Posts Tagged ‘Election 2012’

Barack Obama

Change that America still appearently believes in. Will you welcome, please, Ladies and Gentlemen, the next President of the United States, Barack Obama. (Wellthatswhatwethink, anyhow.)

So. Well. Here it is. This is where the rubber hits the road.

After months – nay years – of fulminating and opinionising (great word, huh?) on the likely result of the 2012 Presidential election, this is now our considered view of what will happen tomorrow, so we can be hung out to dry or lauded as geniuses, when the actual results are known.

It’s currently about 9.00 am on Monday on the east coast of America. It is reasonable to assume that the various party managers will not allow anything much to affect the overall outcome now.

What matters now is trends, and the trends are heading Obama’s way, strongly during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and gently now, the waters are pretty much stagant. The electorate has politics exhaustion.

We are gliding to a predictable result, unless everyone polled by everybody has been lying through their teeth – which is, it has to be said, entirely possible.

State by state, we tell you what will happen

We give the key battleground state of Ohio to Obama. Primary reason – the stimulus. Whether or not one agrees with it and its targeting, it shored up hundreds of thousands jobs in the state directly or indirectly. People simply won’t forget – well, enough people won’t forget. What’s more, recent growth in the energy sector (amongst others) in the state actually has its unemployment level comfortably below the national average. No Republican candidate has ever found a way to the White House without Ohio in the bag, and the latest RCP rolling average has it +2.9 for Obama.

More importantly, it has been for Obama to one degree or another in every poll since 23rd October. The ground campaign has also been very effective for the President in the seat. Obama only won it by 4.6% in 2008, and there is unquestionably less enthusiasm for him this time than last time, and – yes – the Republican ground campaign is better organised there than ever before. Nevertheless, it is the trend to Obama that interests us. So – Ohio goes for Obama.

Although it is tightening, we give the other huge and vital battleground state of Florida to Romney.

Both sides have poured work into there, but in my view the state is gradually becoming more conservative, not less, and the Obama campaign have failed to reassure the elderly on Obamacare, or frighten them enough on the vouchers for Medicare issue. Also, the strong Jewish vote may be less than enthusiastic about Obama’s obviously less aggressive attitude to Arab states in the Middle East, and less than cheerful embrace of Benjamin Netanyahu. On the other hand, the large Latino vote is breaking strongly for Obama.

In the end, barring seeing precinct by precinct pre-polling data, it’s a gut call. I have always thought in a tight race that Obama would lose Florida, and I see no reason, even though Romney is currently only 1.4% ahead, to change my mind, especially as he has been so consistently for a while now. What’s more, just watching Obama adviser David Axelrod on TV, (and I consider myself a good judge of body language and facial expression) he looked utterly convincing when he called Ohio for his team, and a lot less so when he spoke of “good reports” from the southern state. So – Florida for Romney.

(What will also be interesting in Florida is when it “declares”. If it is early, and it is for Romney, it will be treated as bigger news than frankly one thinks it should be. For that reason, I expect multiple challenges and recounts all over the state from the Democrats, some of them frivolous, to delay the result here being published or assumed with any certainty, until Ohio, where a very high percentage of ballots have already been cast, declares for the President.)

The next key state to consider is Virginia. I have long been of the view that Virginia will go for Romney, largely because of the military influence, and also because it is essentially a safe “red” state, giving Bush the Younger wins by plus 8% twice in a row before the Obama bandwagon rolled through in 2008.

Yet it is now possibly the most fascinating contest of the lot, as it stays stubbornly in the “too close to call” camp, with Obama leading by just 0.2% in the rolling average of the polls.

The interesting thing here is that the trend is now firmly towards Obama, and the growth of younger, affluent voters now living in the state and commuting elsewhere is supposed to aid him. What’s more, Axelrod (whose face is usually very revealing, so I really don’t know why the Obama camp puts him up on TV, personally) almost jumped out of his chair with obvious delight when he claimed that he was thinking Obama would win there, and I thought he looked completely sincere.

Another interesting factor is that except for two tiny blips (around the first disastrous debate for Obama) Romney has trailed by a substantial factor in the state since February. Then again, that could be said of many places around the nation. But after agonised consideration I am going to go against the current opinion trends and say that I think Romney will win Virginia – just. So that’s another 13 votes for the Republicans in the electoral college, and although its near neighbour North Carolina has often been considered to be in play I think that’s solidified for the Governor too; he’s up round about 3-4%, here so make that another 15 votes for Romney.

But there I really believe the good news for Romney ends. Of the other toss up states I honestly only think he has a chance in Colorado, where Obama is leading by about half a percentage point, having won it by 9% last time. Here again, though, the trend has recently been away from Romney and towards Obama. Obama is starting to look like a winner, and that all-important oh-so-elusive “Big Mo” or momentum becomes vitally important in very tight races. Also, for a state to go plus 9% to negative is a hell of a leap, even with an unpopular Presidential incumbent. I would say Obama’s loss over his 2008 performance will – overall – be in the region of 6-8%, although in a couple of states it may go as high as 10%.

On that basis Colorado is line ball, (9 electoral college votes) and so, looking westward, is Nevada (six votes).

But, and perhaps crucially, it’s worth noting that Colorado is two hours behind the Eastern seaboard, and Nevada three hours. Exit polls will slam onto the airwaves giving Florida to Romney and Ohio to Obama within seconds of the eastern polls closing.

This will have two effects in the swing states of Colorado and Nevada. Firstly, it will call the race as close and encourage late voters and those intending to vote on the way home to actually do so. And the higher the turnout, the more the Obama camp will like it. Second, it will demoralise some Republicans and boost Democrats, because the prevailing commentators mantra (except on Fox News) will be “Romney can’t win without Ohio, it’s all over bar the shouting”.

And if that sounds as if it is contradictory (on the one hand calling the race as close, and on the other calling it as a likely Obama victory) the two effects do not actually cancel each other out.

Why? Well, people like being on the winning side: so a small but significant number of possible Obama voters will be persuaded to jump on the winning ship.

People also like being in a close race and thinking their vote matters – but the effect is stronger with unenthusiastic voters who might otherwise stay home. So that factor – a close race – will, I believe, be marginally more effective for the Democrats than the GOP.

So: I give both these states, with some degree of nervousness, to Obama. But I freely admit I might be wrong. The effort going into local Senate and other races will matter, and certainly in Colorado I think those are leaning to the GOP. Who’d be a poll predictor, eh?

But after that small caveat, I frankly consider Romney is toast.

I remain to be convinced otherwise, but I simply do not see any of New Hampshire, Michigan – for heaven’s sake, the state only still exists as a going concern thanks to Obama’s largesse – Wisconsin or Pennsylvania (despite much huff and puff about the latter by the right, desperately trying to offset a loss in Ohio) being in play any more.

NH voters are notoriously independent. They will have been impressed by Obama’s efforts over the “superstorm”, and warmed to him very late. (This state always decides late, anyhow.) Four more votes for Obama.

Wisconsin is more problematical but the figures look like it is following its neighbours in reluctantly holding its nose and giving the President from the big smoke over their border another chance. Ten in Obama’s column.

Pennsylvania is a biggie – 20 electoral college votes – but in my view it is simply too urbanised, overall, to fall to the Republicans. With the exception of one poll (a tie) it has been in plus territory for Obama since the 21st October, and currently by nearly 4%, and if, for example, I give Florida to Romney on the basis that the trend has comfortably been his way for a while (which is one of the other reasons I like him there) then it seems logical to give Pennsylvania, despite a new TV buy by the GOP, to Obama.

And any talk, in my opinion, that Iowa (6 votes), Minnesota (10 votes) or Oregon (7 votes) are in play for Romney is purely fanciful. And beyond that, the latest margins reported by polls in other states are all so large as to make any late changes in their likely result impossible.

The what if game

But let’s play a game. Let’s pretend I am allowing my pro-Democrat rose-tinted glasses to cloud my independent commentator judgement, and let’s give everything that’s called a toss up to Romney except, say, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which I really do think are so solid for the President now that it would be pointless messing around with them.

I call this the “Crazy Game Scenario”

Let’s give Romney all of Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oregon. It’s highly unlikely, of course, that every single swing state listed would flop into the Romney column, but not literally impossible. On that basis, Romney/Ryan actually win by 280-258.

But remember, as at today the polls have Obama leading in Virginia, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota and Oregon. It would be an earthquake for the Republicans to win this way.

The “Best Revenge Is Voting Scenario”

Let’s give Florida, Virginia – yes, still – and North Carolina to Romney, and Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Hampshire, Nevada, Iowa, Minnesota and Oregon to Obama. Under this scenario (which on current polling is at the very least “likely”) then this gives the race to Obama by 290 to 248, a Democrat majority in the electoral college of 42.

If by some remarkable result Axelrod’s confidence is well founded and Obama takes Virginia as well, then the math becomes Obama 303 Romney 235, or a majority of 68. This is also conceivable. And there’s a lot of people around who think it’s becoming likely as we are about to see.

If I was a betting man – which I am – I’d therefore be having a close look at an Obama victory in the region of 20-42 electoral college votes, and probably nearer the upper end of that spread.

If you feel like having apunt, then these two options are currently offered at 7-2 (270-289 electoral college votes) and 5-2 (290-309 electoral college votes) respectively on Ladbrokes (UK), for example, so one could take both bets and still end up ahead. But you can do better with tighter spreads – for example, you can get 6-1 around the traps for 281-290 electoral college votes if you hunt. Oddschecker.com might be helpful.

As these figures reflect actual money being invested by people who are studying the runes and placing often substantial sums on as a result of their research, they are historically often better indicators of likely outcomes than anything else.

Interestingly there has obviously been substantial money on a big Obama win – garnering as many 330-349 electoral college votes – as the odds I have spotted are miserly, just 3-1.

You can also get a little worse than even money, 5/6, on Obama getting under 304 electoral college votes. That might be a smart bet if you can afford to put enough on it to make an even money bet worthwhile.

I can tell you that looking around the betting websites, I see the bookies have the Democrats favourites in Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, and even Virginia. They are such strong favourites in New Hampshire, Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada and Iowa that they aren’t worth a bet. The smart money currently has Romney winning Florida – just.

Some serious money has gone down on some sites for a Democrat win in Virginia. Ditto, they are almost unbackable in Pennsylvania, which is supposed to be the state that is rescuing Romney’s ass. Er, not.

Overall, the Democrats are almost an un-backable favourite, both to win the Presidency and the popular vote.

OK, so that’s about it.

As I have said consistently for six months, Obama will win, probably about 40 electoral votes ahead, maybe as little as 20 (unlikely) maybe as high as 60-70 ahead (unlikely, but possible).

Oh, and as I have said elsewhere, I haven’t got an election result in the USA, UK, or Australia wrong in over 35 years. (This of course means it is certain I have got this one way wrong, I guess!) But I take no responsibility whatsoever for you losing your shirt on the result, whatever it is.

In short: all care, no responsibility, people.

Enjoy watching the results flow in. Come Wednesday, we can all get back to talking about the football.

Katy Perry performs at a campaign rally for US President Barack Obama in a rubber dress …. phew. Then again, Romney has, er, Meat Loaf on his team.

From AFP and others

President Barack Obama and rival Mitt Romney darted across the United States Saturday in an 11th-hour blitz, with the close White House battle heading to an ill-tempered climax.

Sharp political arrows flew much as they have throughout the bitter, months-long battle between the two parties’ flag-bearers, but the rivals also turned to soaring rhetoric as they made their closing arguments.

Three days before voters choose between giving Obama a second term or sending him back to Chicago, the rivals chased one another through a handful of states that will decide Tuesday’s too-close-to-call election.

The president dashed from small rural towns in Ohio to the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for a larger rally with a big, rowdy crowd in a conference center.

He also heads to Iowa and then Virginia, two of the eight or so battlegrounds that the campaigns are obsessing over in the final 72 hours of the race. Romney spent the day in New Hampshire, Iowa and Colorado.

Gratuitous extra photo of Katy Perry. Um, well, look. She just makes Obama look better than ever, OK?

Obama’s applause lines were greeted with lusty cheers, and chants of “four more years” from a crowd, put at 20,000 by Milwaukee event officials, warmed up before Obama’s arrival by pop star Katy Perry.

“As long as there is a child in any place in Milwaukee, any place in Wisconsin, any place in this country, who is languishing in poverty and barred from opportunity, our fight goes on,” Obama said,.

“Our fight goes on because America has always done best when everybody has got a fair shot,” he added, pushing his populist economic message.

Obama also hit out at what he says is Romney’s effort to roll back the clock to the days when Wall Street had “free rein to do whatever” it liked, contributing to “an economic crisis that we’re still cleaning our way out of.”

“And governor Romney now is a very talented salesman,” Obama added. “So in this campaign, he is trying as hard as he can to repackage the same old ideas that didn’t work and offer them up as change.”

Wisconsin had been considered safe Democratic territory, but a combination of a resurgent Republican Party, waning enthusiasm for Obama and home state hero Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate has tightened the race.

The latest RealClearPolitics average of state polls has Obama leading in Wisconsin by 5.4 percent.

Romney began his day in New Hampshire, which has only four of the 270 electoral votes needed to claim the White House but could punch above its weight in a tight finish, and accused Obama of “demonizing” political foes.

“I won’t represent just one party, I’ll represent one nation,” Romney told a crowd at an airport rally outside Portsmouth, and warned Obama would find it impossible to work with congressional Republicans if he wins re-election.

Romney also debuted a new political ad Saturday, seizing on Obama’s comment in Ohio a day earlier when he told supporters angry at the Republicans not to boo but to vote, saying “voting’s the best revenge.”

The ad featured Romney telling his biggest crowd of the campaign in Ohio Friday that Obama “asked his supporters to vote for revenge – for revenge.”

“Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country,” he said.

(Implying Obama doesn’t love his country? Disgraceful. I think Obama was simply stating the obvious. The best way to fight back against the continual lies and obfuscations of the Romney camp is to get out and vote.)

Romney repeated the message in New Hampshire and then at a rally in Dubuque, Iowa, where in close combat on the last weekend of the campaign, Obama was set to touchdown for his own event at the same airport hours later.

He also blasted the president for four years of failed economic policy that has left the nation mired in debt, with high unemployment and soaring gas prices.

“He wants to settle. Look, Americans don’t settle. We aspire, we reach, we dream, we achieve,” Romney said.

Later in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Romney said he saw Tuesday as “a moment to look into the future, and imagine what we can do to put the past four years behind us.”

“We’re that close right now,” he said. “The door to a brighter future is there.”

The president earlier visited the Washington headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as New York and New Jersey struggle to deal with the aftermath of murderous superstorm Sandy.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Obama, stressing he had no time for government “red tape” which could hold up the relief effort, after discussing the crisis with the governors of New Jersey, Connecticut and New York.

The Obama campaign enjoys the comparison between Obama doing his job managing the government while Romney campaigns as polls show a majority of Americans approve of the president’s handling of Sandy.

Latest polls show Obama and Romney tied nationally, but Obama appears to be solidifying his position in enough of the eight or so swing states that will decide the election to support his hopes of a second term.

New surveys by the Wall Street Journal and NBC News Saturday showed the president up by 49 to 47 percent in Florida and leading Romney 51 to 45 percent in Ohio, double the margin in the current RealClearPolitics average.

A Mason Dixon poll for the Miami Herald, however, had Romney up by six points in Florida, which the Republican, who also needs Ohio, cannot afford to lose if he is to be elected America’s 45th president.

Harold MacMillan

Harold MacMillan making his “winds of change” speech that heralded the end of British colonialism. “The President’s been so helpful” may turn out to be another historic moment.

Oh, yes. Sorry. I have been distracted by a couple of delightful days down the beach at St Leonard’s.

In response to many commentators and Wellthisiswhatithink readers who have asked why would prominent Republican Governor of New Jersey Christie be so voluble in his praise of Obama? Just a week after tipping another bucket on Obama, and his star turn at the Republican conference in Florida?

Well, that one’s just too easy – you really think the cheerfully chubby lad wants Romney to win next Tuesday? Nu-uh.

He wants the Republican nomination for himself in four years, which he wouldn’t get if Romney wins this time because Romney would automatically secure re-nomination in 2016.

I’m quite sure he – like much of the Republican establishment – wants Romney to do well enough to set Obama up for another four difficult years – and drag a few Congress and Senate candidates up with him – but not so well that the rather wacky crypto-moderate reborn right winger actually wins. And then it’ll be Cry Havoc and let loose the dogs of war for whoever replaces him on the Democrat ticket in four years. It’s called the long game. (I still have my eye on Hillary Clinton for the Democrats in four years, personally.)

Anyhow, as UK Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe once memorably remarked when Tory Prime Minister Harold McMillan sacked getting on for half his cabinet to revive his flagging electoral fortunes, “Greater love hath no man than he lay down his friends for his life.”

Mitt Romney is looking at falling just short in the race for the White House. He’ll be spitting chips right now at Christie’s very deliberate intervention.

Politics, huh? You gotta love it.

Meanwhile, if Hurricane Sandy comprehensively de-rails the already flagging Romney momentum and means the President garners extra kudos (and votes) for doing his job properly, then I am looking forward to Rush Limbaugh, Mike Huckabee and all the other lunatics on the religious right (including Romney and Ryan themselves) confirming that the Good Lord obviously wanted Obama to get another four years to complete the job he’s started.

They do call it an “Act of God“, you know, fellas …

This is a much better and more balanced article on the likely US election outcome than most. (Thank you to Richard Ember for forwarding it to me.)

And not just because it bears out what I have been saying, which is there has been a modest return to Obama, and also that Obama will indeed win Ohio (thus denying Romney the White House, because there is nowhere Romney can pick up the votes he won’t get in Ohio, even allowing that Romney will probably – not certainly – win Va and Fla.)

It also confirms my previous assertion that the national lead he currently enjoys is because Romney has been piling up votes where he doesn’t need them, in solid “red” states, as conservative voters (including Evangelical Christians, emboldened by Billy Graham’s flip-flop over whether Mormonism is a cult) decide they can, after all, hold their nose and vote for him.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/oct-28-in-swing-states-a-predictable-election/?smid=tw-share

Anyhow, in related polling, RCP’s rolling average today pulls Romney’s lead back from 0.9% to 0.8%, not enough to win the electoral college vote. Is there wild enthusiasm for Obama? No, there is not. Will he win, if the Democrats get their ground game right? Yes.

I am definitely going to write about something other than American politics soon, I promise. Promise, honest injun, I pinky swear.

Obama and Romney

“I really don’t like you.” “I really don’t like you more.”  “Keep smiling though, eh?”  “OK”

This is a much better and more balanced article on the likely US election outcome than most. (Thank you to Richard Ember for forwarding it to me.)

And not just because it bears out what I have been saying, which is there has been a modest return to Obama, and also that Obama will indeed win Ohio (thus denying Romney the White House, because there is nowhere Romney can pick up the votes he won’t get in Ohio, even allowing that Romney will probably – not certainly – win Va and Fla.)

It also confirms my previous assertion that the national lead he currently enjoys is because Romney has been piling up votes where he doesn’t need them, in solid “red” states, as conservative voters (including Evangelical Christians, emboldened by Billy Graham’s flip-flop over whether Mormonism is a cult) decide they can, after all, hold their nose and vote for him.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/oct-28-in-swing-states-a-predictable-election/?smid=tw-share

Anyhow, in related polling, RCP’s rolling average today pulls Romney’s lead back from 0.9% to 0.8%, not enough to win the electoral college vote. Is there wild enthusiasm for Obama? No, there is not. Will he win, if the Democrats get their ground game right? Yes.

I am definitely going to write about something other than American politics soon, I promise. Promise, honest injun, I pinky swear.

The economy is one thing. What type of world we live in is another, and frankly it’s more important.

I don’t care what your personal position on abortion is; after decades of careful consideration – and I have agonised over it, I assure you – I have come to the conclusion that we should all manage to agree on being pro-choice. In favour of CHOICE.

This decision – this terrible, imposing, huge decision – is and should be up to the individual.

And it’s this simple for public policymakers. Women will get abortions WHATEVER politicians say. So they should be safe, medically supervised, and entirely up to the woman concerned.

Obama is right, Romney and his crew are wrong. It’s as straightforward as that, and women should support the candidate that supports them.

I am so looking forward to getting back to discussing art, music, business, advertising, football and ephemera.

Opinion polls

Down the end of this docco – well, a bit more than halfway thru –  are the actual current USA polls, without anyone cherry picking them, and the dates on which they were taken.

It should be noted that the second Presidential debate was on the 16th. The clear controversy is the difference between the Rasmussen and Gallup Polls, (the latter which has been criticised because of its sampling type and as a result of having a track record of being incorrectly inflative to the GOP) and the IBD and HC/UConn and ABC polls. The last four, being entirely pre-second debate can probably be discounted.

If we discount the Gallup poll change by 50% down to +3 (which of course is arguable, but also less of a discount than indicated by its previous performance – it over-estimated McCain by +9% at one point last time) and make it Romney +3, and then average the results for the top four polls, then the result is Romney +2 and Obama +3.

And I am GUESSING this is about right. I predicted about a 1% increase for Obama over his low point int he aftermath of the Debate #1 debacle. I expect to see the trend continue after a win for Obama on Monday night, but that is pure star-gazing.

But in my opinion, something else is happening too. As always happens in tight races, both sides are shoring up support in their stronger areas. Thus a state like NC for example, where Bush won very easily, and in which Obama squeaked home last time, is, in my opinion, not really “leaning” Romney but should be thoroughly placed in his camp. However, that doesn’t really help him win, because he’s piling up votes in a state which he really should win easily anyway. Similarly, Obama is comfortably ahead in Michigan, but so he damn well should be, since he bought into the car industry and also won it by 16% last time.

The fact that a state like Virginia is a dead heat at the moment should be very concerning for the GOP. I think it will go to Romney, but given it’s importance, and given Bush won it by 8.1 and 8.2%, and Obama by 6.3% (which is around his current fall in the polls) it should surely be comfortably trending towards Romney now. But it isn’t.

The fight in the battleground states is much tighter than it is in the homebase states. One word of wisdom – back in the Democratic primaries before 2008, Obama beat Clinton by concentrating his support in the key battleground states, and conceding states that didn’t matter. Democrat investment in Ohio – which should, by national polling, be long gone from the Obama camp – shows they are doing it again.

Rasmussen Tracking         10/17 – 10/19                  Romney +1
Gallup Tracking                 10/13 – 10/19                  Romney +6
IBD/TIPP Tracking         10/14 – 10/19                   Obama  +3
Hartford Courant/UConn   10/11 – 10/16             Obama  +3

ABC News/Wash Post 1    0/10 – 10/13                    Obama +3
Politico/GWU/Battleground    10/7 – 10/11         Obama +1
Monmouth/SurveyUSA/Braun 10/8 – 10/10      Romney +1
FOX News    10/7 – 10/9                                                Romney +1

In short, I believe Obama is just one good debate away from being home again. Whereas I believe Romney is one GREAT debate – plus some problems for Obama plus a better organisation on the ground (which he doesn’t have) plus getting lucky in every battleground state in the country … from being home.

The odds, whatever GOP operatives and supporters would have us believe, are still very pro-Obama. Tonight. Tomorrow? Who knows.

I’ll say this too. I think the GOP will be delighted to have hurt Obama, to have defended many seats around the country, to be “back in the game”, and in the process to have got rid of the uncomfortable and disliked Romney. A few more years to knock the edges of Ryan (or someone similar) and they think they’ll be back in for a generation. And they well may be right.

Close call – who do you think won?

Well, it depends who you ask.

I thought Biden looked measurably more confident – and well briefed – than Ryan. But with me, he is singing with the choir. I have long considered Biden a very impressive and honourable individual, and I am openly arguing for a return of Obama to the Presidency. So how did it all look to non Obama fans?

Immediate post debate reaction seems more mixed. Some people did not like Biden’s aggression and interrupting. Fair enough: and it never plays well with the general public. On the other hand, I am sure this is how he was briefed, as the Obama campaign considered their man had abandoned the field in the previous debate, so it would have done the workers, supporters and ironed-ons no harm at all to see their side be more confident and combative.

The “Undecided” panel from CNN (who make up the worm respondents) judged it thusly:

Biden was strongest on the economy, certainly when discussing the middle class, and was lowest on the Libyan consulate affair. (Which goes to a generalised lack of trust in the Administration, although one foreign policy incident is surely a lower order issue taken in the whole scheme of things.) On the other hand, Biden scored well in an opinion poll on the judgement of whether he could step up and be President if needed.

Ryan was also strongest on the economy, (surely a sign that people are genuinely confused as to the best way to go) and, interestingly, weakest on abortion. In other words, he was caught talking to his own base, and ignoring the more nuanced attitudes on the topic from mainstream America.

In the end they voted it a tie. On the panel, Obama picked up three intending votes, Romney picked up 3. Hardly a scientific pool, but overall, I suspect the effect of the debate is likely to solidify the base support and move a tiny percentage of undecideds to the Romney camp as well. But for most people, it will have just made the decision what it appears to be for the entire country – obviously tighter than last time.

What has become clearer is there is certainly a strong and deep mistrust of the Administration, and no great enthusiasm for it. But, in essence, Romney/Ryan need to convince people that they could do better. That’s the whole game, right there. At the moment they seem to be just short of that goal to this watcher, but certainly further on than they were. A lot will depend on the next two Presidential debates, and, as I have opined previously, how the Obama camp nails – or doesn’t nail – what I consider to be the obvious holes in the Romney/Ryan tax plan.

For example, Ryan asserted confidently that the Romney tax cuts could be implemented without touching middle class welfare allowances like mortgage relief. Biden huffed that it was mathematically impossible. Later, the bi-partisan Tax Policy Centre delivered their verdict. “Not possible.” So expect to see that hammered again and again in the next couple of weeks.

The other issue will be how the “vouchers not Medicare” issue plays in Florida.

Florida. Keep your eyes on Florida. As I keep saying, it is where the Obama campaign will focus their anti-voucher campaign but it will be much more than some TV ads. I suspect we are about to see a classic case of grassroots campaigning affecting the overall result. Either they will beat Romney there, on the ground, or they will not. And if they don’t, Romney just – just – stands a chance.

Certainly not a bad night for either camp. Just not especially good for either, either.

One side note. Well, two.

I was fascinated to see Fox News split their screen with camera angles that made it look – erroneously – as if Biden and Ryan were not looking at each other courteously. The effect was to make Biden look excessively dismissive – bad for Biden – and surely can only have been deliberate. CNN instead used head on cameras. It really does make one wonder.

Second, Obama has conceded publicly he got the first debate wrong.

In a radio interview with nationally-syndicated Tom Joyner on Tuesday he remarked as follows:

“I think it’s fair to say I was just too polite, because, you know, it’s hard to sometimes just keep on saying and what you’re saying isn’t true,” the president said, when asked what happened at the debate.

“It gets repetitive. But, you know, the good news is, is that’s just the first one. Governor Romney put forward a whole bunch of stuff that either involved him running away from positions that he had taken, or doubling down on things like Medicare vouchers that are going to hurt him long term.”

Questioned on why he “had the open shot and … didn’t take it” in last week’s debate, the president said “I understand, but you know, what happens though is that when people lose one game, you know, this is a long haul. I think it’s fair to say that we will see a little more activity at the next one,” he said.

“But keep in mind that, you know, the issues that are at stake for folks haven’t changed. You know? We’ve got millions of people who’ve got health care right now because of our health care bill. And they won’t have it if Mitt Romney is elected president.”

The president also protested the idea that he had the election locked down going into the debate.

“This is always going to be a close race,” he said. “Governor Romney kept on making mistakes month after month so it made it look artificially like this was, might end up being a cakewalk. But we understood internally that it never would be. That it was going to tight – it tightened over the last three or four days, but it could have tightened after the convention if they hadn’t had such a bad convention.”

He added: “By next week I think a lot of the hand-wringing will be complete because we’re going to go ahead and win this thing.”

We will see. Obama needs a real triumph in the next debate to recapture momentum. One telling moment will do it. We know that from past debates. Aides will be holding their breath. Whatever happens, expect a much more combative performance from Obama.

The gloves are off.

 

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney – Mr Nice Guy’s mask slips, possibly terminally

Whilst no one with any commonsense would argue that the size of the American Government needs to be trimmed to match more closely the productivity of the country, an interesting attitude from the man who would be President for all Americans – and not just those worth millions and billions of dollars – is now on public display for all to see.

As AFP report from Washington, Mitt Romney’s campaign was rocked Monday by a secretly filmed video in which the Republican tells rich Republican Party donors that nearly half of Americans are government-dependent ‘victims’ who dodge taxes.

President Barack Obama’s team quickly seized on the film, released by the liberal Mother Jones magazine, as proof that the multi-millionaire Romney had written off half the nation, and was not fit to serve as president.

The video was the latest blow to the Romney team as it fought off reports that the Republican’s White House bid is in disarray, as he struggles to close a small but growing and consistent gap to Obama in national polls and battleground states.

In excerpts from the video, which has emerged 50 days before the November 6 election, Romney is seen to say in a closed-door, private fundraiser that 47 percent of Americans will vote for the president “no matter what.”

“There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.”

“These are people who pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

I find this attitude astonishing, but it is great to see the bullsh*t stripped from the carefully-posed performances that have characterised the uber-rich billionaire’s campaign so far. Here, laid bare for all to see (except those who don’t wish to) is the reality of the new ultra-right Republican party’s attitude to the American people.

Of course, if Americans are in receipt of Government care, it doesn’t mean that they are entirely dependent on the Government. It can be anything from medical support, education and retraining, to the more desperate needs of unemployment benefit, to food staples delivered (via food stamps) to people who would otherwise, literally, be in danger of starving, starving. In the richest country in the world.

Wellthisiswhatithink asks: Is it beyond the wit and ability of the right to understand many millions of people receiving some sort of welfare support are EX tax payers who are now GETTING THEIR TAXES BACK AGAIN – loaned to the Government to do with whatever it wishes – to survive in a tough period? Frankly, I would have thought that small government right wingers would approve of that concept?

“President Romney” is, thank goodness, looking increasingly unlikely. Because increasingly he looks like a buffoon, and not a very nice one at that. As one Bloomberg correspondent put it today:

You can mark my prediction now: A secret recording from a closed-door Mitt Romney fundraiser, released today by Mother Jones, has killed Mitt Romney’s campaign for President.

On the tape, Romney explains that his electoral strategy involves writing off nearly half the country as unmoveable Obama voters. As Romney explains, 47 percent of Americans “believe that they are victims.” He laments:  “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So what’s the upshot? “My job is not to worry about those people,” he says. He also notes, describing President Obama’s base, “These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax.”

This is an utter disaster for Romney.

Romney already has trouble relating to the public and convincing people he cares about them. Now, he’s been caught on video saying that nearly half the country consists of hopeless losers.

Romney has been vigorously denying President Obama’s claims that his tax plan would raise taxes on the middle class. But now, he’s been caught on video suggesting that low- and middle-income Americans are undertaxed.

(That one is especially problematic given the speculation about what’s on Mitt’s unreleased pre-2010 tax returns.)

Corn tells us there are more embarrassing moments on segments of the video he hasn’t released yet. For example, Romney jokes that he’d be more likely to win the election if he were Hispanic. And he makes some awkward comments about whether he was born with a “silver spoon” in his mouth.

But those are survivable. The really disastrous thing is the clip about “victims,” and the combination of contempt and pity that Romney shows for anyone who isn’t going to vote for him.

Romney is the most opaque presidential nominee since Nixon, and people have been reduced to guessing what his true feelings are.

This video provides an answer: He feels that you’re a loser. It’s not an answer that wins elections.

Poll: Obama widens lead over Romney despite weaker jobs data – see the end of this article for 17 Sept update confirming trend is in Obama’s favour.

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Ashland today. I think Ryan looks too young to run. Oh, sorry, my bad. (Photo credit: tvnewsbadge)

As predicted in the pages of Wellthisiswhatithink a few days ago, Obama has done better out of the conference season than Romney. The scheduling of the Democrat convention immediately after the Republican one may come to be seen as a strategic masterstroke when the experts parse the result of a Democrat win in November.

The President widened his narrow lead over Republican U.S. presidential challenger Mitt Romney in a new Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Saturday.

The latest daily tracking poll showed Obama with a lead of 4 percentage points over Romney. Forty-seven percent of 1,457 likely voters surveyed online over the previous four days said they would vote for Obama if the November 6 elections were held today, compared with 43 percent for Romney.

“The bump is actually happening. I know there was some debate whether it would happen, but it’s here,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark, referring to the “bounce” in support that many presidential candidates enjoy after nominating conventions.

Obama had leapfrogged Romney in the daily tracking poll on Friday with a lead of 46 percent to 44 percent.

The president’s lead comes despite a somewhat mixed reaction to his convention speech on Thursday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Friday’s government data showing that jobs growth slowed sharply last month.

Obama’s lead over Romney is comparable to Romney’s former lead over the president after the Republican National Convention finished last week, Clark said.

“We don’t have another convention now to turn our attention to, so (Obama’s bounce) may maintain,” Clark said. “How big it’ll be and how long it will last remains to be seen.”

I am frankly surprised that the candidates aren’t closer this week, and in my opinion, as I explained the other day, the bounce will become slightly more pronounced next week, as this week’s averaged polls drop off polls from when Obama was in a comfortable lead.

From that point on, it is Obama’s election to lose. The difficulty for the Republicans is that the next major opportunity for them to draw blood is the debates, and these will almost certainly favour Obama, as, regardless of one’s political bias, he is clearly a stronger candidate than Romney – more charismatic, more likeable, and despite the mixed scorecard for the first term of his Presidency, appearing more capable. This is born out when one analyses the poll’s investigation of specific qualities of the two candidates.

Obama increased his lead over Romney in certain favorable characteristics. Asked who was more “eloquent,” 50 percent of the 1,720 registered voters questioned in the poll favored Obama, compared to 25 percent for Romney. Asked about being “smart enough for the job,” 46 percent sided with Obama compared to 37 percent for Romney.

In fact, Obama led Romney in a dozen such favorable characteristics, such as “represents America” or “has the right values.”

The only such category in which Romney had an advantage was being “a man of faith,” as 44 percent picked Romney, who is Mormon, compared to 31 percent for Obama, who is Christian, but who is dogged by rumours spread by his opponents, completely unfounded, that he secretly a Muslim.

The Democratic National Convention itself received a rather muted response in the poll. Of those registered voters who had heard, seen or read at least something about it, 41 percent rated it as “average” and 29 percent as “good.”

The Republican National Convention that wrapped up August 30 in Tampa, Florida similarly was rated slightly worse: “average” by 38 percent and “good” by 27 percent in Saturday’s polling results. Although these two results seem “nip and tuck”, this is actually further evidence of a setback for the republicans, who needed to attract a couple of percentage points from the very small group of “undecideds” in order to be competitive.

This election is close, but barring a disaster, should be won by Obama with a reasonable margin. As Harold Wilson said, however, “a week is a long time in politics”. That makes nearly two months a veritable aeon, in a world where the effect of banana skins are amplified tenfold by the voracity of the media.

In any two horse race, either can win, because one can falter or fall. But as we speak, Obama looks like he is a few furlongs from home with a handy lead.

Material sourced from Reuters. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

UPDATE 17 SEPTEMBER 2012 10.50PM AEST

As predicted – almost to the day – by this column, Obama’s bounce has solidified in key battleground states this week. Here is the data:

As the Monitor’s Liz Marlantes reported last Friday, Obama’s post-convention bounce apparently endures, most significantly in key battleground states.

According to a new set of NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls, Obama is now leading Romney by 7 points in Ohio and 5 points in Florida and Virginia, and the RealClearPolitics polling average right now has Obama up by 4.2 percentage points in Ohio, 1.3 points in Florida, and 0.4 points in Virginia.

(Note, if Romney does not win Florida then he needs a clean sweep of all the other battleground states to beat Obama – highly unlikely.)

A Philadelphia Inquirer poll released Saturday has Obama leading Romney in Pennsylvania, 50 percent to 39 percent, reports Politico.

“Pennsylvania Democrats are more consolidated behind Obama, with 77 percent in favor of Obama and 13 percent in favor of Romney, while Republicans are 18 percent in favor of Obama and 71 percent in favor of Romney,” according to the poll press release.

“Following the conventions, Obama’s favorability rating has increased by 3 points, while his unfavorable rating has decreased by 6 points. Opinions of Romney have improved slightly following the conventions, but he still has a net negative personal popularity rating among voters in state, with 46 percent favorable/48 percent unfavorable rating.”

Politico also reports on an internal Republican poll that has Romney behind by 4 points in Ohio, not as bad as his 7-point deficit in the NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls but behind in the key battleground state nonetheless.

“The numbers underline Romney’s longstanding problems in Ohio, where he’s taken a beating from Obama’s campaign and liberal groups,” writes Politico’s Jonathan Martin.

“But it’s actually a sign of the depth of Romney’s hole in the state that the results were greeted favorably by Republicans. Polling in Ohio before the conventions last month showed Romney with an even larger deficit, closer to double-digits.”

The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters has Obama widening his advantage to 7 points, a gap that’s been increasing since the Democratic convention. “What that really means is that Obama is in good shape,” said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.

“Thursday’s online poll also found far more registered voters preferred the incumbent’s policies and approach on taxes (41 percent picked Obama, 30 percent Romney), healthcare (44 percent Obama, 28 percent Romney) and Social Security (39 percent Obama, 27 percent Romney),” Reuters reported.

Obama appears to be winning in foreign affairs, too. “Asked which of the candidates had a better plan, policy or approach to the war on terrorism, more registered voters again favored Obama: 39 percent to Romney’s 25 percent.” (Note that the poll was taken two days after the attack on the US consulate in Libya.)

One sleeper poll that may have particular importance given the tension between the US and Israel over drawing a “red line” regarding Iran’s nuclear facilities: Obama has extended his lead among registered Jewish voters to 70-25 percent, according to unreleased Gallup daily tracking poll data reported by BuzzFeed.

“The data, obtained through a Democratic source, shows Obama up from leading 64-29 in polling this spring – and on par with his 2008 performance at this point when he led 69-25 over John McCain in Gallup polling,” reports BuzzFeed.

Kansas

Kansas: for a moment there something nearly happened. False alarm.

A Kansas man who filed an objection with the state to President Barack Obama appearing on the state’s ballot is withdrawing his objection.

Joe Montgomery’s decision, which he communicated in an email to the secretary of state’s office Friday afternoon, ends a process that caused the all-Republican Kansas Objections Board to vote unanimously Thursday to seek further information before making a decision on whether Obama could be on the ballot.

Montgomery told The Huffington Post Friday afternoon that public reaction to the complaint led him to decide against continuing. He declined to say exactly what was said in the calls and emails he received, but indicated that people who knew him both personally and professionally were also contacted about the complaint.

“I didn’t file this objection with the desire to involve anyone else. This is me expressing myself on a personal political level,” he said. “I would appreciate it if people would not call anyone associated with me, whether a personal or professional association.”

Montgomery, who works at Kansas State University, filed the objection Monday, claiming Obama was not a “natural born citizen” because his father was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Kenya, and that U.S. citizenship is conferred “primarily” through the father.

He also said that Obama has not shown “valid, certified documentary evidence” of being born in the United States.

Montgomery wanted to start a dialogue with his objection, he said. “I have not been successful in that objective,” he told HuffPost. “Not in achieving a constructive dialogue.”

The state Objections Board — consisting of Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer and Attorney General Derek Schmidt — voted to delay a final decision, saying it needed more evidence and would reach out to Hawaiian officials for certification of the president’s birth certificate, along with officials in Arizona and Mississippi. The board expressed concern that Obama’s campaign did not appear before the board and only sent a letter with its position. Obama’s campaign attorney Kip Wainscott wrote the board that Montgomery’s objection was “baseless” and that Obama’s eligibility has already been determined by state and federal courts.

The board’s decision has led at least one Democrat, state Rep. Ann Mah (D-Topeka), to accuse Kobach of pandering.

“It is a little disappointing that a board that has two out of three members as attorneys who should understand the Constitution made this decision,” said Mah, the ranking minority member of the House Elections Committee.

“But we are in Kansas, and Kobach has been waiting for this moment for a long time. The pretense that this has any validity and needs further investigation is ridiculous. Kobach seems to enjoy this type of thing. It panders to his base of “birthers”.”

Kobach, an informal adviser to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, said at the board meeting that he was not acting in a partisan role, but rather wanted as much information as possible before the board made a final decision.

Mah said she believes the episode has hurt the state’s reputation. “They are making Kansas a laughing stock again,” she said, referring to Kobach, Colyer and Schmidt.

UPDATE: 7:06 p.m. — The Kansas secretary of state’s office sent out a statement Friday saying that the state Objections Board will meet as scheduled Monday morning. The statement said the meeting, which starts at 10 a.m. CT, will consider Montgomery’s complaint and his decision to withdraw the objection. Kobach’s spokeswoman, Kay Curtis, told the Topeka Capitol-Journal that the withdrawal is “unprecedented” and the meeting would be held to accept it.

The Objections Board was formed more than a century ago by state law and is considered a quasi-judicial agency that meets when objections are filed to candidates on the ballot. The board has held more meetings than usual this year, due to objections filed after the state’s redistricting process. During Thursday’s meeting, the board heard three other objections in addition to the to Obama, including disqualifying comedian Roseanne Barr from the state’s presidential ballot.

Debated an invisible President. And lost.

Comments welcome too.

I think this is a meaningful, timely and heartfelt article that we would all do well to read. I urge you to click the link below, right now:

http://valentinelogar.com/2012/06/20/generations-lost/

Grinding poverty, poor social provision, perpetual disadvantage. These are the unseen people, and they are our children. Unseen, not because we can’t see them, but because we don’t look. We choose not to look. We look away.

This is what America’s election in 2012 should be about, not pettyfogging issues of who gets a tax break, who pays for a woman’s contraception, or all the other nonsense.

This is a FACT. Millions of American children are abused, or are injured or die unnecessarily, or remain essentially uneducated, or have basically zero life opportunities, in the world’s wealthiest nation.

The world’s WEALTHIEST nation. Consider this simple NCCP stat: 21% of children in the U.S. live in families that are considered officially poor.

Oh yes, and the average age for the sexual exploitation and trafficking of a runaway child in America is 13.

Well done, Val, keep it up.