I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Prilosec OTC has been ordered in bulk quantities at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago. That’s because the “Blue Wall,” states that formed a protective barrier surrounding safe Obama campaign Electoral College votes, has begun to crumble. And the second presidential debate on October 16 at Hofstra University has thus assumed ultimate importance.
According to Real Clear Politics and as can be seen by comparing the two maps on this page, among states that could be characterized as either “likely Obama” or “lean Obama,” the president has lost 64 electoral votes since October 7. With respect to Electoral College votes that candidates can count on, the difference between Obama and Romney stands at only ten electors with 146 votes now classified as toss-ups.
This is a dramatic shift in a very short time and at a very late stage in the campaign.
As recently as September 30 and as depicted on the map below, the president had 265 Electoral Votes in the solid, likely or lean categories, just five shy of the 270 needed to win re-election. Only 82 Electoral College votes were characterized as toss-ups, a number that was mathematically sufficient for a Romney win but practically requiring too perfect a confluence of events and circumstances as to be a viable path to victory.
According to the Real Clear Politics averages of recent polls, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio have all moved in the past week from “lean Obama” to toss-up. Since the first of the month, only New Mexico, with its five electoral votes, has moved in Obama’s direction, and that only from leans to likely, making no difference in Obama’s electoral math. Obama has, in the past week, lost 68 Electoral College votes in just five states.
As a result, Romney’s hitherto impossibly narrow path to electoral victory has become wider and straighter. If, for example, Pennsylvania were to break for Romney, a loss of Ohio becomes bearable for Romney. Ten electoral votes from Wisconsin could offset a loss in Iowa or Colorado. Romney, instead of having one twisting, narrow and impossibly difficult path to Electoral College victory, suddenly can see multiple paths to the magic number of 270 votes.
All of this is occurring for the Obama campaign just as uncomfortable revelations regarding last month’s attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya are coming to light. With respect to the tragic deaths of four American diplomatic personnel, increasingly, even the mainstream press is starting to detect the unmistakable whiff of scandal.
Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the 21-day countdown to election day. Tomorrow evening will provide us with the second presidential debate featuring what will no doubt be a much chastened and energized President Obama.
Much can change.
Still, one can’t help but believe that heartburn is epidemic this morning in Chicago at the Obama campaign headquarters.
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Listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, October 8, 2012.
For many, the first presidential debate marked the first opportunity to actually see President Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney outside the hyper-controlled environments of campaign appearances, television ads or condensed, sound-bite media coverage. What they saw was revealing.
Conservatives have long complained that a fawning media and a hitherto very effective campaign apparatus have conspired to thwart any real vetting of Obama. The image of the cool and utterly articulate sophisticate has withstood through the president’s first term largely intact — despite a record of chronic high unemployment, anemic economic growth, growing foreign policy problems and a feeling shared across the political divide that the country is headed in the wrong direction.
Mitt Romney’s supporters have complained that the candidate has been too cautious, too slow to answer scathing and blatantly false television ads and has generally squandered the opportunity presented by an opposition that dares not run on its record.
Much of that criticism was effectively answered in the first presidential debate. On the stage in Denver, both men stood revealed.
Obama presented the picture of a man who would have rather been anywhere other than on the same stage with a well-prepared and articulate opponent. In sharp contrast to Romney, President Obama appeared unprepared, tired and devoid of a grasp on the issues that animate this campaign. The president’s vaunted gifts of oratory failed him miserably, leading even staunch supporters such as uber-liberal Bill Maher to actually say out loud that the president really does need a teleprompter.
At one point in the debate, the president actually tried to coax debate moderator Jim Lehrer into throwing him a lifeline by moving on to another topic.
For his part, Mitt Romney was clearly the alpha male. Without ever being snarky, petulant or disrespectful, Romney took control of the debate early and never relinquished. Romney was relaxed, pleasant of demeanor, in full command of the issues and the facts and articulate in his rebuttals of Obama’s campaign ad and stump speech rhetorical riffs. Where Obama said something with which Romney disagreed, Romney lost no time in calling the president out succinctly and effectively.
On multiple occasions, Romney, for all but the actual words, called Barack Obama a liar to his face and looked presidential in the doing.
Romney stood toe-to-toe with Barack Obama and it was Obama that blinked.
For millions who skipped the GOP convention and were seeing Romney the man for the first time, they saw a man who looked more like the President of the United States than the actual president.
There are two debates between Obama and Romney yet to come in addition to the single debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Romney running mate Paul Ryan. It is unlikely that Obama will perform as badly in the final two debates as he did in the first one.
But is also unlikely that Mitt Romney will perform badly either. Romney proved that he’s got game. If the Obama campaign was in any way inclined to be dismissive of Romney, that inclination has been corrected. No amount of hubris could blind the Obama camp to the fact that their opponent is formidable in a one-on-one encounter.
As NBC’s Tom Brokaw observed, if Romney had fared as poorly against Obama as Obama fared against Romney,the election would now be over.
History suggests that debates between presidential candidates do very little to actually affect the eventual electoral outcome.
But if Romney can be effective in the remaining four weeks looking and acting like the winner that he clearly was in Denver on October 3, this could be one of those times that future pundits will point to as a notable and historically significant exception to conventional wisdom.
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Listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, September 24, 2012.
If you believe the polls, Mitt Romney has lost the election.
Here are the troubling numbers.
Thus, according to the polls and the reporting thereon, the race is over.
But two questions must be asked. First, do the polls accurately reflect the sentiments of the electorate at large? And second, do today’s poll numbers reflect what will actually happen on November 6 or will something intervene to change them between now and then?
According to Dick Morris, (and he is not alone, there are others), to the first question — Do the polls accurately reflect the electorate at large? –the answer is no. Morris cites the fact that, in keeping with past practice, almost all of the major polling organizations are using some variant of the 2008 voter turnout as the model for weighting respondents to 2012 polls. The only exception to this is Rasmussen (and Rasmussen has Romney tied or holding a slight lead).
Weighting is important.
It is not feasible to create a polling sample that accurately reflects the actual distribution of age, party preference and demographic characteristics across the entire population. Some demographic groups are relatively easy to contact by telephone while some others are not.
White elderly people, for example, are far more likely to cooperate with a polling organization call than a young African-American. Thus, the responses to polls by elderly white people are given less weight and responses by young African-Americans are given more weight. How much weight, more or less, is determined by each group’s proportionate likelihood to vote.
For most of the current polls, the model for determining that likelihood is being drawn from the actual data of the 2008 election.
However, anecdotal evidence and the actual data from 2008 suggest that using 2008 data exclusively as the model for sample weighting in 2012 is problematic.
As nearly everyone agrees, the 2008 campaign was historic. The confluence of having the first-ever African-American on a presidential ballot, the fatigue arising from eight years of the Bush presidency, the freshness of an Obama campaign unsullied by an actual record and the September 2008 financial meltdown; all served to significantly skew voter turnout.
Two examples. Black voter turnout was up by 27 percent in 2008 as compared to the averages of past elections. Turnout by college students nearly doubled.
The anecdotal evidence, supported by the fact that Obama’s campaign rally crowds are down sharply from 2008, suggests that these groups, disillusioned to one degree or another by high unemployment and poor post-graduation prospects, will not turn out in the kinds of numbers they did in 2008.
As to question two — Will something intervene to change the polls? – the answer is, ‘probably. Two things actually.
The first is Mitt Romney’s TV ads. By this time in 2008, John McCain was essentially broke and he was off the air in most of the key states. Such does not afflict the Romney campaign.
The poll numbers you see from the 12 swing states come after the Obama campaign has been on the air for weeks carpet-bombing Romney with negative ads. The fact that the average Romney deficit is yet less than four points perhaps represents the worst return-on-investment in television advertising history.
Unlike the McCain campaign of late September 2008, Romney has plenty of money in the bank and the money continues to roll in. Romney has just now placed his television buys in the swing states ahead of early voting that begins as soon as September 27. McCain, to his detriment, had essentially no money to spend on early voting. If only the votes cast on election day had been counted, McCain would have won Florida, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa.
If Romney’s television ads, which are just now breaking, address voters’ economic fears and offer an alternative vision to the bleakness of the country’s current economic situation, it is likely that many voters, in the privacy of casting their votes, will move in Romney’s favor.
The second potential intervening factor is the debates. Obama has real reason to be fearful here. He is no doubt aware that the 1980 race between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan was essentially tied or showing Carter with a lead until the debates. Carter’s record in 1980 was every bit as shaky as Obama’s is in 2012. Unemployment topped 10 percent, interest rates were sky-high, the economy was in the mud and the United States was being embarrassed by radicals holding U.S. embassy personnel hostage in Iran. Reagan was effective in the debates in putting Carter on defense with respect to his record.
Therein lies opportunity for Romney. Romney has more than 20 debates under his belt from the spring and summer primaries. Obama hasn’t been in a debate in four years . If Romney can get on offense against Obama’s record, it’s advantage Romney. The result will very likely change the polling data in Romney’s favor.
With all of this said, Romney supporters are nevertheless right to be concerned. Obama is an unusually weak incumbent, with practically nothing from his record or current events breaking his way, and yet he leads in the polls.
But if concern is warranted, despair is not.
Much still stands in the way of an Obama victory. Something the Obama campaign no doubt understands even if his cheerleaders in the media do not.
Editor’s note: This article has been modified since its original publication.
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Listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, September 17, 2012.
Once during the Vietnam War, U.S. POWs were marched in front of local citizens who “spontaneously” rose up in righteous indignation against the “imperialist aggressors” who were guilty of raping their country.
One villager, overcome by his frustration and anger, rushed out of the crowd to get in the face of one American POW to vent his outrage.
Only he flubbed his line and his acting out of his “outrage” was so wooden and affected as to be laughable, if it weren’t for the fact that U.S. servicemen were being mistreated and publicly humiliated.
That the attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and, more particularly, the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya are spontaneous uprisings resulting from public outrage over a YouTube video clip is equally laughable, except for the fact that four Americans were killed.
The attacks on U.S. facilities in north Africa and the Middle East are happening not because of supposed insults to the prophet Mohammed depicted in some little-known video but are happening instead because the United States is increasingly seen as a weak foe and an unreliable ally.
GOP nominee Mitt Romney had the temerity to say so following the consulate attack and for his trouble found himself on the receiving end of withering criticism from the Obama campaign and the liberal press.
But was Romney wrong to say something? Does the “politics stops at the water’s edge” proverb apply in this situation during this presidential campaign?
Foreign policy is by its nature political. I’m certain that Lyndon Johnson would have loved to have had the “water’s edge” protection against his policies in the Vietnam War. As it was, LBJ’s Vietnam War policy drove him out of the 1968 presidential race.
Certainly Jimmy Carter would have liked a “water’s edge” pass on the Iranian Hostage Crisis. He was not to be given one and should not have had one. That the hostages were released literally minutes after the man the defeated him for re-election took the oath of office is evidence enough that foreign policy is a political matter and open for debate and criticism during a political campaign.
One must believe that Mitt Romney has an entirely different vision for U.S. foreign policy than the one held by President Obama. The growing sense that Obama foreign policy is very possibly opening the door for the kind of chaos and unrest that marked the last two years of the Carter presidency is fair game during the campaign.
There should be a vigorous debate on the proper role of the United States in the world. The American people should be allowed to hear how a President Romney would differ from a President Obama. Early in his presidency, three years ago, President Obama went to Cairo “to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.” Events of the past week suggest that that “new beginning” isn’t working out as President Obama thought it would.
Is that disconnect between the president’s rhetoric and the actual events not to be examined as the country decides who will occupy the Oval Office for the next four years.
If Romney is intimidated by negative press coverage and the howling of the Obama campaign concerning legitimate criticism of policy arising from real-world violence against U.S. interests, perhaps he does lack the leadership qualities necessary for the most powerful office in the world.
Circumstances have set the table for discussing what kind of foreign power the United States should be from the perspective of friends and foes alike.
Governor Romney needs to state his case on the subject in the clearest terms possible.
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Listen to the broadcast of Decision 2012 with Paul Gleiser, Monday, August 20, 2012.
I wish Democrats still looked like Joe Biden.
Joe Biden is a nice man from all appearances. Sure, he says unbelievably silly things at the most toweringly inopportune moments and he apparently believes much of the twaddle that comes from his mouth to the effect that poor people are poor because rich people are rich.
But Joe Biden is simply wrong. He’s not crazy. And that makes him unlike a very large percentage of the delegates and guests that I saw at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC last week.
Between seeing hundreds of women wearing buttons bearing the inscription “Sluts Vote” and listening as over half the assembly booed because a single mention of God was returned to the party’s campaign platform, I became convinced that the Democratic Party has at last fully and irrevocably slipped its moorings.
It wasn’t always so.
Democrats used to look like Joe Biden. I remember them. They were in my parents’ Sunday School class. The lived next door. I played astronaut with their kids in cardboard boxes that once contained washing machines.
The Joe Biden-Democrats of my youth got out of bed and went to work every morning just like my father and mother did. They got married and pretty much stayed married, just like my father and mother.
Mr. Urbach, the Democrat who lived three doors down, was an Army veteran just like my dad. My dad called on carpet and furniture stores selling for Evans-Black Carpet Mills. Mr. Urbach called on doctors offices and hospitals selling for a medical equipment company.
My father paid his bills on time. Mr. Urbach did the same.
Mr. Urbach required that his two sons speak to adults using “sir” and “ma’am” just as my father did.
The Urbach family got up on Sunday morning and went to First Baptist Church. My family got up and went to Polk Street Methodist.
When the five contiguous neighbor dads got together and decided that it made sense to build backyard fences all at once, sharing tools, expertise and labor, Mr. Urbach was a part of the project that fenced five backyards in just three weekends. Mrs. Urbach contributed something to the potluck food extravaganza that capped the project completion just as my mom did.
It would have never occurred to Mr. & Mrs. Urbach that they were entitled to anything “free” from the government. Mr. Urbach fully understood that he had to do his job well and provide his employer a good day’s effort for the money he received in order to put food on the Urbach family table.
Mr. Urbach was a Democrat and put an LBJ sign in his yard about which my father and mother tut-tutted disapprovingly. But Mr. Urbach was not militant, unkind or vulgar in his politics and he and my parents exchanged pleasantries regularly and counted one another as good neighbors.
Joe Biden, for all his goofiness, strikes me as much the same. I believe that when it comes to his own life and his own children and his own finances, Joe Biden lives as a conservative. I wouldn’t presume to ask about his and wife Jill’s sexual relationship, but I’d bet anything that they paid for whatever birth control they ever used out of their own pockets and didn’t feel ill-used in the bargain.
I believe that you could sit down with Joe Biden, over a cup of coffee and away from the glare of the media, and discuss the proper size and role of government without the discussion degenerating immediately into a profanity-laced ad hominem attack.
I don’t know Joe Biden. He may be nothing like how he appears. But he looks like he is a decent, respectful and more or less normal mainstream American man and that’s what Democrats used to look like.
The biggest thing that struck me after attending both conventions over the past two weeks is that Republicans as a group still pretty much look like the Republicans of my youth but the Democrats, as I observed in the stream of militant feminists, militant gays, angry minorities, union thugs, government employees, left-wing academics and overdone Hollywood starlets that walked by, look nothing like Joe Biden.
Which means they look nothing like Mr. Urbach, our neighbor of three doors down.
Which is too bad. Because Mr. Urbach was a good man, a good father, a good husband, a good neighbor and a hard worker.
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President Obama is going to give his acceptance speech and much of the talk today has been speculation as to how it will compare to Bill Clinton’s stem-winder of last night.
Here in the Time Warner Cable Arena the vendors were getting ready and the sound checks were getting done. I have a highly-refined Sound Check Tune-out Filter but as I was working today suddenly I became aware of the fact that what I was hearing was not just another sound check.
James Taylor is in the house.
Several of us on Radio Row, all pretty much up to here with politics, ran into the arena and just took a break. James Taylor sounds as good today as he ever did.
When President Obama finishes his speech tonight and the sun rises tomorrow, we will face 61 days of the most negative, divisive, spirit-crushing politics most of us have ever seen. But here in North Carolina, on the last night of the Democratic National Convention, convention organizers showed a little mercy.
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President Obama’s acceptance speech Thursday night will take place in the Time Warner Cable Arena rather than at Bank of America Stadium as originally planned.
According to a “senior official with the Obama campaign,” the decision to abandon plans to conclude the Democratic convention Thursday night at Bank of America Stadium was made solely because of concern for the possibility of dangerous weather and not because the campaign fears an inability to fill all of the seats.
According to the Weather Channel’s website, there is a 40 percent probability of thunderstorms Thursday afternoon. The campaign says the decision to move indoors was made when the probability of rain and thunderstorms exceeded 30 percent.
“There are 65,000 people who are now very disappointed they won’t have a seat to see the President of the United States,” said the unnamed official. There were “19,000 people wait listed for the event” and reports that the change was made for fear of an inability to fill the seats are “false.”
Rumors that the campaign was having trouble filling the seats have been circulating as a result of crowds at Obama campaign events being much smaller than they were in 2008.
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As the Democratic National Convention got underway yesterday the United States passed a milestone, although no one here in Charlotte wants to talk about it. According to the U.S. Treasury, the U.S. national debt stands now in excess of $16 trillion. That the timing worked such that this Rubicon was crossed on the very day that the Democrats began their convention is almost poetic.
Yet not once, between the hours of 7:30 and 11:15 p.m. last night when I was on the convention floor, did I hear any of the speakers even acknowledge that the country is, by the estimation of any minimally competent commercial banker, insolvent.
Among the resources available to us here on Radio Row is the capacity to keyword search the speeches given here at the convention. A search for the word “debt” in the text of the remarks of Tuesday night’s A-list speakers reveals exactly one reference. It’s in Michelle Obama’s speech in which she talks about the college debt burden that she and her husband dealt with early in their marriage.
The speakers last night talked about an entire galaxy of government-funded benefits including health care, college loans, veterans benefits, research grants, clean energy subsidies, job training programs, no-cost contraceptives, no-cost abortion, housing assistance and “safety nets”; the sum of which having the effect of involving the federal government in very nearly every aspect of daily living for very nearly every living American. But not a word was said on the subject of the country’s steadily and rapidly rising debt. And not a word was spoken as to how all of these emotionally-appealing programs will be paid for save for the tired and factually bankrupt trope of forcing “the rich” to pay their “fair share.”
By way of contrast, the debt was a major focus of the Republican convention. There was even a constantly updating national debt clock prominently displayed in the convention hall.
But here at the DNC, it’s just not a topic.
To the amusement of the crowd, Ohio governor Ted Strickland made fun of Mitt Romney, saying that if Romney were Santa Claus he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves. Such was the tenor of the discourse from the party that would have you select it to govern the most indebted sovereign nation in all of human history.
The only time balancing the budget came up last night was when Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick chided George W. Bush for taking the balanced budget he inherited from Bill Clinton and turning it into a deficit by the end of his term. But Patrick failed to mention that the deficit Bush left upon the conclusion of his term is less than a third of the current $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit under President Obama.
It could simply be very canny politics. Republicans find themselves in the role of the tightwad curmudgeon and no one likes a curmudgeon. Or it could be that Democrats largely ignore the country’s debt-laden balance sheet because they truly are unconcerned about it.
It’s in all likelihood some combination of the two. But the impression from last night in Charlotte leans decidedly toward the latter.
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