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News from the Votemaster

Obama Close to Breaking Even on Jobs

When Barack Obama took over the presidency on Jan. 20, 2009, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs. After the stimulus bill was passed and went into effect, the rate of job loss slowed down but still 4.3 million jobs were lost in the first 13 months of Obama's presidency. Since then, jobs have started to come back. Every month since Feb. 2010 jobs have been added to the economy, albeit not enough to get unemployment under 8%. Since Obama took office, 4 million new jobs have been added, so there is still a small net loss. Nevertheless, with three jobs reports due before the election, there is about an even chance that there will be a net jobs gain for Obama's term. Of course it will be nothing like the 23 million jobs added during Bill Clinton's two terms but Clinton took over during a far more positive economic climate. For a list of jobs gained/lost during various administrations, click here.

Pollsters Wrestle with Cell Phones

So many voters no longer have a landline that failing to call cell-only voters is becoming a big problem for pollsters. Bill McIntuff (R) and Peter Hart (D), who together poll for NBC and the Wall Street Journal, have now decided to make 30% of their sample cell-only voters. In fact, if they have enough landline voters already included in their sample and reach someone on a cell phone who also has a landline, they terminate the interview immediately. The reason is that cell-only voters skew strongly Democratic and they don't want to count someone with both kinds of phones as a cell-only voter.

The rise of cell-only voters causes a problem for automated pollsters like Rasmussen Reports, PPP, and SurveyUSA. By law, automated dialing of cell phone numbers is forbidden. Rasmussen tries to capture the missing electorate with online interviews, but that approach is fraught with problems. Furthermore, nobody really knows how many people have only a cell phone and not a landline, so it is not easy to correct for these people after the fact. Pollsters who use live interviewers can randomly dial any telephone number, so they don't have this problem. No one really has a good answer here and the problem is only getting worse.

Fight Over Early Voting in Ohio Goes to Court

The Republican-controlled Ohio legislature changed the law this year to stop early voting three days before the election except for military families. Voters who think they can vote the Saturday, Sunday or Monday before election day will be told they can't vote unless they are active military or families of people in the Armed Forces. The Democrats sued the state to make it possible for everyone to vote the last three days, not just military personnel. Mitt Romney has blasted the Democrats for being against the military because they want the law overturned so everyone can vote the last three days. Romney called the lawsuit despicable.

The real reason the legislature eliminated the last three days of early voting is to reduce turnout, especially among people who can't take off time on a Tuesday to vote, for example, bus drivers. By allowing service members to vote on these days, the Republicans laid a trap so they could attack the Democrats as being against the troops when the lawsuit (which they expected) came. Needless to say, the Democrats have forcefully defended their position as wanting everyone to be able to vote the last three days. There is no logical reason to have weeks of early voting, as Ohio does, but not the last three days, other than voter suppression. Welcome to the 2012 election.

When Is a Tax Not a Tax?

If Romney chooses former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty as his running mate, one issue that will come up quickly is the 75 cent per pack "health impact fee" on cigarettes he pushed for and got. This was plainly a tax increase, something Pawlenty had promised not to do. By not calling it a tax, he hoped to be able to claim he hadn't raised taxes. But for conservatives who are against tax increases, raising taxes and calling them fees is not what they had in mind. This whole business is like the old child's riddle: "How many legs would a mule have if you called the tail a leg?" Answer: "Four. Calling the tail a leg doesn't make it a leg." Calling a tax something else doesn't somehow make it not a tax.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Indiana 35% 51%   Jul 31 Aug 01 Rasmussen