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may actually be is in play. Several signs have pointed to a closer contest in Pennsylvania than many had predicted, with the top Romney Super PAC and other outside groups starting to spend money on TV advertisements.
Earlier today, the Republican National Committee announced that it would spend $3 million in TV advertising in Pennsylvania over the final week. That brought the total GOP spending for the final week in PA to $11.8 million.
And today, Dan Hirschhorn of The Daily reports that that Team Romney is preparing to make the ultimate investment in the Keystone state: Precious candidate time. Yes, it seems that Mitt Romney himself is going to Pennsylvania for a large rally:
Mitt Romney is set to make a last-minute campaign stop on Sunday in Pennsylvania, The Daily has learned.
Details are still being determined and with scheduling for the final days of the campaign still fluid, it’s possible Romney could still bypass the state. But two top Pennsylvania Republican officials and a Romney adviser said a large rally in the vote-rich southeastern part of the state is in the works for Sunday. The final decision is likely to be made on Friday.
“I’m 99 percent certain he’s coming,” one senior level Republican official told The Daily. “It’s going to be a huge rally and it’s going to be very successful.”
“They said all along, ‘if you get within a certain margin we’ll consider it,’” another top Republican said. “They said they’d come the final week, and we got there.”
One of the arguments that Democrats have been advancing in opposition to the idea that Pennsylvania is moving red has been that Team Romney has been unwilling to commit candidate time to the state. They argued the spending was just a headfake: If Romney really thought he could win Pennsylvania, he would go there. Now he is. But is he doubling down on the fakeout, or does he really think he can win?
As an alternative, is Team Romney starting to think they can’t win Ohio and therefore making a desperate play to pick up the electoral votes elsewhere? I’m doubtful, but it’s certainly possible. As with so many other questions, we’ll just have to wait until Tuesday to find out.
UPDATE: Not a head fake. “Middle Cheese,” a former Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign aide who regularly provides Jim Geraghty of National Review choice information about the current race, told him this earlier today:
MN and PA aren’t head fakes by Team Romney; they are legitimate opportunities to expand Mitt’s electoral map. MN has gone from “solid blue” to “lean Democrat.” Team Romney is not only buying ads in PA, but is sending Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio to campaign there today. The fact that Obama is also buying ads in PA is proof that PA is in play. Don’t be surprised if Mitt makes a stop in PA over the next few days.
The fact that Romney is going to PA, just as Middle Cheese said he probably would, reinforces the message. Looks like Pennsylvania really is in play, folks.
UPDATE 2: Thought it might be helpful to include the most recent Real Clear Politics polling average for Pennsylvania. It shows Obama up by a comfortable 4.6 points on average, with Obama leading in every one of the last 5 polls included.
Those numbers would argue that Romney is indeed feinting in PA, or that he is indeed truly desperate about his chances in Ohio and needs an alternate path to 270.
Or it could argue that the public polls are flawed, and Team Romney has encouraging internals. Again, we’ll find out on Tuesday.
Top late-night comedians have made Romney the butt of twice as many jokes as President Obama, a study from the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University says.
The monologues of the top nighttime talk shows have made fun of Romney 148 times since the conventions while only making 62 jokes at Obama’s expense.
The group investigated jokes from Jay Leno (Tonight Show), David Letterman (Late Show), Craig Ferguson (Late Late Show), and Jimmy Fallon (Late Night).
This ad will be playing in gas stations across the country, according to the @RomneyResponse twitter feed.
It’s increasingly likely that the Senate won’t change dramatically in this election. While individual seats may change party hands, on the whole the election is likely to be a wash according to David Catanese of Politico:
In the final, crystal-ball edition of this election cycle’s Senate Monthly 10 — our rolling rankings of the most competitive races, in order from most to least difficult to predict — POLITICO forecasts Republican pickups in Nebraska and North Dakota and Democratic takeaways in Massachusetts and Maine.
After those, it gets dicier.
To take the Senate, the GOP needs to net four seats if President Barack Obama is reelected, or three if Mitt Romney wins.
But the 33-seat map has only a trifecta of genuinely tied races: Montana, Wisconsin and Indiana. Even if the GOP sweeps all three, the party would still need two more surprise wins elsewhere to take the Senate.
That’s unlikely to happen. Instead, we project a 53-47 Democratic Senate — the same makeup as now.
If Politico is right and we do end up with a 53-47 Senate, it would be a major loss for the GOP. That’s because the Democrats are defending 23 seats while the Republicans are only defending 10. So the GOP had a much better opportunity to improve their standing while the Democrats were on defense.
The race is tied nationally in the latest Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll. President Barack Obama earns support from 47% of likely voters while Mitt Romney captures 46%. This is the third day in a row that both candidates have achieved that level of support.
Twenty-six percent of registered voters said they have already cast their ballots. Among these, Obama leads 52% to 43%.
New Romney Spanish-language ad: Hugo Chavez supports Barack Obama. In a Spanish-language TV ad going up in Miami, Florida, Team Romney brings up the fact that both Hugo Chavez and Mariela Castro have expressed their support for Barack Obama’s reelection.
It’s sort of a cheap shot, but could be quite effective given its target audience. Miami has a large Cuban community (in addition to Latinos of other heritage), and Cubans tend to be more Republican than other Hispanics. They also tend to dislike the Castro family and although I don’t know this for certain, I would assume they’re not fans of Hugo Chavez either. This ad is meant to drum up support for Romney among Cubans while driving down the enthusiasm of other Hispanics (who are likely to vote for Obama).
Why is Romney winning Independents by such large margins? Recent polls suggest that Romney is leading among Independents anywhere from 8-17 points (depending on the poll). In 2008, Barack Obama won Independents by 8 nationally, so if Romney exceeds that number it’s hard to see how he loses. But why are Independents breaking so hard for the challenger?
Some data from Resurgent Republic helps put things into context.
President Obama’s support among Independents is tightly correlated to their approval of his handling of the economy.
Independents have long felt in the abstract that President Obama doesn’t deserve reelection.
That fact is reflected in Independents’ job approval ratings for the president, which have been negative for basically the entirety of Obama’s first term.
And their disapproval of Obama is much more intense than their approval of him.
Check out Resurgent Republic’s full memo for some more interesting info. These four examples provide evidence that the polls are right—Romney is winning big among Independents, and he mostly has Barack Obama to thank for that.
UPDATE: Talking Points Memo’s Poll Tracker shows some interesting data that could be influencing Romney’s big lead with Independents. Simply put, it could be that many of those Independents are actually—or at least, used to be—Republicans.
As you can see in the chart below, the number of people self-identifying as Republicans dropped dramatically at the end of 2010 and into early 2011. The number of self-identified Democrats declined as well, but not to the same extent. The resultant rise in self-identified Independents led to a situation in which Independents made up the clear plurality of voters, but a significant chunk of those Independents were actually Republicans in 2010, 2008, and 2004.
So one could argue that Romney is just winning back people that should have been his in the first place. These folks are natural Republicans, and they are returning to the fold. This argument is buttressed by the recent uptick in Republican identifiers and an accompanying decline in those calling themselves Independents.
The real question will be whether Romney can bring these stray Republicans back into the fold for good (get them to call themselves Republicans again) or whether their move towards him will be temporary.
Richard Tisei’s campaign may be the most brilliant ad makers in America. This 30-second ad, posted below, gives Americans a break from the constant campaign advertising. My only question: Does this actually move voters?
Rasmussen shows Romney up 2 nationally, 49-47. Romney leads by 3 (50-47) in Colorado and the race is tied 49-49 in Wisconsin.
Virginia Republican Senate candidate George Allen is all in on his campaign. He loaned his campaign $500,000 of his own money on Monday, in a sign that his effort is strapped for cash.
This new Romney ad jumps on President Obama for his suggestion that the government create a “Secretary of Business.” The ad’s most effective point is that Obama’s solution to everything seems to be more bureaucracy.
Check out Karl Rove’s take on the Electoral College. This is how he sees the map in the campaign’s final week:
Team Obama is lagging behind its 2008 early voting pace in Virginia, a new analysis by David Wasserman of Cook Political reveals. Check out the full data here. Bottom line, early voting from counties Obama won in 2008 is down by over 13% while early voting in counties that McCain carried are down by only just over 1%.
The 2012 election will cost $6 billion. T.W. Farnam reports on the latest cost estimate from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. In 2008, the total cost was $5.3 billion, so this year is continuing the trend of rising election costs.
One question: Given that the election determines who controls a $15 trillion economy, isn’t $6 billion relatively cheap?
The Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog has moved Ohio back into the “tossup” column. They moved it to “lean Obama” in late September. Now they see it as much more similar to states like Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire, and Virginia:
What’s changed since then? Well, let’s look at what hasn’t changed first. The state’s unemployment rate remains below the national average (7 percent in September) and the auto bailout remains popular, as evidenced by Romney’s flailing attempts to muddy the waters on the issue in recent days.
What has changed is that Romney’s performance in the first debate in early October bumped him back into contention in the state — as it did in virtually every other swing state, as well as nationally — and the natural partisanship of the state started to assert itself.
The simple fact is that Ohio has been too close for too long to expect that Obama would win it by five points or more. (Even the most optimistic pro-Obama types would have acknowledged that a month ago.)
In the four presidential elections prior to 2008, Democratic candidates got 9,060,521 total votes in Ohio, as compared to 8,965,170 for the Republican candidates, according to calculations made by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In 2008, despite routing John McCain nationally, Obama carried the state by just 262,224 votes out of more than 5.6 million cast.
No one expects Romney to underperform McCain in the state — both because he is far better funded than the Arizona senator was and the incumbent is far less popular than he was in 2008.
After reviewing all of the available public polling data as well as talking to operatives in both parties about the private polls they are privy to, we are convinced that Ohio is a 1-3 point race in President Obama’s favor at the moment.
Here’s what The Fix’s map looks like at the moment:
This new Obama ad touts Colin Powell’s endorsement. The ad is just Powell explaining why he’s endorsing the president for reelection. Sometimes simpler is better.
Here’s what the candidates are doing today, as reported by Politico’s Morning Score:
OBAMA in WISCONSIN, NEVADA, COLORADO: The president leaves the White House at 9:20 a.m. ET to start his four time zone day. He has “a tarmac event” at the airport in Green Bay, Wis., at 10:40 a.m. CT. Eva Longoria joins him for a “grassroots event” in North Las Vegas at 2:10 p.m. PT. Then he flies to Denver for a 7 p.m. MT rally in Boulder, Colo. He will arrive in Columbus, Ohio, to spend the night at 1:05 a.m. ET.
ROMNEY in VIRGINIA: Three rallies in one state: 10 a.m. ET in Roanoke, 2:15 p.m. in Doswell and 7:05 p.m. in Virginia Beach.
BIDEN in IOWA: Rallies at 11:45 a.m. CDT in Muscatine and 4 p.m. in Fort Dodge. He’ll spend the night in Beloit, Wisconsin.
RYAN in COLORADO and NEVADA: Rallies at 11:45 a.m. MT in Greeley and 3:30 p.m. PT in Reno.
ANN in OHIO: She starts with a noon ET rally in Columbus, attends an early voting event at 1:30 p.m. in Heath, stops by the Wadsworth Victory Center at 4:25 p.m., then ends the day with a rally in Strongsville at 6 p.m.
MICHELLE in FLORIDA: The first lady hosts rallies at 1:05 p.m. ET in Jacksonville, 3:25 p.m. in Daytona Beach and 5:55 p.m. in Miami. Stevie Wonder opens for at the first stop. Marc Anthony speaks at the last two.
RUBIO in NEW HAMPSHIRE and PENNSYLVANIA: The Florida Senator attend an early voting event in Manchester at 12:30 p.m. ET with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, then headline a campaign event in Holmes, Pa., at 6:30 p.m. ET.
CLINTON in WISCONSIN and OHIO: Following an event in Waukesha, Bill Clinton will deliver remarks in Perrysburg at 2:30 p.m. ET, Akron at 6 and Chillicothe at 9.
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