Jamelle Bouie

Tuesday Predictions

270toWin.com
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...

The State of the Swing States

Electoral-Vote.com
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. The Northeast There’s only one swing state in this heavily Democratic region of the country, and that’s New Hampshire , with...

Conservatives to Black People: "Remember Abe Lincoln!"

I’m not sure that this is the most hilarious advertisement of the 2012 election cycle, but it surely comes close: A conservative super PAC called the Empower Citizens Network asks African American voters to abandon President Obama—who, obviously, has failed them—and choose Mitt Romney. Why? Because Romney belongs to the same party as the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln. Here’s the ad: All of these things are true, but they’re also irrelevant to the question of who African Americans should support in 2012. Given Republican hostility to social insurance programs, aid for lower-income Americans, and a general willingness to tolerate anti-black prejudice (see: the continued popularity of figures like Rush Limbaugh), there’s every reason for blacks to continue their support for the Democratic Party and, in particular, President Obama. This ad doesn’t deserve a serious treatment, but—with that said—it is reflective of an attitude that seems common among conservatives, or at least those...

I Can Haz Recovery?

Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie For this month’s jobs report , don’t pay attention to the top-line number. Yes, unemployment increased to 7.9 percent, but that’s because the economy is creating more jobs, and more people are looking for work. Not only did the economy create 171,000 new jobs—beating expectations by a significant amount—but labor-force participation is up, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics added 50,000 more jobs to the total for August (bringing it up to 192,000) and 34,000 to the total for September (bringing it up to 148,000). If this were unusually good—250,000 new jobs, for instance—or unusually bad, then it could have a significant effect on the presidential race. As it stands, it’s just solid, and it won’t bend the needle in one direction or the other. President Obama can cite it as evidence that the economy is moving forward and we need to continue on the current path; Mitt Romney will hammer it as an example of the president’s “failed leadership.” In fact, right on time, that’s...

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. Yes, there are elections where undecided voters broke decisively for the challenger—1980 for Ronald Reagan, 1992 for Bill Clinton. But by and large, undecided voters tend to break evenly, with a slight advantage for the challenger. This past summer, FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver tried to quantify this trend . What he found was that the incumbent party candidate—George H.W. Bush in 1988, or Al Gore in 2000—gains an average of 3.5 points between the September polls and his actual performance on Election Day. The challenger gains slightly more—3.9 points. Among true incumbents, like Obama, the numbers are a little better for...

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.” It’s not hard to see why Kyl—and by extension, the Republican Party—had an interest in Carmona. Just look at his biography: A Puerto Rican raised in Harlem, he dropped out of high school at 16, and shortly after enlisted in the Army. He earned his G.E.D, joined the special forces, fought in the Vietnam War, and received training as a combat medic. He’s received degrees in nursing, biology,...

The Comeback Kids

Six months ago, liberals were preparing for the worst. After a winter of fast growth, the economy had begun to slow down and unemployment had begun to creep back up. Mitt Romney was close behind in the race for the White House, and there was little indication that President Obama could pull ahead and win. And the Senate, a stronghold for Democrats over the last six years, looked vulnerable. For most of the last eighteen months, the conventional wisdom on congressional elections was straightforward: Due to large majorities, Republicans would hold onto their House majority, and bolster it with a slim majority in the Senate. It wasn’t hard to see why; of the 33 contested seats this year, 21 belonged to Democrats and two were held by Independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders. It would be one thing if Democrats were only defending safe seats in blue states; they would be assured of holding the Senate. But the senators up for reelection won their seats in the Democratic wave of 2006. As...

Will President Romney Chart a Moderate Course?

I raised my eyebrows a little when I saw this story from Politico ’s Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin on how Mitt Romney would conduct the first months of his presidency: Top Romney aides say they have studied the opening months and moves by President George W. Bush and President Obama, and are building a government designed to avoid their mistakes. Shortly after the Nov. 6 election, for instance, a President-elect Romney would begin reaching out to House and Senate Democrats for discussions about challenges facing the economy as the opening step in trying to figure out a grand bargain. It’s worth taking a quick look at the actual history of the Obama administration. Team Obama sought Republican input and support for the stimulus, and congressional Republicans denied it, as part of a deliberate strategy articulated by GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor. As Michael Grunwald details in The New New Deal , the GOP had become the “Party of No,” and they were going to stand in...

Is the Democratic Party Too Diverse?

Writing for The Daily Beast , John Avalon makes an odd complaint about the Obama campaign and the Democratic Party writ large—that they're focusing too much on attracting non-white voters. To be fair, the bulk of the column is devoted to explaining the dangers of a strategy that relies on high turnout and support from African Americans and Latinos; if Obama underperforms with those voters in states like Colorado and Virginia, he will have considerably narrowed his path to reelection. But the alternative, greater appeal to white voters—and particularly working-class whites—just isn’t tenable. No Democratic nominee has won a majority of the white vote since 1964. Indeed, at this point, it's good if Democrats manage a moderate plurality of the white vote—Obama will be doing well if he captures 40 percent. There are a variety of reasons for this—for one, ethnocentrism among white voters drives skepticism for government programs—but the result is the same: Democrats consistently struggle...

Virginia Is Still a Toss-Up—and Romney Should Be Worried

In my dispatch from Virginia Beach, I wrote that the state was a toss-up: At the time, President Obama was tied with Mitt Romney at 47.4 percent, down from 48.5 percent before the first presidential debate. In recent days, however, Obama’s star in the commonwealth has brightened, if only by a little bit. The last ten polls, stretching back to the middle of the month, after the vice presidential debate, show a small move in Obama’s direction: Virginia, 10/14 - 10/24 Pollster Obama Romney Margin Public Policy Polling (D) 51 46 O+5 Zogby 49 46 O+3 Mellman Group (D) 46 45 O+1 Wenzel Strategies (R) 47.1 49.2 R+2.1 Public Policy Polling (D) 49 47 O+2 Rasmussen 47 50 R+3 Old Dominion University 50 43 O+7 Public Policy Polling (D) 49 48 O+1 Pulse Opinion Research 47 46 O+1 American Research Group 47 48 R+1 Average 48.2 46.8 O+1.4 The most recent poll comes from Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling, which shows Obama with a five-point lead and strong performance with women (57–41),...

Why Obama Has an Ad Advantage

One thing overlooked in discussions of campaign fundraising is who controls the money. Over the summer, Team Romney raised enormous sums, but large portions of it were either for affiliated super PACs or the Republican National Committee. The upside for the Romney campaign is that they had many different ways of raising money. But there was a big downside as well: Television ads—one of the largest line items for any campaign—were more expensive as a result. Under federal election law, campaign committees qualify for lower advertising rates than either party committees or independent groups. In practical terms, this makes ad spending more expensive for Romney than Obama. Given the limited effectiveness of advertising—even good ads lose their power within days of airing—this difference can become an important tactical advantage in the waning days of a campaign, when both sides are trying to influence as many voters as possible. Indeed, this is exactly what we’re looking at: As a recent...

Why Richard Mourdock Matters for the Presidential Election

Richard Mourdock, the GOP candidate for Senate in Indiana, has joined the growing ranks of Republican men who openly oppose “rape and incest” exceptions in anti-abortion laws. For Mourdock, the reasoning is straightforward—every life is a “gift from God.” Here’s the full quote: “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said at a debate. “And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” That Mourdock is not a victim of rape or incest—and biologically unable to become pregnant—seems not to have factored into his “struggle” on the issue. That aside, there’s nothing surprising about Mourdock’s view. It was echoed in Todd Akin’s now-infamous statement about “legitimate rape,” and Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh’s claim that no woman would ever need an abortion to save her life. It forms the basis for bills like the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which would grant...

Let's Hold Off on the Champagne, Team Romney

One way to win any close contest is to project an aura of confidence. This is exactly what we’re seeing right now from the Romney campaign. From Politico , you have a campaign advisor declaring that Mitt Romney would win 305 electoral votes on Election Day. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell says that he has a “permanent sustainable” lead, and Romney strategist Stewart Stevens declared that “The majority of Americans don’t want to vote for Barack Obama.” The spin here is dizzying, and unfortunately, political journalists—and not just at Politico —seem to be buying it. In his debate analysis, for example, ABC’s Rick Klein declared that “Mitt Romney may have done more to actually boost his chances of being elected.” Chris Cilizza maintains that Romney is still rising in the polls, and a whole host of Republicans outside the Romney campaign have declared the race over for Barack Obama. The polls paint a different picture. A quick glance shows a race that has stabilized, and begun to shift...

Are Pollsters Undercounting Latinos?

In the most recent national poll from Monmouth University, Mitt Romney leads President Obama by three points, 48 percent to 45 percent. If you dip into the internals, however, you’ll see something odd: Obama has a small six-point advantage over Latinos, 48 percent to 42 percent. What’s unusual about this is that it runs counter to every other survey of Latino voters, which—on average—show Obama with a 48.4 percent lead over Romney among the group. It’s possible that Monmouth’s result won’t matter much for the accuracy of the topline number—because of small sample sizes for particular groups of voters, a poll can still be accurate, even if it has an unusual demographic breakdown. But there’s room for disagreement, and as Matt Barreto explains in a must-read post at the Latino Decisions blog, this missampling of Latino (and African American) voters could have a hugely distortionary effect on perceptions of the presidential race. He explains: Let’s examine how these faulty Latino numbers...

Bellwether by the Sea

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Jamelle Bouie This is part two of the Prospect ’s weeklong series on the swing districts that could determine the national outcome on November 6. I n a tiny Virginia Beach office belonging to Scott Rigell, an auto dealer who swept into Congress on the 2010 Tea Party Republican wave and is running for re-election, volunteers for Mitt Romney gather for a morning of voter outreach. Dunkin Donuts and coffee are available for those interested—namely, kids there to help their parents. “Vaaah Beach” (as its known to locals) is my hometown, but I’m unfamiliar with this particular neighborhood, a development of McMansions in a wealthy area called Bayside, since it’s 20 miles north of Pungo, the rural patch of town where I went to high school. Yes, 20 miles. One of the odd things about Virginia Beach is its vast size. Located in the southeast corner of Virginia and part of the larger metropolitan region called Hampton Roads, it touches the ship-building city of Norfolk and the mouth of the...

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