Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Say Hello to President Romney

(270toWin.com)

For those of us who think Barack Obama will win re-election tomorrow, the weight of evidence is on our side. The most recent national polls—from Pew, NBC News, CBS News, YouGov, and ABC News—show the president with a slight lead over Mitt Romney. Obama holds leads by greater than two points in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nevada—the states that give him 271 electoral votes—and he's just as ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Like I said in my prediction yesterday, if you gave Obama every state where he held a lead, he would win with 303 electoral votes. It’s no wonder that the election forecasters—Nate Silver, Sam Wang, Drew Linzer—place Obama’s probability of winning in the 85 percent to 90 percent range: Barring a huge Obama bias in the polling, the president is virtually certain to be re-elected.

With that said, life isn’t as predictable as we’d like to believe, and anything can happen. It is possible that the pollsters have failed—or at least, are missing something important in the electorate. If that’s the case, Obama’s victory isn’t as certain as it looks. Put another way, even at this late stage, a Romney victory is still possible.

GIF Out the Vote

Sarah Palin abandons her bus tour after no one pays attention.

The President as Metaphor

(Flickr/Adam Jones)

Character is destiny, said the Greek philosopher Heraclites—a romantic, maybe, since the implication is that sooner or later the good guy wins. It’s probably a character flaw on my part, indicative of smugness, to assume this maxim will be tested tomorrow on Election Day in terms of both the two presidential candidates running and the country itself. Such an assumption implies that the good guy’s identity is evident. This may not be the first time in our lives when a national election is about nothing less than the meaning of America. More than 1968 or 1932, however, the views and values of both sides are so distinctly different that what’s unsettling isn’t each side believing the other represents the forces of darkness and that the future of the country is at stake; everybody believes these things during a heated campaign. What’s unsettling is that, for once, these things may be true. This is what makes tomorrow such a dreadful crossroads and what makes after tomorrow such an inevitably daunting path.

Why the Romney Campaign Screwed Up

Mitt Romney's last-minute screw-up.

In the last week or so, Mitt Romney has accused Barack Obama of focusing his campaign on "small things," but let's be honest—at this point, everybody is focused on small things. And these small things are unlikely to make much of a difference with so little time left. Which is why it was so odd to see the Romney campaign stumble so badly with attack about Jeeps being built in China. How did they manage to take a criticism that would likely have just glanced off Obama anyway, and turn it into something that not only had everyone talking about Obama's best case to Ohio voters (the auto bailout), but also made Romney look cynical and dishonest?

Here's what I think happened. They heard the first, somewhat unclear report that Chrysler was going to be manufacturing Jeeps in China, without quite understanding what it meant, namely that they will be making them for the Chinese market (because of Chinese tarriffs, Chrysler would only be able to sell the Jeeps there if they make them there). By the time they figured out all the facts, Romney had already mentioned it on the stump, saying inaccurately that the company was "thinking of moving all production to China." So the campaign probably figured, we can still use this to try to discredit the bailout, we'll just be careful about the words we use.

And that's where they didn't quite grasp the implications of what they were doing...

Sorry Women, Blacks, Latinos, and Young People—You Don't Count

Jamelle Bouie

It goes without question that, if President Obama wins reelection, he will have done so with one of the most diverse coalitions ever assembled by a major party nominee. He will have won large majorities of women, young people, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.

Tuesday Predictions

270toWin.com

If you read yesterday’s look at the swing states, you’ll have a good sense of how I think this election will end on Tuesday. In short, President Obama will win reelection and keep every state where he currently holds a lead. It looks like Obama will lose around 2.5 points from his national vote share in 2008.

This is a bit crude, but if you subtract that from his 2008 totals in every swing state, you end up with this map, and my prediction for November 6: An Obama win in New Hampshire, Virginia, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada, with Romney wins in North Carolina and Florida. That means the president claims 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 235, and he ekes out a popular-vote victory of 50.4 percent to Romney’s 48.2.

How do I figure all that? Averaging the polling averages, Obama holds greater than 2-point leads in Nevada, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and New Hampshire. Unless something catastrophic happens between now and Tuesday, it’s safe to say he’ll keep them. Likewise, Romney holds a greater than 2-point lead in North Carolina and a slight advantage in Florida. I’m not sure how the latter will turn out, but my hunch is that Romney will be able to hold it.

Sun, Nov. 04 Electoral Vote Predictor

(Flickr/Steve Garfield)

Obama Appears to Have Momentum

A new PPP poll released late yesterday has President Obama leading Mitt Romney 50 percent to 47 percent nationally. This is the first lead of 3 points either candidate has had for weeks. Obama led in all three days of the poll (Nov. 1-3). His approval rating is now positive (48 percent to 47 ercent). A week ago PPP found him to be deep under water (44 percent to 52 percent) so this is a 9-point gain in a week for Obama.

Other recent national polls show it to be closer. Both the WaPo/ABC and Rasmussen national tracking polls released yesterday show the race to be tied at 48 percent apiece.

Click here for full story

Four Things to Look for at the Polls on Election Day

(Flickr/seanmcmenemy)

Earlier this year, the outlook for voting rights was downright terrifying. Across the country, Republican legislatures had passed strict voter-ID laws, which reports showed could disenfranchise millions of voters. The political motives were clear: The people most likely to be without ID are poor and of color—groups that tend to vote for Democrats. By the summer, there was another threat to voter participation: purges of voter rolls.

Can Unions Stop Romney?

(Flickr/Steve Rhodes)

Labor started early this year. America’s most politically active union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), first deployed staffers to Ohio and key battleground states in March, says SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, with whom I spoke by phone on Saturday afternoon as she walked precincts in Cleveland.

The State of the Swing States

Electoral-Vote.com

With only three days left, where does the race stand in the nine swing states that will determine the election? The best way to figure this out is to focus on the polling averages calculated for each state. There has been a torrent of polls released in the last two weeks, and—collectively, never individually—they give us an accurate picture. Rather than use one average, we’ll average all of the averages—from Real Clear Politics, Pollster, Talking Points Memo, and FiveThirtyEight—in order to get the fullest picture. Since the swing states are divided into four regions—Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Southwest, we’ll tackle them in that order.

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s unusual—if not rare—for candidates to lose states where they lead by two points or more this close to Election Day. It can happen, but it’s far from likely.

Will Massachusetts Voters Legalize Assisted Suicide?

This is the ninth in the Prospect's series on the 174 measures on state ballots this year.

Six years ago, Mesfin Nega was attacked outside a nightclub. He suffered a broken neck and a damaged spinal cord that transformed the previously healthy 32-year-old into a quadriplegic. As The Washington Post later reported, Nega had made a pact with his friend Shimelis Yegazu: If one were ever to suffer an injury that required him to be connected to life-sustaining equipment, the other would take it upon himself to disconnect the equipment. Nega and Yegazu made the news last week when Yegazu followed through with this pact, administering a lethal dose of phenobarbital to Nega, and then taking a fatal dose himself.

In Nevada, Will Demographics Trump Ethics?

(AP Photo/Nevada Appeal, Chad Lundquist)

If Democrat Rep. Shelley Berkley still has a shot at ousting Republican Dean Heller from one of Nevada’s two senatorial seats next Tuesday, she should get none of the credit. Mired in scandal, under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, Berkley shouldn’t have a prayer in next week’s election. Yet she does—because Nevada’s burgeoning Latino population is moving the state leftward, because Heller trumpets his anti-immigrant stance, and because Barack Obama and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both have fearsome get-out-the-voter operations in the state that will get those Latinos to the polls.

The Nevada race is one of five senatorial contests this year in which the Democrats have a chance to flip a seat that’s currently Republican. (The other four are in Maine, Massachusetts, Indiana, and Arizona.) At the top of the ticket, Obama is the clear favorite to carry the state, notwithstanding Nevada’s highest-in-the-nation unemployment rate. Despite Obama’s lead, though, Berkeley has trailed Heller in ten of the 11 October polls on Talking Points Memo’s Polltracker web page, while tying in just one (a PPP poll completed on October 24.) She lags Heller by a 46-40 margin in the most recent Survey USA poll, taken on October 27 and 28 (the same poll gave Obama a four-point lead over Mitt Romney). Could it be that all those polls are wrong?

Sandy, Why Are You So Blue?

(Flickr/ds_leeter/NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

For all the speculation about the effect of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath on the election, one important aspect has gotten surprisingly little attention: How many people will be unable to vote because of power outages, floods, and impaired transportation systems? How many will be deterred from voting because they are dealing with serious dislocations in their lives? And what new forms of Republican mischief will all this invite?

Other things being equal, President Obama seems to have been the winner so far because of his impressive handling of the crisis. Chris Christie surely helped on the image front.

America's Dumbest Voters

As the Prospect’s Jamelle Bouie noted earlier today, the most ludicrous ad of the election cycle has to be the latest from the conservative super PAC, Empower Citizens Network, that tries to sway African American voters to the GOP by pointing out that Abraham Lincoln was a member of the party. But that’s not all! Republicans also founded the NAACP, the ad informs us, and they voted for the Civil Rights Act.

Wisconsin's Red-State Scare

(Flickr/James Morey)

On a rainy Sunday night in Madison, Wisconsin, 30 energized volunteers turned out at the Democratic headquarters on State Street to register University of Wisconsin students to vote. Tammy Baldwin, sporting a magenta blazer, milled about, chatting with the constituents she represents in the U.S. House. Come January, she'll either be out of Congress or representing a larger swath of the state in the U.S. Senate.

Facing former four-term Republican Governor Tommy Thompson, Baldwin is locked in one of the closest Senate races in the country. Most recent polls have her favored by a slim margin, with Real Clear Politics' average putting her up by just 0.3 percent. It's been a brutal few years for Democrats in Wisconsin. The state elected and re-elected one of the nation's most right-wing governors, launched Paul Ryan into the national spotlight, and voted out progressive icon Russ Feingold. If Baldwin wins, though, she will disprove conservatives' claims that Wisconsin is no longer a bastion for progressive politics.

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