Saturday, October 13, 2012


Sunday Updates

President Obama leads in early voting  59% to 31%

Swing state polls:

Colorado: Obama 48  Romney 46 (Gravis)
Florida:  Romney 49  Obama 48 (PPP) 

Saturday Swing state polls:

PPP Ohio poll: President Obama 51  Romney 46
Arizona: Obama 44 Romney 42  (This is supposed to be safe for Romney)

The Obama campaign reports:
4 million donors--that's one out of every 75 Americans

The Obama campaign so far has registered:
More than 40,000 voters in both PA and Colorado
More than 60,000 voters in Florida
More than 75,000 voters in North Carolina

Nearly 800 field offices open; Romney has fewer than 300.

President Barack Obama with singer Bruce Springsteen

And joining the Obama team: The Boss.  Bruce Springsteen will campaign for Obama in Ohio and Iowa, alongside Bill Clinton.

Just One Little Bullet Doesn't Matter, Right?

A gun shot was fired, apparently from a vehicle, into a field office where Obama volunteers were making phone calls on Friday, and today--as the Denver Post says--the silence is deafening.

Of course it is Colorado, where apparently gunfire isn't news unless it kills people, causes a debilitating injury to a sitting U.S. Member of Congress, or kills, maims terrorizes teenagers in a high school or at a Batman movie.

But gunfire in a presidential campaign should be a very serious story.  We ignore it at our peril.  There are plenty of examples in European history of the danger of such actions, and particularly the danger of dismissing or ignoring them.

Saturday the Denver Post followup begins: "Amid the fierce noise of a presidential campaign, the silence from all parties was deafening Saturday as police continued to investigate a suspected gunshot into the Obama field office near downtown Denver."   

And the story provides no further information that wasn't in Friday's brief story, partly because nobody (police, political parties, etc.) is talking.  But I wonder if it is also because not enough people are asking.

A shot fired into a political office would have been a scandal in Denver in 1892, but apparently not in 2012.  What kind of a country are we becoming?

Gun Shot into Obama Campaign Office

It's not a major news story yet, but shouldn't it be?  On Friday afternoon a bullet shattered a window of an Obama field office in Denver.  There were people working in the office at the time.  No one was reported injured.

As of early Saturday morning there are few details, and apparently little interest in obtaining them.  Here's the Denver Post story.  Nobody else seems to have any more.

The Week in Numbers

So it's been a week since the first debate and the unemployment numbers.  As I ventured in the previous post, the Romney surge in the polls tracks in time with the post-debate consensus, though te poli sci folks don't all agree that's entirely the reason--Romney's numbers started to move up even before that, and the surge seems to be coming from disenchanted GOPers, but more than that as well.  The better than expected unemployment number does not seem to have translated into a counter-wave, so it may take the next debate to change the trajectory in a clear way. 

But apparently President Obama has not held his national lead, though all the polls are within one or two points and several are tied.  Gallup's latest tracking has Romney up 2 points with likely voters, but Obama up by one among registered voters.  So for Obama partisans--and anybody not interested in seeing this country fall apart under rampant injustice etc.--it remains tense. But Romney has not followed up his debate with flawlessness on the campaign trail--he and Ryan continue to provide copious ammunition.  With the second debate on Tuesday, who knows where we will be a week from now. 

Though the state polls were more dour on Friday, it is possible to find a few that are moving back towards Obama.  The Dish plots a trend line in Obama's favor in Virginia.  The latest Florida numbers are worrisome--although I never counted on Florida because of the mischief the GOPers have successfully sowed into the voting process there.  It's worse than Ohio.  The latest polls in Ohio suggest a much tighter race, but I notice that the pros are generally skeptical that Romney is going to be able to pull that one off.  Still, Nate Silver is as unbearish on an Obama victory as he has been in months, noting the fragile state leads.  He pegs Obama's chances all the way down to 61%.

Which leads to the overall electoral college evaluations at this point.  At Daily Kos, Singiser   notes that strictly working with poll numbers the race has become uncertain, though still fundamentally favoring President Obama:

"Taken at their current face value, that would put Obama at 281 electoral votes, and Romney at 257 electoral votes. However, it is not difficult to see how a very small further shift in the electorate could both elevate Romney to the presidency, or consign him to the ash heap. With just a shift of two percentage points in his direction, Romney would gain both Nevada and Ohio, that would push him to 281 electoral votes, and with it, the White House. However, if there is a shift of just 2 points in the president's direction, he gets back a raft of states (Colorado, Florida and Virginia). That would put him at 332 electoral votes, making him a decisive winner for a second term."

But what if you take other factors into consideration?  My old boss (sort of) Paul Solman interviewed economist David Rothchild for PBS--he tracks polling but also economic trends and the predictions market, which has a pretty good track record.  He sees Obama as a heavy favorite, and notes the rationale:

"What I would say is that a state like Ohio has maintained its Obama friendliness but as it gets closer and closer to Election Day, it becomes more and more likely that it will actually vote for Obama come Election Day. So it's not a shifting of opinion as much as it's saying, "Romney is running out of time to shift that opinion." And as that happens, you see very few states cross each other, in essence, and so that ranking holds...

So take that order, start adding up electoral votes until you hit 270. You're going to find a pivot state: a state that if Obama holds he wins and that if Romney can reach he wins, and that state has been Ohio for virtually the entire election cycle. It means that if Romney can get all the states up to that point, he can win this election. But that includes Florida and Virginia on top of Ohio and those are three big hurdles and that means on the flip [side] that all Obama has had to do is hold one of those states. Just one of those main three states, and that's what's been giving him that edge this entire time."

Of course these aren't all the factors--there's the ground game, voter suppression, the weather, etc.  All kinds of things that figure into a close election, if it is that close.  So come election night, if  Obama wins Virginia and North Carolina, it will start to look like a landslide.  But even if he loses both of those and Florida, it will probably still come down to Ohio and secondarily to Iowa.  But even in what now looks like a blowout in 2008, the returns from those eastern states were a long time coming, and it was pretty close to the end (when the Pacific states came in) that the results from Florida and Ohio were known.  Great.  And there's still three weeks + to go even before we get to that long night.

But I also noted that Rothschild stressed economic trend factors, and that the predictions market was on top of the data.  And it was reported that consumer confidence jumped unexpectedly higher. What that means may not be known until the election returns.

 It would be great to see another big move towards Obama to ease the tension these last weeks.  It's possible. Already since the vp debate, it's becoming more accepted that Biden won it. (An Ipso poll out Friday said so.)  Dems and pundits are finding more and more in the debate that works for Obama, if carried on.  No polls yet reflect any influence from the debate--it would be unusual if there were any (but let's fact it--this has been an unusual year.)  One thing is certain:  Biden has injected more energy going into this weekend.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Joltin Joe

Joe has jolted Dems out of their torpor.  But the anxiety remains and it has a real basis.

It is convenient to blame the rise of Romney in the polls to President Obama's first debate performance, but while that's probably been a big factor, the even more depressing possibility is that Romney's mendacity is becoming effective.

That's the real nightmare here: that voters are believing Romney's lies.  Joe Biden called the Romneyryans on it last night, which has cheered Dems and while GOPers go on about the Biden affect, the Biden effect may be to highlight the lies.

There's been pushback today on Romneyryan's fuzzy math.  A prominent GOPer economist admits that the Romney tax cut numbers just don't add up.  An analyst goes one by one through the "six studies" Ryan said support their plan, to show that none of them does.

But this is the dull fear we feel, scarred by years when GOPers got away with systematic lies that damaged the future, killed and maimed people, etc.  With a Romneyryan victory we're headed for a dire future, something out of Soylent Green crossed with Hunger Games and A Handmaid's Tale.

So we're happy that Joe Biden called out the lies.  President Obama is doing so on the stump, and we can look forward to him doing so in Tuesday's debate. But if and until the poll numbers start to turn back, some of us aren't going to be sleeping very well.  We've been through this nightmare before.

But Joe Biden did something else last night that hasn't gotten a lot of attention yet: he went away the GOPer Congress for obstructing progress towards accelerating the recovery and providing jobs as well as much needed infrastructure and public servant (police, fire, teachers) support.

That's an October move that could be resonant.  Another is the Supreme Court.  Joe hit this one too and it must be repeated often: Roe v. Wade plus a host of other issues are in the balance, depending on who gets to appoint the Justices in the next four years.

Victorious Thursday

The post-debate analysis is a little wiggly, what with the guidance from instant polls being mixed and CNN steadfastly holding to a draw.  The CBS poll of undecided voters however was pretty clear: Joe Biden won.  50% said so, while another 20% thought it was a draw, and 30% Ryan.

But the Dem bloggers and pundits are happy, not to say joyous, and it's clear why: Joe took it to Romneyryan with authority.  All the noise about smiling and interrupting, and how that might affect undecided voters--well, the CBS poll tells you.  They saw it for what it was: Biden reacting to Ryan's lies, obfuscations and confusions.

Joe hit the main marks hard: Medicare especially, but also women's rights.  Right now it's all about women in Ohio.  As a bonus, he showed how dangerously vacuous the GOPer ticket is on foreign policy.  Plus he pushed Romneyryan back hard right on Social Security, Roe v. Wade, etc.

What everybody noticed is that this was the performance the Dems needed to renew their enthusiasm and self-belief, let alone self confidence.  It will mean a lot.

President Obama earlier made a fiery speech in Florida, which bodes well for the next debate, not even a week away.

I'm not linking much this time because for some reason my Internet connection is incredibly slow.

But I can't leave without saying a word about those SF Giants.  Buster grand slam!  Matt Cain!  Hanging on to become the first NL team to win this series with 3 straight victories on the road.  The A's couldn't master Verlander, though.  And the Orioles and Washington have victories to remember regardless of what happens tomorrow. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Joe's Show

It's Joe' Show on Thursday for the vp debate.  Rumors that it's really going to be Bill Clinton wearing a Biden Halloween mask are probably exaggerated.  But it's Joe's job to steady the ship until the Obama mounts his comeback in successive weeks.

The first presidential debate yielded a Romney victory that people are apparently still talking about, but as Rachel Maddow pointed out, not a single soundbite for either candidate, except for the Big Bird moment.  Chances are there will be soundbite moments Thursday, now that everybody realizes that theatrics sell in the twitterverse.

Free advice is usually worth what you pay for it, and Joe's getting plenty (some of it probably well-paid actually) but the temptation to dwell too much in the ghostly land between Ryan and Romney's positions on things might better be avoided, in favor of hammering on women's issues and Medicare. 

More polls Wednesday, same basic results.  The swing state polls show Obama still ahead but by smaller margins.  The national polls are tilting Romney or tied.  Everything seems awfully close to the margin of error.  Is anybody else dreading that this comes down to the jobs report on the Friday before election weekend?

Elsewhere, after losing their home games the Bay teams evened their series' on the road.  I'm not much of an Oakland fan (I retain a sentimental attachment to Jim Leyland the former Bucs skipper in Detroit) but the Giants are endlessly entertaining.  Their bats finally came alive, but their starting pitching--their usual strongest point--continues to struggle.  And then comes the starter who got left out of the rotation, to become the hero with five strong innings in relief, Tim Lincecum.  So the way the story should go is that the Giants get what they haven't gotten for 4 games: a dominant starting pitcher, and despite recent rocky outings Matt Cain is a pretty good candidate.    

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Low Profile Tuesday

Tuesday the Romney bounce continued to show up in polls, though not enough so far to overcome President Obama's lead in key swing states, especially Ohio.  Amidst Dem angst, several polling experts and poly sci types advised patience, as President Obama is still favored (a 70% favorite by oddsmakers and the NYT guy.)

On the bright side, the SF Giants stayed alive in the playoffs, leading to this odd description leading the  AP  account: "Joaquin Arias hit a grounder toward third base and took off toward third, covering those 90 feet in a blink as a full-to-capacity ballpark went silent with angst."   If Arias actually had taken off toward third, it would be Giant fans with the angst (there's that word again.)  And here's a neat story about Hunter Pence's pregame pep talk and game heroics.

Meanwhile, there's also the ongoing Doonesbury strips on Mitt Romney.  My favorite so far.

And since the Sesame Street people are trying to keep Big Bird out of politics, this may be my only opportunity to show this.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Music Break for Blue Monday

From a 1987 benefit in the UK, George Harrison and Eric Clapton with a lot of other all-stars including Ringo, Elton John and Phil Collins on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."

Blue Monday

The polls taken last week just after the debate are starting to show up now, and they are very bad.  The Pew poll showing Romney with a 4 point national lead is particularly horrifying.  But apparently most of that was also done on those two days.  The unanimous pundit judgment on the debate is reflected in these polls.

However several online sources I checked today say that the polling for President Obama rebounded over the weekend.  That won't be expressed in new polls for a few days.  The danger here is that because the polls have this time lag, a certain new narrative starts to set in.  And there are certain alarmists on cable and on the Internet who are susceptible. 

The lasting effect is apt to be higher enthusiasm among Romney supporters than there was before the debate.  The Romney campaign is also apparently starting to unleash its big money in ads.  As I speculated, they seem to have been marshaling forces for an October push.  The question is whether it's enough to erase everything that's come before.

A good Biden performance in the v.p. debate this week will help, but it will need to be President Obama in the two remaining presidential debates who will have to reassure voters that their pre-debate estimations were the correct ones.

In good news,  Democratic Senate candidates are doing well in Massachusetts, Virginia, Connecticut and Wisconsin, all tight races.  But I would like to see President Obama hold one big rally in Boston in late October to seal the deal for Elizabeth Warren.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Music Break

George Harrison and Bob Dylan during a soundcheck for the Bangladesh benefit concert in 1971 perform "If Not For You," a Dylan composition which each had recorded separately, though it's the Harrison version that became the best known, and the standard for future versions by others.  Anyway, it's a great song for the weekend.