesa County) must be carried by at least a 65-35 margin. Colorado is largely a conservative state outside the Denver metro area. For Democrats to be successful, Ciruli said they need to carry the solid Democratic areas by large margins, run even on independents, and hope they have enough total votes at the end.

In 2008, Obama won independents 54-46. In the Colorado Springs and Grand Junction areas, McCain won 55-45. In the Democratic and swing areas, McCain did little to keep those margins close. Clearly, McCain’s poor effort gave Colorado to the Obama column.

Seeing how Bush 43 ran his 2000 and 2004 campaigns, the Romney team built their campaign in the state along similar lines. That is, identify and develop their reliable voter base, then expand upon it. While polling suggested Colorado was slightly leaning Obama or even, the reality was/is it’s not the case. The independents in Colorado are deeply dissatisfied with Obama. Those that voted for Obama see him as a bait-and-switch politician. Though initially hesitant of Romney, the first debate at DU (University of Denver) was more than enough to convince them to vote for Romney. Whether it’s enough to flip it back to the Republican column, the early voting numbers and strong rallies suggest it may.

I hope this gives you a flavor of how things are unfolding in Colorado.

— David Ramos

Assessing the Pennsylvania Prospects

Colleen Nelson in the Wall Street Journal takes the temperature of Pennsylvania and finds a close race without a lot of campaign attention:

Pennsylvania has emerged as an appealing target for Mitt Romney and the Republican Party as they consider where to invest their considerable resources during the final weeks of the presidential campaign. A quick visit to a Pittsburgh suburb on Saturday by Mr. Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, suggested that Republicans are eyeing the state—or else trying to keep their opposition guessing.

Pennsylvania is a late bloomer

GOP officials long have said any move into Pennsylvania would come late. The state is the last to start absentee voting and doesn’t allow in-person early voting, so both sides concentrated their early efforts elsewhere.

Where’s the love?

So far during the general-election campaign, Mr. Romney has made five trips to Pennsylvania; President Barack Obama has made two political trips to the state during this campaign.

Poll tighten

Nearly all recent polls show Mr. Obama’s lead in single digits in Pennsylvania, and four of them put his lead at four points or less. A survey released last week by Quinnipiac University found Mr. Obama leading Mr. Romney 50% to 46% in the state, down from a 12-percentage-point gap in September.

Cash and carry

Flush with cash and buoyed by encouraging poll numbers in several states, Romney campaign officials say they continue to evaluate whether to bolster staffing and begin advertising in additional states. While polls show the race tightening in several states that previously had dropped off the list of battlegrounds, Pennsylvania is an intriguing possibility for a late-in-the-game investment.

Fool’s gold

With 20 electoral votes—more than Ohio, Virginia or North Carolina—Pennsylvania often beckons to Republicans. then disappoints. The state hasn’t backed a Republican presidential candidate since then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988. Sen. John McCain campaigned in Pennsylvania four years ago but lost by 11 percentage points to Mr. Obama.

Senate coattails?

A close Senate race, in which Republican Tom Smith has invested millions of his own money, also has energized Republicans about their prospects in Pennsylvania.

Staff shuffling signals

If the Romney campaign decides to elevate Pennsylvania as a priority, it would begin adding staff and airing ads in the state. So far, that hasn’t happened. In fact, five Republican campaign staff members in Pennsylvania recently were redeployed to Ohio and Virginia, leaving the Romney team and the Republican National Committee with about 60 staffers in the state.

A changing Pennsylvania

Registered Democrats still outnumber Republicans in Pennsylvania. But Rob Gleason, chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania, pointed to GOP gains in the 2010 election as evidence that the state is now “a little more red than people might think.” The GOP in 2010 won the governor’s office, which had been held by a Democrat, and the Senate seat that had been held by the late Arlen Specter, a Republican who became a Democrat toward the end of his career.

Iowa Voter Registration Update

These aren’t early voting numbers, just the tally of actual voters registered by party:
 

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.

Beware Nevada Polls

It is wonderful to see that Mitt Romney has broken through in some Nevada polls and taken a lead in the Silver State.  This was a state with many of the trappings that were supposed to fell President Obama this year but through a number of missteps the state’s six electoral votes have stubbornly stayed in the hands of Democrats. Following the first Presidential debate drubbing, however, Nevada like the other Battlegrounds has witnessed a surge in support for Romney.  It is still exceedingly close and there aren’t that many polls putting Romney in the lead but regardless of the circumstances you need to start leading in a few polls if you are going to honestly continue to argue the race is competitive.

Nevada however has its own issues that make polling erratic in the state.  An overwhelming number of votes come from one region (Las Vegas/Clark County) and the rest of the state spreads far and wide with sparsely populated voters making it difficult to poll.  The expert on this state is Jon Ralston, formerly of the Las Vegas Journal-Review and now launching his own subscription based Ralston Reports.  He has an exceptional essay (teasing his subscription service, of course) regarding the weaknesses in Nevada polls and how they often over-state Republican support — a great change from what we see elsewhere.You can disagree with his politics — he claims an Independent streak although he’s really a big ol’ Lefty — but you disagree with his analysis of Nevada at your own peril.  he is consistently the smartest and most honest political reporter in Nevada who regularly brings the best analysis no matter whose side the is in the lead.

A few words about all of these polls on the presidential race in Nevada: Don’t believe them.

Yes, I was telling you the same thing two years ago when every poll (almost) showed Sharron Angle would be the next U.S. senator from Nevada. That didn’t happen, and all of those polls were wrong for different reasons, which eventually comes down to the same reason: [T]he best pollsters – this is the key – know how to weight the results to fit the picture that will exist on Election Day – that is, what the turnout actually will look like.

The reason Harry Reid’s pollster, Mark Mellman, nailed the result in 2010 was that he correctly forecast what the demographics of the turnout would look like – how many Hispanics, how much Clark County would be of the total, the difference between GOP and Democratic turnout. And the better pollsters know how to change their models as the campaign evolves, to adjust for whatever atmospherics require some adjustment. [The problem with today’s polls is they] do not take into account either the surge in Democratic registration or recent history – i.e. the last two cycles.

Nevada today

The Democratic wave of 2008 is unlikely to be duplicated here four years later, with a devastated economy. It is possible that Democratic turnout will be depressed compared to the previous two cycles, which could dramatically change the result. But what Democrats here know – as do good pollsters – is that Republicans traditionally turn out in greater numbers than Democrats —  anywhere from 4 to 6 percent. So you have to adjust your numbers for that fact as well as the registration changes. And the greater the registration advantage the Democrats have, the less the GOP turnout edge affects the share of the vote the Democrats will have in the end.

[H]istory indicates just how much trouble the GOP could be in here — from president on down — if historical turnout trends hold. [M]y bottom line for now is: Remember 2010. Nearly every poll you saw showed that Angle was going to win — as did Angle’s internals. And she lost by nearly 6 points. Six points!

Voter Registration

The raw numbers this cycle are very similar in Clark County to what they were in 2008 — about a 125,000-voter lead (it actually is going to be slightly larger this time.) The way it works is that the South makes up 70 percent of the vote, and if you don’t take that into account in your poll, you won’t show the kind of raw number lead that Democratic statewide candidates are likely to have (Obama’s will be greater than Rep. Shelley Berkley’s) that make Republican candidates chances less and less real. Despite what all of those polls say, Romney’s path to victory in Nevada now is much more problematic than any Republican will acknowledge.

History

In 2008, when Democrats had that 125,000-voter edge, Obama won Clark County by more than 122,000 votes, or 19 percent. John McCain never had a chance after that and lost by 12 points. The edge is similar four years later, and while Mitt Romney has contested the state in a way McCain did not, the math isn’t much different. Unless the Democrats turn out in record low numbers relative to Republicans, Romney cannot win unless independents overwhelmingly go for him. And none of those polls show that (indeed, even GOP-leaning Rasmussen shows Obama winning indies by 10).

Who’s winning?

Any pollster who takes into account all of those factors would come out with a survey showing the president up by a half-dozen points or so. Any poll that doesn’t has a turnout model that either doesn’t make sense, is partisan-biased or is simply garbage.

The Debate Game-Changer in Pennsylvania

Only the staunchest of partisans refused to admit that Pennsylvania was trending strongly towards Obama among the Battleground States.  The reality was while Romney almost certainly will outperform John McCain in 2008, it was simply too much ground to make up across a diverse and changing state.  That all may have changed when Mitt Romney announced his presence with authority in the recent debate.  Ruth-Ann Dailey at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette takes a look at the sudden sea change in Romney Pennsylvania campaign offices as well as across the state:

Days before besting President Barack Obama in their first debate, Republican candidate Mitt Romney was telling a cheering crowd in Wayne, Pa., “We’re going to win Pennsylvania,” while his aides were admitting to reporters that they probably could not. The day after the debate, the 24 Romney offices throughout Pennsylvania fielded 100 new volunteers and had another 200 re-up for new shifts, according to campaign staff. “The Dems seem to think they’ve had [this state] in their pockets for a long time,” said Billy Pitman, the Romney campaign’s state spokesman, “but we’ve got an incredible ground game.

Disaffected 2008 Obama supporters

Whether it’s “incredible” or not, the dissatisfied former Obama voters that the new Romney volunteers will be targeting have actually been out there for two years or more, their numbers growing and — inexplicably, to some — overlooked. Larry Taylor is one of them. A coal miner and registered Democrat in Greene County, he paused a few days ago at an Emerald Mine portal to talk politics before his shift began. Yes, he voted for President Obama in 2008, but in this year’s primary, he left the presidential slot blank. Yes, that was on purpose. No, he won’t be voting for Mr. Obama come November.

The “undervote”

There are thousands of Democrats like him across the commonwealth. They are part of the “undervote” — primary voters who failed or declined, for whatever reason, to vote for their own party’s unopposed incumbent. Some write in another candidate’s name; others leave that section blank, since there’s no real contest, or because they intend, like Larry Taylor, to announce a resounding “no.” In any given year, says Keegan Gibson, managing editor of PoliticsPA.com, the undervote in a statewide or national race might range “from 15 to 23 percent — but usually it’s fairly consistent in most counties.” This year was different. President Obama’s undervote ranged widely — from single digits in Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester counties to the mid-40s in north-central and southwestern Pennsylvania. In 37 counties his undervote was above 25 percent, and in 16 of those, it topped 35 percent.

War on coal

A quick look at a state map reveals a substantial overlap between counties where the undervote was high and counties where the coal and natural gas industries are strong. The nearest to Pittsburgh is Greene County, where hundreds, even thousands, of lawn signs read, “Stop the War on Coal — Fire Obama.” Here, 3,863 (of 14,318) registered Democrats voted in the spring primary, but only 2,247 voted for President Obama — a 42 percent undervote. By contrast, the Greene County undervote for the unopposed Eugene DePasquale (for auditor general) and Rob McCord (for state treasurer) was only 30 percent. And in 2006, according to PoliticsPA, Gov. Ed Rendell’s undervote was 26 percent.

Ground game and turnout

[I]t’s another question whether these disaffected Democrats in the state’s less populated areas are numerous enough to offset the president’s much stronger support in its big cities. It all comes down to voter turnout — and each campaign’s “ground game.” The Obama website lists 45 offices statewide; Romney has 24. Back in November 2008, Greene County turnout was 64 percent; John McCain won here by 60 votes. The much-reviled “war on coal” has only reduced President Obama’s support.

Not single issue voters

At a fast-food spot near the interstate, a state employee who doesn’t want her name made public says the president lost her vote with “Obamacare.” “To me, it’s socialist — forcing people to do something they can’t afford.” At Hot Rod’s, a busy Waynesburg barbecue spot, Democrat Jeff Taylor, a factory worker and Desert Storm vet who voted for Mr. Obama in 2008, now describes himself as “on the fence” and said, “I don’t think his policies are working, but it seems like it doesn’t matter who’s in there.” Back at the Emerald Mine portal, only one of the dozen registered Democrats I interviewed says he still supports the president — and that’s because he figures the mining jobs lost to oppressive coal regulations won’t be any greater than those lost to the “outsourcing” he expects in a Romney economy.

Changing times

I stopped one man wearing an Iraq War ballcap, in a pickup with a Marine Corps window decal. I start my questions: Are you a registered Democrat? He smiles. “I was until last week.” Maybe Pennsylvania is in play.

Romney’s Nevada Problem

Nevada, to me, has been one of the bigger surprises this election cycle.  I fully expected this state to trend for Romney throughout the general election and fall into his column much like the trends we are seeing in Florida.  But for a myriad of reasons, Nevada remains stubbornly leaning towards Obama and plenty of tea leaves say Romney will likely underperform here relative to his national performance.  He may still win the state, but it will be closer than I expected it to be.  Scott Conroy at Real Clear Politics takes a look at what’s going on in Nevada that has buoyed the President:

If the key issues in the election are jobs and the economy, there should be no easier venue for Mitt Romney to make his case than in a state where it has been harder for residents to find work than anywhere else and where more than 60 percent of mortgages remain underwater. “Nevada gives us a lot of opportunities because people know that if they’re voting for Barack Obama, they’re voting for the same thing they have today,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “The promises of Barack Obama matter, and he hasn’t followed through on housing. He hasn’t followed through on making it easier for people to get loans.” But so far, at least, that simple message has not been enough for Romney to overtake the president here. Obama leads his challenger by 4.6 percentage points in the latest RCP average of Nevada polls, and the Republican has not led in a single Silver State survey in the last year.

Housing comments haunt Romney

“As to what to do for the housing industry specifically, and are there things that you can do to encourage housing, one is don’t try and stop the foreclosure process,” Romney told the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal in October 2011. “Let it run its course and hit the bottom, allow investors to buy homes, put renters in them, fix the homes up and let it turn around and come back up.” As soon as Romney’s “hit the bottom” remark was published, the sound bite became a linchpin for the Obama campaign’s effort to portray their opponent as insensitive to the struggles faced by the majority of homeowners here. With that one comment, Nevada Democrats had the ammunition they needed to make what might have otherwise been an impossible case: that the candidate who should be blamed for the state’s housing woes is the challenger, not the incumbent who has been guiding national policy for the last four years.

Voter Registration

Nevada Democrats have expanded the 60,000-person advantage in voter registration they enjoyed over Republicans in 2010 to about 75,000 this year. [ed. — It’s silly they didn’t compare it with the 100,000 advantage Democrats had on 2008 or if they wanted to show Romney struggles they could have used the wave of Democrat resurgence the last few weeks]

Hispanics

[T]he Obama campaign has invested heavily in reaching out to Hispanic voters, who composed approximately 15 percent of the state’s electorate in 2010 — a number that Democrats expect to be surpassed this November. Recent polls have shown Romney’s support among Nevada Latinos to be between the mid-20s and the mid-30s. Even if the higher end of the range is more accurate, that level of support among the state’s largest minority group likely would not be enough to push Romney over the top here on Election Day.

State party infrastructure

[T]he president’s biggest trump card in Nevada may be organizational rather than demographic. Jon Ralston — a longtime political reporter and analyst for the Las Vegas Sun, who recently founded his own Web site chronicling the state’s political scene — credits the Democrats’ sizable advantage on the ground as a major reason Obama appears to have an edge. “The Republicans here have to be upgraded in order to be classified as inept, and you just have this situation that goes against what the economic conditions are,” Ralston said. “The RNC has come in here, to their credit, and realized that the Republican Party here is a joke, and so they’ve essentially set up a parallel organization with the Romney campaign [Team Nevada]. And they do have some good people who understand the state, but you can’t just erect that type of infrastructure overnight and be able to get a ground game going.” It was Democrats’ infrastructure that proved particularly successful turning out members of Nevada’s powerful service industry unions in 2010, propelling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to victory despite favorability rating that hovered in the low-30s and a state unemployment that year rose above a grisly 14 percent.

How to Lose Florida: GOP 2008 Flashback

With all of the great Super Saturday numbers making news today, a couple people reminded me that Florida more so than most states is quite a different landscape for both Romney and Obama relative to 2008.  If you will recall Obama only won Florida by 236k votes or just 3% which was well off his national margin of 7%.

What was interesting about Florida in 2008 was its popular GOP Governor was supposed to be a huge asset and he allegedly had a wonderful relationship with John McCain making it all the more likely the GOP would enjoy decided structural advantages over Obama in the Sunshine State.  But that Governor was Charlie Crist and there was always something just not right about Crist that didn’t sit well with the the grass roots. First, he stabbed in the back his prior long-time friend Rudy Giuliani in the GOP primary whom he had previously promised to endorse. His endorsement for McCain on the eve of the primary effectively ended Rudy’s campaign (Giuliani had staked his entire ill-fated campaign on a good showing in Florida) and turned the race over to McCain.

What’s lesser know is how Charlie Crist was horse-trading his endorsement for a VP nod on the McCain ticket.  But when he was passed over for Sarah Palin, Crist pulled all his support for McCain and let the state party apparatus flounder which greatly impeded McCain throughout the remainder of the campaign. It was for these reasons the famous Florida photo of the Crist-Obama post-inauguration embrace was such a powder keg locally. Everyone in the state knew Crist actively undermined McCain once he didn’t get the VP slot.  This was part and parcel of the active recruitment by the grassroots — not hapless Sen. John Cornyn who wanted Crist — for a person to take down Crist in the 2010 Senate race.  Everyone knew Crist was a scoundrel of the highest order — though little different from the political class of the day currently getting drummed out each cycle.  And of course, today Crist has left the GOP, spoke at the Democrat Convention and is expected to run as a Democrat for Governor or similar in an upcoming election (my bet says he doesn’t make it out of the Dem primary).

But let’s take a look at exactly what hurdles Crist erected in front of the McCain campaign in 2008 that greatly assisted Obama:

These are all just off the top of my head or from the great work by Christian Camara.

Today, we have a GOP governor who will rally with the candidate and isn’t actively undermining the candidate. At the same time, the GOP is enjoying a net gain in Florida voter registrations greater than Obama’s entire margin of victory in 2008.

2012 is not 2008 and by nearly every metric the GOP is dramatically outpacing its 2008 performance.  When you combine that with an enthusiasm for Romney, antipathy for Obama and an extremely well-funded campaign, Florida looks ever more like the next state to fall for Team Romney.

Nevada Voter Registration Update

We got an update from Nevada expert Jon Ralston.  The final numbers are just coming in and Democrats made a furious comeback, especially in all important Clark County, to push back on the gains the GOP made this cycle in Nevada.  Despite that comeback the GOP closed the gap on the 2008 advantage:

This is still a good showing for the GOP since Democrats had a 100k voter registration advantage overall in 2008 and statewide the Republican Party had more than a few internal issues to overcome this cycle.  Great effort in the Silver State.

Super Saturday Update — Over 2.4 million contacts yesterday alone

Yesterday was another Super Saturday where campaign offices around the country knocked on doors, made phone calls and registered voters for the final crucial push into election day.  Some of the metrics are creeping through the wires right now.  Nearly all below is information direct from RNC political director Rick Wiley:

Overall:

  • #s just in, @mittromney & @gop ground game made 2.4 million volunteer voter contacts yesterday on Super Saturday.ROCK
  • over 30k volunteers took part in Super Saturday yesterday.Enthusiasm on our side
  • Great work from our amazing volunteers this week! We made 5,072,979 volunteer voter contacts this week alone. — Reince Priebus

Wisconsin:

  • Over 400k volunteer voter contacts made in WI this week, strong.Country strong

Virginia:

  • VA did over 250k volunteer voter contacts yesterday, including 100k doors and nearly 500k for the week.Killing it

Ohio:

  • OH made over 600k volunteer voter contacts this week.nearly a quarter million on the doors!Buckeye Blitz rocks it

Florida:

  • FL made over 1 million volunteer voter contacts this week. @mkdonlin & @tcdickens continue to rock it down there

Colorado:

  • Team CO made over 250k volunteer voter contacts this week. People clearly jacked following strong debate by @MittRomney

Voter Registrations Drop 490,000 in Ohio

I blogged this yesterday, but the post got lost somewhere in cyberspace.  This was rightfully a much talked about story considering the importance of Ohio to both campaigns:

Voter registration in the Buckeye State is down by 490,000 people from four years ago. Of that reduction, 44 percent is in Cleveland and surrounding Cuyahoga County, where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than two to one.

“I think what we’re seeing is a lot of spin and hype on the part of the Obama campaign to try to make it appear that they’re going to cruise to victory in Ohio,” Cuyahoga County Republican Chairman Rob Frost said. “It’s not just Cuyahoga County. Nearly 350,000 of those voters are the decrease in the rolls in the three largest counties, Cuyahoga, Hamilton and Franklin.” Frost points out that those three counties all contain urban centers, where the largest Democrat vote traditionally has been.

Ohio is not alone. An August study by the left-leaning think tank Third Way showed that the Democratic voter registration decline in eight key swing states outnumbered the Republican decline by a 10-to-one ratio. In Florida, Democratic registration is down 4.9 percent, in Iowa down 9.5 percent. And in New Hampshire, it’s down down 19.7 percent. The Third Way study, which was conducted in August, indicates the Democrats’ drop in registered voters coincides with a gain in independent voters.”There are about half a million more independents now than there were just for years ago,” Diggles said.

The Romney campaign has made over 3,000,000 voter contacts in Ohio and has been aggressive in voter registration efforts throughout the election cycle.  This has kept their registration numbers up while Democrats hemorrhage voters.

The party breakdown is difficult because Ohio does not register voters by party so the geography mentioned in the article is hugely important and the basis for much of the GOP confidence in these changes.

Hugh Hewitt Takes on the Pollsters

Radio host and conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt has done fantastic work this season interviewing pollsters and asking the tough questions looking for answers how allegedly reliable polls have such unrealistic internal make-ups.   In his Townhall column he lays out numerous arguments to challenge the data including two objective data points that make the Ohio sampling more obviously incorrect:

There are plenty of data points to encourage Republicans, and these are genuine data points as opposed to the junk food offered up by Quinnipiac and Marist, which derived their predictions from samples that included enormous Democratic voter margins in key states, pro-Democratic turnout margins that were even greater than those achieved in Obama’s blowout year of 2008..

Two data points that warm GOP hearts and undermine the junk polls: (1) Absentee requests in Ohio by Democrats are trailing their 2008 totals –often by a lot in key Democratic counties like Cuyahoga County; and (2) overall voter registration for Democrats in the Buckeye State is down dramatically from 2008.

These two bits of info undermine the credibility of the Obama booster polls, as did the interviews I conducted with key leadership from both polls and with other informed observers.

In addition to doing the media’s job actually finding the data to challenge the assumptions, Hewitt has used his radio shows to go right to the sources on polling and how we should interpret the data.  After numerous interviews Hewitt provides five major takeaways:

  • The pro-Obama pollsters don’t have answers as to why their skewed samples are trustworthy beyond the fact that they think their approach to randomness is a guarantee of fairness, and they seem to resent greatly that the questions are even asked. Like [Convicted fraud Bernie] Madoff would have resented questions about his stunning rate of return.
  • Barone notes that percentage turnout by party in a presidential year hasn’t been much greater for the president’s party than it was in the preceding off-year, which makes samples outstripping even the 2008 model of Democratic participation “inherently suspicious.”.
  • Cost notes that Romney is winning the independent vote in every poll, which also makes big Obama leads suspect.
  • And my conversation with Mr. Shepard, whose employer National Journal has a reputation for the best non-partisan work inside the Beltway, didn’t find any academic, disinterested support for the proposition that party identification cannot be weighted because of the inherent instability of the marker.
  • The biggest unanswered question of all: If party ID is so subject to change that it should not be weighted according to an estimate of turnout, why ask about it at all? And if it is for the purpose of detecting big moves, as Mr. Shepard argued, why not report that “big move” in the stories that depend upon the polling?

There are a number of reasons polling organizations could offer for their curious sampling but they offer no defense of these results other than it is consistent with the prior election which fails to take into account that admitted notion that party identification changes every election and the current samplings do not reflect the reality of today’s electorate.

The Reality of 2012 Voter Turnout: The White Voter

The largest divergence among conservative and liberal polling critics this election is the debate over who will actually show up at the voting booth this November. Differences between the amounts of Democrats versus Republicans included in the poll are frequent. But embedded in each of these assumptions are questions on the racial make-up and how that varies from election to election.  Democrats consistently talk about the “coalition of the ascendant” where the fastest growing segments of the population are minorities. As such they make up an ever-increasing segment of the voting population but also vote overwhelmingly in favor of Democrats.  With a shrinking white population and a growing minority population Democrats argue demography as destiny and count on political majorities for the coming generation. That may be true if everything in life moves in a straight line (it doesn’t) but is that true today?

This is the bone of contention between the competing Presidential campaigns and critics of today’s polls.  Democrats want to argue the steep increase in minority percentage of the voting electorate from 2008 election was a fundamental shift in the electorate whereas Republicans want to argue the steep increases were a one-off bounce. Both agree on the general direction of the trend.  Neither agree how severe that trend will be in 2012. This disagreement is the basis for Democrat over-confidence and lopsided polling today in an election where the two candidates are most likely within 1-2% of one another.

What’s missing in all this analysis is who did not show up in the 2008 election: White voters. Looking back at those results, every voter turnout rate by race (relative to eligible population) was up versus 2004 except the white vote according to Pew Research (April 30, 2009). Blacks were up +4.9%, Hispanics were up +2.7%, Asians were up +2.4%.  But the percentage of White voters who showed up at the polls relative to who was eligible dropped -1.1% (Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, May 2010).  This has nothing to do with minorities making up more or less of the electorate.  This is simply saying from 2004 to 2008 White voter registration (which actually dropped 104k) and actual turnout of White voters (which increased 500k) did not keep up with voting age White population increases.

Within this drop of White voter turnout, over 3x as many men as women comprised those voters staying home in the election. This happened for any number of reasons ranging from a disinterested national party to a disorganized Presidential campaign to a demoralized voting block–all are true. But the bottom line is one of the advantages Barack Obama enjoyed in 2008 was that a meaningful percentage of white voters simply stayed home in 2008.  Side note: for anyone who wants to pin the depressed turnout on racism, wouldn’t the opposite have occurred in 2008 if racism really were a motivating factor in the white turnout?

Where this trips up the Obama campaign.

In 2008 Democrats achieved incredible levels of voter registration and turnout of this “coalition of the ascendent” such that Blacks, Hispanics and Asians made up 24% of the voting electorate — all historic highs.  Bolstering the appearance of Democrat advantage are countless media stories reporting on Mitt Romney’s struggle appealing to minority groups. Little attention is paid to Barack Obama’s (and Democrat candidates before him) difficulty appealing to White voters who made up 74% of the electorate. Such historic minority levels for the composition of the electorate are predicated on a demoralized and ineligible (meaning unregistered) white population much like in 2008, as demonstrated above.

If John McCain achieved a white voter turnout rate equal to George Bush in 2004, that would have meant 1.7 million more White votes.  While all of these votes would not have gone to McCain (nor were they all in battleground states), a super-majority of these voters likely would have voted Republican considering the make-up of the missing voter (white male — Obama’s worst demographic) and the motivated nature of the Obama voter in 2008 (i.e. if they were Obama supporters, only a scant few percent would have stayed home). Those missing votes would have been more than enough to flip the results in any of North Carolina (14k), Indiana (28.5k,), Nevada (121k), Iowa (146k), Colorado (195k), Virginia (234k), Florida (237k) or  Ohio (260k) where Obama’s victory margin (in parentheses) is based on a 43% vote share of a decreased turnout.

Today Barack Obama receives approximately 40% of the White vote in polls but often dips below this level especially when polls fail to massively over-sample Democrats. The President is also facing an increasingly enthusiastic bloc of White voters motivated to vote against him (this shows up in every survey) based on his poor record in office. Additionally, Republicans have aggressively targeted the above mentioned states with voter registration efforts reversing or seriously muting the registration advantage Obama enjoyed in 2008. Net gains for Republicans voter registrations in Nevada (53k), Iowa (140k), Colorado (91k) and Florida (240k) all speak to a very different and Republican electorate in those states. On top of registration, voter contacts from the Romney campaign surpassed 26 million eligible voters across the battleground states to date.  This is as much as 10-15x as much as the McCain 2008 campaign. This does not dismiss the aggressive and active Obama re-election effort but it simply points out that compared to 2008 he is no longer battling an unarmed opponent.

All of this is to say when David Axelrod or similar Obama campaign talking heads argue aggressively for polls with a racial composition at meaningfully greater minority levels than the 2008 historic turnout, there is another side of that coin and it works heavily against the turnout models of both the Obama campaign and of the vast majority of polls being published today.

Addendum: Please see this clarification regarding the White vote potential impact on 2008 and 2012. John McCain would not have won in 2008 if the White vote had shown up in 2008 as they did in 2004. But a motivated White vote makes erasing Obama’s leads in the above mentioned states far easier than people are being led to believe.

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.”

Voter Registration Continues to Favor Republicans in 2012

The voter registration advantage President Obama had in 2008 was staggering.  Today that advantage continues to shrink month by month.  The latest from Reuters:

Massive voter drives across the country in 2008 helped put millions of people aged 18 to 29 on voting rolls. That age group – which makes up roughly one-quarter of the U.S. electorate – voted 2-to-1 for Democratic President Barack Obama then, helping to propel him to victory over Republican John McCain.

Nice biased phrasing of popular voter ID laws and voter fraud prevention:

This year, campaigns and civic groups have faced challenges in signing up voters because of laws passed largely by Republicans who took control of legislatures in 20 states after the 2010 elections. Besides limits on voter registration, the laws also have included requirements that voters produce a photo ID and limits on early-voting periods aimed at helping working-class people cast ballots if they can’t get to the polls on Election Day.

Republican advantages

The Florida Times Union has said 11,365 people registered as Democratic voters in the 13 months that ended at the end of August, compared with an average of 209,425 for the same periods before the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. Meanwhile, 128,039 Republicans have registered in the state over the past 13 months, up from an average of 103,555 in the same period in 2004 and 2008, the newspaper said.

Historic trends

Democrats tend to focus much more heavily than Republicans on recruiting new voters, and groups such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote aim at low-income and minority citizens who may not know how to register or young people who have never voted. Republicans, on the other hand, traditionally rely on their supporters to register on their own. Party activists work mostly on getting registered Republicans to show up at the polls.

Democrats behind the 8-ball

“The last few weeks people have started to pay attention” to the election, said [Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote,], whose group registered a record 2.25 million young voters nationally in 2008 and has a lower target this year, 1.5 million. “We have a lot of ground to make up.”

Democrat Perspective: Team Obama Thinks They Have This Race in the Bag

I’m all for believing in your candidate, but the self-delusion of the Obama campaign is bordering on certifiable.  They basically expect minorities to make up far more of the electorate than they ever have when every poll says they are far less enthusiastic than they were in 2008 and will likely show up at the voting booth in far fewer numbers. Maybe they will rally to the cause, but nothing I’m seeing would give me any confidence if I were Team Obama. They also make arguments about voter registration opportunities when the numbers overwhelmingly break against Obama.  Finally they argue Obama is a Reagan-like figure Americans find appealing. I don’t see that winning the day when the jobless rate is so bad and the outlook is not optimistic. But here is Team Obama’s view on the inevitability of their victory:

“We could lose.” That’s David Axelrod, President Obama’s chief reelection strategist, injecting an obligatory note of caution into what is in every other way a “there’s-no-way-we-can-lose” assessment of the campaign. From top to bottom, Obama’s team keeps this self-effacing qualifier around mostly for amusement, like a yo-yo, a balsa-wood airplane, or a paper-clip necklace. Every campaign, of course, believes it’s going to win. Obama’s team, however, conveys such a visceral sense of self-confidence that even protestations to the contrary take on air of comically profane absurdity. “I don’t want you to leave here thinking I’ve got my feet up on my f—— desk and I’m sanguine,” Axelrod says after a 51-minute interview in which he surveys the landscape and finds nothing but roses for Obama and thorns for GOP nominee Mitt Romney. “I’m not! I treat this as a struggle to the end, and we’re going to fight that way.”

“They didn’t give people anything to grab on to, and they allowed us to define him before he could define himself,” Axelrod says of Romney. “And now they are playing catch-up. And now they are running bio ads. The summer is when candidates and races get defined. That’s why we made a strategic decision that it was better to muscle up in the summer. I can’t think of a presidential race determined by paid media after Labor Day.” That’s Axelrod’s understated way of saying—feet-up-on-the-desk protestations notwithstanding—that he thinks the election is already over.

Demographics

The sources of Team Obama’s bristling reelection conceit certainty can be found in the usual places and within shopworn metaphors (demographics, ground game, approval ratings, likability). But the campaign also enfolds unique cultural and political touchstones: Richard Pryor by way of Chico Marx. Ronald Reagan. John Kerry. And Paul Ryan…A few choice stats that Team Obama likes to ponder: The white share of the population has declined from 79.6 percent to 72.4 percent in the past 32 years. The Hispanic share has grown from 6.4 percent to 16.3 percent. The black population has increased from 11.7 percent to 13.6 percent. In recent surveys, Obama has an approval rating in the high 80s among blacks and high 50s among Hispanics (he averages 37 percent among whites). More important, the share of married couples has fallen from 65 percent in 1980 to 51 percent in 2012, and among single voters Obama’s approval rating is in the mid-50s.

Voter Registration:

One last point: Obama’s ground game has been registering new voters since December; in swing states such as Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and New Mexico, the number of eligible but unregistered Hispanic voters exceeds Obama’s 2008 winning margins in each state (that means there’s plenty of pad if Obama’s team registers new Hispanic voters—even if those Latinos register as independents).

Likeability

Many in Obama’s inner circle also believe that Obama is the more likable, Reagan-like figure who can remake his party and the nation’s policies. They see Romney as far more like Carter, who never wore well with his party, was prone to awkwardness, and won the nomination by default. They also doubt any comparison to the economic doldrums of then and now and any possibility of a late-breaking shift of Democratic and undecided voters to Romney (as happened with Reagan).

Will Voter Affiliation Carry Florida, Ohio and Virginia for Romney?

Josh Bernstein on Examiner.com picks up on the voter registration and affiliation changes since 2008 and posits three of the biggest Battleground States will break for Mitt Romney due to strong dissatisfaction with Democrats.  He has some pretty string anti-Obama views but despite the charged language his data is very interesting.  All three states were very close (below Obama’s national margin) and all three have troubling trends for the Obama campaign:

Florida, Ohio, and Virginia all voted for Barack Obama in 2008. The official results according to final election statistics were 50 to 48 in Florida, 51 to 47 in Ohio, and 52 to 46 in Virginia.

Florida — 2-point win for Obama in 2008

  • In 2008 Florida Democrats out numbered Republicans by roughly 700,000; 4.8 million to 4.1 million. The undeclared/unaffiliated and independent voters measured 2.5 million.
  • As of June 2012 Republicans are still sitting at 4.1 million, however Democrats now register 4.5 million, and Independents now are up to 2.7 million.
  • So what happened was Republicans stayed the same, Democrats lost 300,000, and Independents gained 200,000. That is half a million voters in a swing state that have changed their party affiliation.

Ohio — 4-point win for Obama in 2008

  • In Ohio, voters are not required to give a party affiliation when they register to vote.
  • In 2008 according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s website, Democrats out numbered Republicans by 174,000, 1.48 million to 1.30 million. The unaffiliated voters totaled 5.1 million.
  • In 2012, Democrats went from 1.48 million down to 827,000. That is a loss of 653,000. Republicans went from 1.3 million down to 894,000. That is a loss of 412,000.
  • The most dramatic change however was in unaffiliated voters. This segment of voters rose from 5.1 million to 6.3 million. That is an increase of 1.2 million more unaffiliated voters in the Buckeye state.
  • This was a cataclysmic shift away from the two major parties, although a larger shift away from the Democrats.
  • This gives Republicans the advantage in two distinct ways. First, their are now 67,000 more registered Republicans than their are Democrats. Second, more voters decided to leave the Democrat Party in favor of being unaffiliated/undeclared or Independent.

Continue reading

What Happens if Obama’s Voters Don’t Show Up? II

I’ve actually asked this question before when discussing the steep drop in voter enthusiasm among Democrats.  When you combine that with the drum beat of stories about Republicans voter registration advantage, Obama would seem to be in real trouble.  The much talked about Foster McCollum poll in Florida showing Romney up +15 is a poll reflecting such a scenario.

The Wall Street Journal Opinion page posts a good video discussing that question: Will Obama’s voters show up?

All Roads to the White House Run Through Iowa

President Obama spent three full days in the Hawkeye State and Mitt Romney sent his newly announced Vice president there on his first solo campaign stop. Byron York builds on Karl Rove’s 3-2-1 strategy and targets Iowa as the final domino to fall for Romney to win the White House:

To judge by recent campaign activity, if Romney is fortunate to make it to the brink of electoral victory, the major battle for those last few electoral votes could be in the state where it all started: Iowa. “I believe Iowa is the key to the presidency,” says Bob Vander Plaats, head of the Iowa social conservative group the Family Leader. “Our six electoral votes will be crucial.”

Of course, for months leading up to January’s GOP caucuses, Iowa was home to some of the most anti-Romney conservatives in the GOP. Many Iowa Republicans tried Michele Bachmann, and then Rick Perry, and then Herman Cain, and then Newt Gingrich, and then Rick Santorum, who beat Romney by a handful of votes. Feelings about Romney didn’t change overnight. But they’ve changed now. “The desire to get Barack Obama out of the White House is enough, and now the addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket has been motivation to get people not only to vote but to volunteer and work,” says Matt Strawn, former head of the Iowa GOP who is now running the Republican group GOPAC’s operations in Iowa.

Vander Plaats, who backed Santorum in the primaries, recently held a Family Leadership Summit in Waukee, featuring Santorum along with Mike Huckabee and Rick Perry. “We had about 1,200 of the most influential conservatives in Iowa, and they were excited,” says Vander Plaats. “They were excited about getting rid of Obama, excited about Ryan being on the ticket.” And if they have any lingering doubts about Romney, they’ve been put aside in the effort to beat Obama.

Obama has helped turn Iowa into a Republican state. Strawn remembers his first day as head of the state GOP, when there were 113,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans in Iowa. Now, there are 20,000 more Republicans than Democrats. Still, Strawn calls Iowa “the absolute purest of tossups.” “There’s no question the opportunity exists for Romney to close the deal with those Iowans who voted for Obama the last time but are willing to vote against him now,” he says. “But the case still has to be made.”

Signs of Trouble for Obama in Iowa

Two interesting pieces emerged today following Obama’s 3-day odyssey in Iowa.  First an analyses of voter registration in Iowa demonstrating an embedded weakness for Obama in 2012 and the second, an on-the-ground report of the politically troubling flip-side to Obama photo-ops during his barnstorming.

At Examiner.com an analysis of filing records reveals voter registration in Iowa has swung like a pendulum over the last 3 election cycles.

  • In 2004 voter registration was fairly even at Rep: 31%, Dem 31%, Ind: 38%.  This resulted in a Bush victory by 1%.
  • In 2008 during a genuine wave of Democrat enthusiasm registration titled heavily in favor of Obama, Rep: 30%, Dem: 35%, Ind: 36% resulting in an Obama 10% win.
  • In 2012, Republicans have beaten back the tide and more than reversed Obama’s advantage with registrations currently Rep: 33%, Dem: 32%, Ind: 35%. The aggregate #s are even worse for Obama with Republicans at their highest highs (620,584) in this comparison and Democrats at their lowest lows (598,995) in registrations.

Despite the Republican registration advantage, Independents in the state (659,838) will determine the ultimate outcome.  There is not a lot of data on how Independents are breaking in Iowa right now but Romney was leading by 11 percentage points in the recent Purple Strategies survey portending really bad news for Obama in the Hawkeye State.

In the second Iowa story of the day, Tom Bevan at Real Clear Politics looks underneath the goodwill and pomp generated by the President’s 3-days in Iowa and found a nagging weaknesses that may flip the Hawkeye state back into the Republican column this Fall:

[D]espite the meticulously scripted events and adoring crowds during the president’s three-day visit, there were small signs along the way of trouble in the heartland.

Day 1, Des Moines: he Obama campaign was thrilled with the resulting photo-op: Regular-guy president buys a round of Budweisers for a dozen or so fairgoers, who break into a cheeky cheer (“four more beers!”) in support of his re-election…the third-generation owner of the 65-year-old institution known as the Bud Tent, was less than thrilled with the visit…in a tough economic environment the security requirements of the presidential stop, which included a full Secret Service sweep of the area, meant the beer tent had to be shut down for nearly two hours during its busiest time of day, Cunningham complained. He claimed that Obama’s appearance cost him some $25,000 in revenue, which he described wryly as making a “campaign contribution against my will.” “I wouldn’t have voted for him before,” Cunningham told the Des Moines Register. “I won’t again.”

Day 2, central Iowa: Obama visited a wind farm. Again, the campaign was thrilled with the picture-perfect optics of the event. But shortly after Obama’s caravan departed the owner of the farm and his son Jarret let it be known that although the president was “gracious, personable, and very respectful” neither man will be voting for him in November. “It is important to not get caught up in the president’s glamorous re-election words and remember President Obama’s first term record and rhetoric does not represent Middle America, entrepreneurs, small business owners and farmers,” Jarret Heil said in a statement to the media.

Day 3, Davenport: the national press corps was surprised to find Ross Murty, the co-owner of the Village Corner Deli, which catered the event, wearing a black T-shirt with big, bold white letters that read, “Government didn’t build my business. I did” — a dig at Obama’s now-infamous remark in Virginia last month about small businesses.

If Obama’s three-day trek across Iowa proved that he could still rekindle a spark from 2008, the unscripted moments of his journey also proved that the Hawkeye State, like much of the rest of the country, is deeply divided over the president’s re-election.

Dramatic Shift in Voter Registrations in Iowa

In 2008 the Obama campaign did an exceptional job registering an unprecedented number of voters created incredible advantages across the nation propelling him to victory. Since that time, the Democrat lead has been steadily eroded and in states like Iowa, what was once and advantage for the Democrats is now an advantage for the Republicans. The RNC just issued a release with some impressive figures for Republicans as both President Obama and Paul Ryan heads to their state:

In 2008, Democrats held a significant voter registration advantage. Registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans by 105,000. Four years later, Republicans are out-registering Democrats and now have a registration advantage of over 21,500. Since 2008, Democrats have lost voters in 95 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The GOP has gained voters in 85.

[Obama’s] net job approval rating among all registered Iowa voters fell five points from May to July, according to Public Policy Polling. Among independents, his net approval fell a full 14 points. Meanwhile, Gov. Romney’s standing has improved. He saw his net favorability rating improve four points among all voters and five points among independents.

And all this is translating at the polls:

Obama carried the Hawkeye State by nine points in 2008. Today, the Real Clear Politics Iowa polling average has him ahead by only one point–a statistical dead heat. The latest Rasmussen poll shows Gov. Romney leading by 2 points.

Romney “Super Saturday” in Michigan

Today is another “Super Saturday” where Romney campaign offices around the country will canvas the battleground states registering voters and making certain every Romney vote gets counted.  Here are the Michigan details:

Mitt Romney supporters all across the state plan to make this Saturday, a “Super Saturday”. Volunteers across Michigan will pack “victory centers” to make calls and some will go door-to-door to garner support for the Republican presidential candidate. The Romney mobile headquarters bus will make stops at the following locations:

Monroe Michigan March to Victory

  • Monroe Victory Office
  • 40 S. Monroe Street
  • Monroe, MI
  • 9:30 AM

Livingston Michigan March to Victory

  • Livingston Romney Victory Office
  • 2554 E. Grand River Avenue
  • Howell, MI
  • 12:00 PM

Lake Orion Michigan March to Victory

  • Oakland- Lake Orion Romney Victory Office
  • 3048 W. Clarkson Road
  • Lake Orion, MI
  • 4:15 PM

Oakland – Royal Oak Michigan March to Victory

  • Royal Oak Romney Victory Office
  • 30701 Woodward Avenue
  • Royal Oak, MI
  • 5:45 PM

The Nevada Battleground and Democrat Overconfidence

Reading so many articles every day, I am fascinated how often Democrats or mainstream media talk about Nevada as if it is a lock for Obama barring some huge upset.  No credible polling supports that thesis (PPP polls always over-represent Democrats) and plenty of polls reveal Romney is even leading.  But no matter the evidence, media still write headlines like “Nevada isn’t a sure bet for Obama?”  “Sure bet?” Is there a credible person out there arguing it IS a sure bet?  Regardless, the LA Times wrote that headline in an in-depth look at the Silver State:

For decades, casinos were the golden key to prosperity, luring in tourists, cranking out jobs around the clock and flooding the state treasury with a perpetual stream of cash. Those days are over…The local economy is in shambles, done in by the double whammy of the national recession and the rise of Indian casinos in California. Unemployment is rampant. That presents a serious challenge to President Obama as he tries to repeat his 2008 victory in Nevada, a key swing state then and now.

Battleground County

Washoe County, which includes Reno and neighboring Sparks, is the swing region of Nevada, and as such will play an outsized role in the presidential campaign between Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. To the south, Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County is a Democratic and labor union stronghold. The rural counties that make up most of the rest of the state are overwhelmingly Republican. That leaves Washoe, where Republicans have a slight registration edge and once had a near lock on elections. That is no longer the case, as Obama proved in 2008 by winning the county with 55% of the vote, matching his percentage statewide. Washoe County “kind of holds the balance of power now,” said Dave Damore, a professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “Basically, if a Republican loses Washoe County, they lose the state.” That isn’t as true of a Democrat, as Bill Clinton demonstrated when he lost Washoe twice while winning the state by thumping opponents in the southern part. But a Republican blowout in Washoe would spell doom for any Democrat in a statewide race.

There have been no independent polls to show how the region is trending, but it seems fair to say that the economy has created a tough environment for any incumbent. By multiple measures, Nevada has been the hardest-hit state in the nation, with an unemployment rate that peaked at 13.7% in 2010 and remained the nation’s highest at 11.6% in May. Nevada’s home foreclosure rate fell to No. 2 in the nation (behind Arizona) in March after 62 months in the top spot.

Permanent change in Reno

The Las Vegas area suffered the most, but Reno was not far behind. And economists and local officials say much of the damage to Reno-area tourism is probably permanent. Unlike Las Vegas, with its international reputation, Reno has always been more of a regional attraction, drawing tourists from Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. With the advent of large, full-service Indian casinos in Northern California, many of those tourists have no reason to visit anymore. Bill Eadington, an economics professor and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, said his studies showed that gambling revenues from tourists in Reno declined by two-thirds between 1990 and 2010.

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Democrats Losing Voter Registrations in Battleground States

Throughout 2008 the Obama campaign and Democrats touted their incredible voter registration advantage.  What’s funny is you don’t hear them tout this advantage any longer.  Why? Because, according to a Bloomberg News study, more and more of those voters in Battleground states have lost that lovin’ feeling:

Independent voters are growing in numbers at the expense of Democrats in battleground states most likely to determine this year’s presidential election, a Bloomberg News analysis shows.  The collective total of independents grew by about 443,000 in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and North Carolina since the 2008 election, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from state election officials. During the same time, Democrats saw a net decline of about 480,000 in those six states, while Republicans added roughly 38,000 voters in them, the analysis shows.

As we saw in today’s ABC poll, Romney has a 14-point advantage among Independents and Independents determine which way the wind is blowing

In 2006, independents backed Democrats by an 18-percentage- point margin nationwide in House races, handing the party control of the chamber for the first time in 12 years. In 2010, they backed Republicans over Democrats in House races by a 19- point margin, as Republicans regained the chamber’s majority.

Democrats still lead in registrations

The registration advantage in the six battleground states reviewed — all of which Obama won in 2008 — is split between Democrats and independents. The states account for 69 electoral votes, with 270 needed to win the White House. Democrats are the top party in Florida, Nevada and North Carolina, while independents hold that position in Colorado, Iowa and New Hampshire. Ohio and Virginia, two other battlegrounds consistently identified by Democratic and Republican strategists, don’t report registration statistics by party identification.

Turnout is still key

Higher voter registration doesn’t necessarily translate to higher turnout. In the 1996 presidential election, registration went up and turnout down, while the opposite happened four years later with higher turnout amid lower registration, according to American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate in Washington.

Not all registration figures are the same

The registration statistics also should be treated with some skepticism, the center says, because some states do a better job than others of purging the names of people who have died or moved away. In Florida, the state is in the process of removing noncitizens from state voter rolls even after the U.S. Justice Department cautioned the program may violate federal law. The state, led by Republican Governor Rick Scott, has removed at least 107 alleged noncitizens from its voting rolls after identifying about 180,000 questionable registrations in its database of 11.2 million voters. State officials asked county election supervisors in April to review a list of 2,700 potential noncitizens and remove ineligible voters.

Iowa Evangelicals on Board with Romney

As if her 1300+ words in USA Today wasn’t enough, Jennifer Jacobs filed another 1100+ words on the evangelical vote and Romney’s appeal to this most-important voter bloc in Iowa. Included in this great piece is a nugget where of 12 evangelicals who viewed Romney “very unfavorable” in February, 11 are now voting for him.  Such is the unpopularity of Obama:

Romney’s strength in the 2012 Iowa caucuses was with economic voters, especially those in the Des Moines suburbs. But the same evangelical conservatives who sidestepped Romney twice in the Iowa caucuses could be his best friends in the
general election.

Local surrogate importance of Rep. Steve King

As the general election approaches, Romney is running as strongly as conservative icon U.S. Rep. Steve King with voters in Iowa’s GOP-dominant western coast, according to internal polling obtained by The Des Moines Register. That’s a good sign for Romney — there’s no such thing as a King/Obama voter. If Iowa’s evangelicals put a GOP presidential candidate over the top, it wouldn’t be the first time. Everyone — including the Register’s Iowa Poll — thought Democrat John Kerry would win Iowa in 2004. But a larger than expected evangelical voter turnout in the western part of the state secured the Iowa trophy for George W. Bush.  The guy with the spatula who flipped Iowa for Bush that year? King, said Chuck Laudner, the congressman’s former district director.

Repeat of 2004 or maybe not

Romney isn’t repeating Karl Rove’s 2004 appeal-to-the-base strategy in Iowa, his campaign strategists say. The Rove-directed George W. Bush re-election campaign targeted mainly northwest Iowa and a ring of Des Moines suburbs. Romney’s campaign intends to hold those coalitions in place, while pursuing voters in purple counties in eastern Iowa, southeast Iowa and central Iowa. President Barack Obama’s perceived liberal agenda alone is a bloody shirt that revs up the right, so Romney can invest his dollars in reeling in independents and conservative Democrats, numbers that could put him over the top in what is expected to be a close race here. And his message will focus on the economy, an issue that plays to his background as a businessman and the emotions of listeners pummeled by the recession and its aftermath.

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Romney “Super Saturday” in Nevada Details

I can’t find anything on the wires so here is the official release from the campaign for the Nevada Super Saturday.  Remember Team Nevada is the real state GOP party following the Ron Paul supporters coup of state party officer positions.

On Saturday July 7th volunteers from Nevada will join with others around the nation to phone bank and go door-to-door for Mitt and the rest of the Team Nevada Republican candidates! Team Nevada is also excited to welcome former U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez to Las Vegas this Saturday where he will thank Super Saturday volunteers for their hard work!

Team Nevada Office Locations

  • Las Vegas (Summerlin) Office; 9640 West Tropicana Avenue, Suite 106, Las Vegas, NV 89147
  • Henderson Office; 8915 S. Pecos Road, Henderson, NV 89074
  • Reno Office; 3702 S. Virginia Street, Suite G1, Reno, NV 8950

Romney “Super Saturday” in Iowa

Props to the local CBS networks for reporting on the Romney “Super Saturdays.”  Here is Channel 3 in North Iowa, KIMT reporting on the voter outreach in Iowa:

The Republican Party is kicking off some intense volunteer efforts leading up to the November 6th elections. It’s called Super Saturday. It’s happening in swing states, including Iowa. Volunteers with the Republican Party are canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors the same way they will right before the election in November. “We’re getting out, we’re knocking on doors, we’re making phone calls, we’re talking to voters,” said volunteer Gabe Haugland. Haugland is one of the volunteers making the rounds in North Iowa. “Super Saturday is in preparation for the Get out the Vote effort in November. We’re testing our operations,” said Haugland.

The goal: To sway undecided voters and encourage people to make their voice heard in November. “I think Iowans expect it. They’re very educated voters, they’re sophisticated, they know the issues and so it’s important to get out and put the facts in their hands,” Haugland said. It’s a campaign strategy volunteers believe can make a big difference. “I think it means something when your neighbor shows up on your doorstep and is able to explain to you why they support Mitt Romney or why they support Steve King. I think that goes a long way, I think it’s really effective,” Haugland said.

The information gathered from Super Saturday will be used to determine things like which areas have the most undecided voters. The data will then help the party decide where to concentrate their future volunteer efforts.

Romney “Super Saturday” in Florida

The local Naples CBS station reports on the Romney “Super Saturday” voter blitz in Florida:

The Romney Campaign is open for business in Collier County. As part of Super Saturday, where 30 local offices in Florida spent the day reaching out to voters, the Republican Headquarters in Naples was transformed into the Romney Campaign office. Collier County has long been Romney Country. The Presumptive Republican Nominee carried Collier with 57% of the vote in this years primary. He also won it four years ago. But Naples Mayor John Sorey, the Honorary Collier County Campaign Chairman, says the former Massachusetts Governor will need a higher percentage that that if the republicans hope to carry the state. “We’re looking to get 70 percent, we want to get the republicans and the independents,” said Sorey, who cut the ribbon outside the office on US 41 in Naples. “It’s critical that we get an overwhelming victory here if we’re going to carry the state of Florida.”

The Obama Campaign has had its Collier County office up and running for the last three months. Republicans say the delay is due to the contested primary. Sorey says the late start shouldn’t make an impact. “If we don’t deliver Florida we’ll lose the election, that’s how critical it is.” The Romney Campaign has more than 30 local offices in Florida with another 20 planned to open before the election.

Romney “Super Saturday” in Michigan

The local CBS Detroit station in Michigan reports on the Romney “Super Saturday” voter blitz  in Michigan:

The Republican National Committee — in conjunction with Romney for President and the Michigan Republican Party — will host four Super Saturday events at Victory offices in Ann Arbor, Livonia, Utica and Bloomfield Hills. These events coincide with Super Saturdays across the country where thousands of Republican volunteers and supporters will make hundreds of thousands of volunteer and voter contacts by knocking on doors and making phone calls. Michigan Republican Party Chairman Bobby Schostak will be on hand at each event to greet and thank supporters and volunteers. The 2012 Victory effort will be one of the largest GOP get-out-the-vote operations in Michigan history, according to the group. The Victory operation is a joint effort between the RNC, Michigan Republican Party, and Romney for President to “elect Republicans up and down the ticket.”

  • Ann Arbor — 10:45 a.m. Location: Washtenaw Victory Office; 4695 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
  • Livonia — 11:45 p.m. Livonia Victory Center; 29635 Plymouth Ave #G140,Livonia, MI 48150
  • Utica — 1:15 p.m. Macomb Victory Center; 13285 Hall Road Suite C125, Utica, MI 48315
  • Bloomfield Hills – 2:15 p.m. Location: Oakland Victory Center; 42611 Woodward Ave, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304