Why I voted Yes on the marriage amendment in MN

posted at 8:41 am on November 6, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The ballot in my state has two somewhat controversial referendums, both of which probably have more drama than any of the candidate races – including, until just recently, the presidential election.  One measure should pass rather easily, as the voter-ID requirement has maintained its popularity throughout most of this cycle.  The other would move the current statutory definition of marriage into the state constitution, and its future looks more murky.  Before I left Minnesota to spend the election in California, I cast my ballot in support of both measures, and I’ll explain why – and urge my fellow Minnesotans to join me.

First, contrary to what the measure’s opponents have written, it doesn’t change the definition of marriage in the state.  Marriage in Minnesota is restricted by statute to one man and one woman.  The measure would amend the state constitution to define it more foundationally.  That puts the issue outside the reach of the judiciary, which in other states changed the definition of marriage without voters having any say in this government policy.  If at some point in the future Minnesota voters want to change the definition of marriage to something else, they can amend the state constitution to do so – and only need a simple majority of all ballots cast, as is the case today.  Citizens who believe that representative government and direct democracy are better forms of self-government than judicial fiat should support this process.

Second, I believe that government has little legitimate interest in formal recognition of sexual relationships (other than to bar consanguinous relationships or exploitative relationships with minors), and that the formal recognition process that marriage represents should only take place where government has a pressing interest.  I’ve written before that I think government would do best to stay out of marriage altogether, and leave it to the churches.  That would be the best possible solution in a perfect libertarian world.

However, that’s not the world in which we live.  The only legitimate state interest in otherwise consensual sexual relationships are those whose form could produce offspring.  Government offers recognition of marriage (and certain incentives) in order to fix paternity and hold parents responsible for upkeep and behavior of children produced from those relationships.  We have seen the damage done to society from children produced outside of marriage, and the costs to our communities through the increased need for government services. That doesn’t mean that every marriage has to produce children to be legitimate, but the form of the heterosexual relationship is the only one in which government has any legitimate interest in certifying ahead of the production of offspring. Otherwise, government has no legitimate role in licensing sexual relationships, and no need to do so.

Third – and to my mind, the most compelling, especially of late – allowing for the possibility of redefining marriage leaves churches vulnerable to government intrusions at the altar.  Right now, churches act as agents of the state in conducting weddings.  For those who think that a change in definition would not inevitably lead to mandates on churches to “not discriminate” in conducting ceremonies for those relationships which violate their religious doctrines hasn’t been paying attention to the HHS mandate.  In that case, the federal government will force religious organizations (schools, charities, health-care providers) to violate their doctrines by facilitating access to contraception and sterilization, and that’s without the added lever of acting in stead of the state, as churches do when officiating at weddings.  Instead of leaving marriage to the churches, a change in definition will give the state a powerful way to either force churches to perform weddings that violate their belief systems or stop performing them altogether.

And that last point relates to the second, too.  If we are to hand that kind of lever to the state, it shouldn’t be the state itself – through its judiciary – that activates that lever.  That decision has to come from an informed electorate that truly wants its government to begin licensing sexual relationships in which they have no real interest, and giving their government an opening to push churches out of the sacrament of marriage.

For those reasons, I urge my fellow Minnesotans to vote yes on the marriage amendment, as I did last week.

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Internal polls: Romney up one in OH, two in IA, three in NH, tied in PA and WI

posted at 5:27 pm on November 5, 2012 by Allahpundit

The skeptical view of leaking these is that it smacks of what desperate campaigns do when they know they’re losing. Remember Tom Barrett? He wanted the world to believe, contra nearly all of the independent polling, that he and Scott Walker were dead even two weeks out from the recall election this summer. That made perfect sense in his case: He was behind, everyone knew it, and he needed a morale booster to keep his base from giving up. How is that analogous to Romney’s situation? Is there any Republican anywhere who’s given up and thinks O’s slight lead in Ohio in the independent polls is immune to huge GOP turnout tomorrow? The final Gallup and Rasmussen national tracking polls each have Romney ahead by a point, a fact Drudge is trumpeting as I write this. There are no Romney voters at this point who need rosy internal polls to nudge them out the door tomorrow.

Mitt Romney is ahead by a single percentage point in Ohio, according to internal polling data provided to MailOnline by a Republican party source.

Internal campaign polling completed last night by campaign pollster Neil Newhouse has Romney three points up in New Hampshire, two points up in Iowa and dead level in Wisconsin and – most startlingly – Pennsylvania.

Internal poll show Romney trailing in Nevada, reflected in a consensus among senior advisers that Obama will probably win the state. Early voting in Nevada has shown very heavy turnout in the Democratic stronghold of Clark County and union organisation in the state is strong.

Yeah, at this point I’m treating Nevada for O the way I’m treating North Carolina for Mitt – technically still in play, but easily the hardest “get” for the opposition. The good news is, there are few scenarios realistically in which the election would come down to Nevada. One is if O wins the big four in the Rust Belt and midwest – Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin – and needs one more state to push him over the line. If that happens, though, then he’ll probably be riding enough of a wave that he can grab one of the more competitive battleground states – Colorado, New Hampshire, or Iowa – to give him the election. Ditto for Mitt: If he wins Colorado, then he can get to 270 either with Ohio alone or with Wisconsin plus Iowa or New Hampshire, both of which look like genuine toss-ups vis-a-vis Nevada. The only way that Nevada is decisive is if there’s some truly odd scramble among the battleground states where, say, Romney wins Ohio but loses Colorado and Wisconsin and Iowa and New Hampshire. Not worth worrying about, especially if Romney’s internal polls are accurate. But just in case, our loyal readers in Nevada will be turning out tomorrow, right? No excuses, especially with Dean Heller in a tight race. Even if Nevada slips away from Romney, it might be the difference in whether he gets to work with a Republican or Democratic Senate.

Exit question: Seriously, are we going to know who won this election tomorrow night? Quote:

[I]n the wee hours Wednesday morning, [Ohio] counties will begin their count of the provisional ballots. These are votes that have been challenged for a wide variety of legitimate reasons. They include: Ohioans who are not registered; registered voters who moved but failed to update their addresses; people who showed up at the right polling place but were directed to the wrong precinct; voters who did not bring proper identification to the polls; and those who requested an absentee ballot but decided to vote in person…

The rough Republican rule of thumb is that Romney requires a statewide lead of, at least, 50,000 votes to survive the provisional ballot phase of the Ohio long count. The requisite election night margin for Romney may, in fact, need to be higher. It all depends on the number of provisional ballots plus valid absentee ballots (postmarked Monday or earlier), which are still in the mail. And despite the best efforts of the secretary of state’s office to release an accurate count of disputed and missing ballots Wednesday morning, the final numbers will probably trickle in from Ohio’s 88 counties over the following few days.

Accepted provisional ballots won’t be added to the state’s vote totals until November 17-21. Legal challenges could drag things out weeks longer, a la Florida 2000. Consider this another motivator for 100 percent Republican turnout tomorrow: If we can’t stop Ohio from being very, very close, maybe we can stop it from mattering at all.

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Seven states: Electoral math made easy

posted at 7:28 pm on November 5, 2012 by Allahpundit

What follows will be old hat to most readers, who’ve been wargaming paths to 270 for six months now, but I’m thinking it might be useful to casual readers who are stopping by tonight and tomorrow because their interest in the election is peaking. Simple question: Which states does Romney need to win to clinch the presidency? BuzzFeed tried to answer this earlier today with a flow chart, but it doesn’t give you any sense of whether individual battlegrounds are likely right now to break red or blue. So here’s how I’m approaching it. Right off, to simplify things, I’m assuming Romney wins North Carolina (15 EVs) and Obama wins Nevada (6). Neither one is a lock but they seem to be the surest bets among swing states. Needless to say, if you live in either of those states (or any other state), you should hustle on down to the polls tomorrow and vote anyway. An upset for O in NC would all but guarantee that he wins the election, and low GOP turnout in Nevada would imperil Dean Heller, whom the party desperately needs to win to have a shot at retaking the Senate. No excuses. Vote, vote, vote.

If you assume NC and NV break red and blue, respectively, then the election starts with Obama at 207 EVs and Romney at 206, with seven states effectively left to decide things. Which brings us to…

The prerequisites: Florida (29), Virginia (13)

Romney leads by 1.5 points in the RCP average in Florida, his best showing in any battleground state. He’s led there for weeks and is widely expected to take the state. He’d better: 29 EVs would be next to impossible to replace. Virginia is more tenuous, with Obama actually holding a very slight lead in the poll of polls right now. Romney could replace those 13 EVs by winning one or more states listed below, but he’s led in multiple polls in Virginia over the past month and seems to be favored there by most analysts. If he loses a squeaker to O, there’d be little margin for error with the remaining five states and it’d likely augur a bad, bad trend for the evening. The good news is that Obama is off his 2008 pace in early voting and Romney aides feel confident that the combo of coal interests plus military voters will nudge him over the line.

If Romney wins both prerequisites, he’s at 248 and within striking distance of the White House. He then needs 22 electoral votes from any combination of these five:

The deciders: Ohio (18), Wisconsin (10), Colorado (9), Iowa (6), New Hampshire (4)

Two obvious possibilities here.

Path One: Ohio + any other state. Even little New Hampshire would be enough to hand Romney the presidency if he locks down the Buckeye state and nothing else. (270-268!) The bad news is that Romney hasn’t led in a state poll in NH for nearly two weeks. The good news is that there’s no early voting there, so if you expect a nationwide trend of Republicans swamping Democrats at the polls tomorrow, then things look promising. In Ohio, Romney hasn’t led in any state poll since October 10 with the lone exception of Rasmussen, which had him up two points last week. Democratic early voting appears to be down, though, and Republicans traditionally outperform their national numbers slightly in Ohio. Tomorrow will be the ultimate test of Obama’s GOTV machine: Ohio Republicans know that the election will likely turn on their turnout, so it’s up to Team O to somehow blunt their numbers by dragging just enough half-hearted, disillusioned Hopenchange fans to the polls. Tall order.

Path Two: Wisconsin + Colorado + any other state. This is trickier, obviously, not only because it involves winning more states but because Romney actually trails by a wider margin in the Wisconsin RCP average than in Ohio. Colorado is within two points, though, and the GOP leads in early voting there(!). If CO comes through and Ryan/Walker magic leads to an upset in WI, then Romney can ignore Ohio and hope for Iowa to come through and win him the election. He trails there by less than 2.5 points and three different polls taken over the last two weeks or so have had him ahead by a point. If a red wave breaks tomorrow, it’ll probably carry Iowa with it.

So, what happens if Romney locks up the prerequisites in Florida and Virginia and then wins Colorado, say – but ends up losing narrowly in both Ohio and Wisconsin? Now he’s stuck at 257 and not even winning both Iowa and New Hampshire will get him to 270. Either he needs a huge upset in Nevada, which is unlikely if OH and WI are trending blue, or he needs…

The longshots: Pennsylvania (20), Michigan (16), Minnesota (10).

Actually, neither PA nor MI is a true longshot. Romney’s closer to Obama in the RCP average for each state (3.8 points in both Pennsylvania and Michigan) than he is in Wisconsin (4.2 points). He trails a bit more distantly in Minnesota (5.2 points), but even there, some polls have him either slightly ahead or within three. I’m listing these states here because they’re reliably blue in presidential elections and because the GOP has spent less time and money contesting them than it has in, say, Wisconsin. But if Romney runs into problems in the “decider” states, or if Virginia somehow falls through and he needs to find 13 EVs somewhere, obviously these will be crucially important. My hunch, though, is that if he’s losing narrowly in the more competitive midwestern states, like Ohio, then it’s unlikely he’ll reverse that trend in the less competitive ones. If any of the “longshot” states are turning red, it’s probably because there’s a huge Republican wave and Romney’s cruising to a landslide win. Here’s hoping.


If all of the above is too complicated, here’s a much simpler way to understand Romney’s task. Assuming Obama wins Nevada, all he has to do to win the election is take the big four in the Rust Belt and midwest – i.e., Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. That would put him at 271. Romney must win at least one of those four states to have any chance of victory. If he doesn’t, then he’d have to win every other battleground state – Nevada included – or else.

Via Christian Heinze of GOP12, here’s the Rove map.

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posted at 11:01 am on November 4, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Two media polls out in normally safe Democratic states show the presidential race in considerable flux – and pundits with few touchstones for their final calls.  First we go to Pennsylvania, where Mitt Romney has made a last-minute personal push for a state that hasn’t gone Republican in 24 years – and the new poll from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review suggests he has a real shot at winning:

President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney entered the final days of the presidential race tied in a state that the campaigns only recently began contesting, a Tribune-Review poll shows.

The poll showed the race for Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes locked up at 47 percent in its final week. Romney was scheduled to campaign in the Philadelphia area on Sunday, and former President Bill Clinton planned to stump for Obama on Monday. The campaigns have begun to saturate the airwaves with millions of dollars in presidential advertising.

“They’re both in here because of exactly what you’re seeing” in this poll, said Jim Lee, president of Susquehanna Polling & Research, which surveyed 800 likely voters Oct. 29-31. Most of the interviews occurred after Hurricane Sandy inundated Eastern and Central Pennsylvania. The poll’s error margin is 3.46 percentage points.

The PTR didn’t release the poll internals, but Lee told me this week that the poll is D+7, 44/37/19.  SPR wanted to stick with one turnout model, and that closely resembles 2008′s electorate in PA.  This result matches very closely to yesterday’s SPR poll results on the Senate race in PA, also a virtual dead heat.

In Michigan, perhaps the results come as an even bigger surprise, where Obama figured to ride the auto bailouts to an easy victory.  A new poll from Foster McCollum White Baydoun of over 1900 likely voters has Romney ahead of Obama by less than one percent, 46.86%/46.24%.  The same pollster had Obama with nearly a 4-point lead before the first debate.  Also, this same poll shows Democratic incumbent Debbie Stabenow beating Pete Hoekstra rather easily, 50/43 – so it doesn’t appear to have a significant Republican tilt.

In fact, the sample is reasonably Democratic, although perhaps underrepresenting independents.  The D/R/I is 44/35/21; in 2008, 41/29/29, and no exit polling exists for 2010.  The poll did reweight in several categories to make up for deficiencies in demographics, as almost all pollsters do, but there are a couple of interesting points about the weighting, too.  After their initial sample only included 8% African-Americans, the pollster reweighted them to 17.5%. In 2008, though, this bloc only comprised 12% of the MI electorate.  At the same time, though, they appear to have overweighted seniors at the expense of middle-aged voters, but the two together look similar to 2008.

It looks like a surprise could be brewing in two Democratic states.

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Romney flips voters, editorial boards with economic message

posted at 5:21 pm on October 26, 2012 by Mary Katharine Ham

Another Florida newspaper went from an Obama endorsement in ’08 to a Romney endorsement in ’12. I’m skeptical as to how much such endorsements matter, but certainly the ones that are switches from 2008 in swing states are most interesting. Just seeing such changes of heart in print could validate the feelings of regular voters leaning that direction, but the tone the Orlando Sentinel and this paper have taken has been pretty devastating:

Four years into Barack Obama’s presidency, economic growth is sputtering. Family incomes are down. Poverty is up. Business owners are reluctant to assume risk in the face of unending uncertainty. Many are holding on by their fingernails, desperate for signs of an economic recovery that will help them provide for themselves, their employees, their customers and their communities.

When President Obama came into office in 2009, the economy was in freefall and though untested, he inspired us with his promise of hope and change. Now, four years later, we have little reason to believe he can turn things around.

So while we endorsed Obama in 2008, we recommend voters choose Republican Mitt Romney on Nov. 6.

Yes, the jobless numbers from September showed a drop to 7.8 percent unemployed, the first time in almost four years that it’s been below 8 percent. But the numbers are deceiving because more than 4 million Americans have given up looking for work since January 2009.

Behind those numbers are the faces of your neighbors, your family members, perhaps even yourself. Good people who want to work, but who cannot find jobs because job creators have lost faith in the nation’s economic direction.

The Sun-Sentinel is also unimpressed with the president’s newly released, glossy booklet of a plan, saying “rather than articulate a compelling vision for growth, the president falls back on the tired talking point of increasing taxes for the wealthy,” which they peg rightly as unlikely to create economic growth. The paper’s coverage area includes counties whose names you might have heard before, like Broward and Dade.

Jazz Shaw collected the rest of the notable endorsements last week, and the president continues to clumsily court the Des Moines Register‘s endorsement by giving them an off-the-record chat that later became on-the-record once the campaign realized off-the-record was a liability, which led to this possibly passive-aggressive response from the Register. It’s all very Sam and Diane.

The WaPo/ABC tracking poll has garnered two days of stories on the shift toward Romney on the issue of the economy. That question has been the fascinating undercard of so many polls, including snap polls of debate watchers and voters who thought Romney won on the central issue of the election even if they thought Obama won the debate, overall. Romney’s numbers on the economy and handling the debt/deficit pretty consistently outdid his numbers in other areas, even over the summer, but then they were a mere glimmer of potential. Yesterday’s 50-47 lead for Mitt Romney in the WaPo/ABC tracker suggests that potential may be coming to fruition. Today’s tracker is out at noon.

The fact that Romney’s gaining on the issue of “economic empathy,” a perennial strong point for Obama, signals a growing general comfort with Romney as an alternative to a dismal status quo. The Washington Post reported that the movement toward Romney on the economy comes from Independents.

Romney’s improvements on the economy – and on empathizing with the plight of those struggling financially – has been fueled by gains among political independents. Independents now side with Romney by campaign highs on both the economy (61 to 34 percent) and on understanding people’s problems (52 to 42 percent).

ABC, reporting a day earlier on the trend, said it came from white men:

One example is white men, in particular those who lack a college degree; almost all of the recent shifts in trust on the economy and perceived economic empathy have occurred in this group. Romney’s support among white men is its highest of the campaign, a 2-1 margin, 65-32 percent. That compares with 57-41 percent, McCain-Obama, in the 2008 exit poll.

While it’s closer among white women, 53-44 percent, Romney-Obama, that very broad support among white men lifts Romney to a new high among whites overall, 59 percent. And it expands the gender gap to a new high as well: A 17-point lead for Romney among men, 57-40 percent, compared with a 15-point advantage for Obama among women, 56-41 percent.

Both can be true, as white voters make up a large percentage of independent voters a) because they are a large part of the overall population and b) because minority voters are more likely to identify as Democrats or likely Obama voters, making the swing voters everyone’s going after more likely to be white. One national political reporter wonders:

Fournier engaged on Twitter with right-leaning voters after this tweet, which I appreciate, but get ready for more coverage of this angle. Chris Matthews outright asserted last week that “racial hatred” is behind growing support for Romney and eroding support for Obama. Are all these white people who formerly supported Obama just now becoming racist? Did the Orlando Sentinel and the Sun Sentinel just turn racist, too? Of course not. The newspapers very clearly state the many reasons voters of all stripes could lose faith in President Obama. But I look forward to a “Hardball” special: “How Mitt Romney’s campaign creates racists and racist newspapers.”

In the end, which is more likely? That swing voters who formerly backed Obama are looking at the same man and suddenly deciding they don’t like his skin color? Or that swing voters who formerly backed Obama are looking at the same man with the same plan and deciding they don’t like that?

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Virginia: Romney 50, Obama 48; Update: New Fox News poll also shows Romney by two

posted at 4:43 pm on October 25, 2012 by Allahpundit

Romney could, in theory, replace Virginia’s 13 electoral votes by winning Wisconsin (10) and New Hampshire (4), but Wisconsin and New Hampshire are supposed to be Plan B in case he loses Ohio. If he loses Virginia, then there is no Plan B: Realistically, his only path would be through Ohio. And if VA goes the wrong way, that makes a clean sweep of OH, WI, and NH seem highly unlikely.

Fortunately, Virginia’s tilting the right way – barely. Romney’s led in seven of the nine polls taken there since the first debate, including each of the last five. If he comes through here and in Florida, where he’s led in 12 of the last 14 polls, then he’s got 248 EVs in the bank (by RCP’s estimate) with Colorado, Ohio, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire all on the radar. The latest from Rasmussen:

Last week, Romney hit the 50% mark for the first time here, while Obama earned 47% of the vote. With the exception of last week, however, the candidates have been within two points or less of each other in every survey in Virginia since April…

Ninety-two percent (92%) of the state’s voters now say they’ve made up their minds whom they will vote for. That’s up four points from last week. Romney leads 52% to 48% among these voters.

Virginia voters trust Romney more than the president by a 51% to 46% margin when it comes to handling the economy. This is unchanged from a week ago. When it comes to national security and energy policy, it’s a near tie, with Romney posting a one-point edge over Obama in terms of voter trust on both issues. These findings are comparable to voter attitudes nationally.

Ras also has a new poll of Pennsylvania today: Obama by five, with over 50 percent of the vote. Between that and Jon Ralston’s arguments for why O’s early-voting advantage in Nevada will be tough (but not impossible) to overcome, it looks for the moment like Iowa is the most plausible candidate among the supposed “Obama states” to surprise everyone on election night. Of the last five polls taken there, Obama leads in two, Romney leads in one, and two more are tied. And Romney’s giving the state plenty of attention: Remember, his big economic speech tomorrow will be delivered in Ames. If New Hampshire falls through, Iowa could replace it. Imagine The One winning squeakers in NH and Ohio but losing the presidency anyway as Iowa and Wisconsin come through for Romney. Awesome.

Just one little hitch in all of this via Brendan Loy: What if Hurricane Sandy kinda sorta destroys the eastern United States next week?

I spoke this morning with my father, a retired elections bureaucrat in Connecticut, and he made the excellent point that the week before the election is a very busy for folks like him in his old job, and for registrars of voters, town clerks and the like. They’re testing voting machines, printing ballots or other critical papers, and doing all sorts of other mundane tasks that are critical to assuring a smooth Election Day. If the impact of the storm wipes out all or part of that critical “prep week,” then even if things are relatively “back to normal” by Election Day (by no means a given; see below), there would likely be an invisible storm impact in the form of additional chaos, “irregularities” and all manner of disruptions at the polls – failed voting machines, missing ballots, etc. – simply because the officials had to cut short their preparation, so more mistakes will inevitably happen…

Sandy is by no means equivalent to Katrina, but it could certainly lead to evacuation orders this weekend for coastal and flood-prone areas in its target zone, and it’s conceivable that those evacuation orders might not be lifted for some time after the storm if power outages, downed trees and power lines, inland flooding, etc. create a witch’s brew of unsafe conditions in the affected areas. If those areas happen to be located in a swing state, or a state with a major Senate race, it is easy to imagine decisions about when to lift evacuation orders becoming intensely politicized.

A nightmare scenario for Democrats would be an evacuation of portions of Philadelphia, which would not only endanger Bob Casey, but would take a state that Obama seems likely to win unless he’s losing swing states across the board (and thus the PA outcome doesn’t really matter), and turn it into a potentially decisive tipping-point state that could hand Romney the presidency even if he loses Ohio and most of the other swing states.

Loy also wonders what’ll happen if the power is still down in various polling places along the eastern seaboard on election day. One word, my friends: Thunderdome. Actually, two more words: Traffic goldmine. I won’t benefit since, as a New Yorker, I’ll apparently be underwater by then, but it’s nice to know that Ed, MKH, and Erika will have weeks of content from the unholy legal and political clusterfark in the aftermath.

Via the Daily Caller, here’s Ed Rendell putting the fear of God into Pennsylvania Democrats who are considering not voting this year.

Update: Maybe Ralston spoke too soon about Nevada.


Update: Corroborating evidence: Fox also has Romney by two in Virginia, a nine-point swing since last month. Has any candidate ever helped himself as much at a debate as Romney did in that first one?

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Magic gone in Ohio?

posted at 1:21 pm on October 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned like a rock star, especially in places hard hit by the economy, like Ohio – which Obama won by five points in the election, while enjoying a D+8 turnout.  Four years later, the rock-star vibe has utterly faded, and the campaign has turned into a grind for Team Obama as they dig up every vote they can find to try to hold off a resurgent Mitt Romney in the Buckeye State.  Byron York describes it as “the magic is gone”:

Messina is particularly focused on what are called low-propensity or sporadic voters – that is, voters who can’t be relied on to show up at the polls regularly, who might or might not make it to vote on Election Day.  If Obama can bank their votes early, he won’t have to worry about them on November 6.  “Sporadic voters matter,” Messina explained.  “It can’t just be about getting your traditional Democrats to vote early. If that were the case, then we’d be wasting our time and money.  This is about increasing the overall share of people who may be drop-off voters…”

So far, there are indications the Obama/Messina plan is making progress.  In the latest Rasmussen poll, released Wednesday, which showed the race in Ohio locked in a 48-48 tie, Obama led among early voters by ten percentage points.  The problem is, that’s less of a lead than Obama had among early voters in 2008.  So now, the president is frantically pursuing all those sporadic voters out there, begging them to cast a ballot early.

That’s the essence of the Obama re-election effort less than two weeks from Election Day.  Team Obama knows the campaign doesn’t have the magic it had in 2008.  Crowds are enthusiastic, but not over-the-top enthusiastic.  Obama’s strategy is to make up the excitement gap by just grinding it out, doing the organizational work of getting the people most likely to support the president – blacks, Latinos, women, the young – to vote early.  By doing so, he hopes to build up a sufficient bank of votes to prevail over Romney on November 6.  It’s the no-magic campaign.

But it’s not all magic, as York reminds us.  Obama may have done poorly in the debates, and step on his message in extemporaneous conversations, but on the stump Obama is formidable:

One fact that seems sometimes lost in the obsession with early voting and the ground game is that Obama remains a very, very good campaigner.  Certainly at Triangle Park he delivered what could only be called an extraordinarily polished performance. In recent days the Romney campaign has characterized the president’s stump speeches as “increasingly desperate.”  Perhaps that’s true, but the fact is, Obama is still an impressively effective campaigner when it comes to delivering speeches at old-fashioned political rallies. Comparing Romney and Obama on the stump is no contest.  Even without the messianic promise of his 2008 campaign, the president is still a far, far better performer.

Yesterday, Time Magazine released a poll in Ohio showing Obama up by 5, 49/44, but the sample was D+9, with lower Republican turnout than in 2008.  No one took it seriously, including Chuck Todd – and as he reports, neither of the campaigns did either:

Let’s take a look at a poll that went largely unremarked yesterday.  Survey USA polled 609 likely and actual voters (those who have already cast ballots) in Ohio and found the race in a virtual tie, 47/44 for Obama, and found the same in the Senate race, with Republican challenger Josh Mandel just one point behind Sherrod Brown, 42/43.  The sample is also a little suspect at D+7 (39/32/25), but the internals are interesting in the presidential race:

  • Gender gap is Obama +5 overall (-7 among men, +12 among women).  In 2008, Obama was +11 in the gender gap (+3 men, +8 women).
  • Romney leads among independents by 8.  In 2008, Obama won them by 8 – a 16-point flip in the gap.  Furthermore, Obama only gets to 39% in this demo.  Late breaking deciders usually go for the challenger, especially in poor economic conditions, which means Romney has a pretty good chance of getting a double-digit advantage among independents.
  • Obama beats Romney 2-1 among 18-34YOs (58/29), but Romney wins two of the three other demos and ties among 50-64YOs at 46%.  Again, late deciders will probably break toward Romney, but the younger voters seem to be somewhat oversampled here too, although the exit polling doesn’t exactly line up with Survey USA’s categories.  Voters 44 and under accounted for 41% of the Ohio vote in 2008, but voters 49 and below account for 49% of Survey USA’s respondents.

It’s a razor-close race in Ohio, but if Romney has knocked six points off of Obama’s 2008 gender gap and turned an eight-point deficit among independents into an eight-point advantage in a cycle where Democratic enthusiasm won’t come close to matching 2008, I have to think that the magic has already shifted to Romney.

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ABC/WaPo poll: Romney pulls nearly even with Obama on handling foreign affairs, terrorism; Update: Obama’s giving up on NC, says Begala

posted at 7:47 pm on October 22, 2012 by Allahpundit

I know you’ve got poll fatigue but we’re in a news holding pattern ahead of the debate. This one’s topical, though: Even before the first words are spoken in Florida tonight, Romney’s surged into a near tie with O on the two core components of foreign policy. Consider it insurance against a poor performance this evening. Barring any catastrophic gaffes, Romney seems to have already met the credibility threshold for the presidency, enough so that he’s even with an incumbent despite the country not yet having heard him talk foreign policy at length. If he does well tonight, he builds on that. If he does “meh,” eh. Probably won’t hurt him any.

With tonight’s debate focused on foreign policy, the poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds Romney virtually tied with Obama in trust to handle international affairs (49-46 percent, Obama-Romney) and terrorism (47-46 percent), as well as to serve as commander-in-chief of the armed services (48-45 percent). That reflects a shift in Romney’s favor; Obama led on terrorism by 11 points as recently as Sept. 29, and on international affairs by 7 points earlier this month.

In another milestone for Romney, 50 percent of likely voters express a favorable opinion of him overall, while 47 percent see him unfavorably – his highest popularity score of the season, and one of the rare times he’s been numerically above water in this measure. His personal popularity now roughly matches Obama’s 52-46 percent, favorable-unfavorable…

As well as close overall, the contest stands at 51-47 percent, Romney-Obama, in the nine battleground states designated by the ABC News Political Unit – well within the margin of sampling error, and not significantly different from the mid-month 51-46 percent, Obama-Romney, in these same states. But regardless of sampling error, the bigger number now is Romney’s, another indication of the competitiveness he’s showing.

I hope they’re going to poll those battleground states with a bigger sample. A nine-point swing may not be statistically significant in this case, but I’d sure like to know what sort of swing a proper sample is picking up. Strangely, while Romney’s gained ground on foreign affairs, Obama’s gained ground on the economy (he trails by just two), the deficit (he trails by four), and taxes (he leads by 11), which makes this poll the opposite of the CW – Obama’s improved domestically and Romney’s improved on international issues. Also strange is that ABC’s still picking up its largest gender gap of the season, a 14-point lead among women for O and a 12-point lead among men for Romney. A few other recent high-profile polls have shown Romney gaining with women. Proof that the left’s days-long fascination with “binder” references has paid off? Probably not:

Unlike their more conservative cohorts, these women agreed that abortion is not any of the federal government’s business. But they also didn’t believe abortion rights were on the line in the coming election. “It has never changed,” Zebib said. “We’ve had pro-life presidents many times, and it didn’t change. It’s a bumper sticker. They try to divert our attention.”

Eileen touched her friend’s arm. “Most women I know, whether they’re for Obama or Romney, they feel the same thing,” she said. “It’s a distraction. That whole Gloria Steinem thing is old.”…

Romney’s “binders full of women” line, an awkward phrasing that inspired reams of mockery on the Internet, wasn’t changing any minds among the women I spoke to. Democratic partisans saw it as more evidence Romney was out of touch; Republican partisans saw it as of a piece with his business background. “Anyone who’s ever been a professional, ever, knows that’s how you get resumes: in a binder,”43-year-old Republican stay-at-home mother Michele Moss said, rolling her eyes. Only someone who’d never been in the business world – like Obama – would fail to understand that.

The “binders” line didn’t register at all among the undecided women.

Yeah, it’s a strange thing for an ostensibly “progressive” administration to decide that the key to women’s votes runs through abortion and contraception when the most momentous progress they’ve made over the last 50 years has to do with jobs. Note to O: When women tell you they’re concerned about “labor,” they’re not referring to the last stages of pregnancy. Gallup:

Says Laura Genero at AmSpec, “Economics, not reproduction, is the women’s issue of the 21st century. It’s one of the ironies of this election that Mitt Romney– whose wife worked primarily inside the home – has a better grasp of this than President Obama, whose wife worked outside the home.” Tonight’s debate will probably have the smallest effect of the four this year on moving the gender gap one way or another, but we’ll see. Three days or so until the first post-debate polls.

Update: Like I was saying, the bulk of the evidence right now is that the gender gap is closing, not opening. New from CBS:

The poll also shows a narrowing of the gender gap. Women have given the President a nearly double-digit lead in many polls, including the September CBS News/New York Times Poll. Now, however, women support Mr. Obama by five points, 50 to 45 percent (down from 12 points last month); the race is even among men – tied at 47 percent.

Update: Via the Standard, no surprise here:

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