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News from the Votemaster

Bump Time

President Obama is starting to get the usual post-convention bump. A new Gallup poll released yesterday gives him a 52% approval rating, the highest he has had since Osama bin Laden went for a postmortem swim in May 2011. The poll is a rolling average of the three days of the Democratic National Convention, so some people were polled on Tuesday, before Bill Clinton or Obama spoke. It is very likely that the average for tomorrow and Monday will be higher. The big question is where Obama's approval will be 2 weeks from now. Convention bounces typically are short lived.

Gallup also asked people who they were planning to vote for. The results are that Obama is leading Romney nationally 48% to 45%. Of course, the national polls are only a broad indication of what is going on in the key swing states.

Conventions generally have become much less important than they used to be, especially since the nominee is no longer actually chosen in some smoke-filled room at the convention and there was a lot of suspense. Since every state now has a primary or caucus, drama at the convention is rare. Consequently, the networks have long stopped gavel-to-gavel coverage, and there is far more competition for voters' time from other television programs, the Internet, and electronic gadgets of all kinds. Probably 90% of the votes are locked in by the time the first convention rolls around so the entire show is aimed at a small slice of the electorate. There is some circumstantial evidence that the people who watch the conventions are highly partisan rather than the almighty undecideds. During the Republican convention, Fox News got the most viewers. During the Democratic convention, MSNBC got the most. The suggestion here is that the viewers are partisan and prefer listening to reporters who are on their side.

The bump this year may be especially short because the August unemployment numbers have come out and only 96,000 new jobs were added, although the unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%. The Republicans will be sure to talk a lot about the small number of jobs added. Democrats will talk about how this is the 30th consecutive month in which the economy added jobs and how the unemployment rate is now lower than what it was the day Obama took office. Since the first debate is Oct. 3, the economy and what to do about it is likely to dominate the campaigns for the rest of September. Romney will blame Obama for the lack of job growth and Obama will say Romney wants to return to the Bush policies that caused the trouble in the first place.

Obama's Speech Had More Viewers and More Tweeters than Romney's

More than 35 million people watched Obama's acceptance speech on three broadcast and 10 cable stations. Slightly fewer, 30 million, watched Romney's speech. Peak Tweet rate for Obama reached almost 53,000 tweets/min, triple Romney's peak tweak rate of 14,000 tweets/min. However, these numbers have to be taken in context. Obama's fans are much younger than Romney's and undoubtedly tweet a lot more than Romney's. If you doubt this, ask your grandma what her peak tweet rate is. Slightly more significant are the television viewing numbers because televsion viewers skew much older (and thus more Republican). One study puts the average age of a television viewer at 50. Nevertheless, for such an important event as Obama's speech, even young people might be willing to put down their mice for an hour to watch (while tweeting like crazy using their smartphones).

Romney to Start Ad Blitz

Another factor that may reduce the shelf life of Obama's bump is the massive ad campaign Romney is about to start in eight battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Romney raised over $100 million last month and is now starting to spend it in large amounts. SuperPACs and other groups are also going to start huge ad campaigns now.

Ohio Secretary of State Concedes to Federal Judge

In a key development in one of the most important swing states, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, has rescinded an order he gave to all 88 county boards of elections that defied a federal judge's ruling that he may not shut down early voting for the three days before the election for anyone not in the military or a spouse of a soldier. He was apologetic rather than combative in front of the judge, possibly worried about being cited for Contempt of Court. Nevertheless, the Republicans are still working to try to shut down the early voting three days before election day.

Early Voting Starts Today in North Carolina

The first absentee ballots should be arriving in people's mail boxes in North Carolina today so any resident of the state who gets one and who watched both conventions and feels he or she knows enough can vote today. North Carolina is the first state to have early voting either by absentee ballot or in person. The next ones to start are Kentucky and Indiana, when absentee voting begins Sept. 17.

While early voting encourages more people to vote, it also has a down side. Some people may vote early, then hear something later on, for example, in one of the debates, that makes them change their mind. But it is too late. After having sent off that absentee ballot you can't run to your computer and type Ctrl-Z to unvote. Of course, the electorate has become so polarized that there are millions of voters who are so partisan that they would vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for the other party. The term Yellow Dog Democrat was actually coined by Abraham Lincoln as a pejorative for the Southern slaveholders who weren't keen on his freeing the slaves and wouldn't even consider voting for the Republicans. The "yellow dog" label is now used to describe extreme partisans on both sides.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
New Jersey Bob Menendez* 47% Joseph Kyrillos 35%     Aug 27 Sep 02 Quinnipiac U.

* Denotes incumbent