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News from the Votemaster

Supreme Court Refuses to Block Early Voting in Ohio

In a one-sentence decision reading: "The application for stay presented to Justice Kagan and by her referred to the Court is denied," the U.S. Supreme Court has extricated itself from a case that could decide the presidential election and increased the chances that President Obama wins Ohio and the election. Briefly recapping the situation, early voting has already started in Ohio. However, the Republican Secretary of State, Jon Husted, decided to close the polls on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday before election day except for military families. They would be allowed to vote then but nobody else would.

The Obama campaign took the state to court on the grounds that there was no valid reason to allow one class of voters to get three extra days and not others. Husted knew very well, of course, that the majority of people who vote the weekend before the election are Democrats, many of them lower-income voters who can't take off from work on election day. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state could not keep the polls open for some voters but not all. Then Husted appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent the Appeals Court's ruling from taking effect. The Supreme Court refused to grant the stay, so all Ohio Voters will be allowed to vote the weekend before the election.

This is probably the most important news of the day, even more than the presidential debate. An estimated 100,000 people will vote in the weekend before the election, the majority of them Democrats. If their votes help Obama carry Ohio, it would take a near miracle for Romney to get to 270 electoral votes. He would have to win Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and Colorado and a few more swing states.

Obama Wins Second Debate

After a lackluster performance in the first presidential debate, President Obama hit his stride--as well as hitting Mitt Romney over and over--and won the second debate, 46% to 39% according to a CNN snap poll. The poll had 33% Democrats and 33% Republicans, which represents an oversampling of Republicans. The CBS snap poll had the same margin, with Obama winning 37% to 30%.

The questions came from the audience, which brought up subjects that had not been been discussed before, including immigration, women's issues, gun control, and foreign policy. For the first time, Obama contrasted Romney with George W. Bush, saying Romney was even more extreme than Bush. He pointed out that Bush did not try to turn Medicare into a voucher program, did not plan to defund Planned Parenthood, and did not call for self deportation of illegal immigrants.

Although the format was a town-hall, with the candidates nominally just answering questions posed by undecided voters, it was anything but that. Both candidates walked menacingly around the stage, pointed fingers, interrupted each other repeatedly, and spoke longer than they were supposed to. Romney, in particular, was impolite to moderator Candy Crowley, which may cost him votes among women.

There were plenty of zingers this time. When Obama mentioned Romney's investment in Chinese companies, Romney asked if Obama had looked at his pension and Obama shot back: "I don't look at my pension. It's not as big as yours so it doesn't take so long." When the subject of energy came up, Romney said: "This has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal." Obama shot back: "When you were governor of Massachusetts, you stood in front of a coal plant and pointed at it and said: `This plant kills.'" At the very end of the debate, when Romney had no chance to reply, Obama brought up the "47% remark," saying "Think about who he was talking about: "the elderly receiving Social Security, veterans, students and soldiers." Obama said that unlike Romney, he wants to be President of all Americans.

After the first debate, Obama's score in the electoral college fell precipitously, as can be seen here.

electoral graph

Whether it will recover after this debate remains to be seen. Once impressions are made, they are hard to unmake. Nevertheless, as it stands today, Obama still has a small lead in the electoral college. If he wins Ohio and either Iowa or Nevada, he will have 271 electoral votes--just enough to eke out a narrow victory. However, Colorado and Virginia are tied, so his win last night could push either or both into his column, giving him more breathing space.

Things move at lightning speed on the Internet. When Mitt Romney was asked a question about the inequality of women's pay, he said he had received "binders full of women" when trying to fill executive positions. It took only seconds for someone to buy the domain name and create a Website about all the things Romney has done against women (e.g., as governor, ended all funding for a cervical and breast cancer program).

Gallup Poll: Romney Up by 4 Points

Yesterday's Gallup poll, released before the debate, showed Mitt Romney leading President Obama 50% to 46% among likely voters. A Rasmussen poll also had Romney in the lead, 49% to 47%. However, a WaPo/ABC poll put Obama ahead 49% to 46%. In any event, it is clearly very close. It will be several days before we know if the second debate had any effect.

Also of note is the well known rural-urban split. A new bipartisan poll shows Mitt Romney with a wide lead, 59% to 37%, among rural voters. These voters are largely white, church-going Republicans. John McCain won them by a 53% to 45% margin, so Romney is doing even better with them than McCain did. On the other hand, urban voters are strongly Democratic, with suburban voters up for grabs.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
Indiana 41% 54%   Oct 10 Oct 11 Rasmussen
Massachusetts 57% 42%   Oct 10 Oct 10 Rasmussen
Minnesota 50% 40%   Oct 11 Oct 13 SurveyUSA
New Jersey 51% 43%   Oct 10 Oct 14 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania 50% 46%   Oct 12 Oct 14 Quinnipiac U.
Washington 54% 40%   Oct 12 Oct 14 SurveyUSA

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
Florida Bill Nelson* 50% Connie McGillicuddy 40%     Oct 01 Oct 09 U. of North Florida
Minnesota Amy Klobuchar* 58% Kurt Bills 30%     Oct 07 Oct 09 SurveyUSA
Montana Jon Tester* 48% Denny Rehberg 48%     Oct 14 Oct 14 Rasmussen
New Jersey Bob Menendez* 55% Joseph Kyrillos 37%     Oct 10 Oct 14 Quinnipiac U.
Pennsylvania Bob Casey* 48% Tom Smith 45%     Oct 12 Oct 14 Quinnipiac U.

* Denotes incumbent