Main map

Presidential polls: (None)
Dem pickups: (None)
GOP pickups: IN NC

Previous | Next


Downloadable data

News from the Votemaster

Why Didn't Obama Change Washington?

In addition to campaigning on specific policy issues, such as ending the war in Iraq (done) and passing a more-or-less universal health-care bill (done), in 2008, Barack Obama promised to end the partisan bickering in Washington. At that he failed. Both sides agree on that but their explanations are completely different. Democrats say that on Jan. 20, 2009 at noon (or maybe before that), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made his now-famous decision that his top legislative priority was to make sure Obama would be a one-term President. As a consequence, Senate Republicans did everything they could to block Obama at every turn.

Republicans have a different explanation. They say Obama just went ahead and tried to carry out his program without taking their wishes into consideration and this caused the emnity. However, it is hard to see how this is true. The health-care plan, for example, is a virtual copy of the plan the very conservative Heritage Foundation put forward starting in 1989 and which the Republicans have been pushing for over 20 years. This is the plan Mitt Romney passed in Massachusetts. Many in Obama's party were angry with him for adopting the Republican plan instead of a system more like the Canadian single-payer system. The truth is, it is unlikely anything Obama could have done would have reduced the amount of partisanship in Washington.

The core problem is modern technology. Through polling, microtargeting, and other campaign techniques, the Democrats try to position themselves just far enough to the right that they can get 50.1% of the vote and the Republicans position themselves just far enough to the left to get 50.1%. It doesn't always work, but campaign gurus like Democrat David Axelrod and Republican Karl Rove aim for this, despite what some of their party members may be yelling. The net result is that the country is pretty evenly divided, each party thnking that God is on its side, and politics has become war. It wasn't always this way. During the Eisenhower administration the parties got along just fine but that era is long gone.

If Mitt Romney is elected President, he will certainly make a plea that we need to overcome partisanship and all work together. But with memories of Republican obstruction so fresh in the minds of the Democrats, it remains to be seen whether they would cooperate if the situation arises.

Romney Campaigns in Ohio

Ground zero for Mitt Romney is Ohio, so after the convention he headed to the state to campaign there. For him, it is hard to imagine losing either Ohio or Florida and still being elected President. Obama could lose both and still be elected if he can win in the West (Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico) plus Virginia or North Carolina. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who was on Romney's short list for running mate, said that it is not enough for the Republicans to turn out their base in Ohio. They have to win over some people who voted for Obama in 2008. Romney seems to understand that and is campaigning using the theme that Obama is a nice guy and an honorable person but just doesn't know enough about the economy to fix it.

One aspect of the contest in Ohio is the role of General Motors. The company is trying in the worst way to avoid politics so as not to irritate any customers, but next week in Charlotte, the Democrats are surely going to repeating Joe Biden's slogan "Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive" constantly. The company has forbidden Romney and Obama from making campaign stops in its factories or using images from them in their advertising. Nevertheless, with thousands of jobs in Ohio dependent on General Motors (because many suppliers are in Ohio), its bailout by the Obama administration is going to be front and center shortly, whether GM wants it or not.

Valerie Jarrett is Obama's Spine

It is often said that tactician Karl Rove was Bush's brain. If Obama has outsourced a body part, it would be to Valerie Jarrett as Obama's spine. She has been a close friend of his for decades and interacts with him more often than any other staff or cabinet member. She often attends meetings where Obama is having a "private" discussion with someone. More than anyone else in the White House, she tries to keep him on the path his base wants him on. The New York Times has a good background piece on her today. For someone so powerful, she is not well known.

Voting Starts this Month

While we haven't gotten to 24/7 year-round voting yet, we are moving in that direction. In Iowa, people can vote starting on Sept. 27, before any of the debates and nearly 6 weeks before election day. President Obama campaigned in Iowa yesterday, urging voters to register and to vote early. It was his seventh trip to this small, but nevertheless important, swing state. If Obama wins the states the Democrats have won the last five elections plus the swing states in the West (Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico), where he has been leading all year, he would have 262 electoral votes, 8 short of 270. Those 8 could be Iowa (6) and New Hampshire (4), allowing him to lose Ohio, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, and Missouri and still be reelected.

New York Attorney General Subpoenas Bain Documents

In a move that could embarrass Mitt Romney, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has issued a subpoena for documents from Bain Capital, the private equity firm founded by Mitt Romney, and other companies to see if they illegally converted management fees into other forms of income that are taxed at a lower rate. An illegal conversion might have deprived New York State of tax revenue, in which case Schneiderman has a legal basis for pursuing the case. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine that the politically ambitious Schneiderman is unaware of the broader political implications of targeting Bain Capital two months before the election. He is also no doubt aware that the Attorney General's job was Eliot Spitzer's springboard to the governor's mansion. That building is currently occupied by a Democrat, Andrew Cuomo, but could become vacant on Jan. 20, 2017 if Cuomo is elected President next time. It is like playing three-dimensional chess.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
West Virginia Joe Manchin* 66% John Raese 27%     Aug 22 Aug 25 R.L. Repass

* Denotes incumbent