Vox Pop

The Prospect's politics blog

Fri, Nov. 02 Electoral Vote Predictor

Both Candidates Back on the Campaign Trail

After an awkward pause due to Hurricane Sandy, both President Obama and Mitt Romney are back where they belong--at each others' throats. Obama campaigned in Wisconsin and Romney was in Virginia yesterday, In the final 100 hours, Obama is planning to visit three states a day from now on. In practice, that means he'll spend almost the entire day in the air on the phone. Romney has said he will make a push to win Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania, but the proof of the pudding will be in seeing how much time he spends visiting those states.

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No He Didn't!

Apparently we don’t need to wait five days to find out who’ll be president for the next four years. All we need to do is check out, say, The Boston Herald, for a headline confidently proclaiming: “Romney set to win, maybe by a mile.” Or National Review Online, where we learn that “the size of Romney’s victory could be the biggest surprise of all.” Or The Wall Street Journal, where that most disinterested of political observers, Karl Rove, proclaims: “It comes down to numbers. And in the final days of this presidential race, from polling data to early voting, they favor Mitt Romney.” Then there’s The Hill, where Dick Morris prophecies, “Here comes the landslide.” And if we still have any lingering doubts—or fanciful hopes for President Obama—they will be shattered by UnSkewedPolls.com, which has “The Updated Definitive Projection of the race: Romney wins 54 percent and 359 EVs.”

Heckuva Job, Barry

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Although some may find it crass to speculate on the political impact of The Storm, I'm going to go ahead and do it, for two reasons. First, I've earned the right, and second, because complaints that things are "politicized" are almost always misconceived. Politics is important. It concerns choices that affect all our lives. And campaigns ought to be connected to the actual business of governing, so when an event occurs that implicates our government, it should be perfectly fine to talk about it. Problems sometimes arise not from the fact that something is politicized, but the way it's politicized. For instance, when in the 2002 election, Republicans charged that Democrats were on the side of al Qaeda because those Democrats favored a different bill establishing the Department of Homeland Security than the bill Republicans favored, it was despicable not because September 11 had been "politicized," but because of the manner in which it was politicized.

Anyhow, back to the storm. This morning, an editor at the Prospect suggested to me that if Romney loses, Republicans will say bitterly for some time to come that had it not been for the storm, his momentum would have carried him to victory. I don't doubt they will say that (although I think that will be what the sober Republicans will say; the others will find voting conspiracies to convince them that he didn't legitimately win). But the question is, even if they were right, what's wrong with that?

How to Poll

California’s venerable Field Poll released the first in its final series of pre-election polls today, and in the process provided a wonderful example to all its fellow pollsters. At a moment when a number of polls have come under criticism for not employing interviewers who can speak Spanish, the Field Poll responded to California’s growing diversity by conducting its interviews in English and Spanish—and Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Vietnamese. The funding for these Asian-language interviews was provided by New American Media, which itself had received a grant for this project from the San Francisco Foundation.

Seven State-Level Races to Watch

Quick—who's your state legislator? If you're like most people, you have no idea. (If you do know, well la-dee-da!)

State legislative races don't usually get much attention, and in a big presidential year, they're lucky to get any. But who runs the legislature is crucial in setting policy. Two years ago, when Tea Party fervor swept across the nation, Republicans knocked Democrats out of power in 21 state House and Senate chambers. Twenty states had Republicans in charge of the Senate, House, and governor's mansion concurrently. The impact was swift. These new majorities slashed social programs and weakened reproductive rights. They passed new voter-ID laws and anti-union measures. 

Thu, Nov. 01 Electoral Vote Predictor

New Batch of Polls Welcome News for Obama

A new batch of polls released yesterday (see below for the numbers) spells good news for President Obama. With Obama leading in Wisconsin by 5-8 points, it looks like Paul Ryan has failed to do the running mate's main job: bring in your home state. In Ohio, four new polls show Obama leading by an average of 3.8%. Obama is also leading in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. Two of the three polls put him ahead in Virginia and he is essentially tied in Florida and Colorado. It appears that Romney's post-debate momentum has now stopped, If the current numbers continue to hold over the weekend, the popular vote could be close but Obama is likely to win the electoral college because he needs to win only a few of the big swing states whereas Romney needs to win them all.

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Ohio's Brown Revolution


United States Senator Sherrod Brown is wearing Velcro strap sneakers. They are distinctly geriatric in flavor, black and sturdy-looking, the sort that might be found in the “Mall Walking” section of the shoe wall at FootLocker. Brown is wearing them with a suit. On stage. At a big Teamsters rally a couple of weeks before Election Day. 

Say what you will about Brown—and plenty has been said about the liberal bête noire of national conservatives during this election cycle—but the man certainly has his own distinct brand of business casual. And in his fierce race to maintain his Senate seat against Republican State Treasurer Josh Mandel, it just might be Brown’s brand of who-gives-a-hoot sartorial schlump and off-the-cuff crankiness that is winning Ohio voters over. 

Show Us Your Model

Nate Silver's latest electoral projection.

It might be easy to believe we're approaching Peak Trutherism, what with good old-fashioned birthers now being supplemented by BLS truthers and poll truthers. But just you wait—should Barack Obama win this election, we'll see an explosion of election trutherism that will be truly unprecedented in scope. In the meantime, we can content ourselves with the newest variant, Nate Silver trutherism, which isn't coming just from conservatives.

Mitt's Parallel Universe

Last week, when the campaign was still trying to project momentum, Mitt Romney promised to close his campaign with “big ideas”: plans for jump-starting the economy, reducing the debt, and giving every American a pony. Of course, little of this was credible: Analysts have debunked Romney’s jobs plan (which simply takes credit for jobs that would have been created anyway), challenged his tax plan (doesn't add up), and noted the extent to which his proposals for tax cuts and higher military spending would explode the deficit. (The pony proposal has gone unscored, however.)

Will Undecided Voters Break Overwhelmingly to Romney?

One piece of zombie conventional wisdom—it comes up every election—is the idea that undecided voters will always break for the challenger. It’s what gives hope to Republicans in this race, who assume that the last-minute decisions of undecided voters will push Mitt Romney to the top. Unfortunately for Republicans, there just isn’t much evidence for this assertion.

Power and Privilege in the Workplace


Today, Adele Stan uncovers another example of a big employer trying to bully their employees into voting for Mitt Romney. We've seen a number of these stories in the last few weeks, as one company after another sends out notices to their workers saying, Hey, we're not telling you whom to vote for or anything, but if that socialist Barack Obama gets elected, we might have to fire you. The twist in this case is that the company, home improvement retailer Menards, is using an online "civics" course as its means of persuasion. Employees who take the "voluntary" (which means you don't have to take it, but your bosses are keeping account of who did and who didn't) course are fed a bucket of anti-Obama propaganda.

As this kind of thing becomes more common, there are a couple of things to remember.

Richard Carmona, Centrist Avenger

United States Department of Health and Human Services

This is the first in a Prospect series on key U.S. Senate races.

Richard Carmona might be new to campaigning, but he’s not exactly new to politics. In 2005, he was a recruiting target for Republican Senator Jon Kyl and his ally in the statehouse, then-secretary of state Jan Brewer. Phone calls were made, meetings were held, and Kyl even sent Carmona a handwritten note on his personal letterhead: “For someone who’s ‘not so political’ you sure leave an audience in awe,” Kyl wrote. “Thanks for all you did for me in Phoenix last week. I look forward to continuing our discussion at your convenience.”

Bubba Turns on the Charm in Colorado

(AP Photo/Ed Andrieski)

By the time President Bill Clinton walked into the gym at Adams City High School in Commerce City, Colorado, the crowd was ready. Just before 6 p.m., the former president entered the stage; the students and faculty soaked him with wild applause, bringing out the familiar Clinton smile that feeds on such adoration. He thanked the school’s principal and superintendent, cracked a few jokes about being on the campaign trail, then turned serious. “I am more enthusiastic about President Obama this time than I was when I campaigned for him four years ago,” he said. “I’d like to tell you why.”

Chris Christie's Sly, Futile Move

(Flickr/New Jersey National Guard)

Once again, Barack Obama has proven to be the luckiest politician alive.

Just when the race was tightening to a dead heat in the election’s closing days, one spectacular betrayal and one rank miscalculation on the Republican side have turned the contest back in Obama’s favor.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will tour his storm-ravaged state today with President Obama, was all over the networks Tuesday telling what a wonderful leader his president was.

“I spoke to the president three times yesterday,” Christie boasted, calling Obama “outstanding.” When Fox co-host Steve Doocy meekly asked Christie if he planned any events with Romney, Christie snarkily replied, “I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested.”

Romney's Continent-Crossing Coattails

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Shimon Peres, just 89 years young, is under pressure "from politicians and ex-generals" to run again for prime minister of Israel against Benjamin Netanyahu, or so say unsourced news reports. Peres, in politics since the time of King David or at least of FDR, denies he'll give up his ceremonial post as Israel's president for another run. Ex-prime minister Ehud Olmert, according to other unreliable reports, awaits the outcome of the U.S. election before deciding whether he'll return to politics in a bid to unite Israel's fragmented center and left and save the country from Netanyahu.