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News from the Votemaster

Ads Succeed in Making Voters Dislike Both Candidates

The early barrage of negative ads has made voters dislike both Obama and Romney. A new poll shows that 43% of Americans hold a somewhat or very negative view of President Obama (up from 37% a year ago) and 40% have a somewhat or very negative view of Mitt Romney (up from 26% a year ago). Historically these are very high negatives for so early in the season. The vast amount of negative advertising on tap for the Fall is only going to make it worse. It will be a miracle if the winner can govern at all with half the country hating him.

Romney SuperPACs Have Spent $144 Million so Far

Republican SuperPACs have been running television ads at a furious rate, spending $144 million on general election ads in swing states so far. All of them are negative ads attacking President Obama rather than praising Mitt Romney's business expertise. Karl Rove's two groups, Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads together have spent $94 million on TV ads, five times as much as all the Democratic superPACs combined. And this is only July. Wait until September, when the race really starts.

One new front in this battle is a Republican group backed by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to target Jewish voters and try to peel them away from the Democrats on the issue of Israel. Adelson has said he will spend up to $100 million trying to defeat Obama. Much of the effort will be in Pennsylvania and Florida. Despite the impending wave of ads, it will be an uphill climb for Adelson as Jews are the second most reliable voting block for the Democrats. Only blacks are more strongly Democratic. Romney will try to shake things up when he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this week. Romney has known Netanyahu for 30 years. Nevertheless, Netanyahu has to be careful because if he implicitly supports Romney and Obama wins anyway, he will have to deal with an unhappy Obama.

Effect of Photo ID Laws on Polling is Unknown

In the wake of the Republican takeovers of a number of state governments in 2010, some of these passed laws requiring voters to show photo ID in order to vote. While there has been much speculation and now legal action about how these laws will affect the election (because most people lacking photo ID are poor and skew Democratic), there has been little attention to how these laws affect polling.

Currently, most pollsters are just releasing polls for registered voters, but come September, most will switch to likely voters. Each pollster has its own secret sauce for determing likely voters. Typically the questions are things like:

Pollsters guard their screening questions and how they interpret them jealously. But the voter ID laws introduce a new factor. There may be voters who are determined to vote but lack the required ID and do not know this. To get an accurate poll, people who want to vote but are not allowed to should not be counted. It will be interesting to see how they deal with this. Maybe some will add additional questions like: "Do you have a drivers license or state-issued ID card?" If they don't, the polls will probably overstate the Democratic vote, since more Democrats will be turned away than Republicans.

In principle, voters without ID should be able to cast a provisional ballot and then show up later with ID to have it counted, but it is doubtful that many poorly educated voters will understand this process.

Sarah Palin Endorses Jeff Flake in Arizona Senate Race

Sarah Palin's endorsements are generally for tea party candidates--except when she thinks they are going to lose. She doesn't like backing ideologically friendly losers. In this regard, her endorsement of Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in the Arizona Republican senatorial primary over tea party favorite Wil Cardon is noteworthy. In terms of policy issues, she is much closer to Cardon, but apparently she thinks Flake, the establishment candidate, will win the primary. Most observers expect Flake to put up a much stronger fight against the Democrat, former Bush Surgeon General Richard Carmona, so that may also have influenced her thinking.

Portman Could be Hit with Steel

Potential vice presidential candidate Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) has a possible Achilles heel: steel. In 2005, the former budget director for George W. Bush, urged Bush not to impose restrictions on the import of cheap Chinese steel. The Chinese steel caused jobs to be lost in Ohio. If Romney picks Portman, no doubt the Democrats will pound Romney for picking someone who supported a policy that directly led to job losses in Ohio. Portman's supporters say the Democrats tried that in 2010 and the strategy didn't work. But this election is much more about jobs than the 2010 one was, so it might resonate this time.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Michigan 48% 42%   Jul 23 Jul 23 Rasmussen

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren 40% Scott Brown 38%     Jul 19 Jul 22 MassINC