Sep. 19 absentee ballot for overseas voters

Obama 252   McCain 265   Ties 21
Senate Dem 56   GOP 44  
House Dem 242   GOP 193  

Senate map and races
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This day in 2004

strong Dem Strong Dem (157)
weak Dem Weak Dem (34)
barely Dem Barely Dem (61)
tied Exactly tied (21)
barely GOP Barely GOP (81)
weak GOP Weak GOP (23)
strong GOP Strong GOP (161)
270 Electoral votes needed to win
Map algorithm explained
Dem pickups (vs. 2004): CO IA NM GOP pickups (vs. 2004): (None) PDA SMS

PW logo SurveyUSA: Obama Opens Wide Lead in Iowa Palin's Favorability Ratings Tumble
Marist: Ohio Tied, Obama Leads in Michigan, Pennsylvania Welch Wins Both Party Nominations in Vermont
ARG Poll: McCain Ahead in Indiana Two Thirds of Households Watched Conventions

News from the Votemaster

National Journal Analysis

Ronald Brownstein of the National Journal wrote a piece on the state of five key swing states that Bush won in 2004 based a new polling data (given below). The states are Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, and Virginia. In his view, Obama must win at least one or two of these to have any chance of winning. Currently he has a lead of 7 points in New Mexico while Colorado, Florida, and Ohio are essentially tied, and McCain leads by 7 points in Virginia. In addition to the polling data, interviews with voters in these states are given. In all the states, McCain's strong suit is experience and Obama's is "understand the needs and priorities of people like me." In general many people are nervous about the future because McCain represents more of the same (which they are strongly against) and Obama represents a great leap into the unknown.

Wall Street Turmoil Continues

The Dow was up 410 points yesterday, which is better than going down, but most people don't like this kind of roller coaster ride. In other financial news, one of the two investment banks left, Morgan Stanley, is in talks with Wachovia Bank, which itself is up to its ears in bad mortgages, having written off $23 billion worth so far. All these (potential) shotgun marriages don't make the case that the markets will work things out on their own and government regulation is not needed. Even John McCain is now saying the head of the SEC should be fired. Whether someone who has opposed regulation his whole career can now convincingly say we need more regulation remains to be seen. Obama has been pounding him on flip-flopping.

There has also been talk of the government organizing the mother of all bailouts, with Uncle Sam simply buying all the problem mortgages. This would transfer billions of dollars of taxpayer money to the ailing banks. In return, the government would get millions of worthless (?) mortgages. Republicans like this deal because it saves banks from the consequences of their own greed. Democrats like this deal because it prevents foreclosures on people who bought a house they couldn't afford and got a mortgage they had no realistic hope of paying. The taxpayers get the bill. Everybody gets something. Undoubtedly the market would react positively to this news. However, even this solution has problems. Would Congress create a new agency to manage this? Would be it be part of the treasury department? Would it be quasi-independent? All up in the air. And of couse such a plan is not without controversy. In theory, Republicans don't like the government sticking its nose into business, especially not in a huge way. But right before an election many of them in Congress might go for it even though it violates all their principles. The most important principle is getting reelected.

For all the campaign talk about how important experience is, the gang of three that is engineering all the financial deals consists of treasury secretary Henry Paulson (an investment banker by trade), fed chairman Ben Bernanke (a professor from Princeton), and president of the NY federal reserve bank, Timothy Geithner (a long-time government official). The President of the United States isn't even in the loop. If we have a major crisis that is being handled by top government officials not including the President, one can legitimately ask how important the President's personal experience is.

Business Groups Buy TV Ads

In the past, business groups would contribute money to favored candidates by setting up political action committees and putting money in them. This year they are producing and running ads directly, to prevent the candidates from tweaking the message. For example, the Chamber of Commerce spent $365,000 in August to attack Democratic senatorial candidate Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire. This kind of direct involvement never happened before on much of a scale.

Obama and Kindergarten Sex-Ed

The McCain campaign has been running an ad pointing out that Obama supported sex education for kindergarteners when he was in the Illinois state senate. It didn't mention that it was about age-appropriate sex education, which for kindergarteners meant not going for car rides with strangers. Why is McCain even talking about this? Slate as a good piece discussing why. It is all about revving up the culture wars again. In the past there have been huge battles about school textbooks. In Kanawha County, WV, one such battle in 1974 over a multicultural book ended up with shutting down much of the state's coal mines, school buses getting shot at, and a school being dynamited. A study done afterwards discovered that the pro-book and anti-book forces differed not only on the book, but on everything. Pro-book people believed in government, thought taxes supported useful things, opposed school prayer, thought schools should provide free lunches to poor kids, and went to mainline Protestant churches. The anti-book people thought government was too big, tax money was wasted, schools shouldn't take the role of families, and went to nonmainline churches. The purpose of the McCain ad is to imply that he identifies with the latter group without actually saying so. It is saying to them: "I am one of you" without having to say it. It is a kind of dog-whistle politics.

Viral E-mail Explains Why Palin Drives Liberals Nuts

Taegan Goddard reprinted part of an E-mail circulating around the country comparing Barack Obama to Sarah Palin. It's funny and partisan, but it has a ring of truth to it. For better or worse, this kind of e-mails are playing a bigger and bigger role in elections. This one is mostly amusing but some of them are outrageous and libelous, but because the authors can't be tracked down, little can be done to stop them.

Forecast Predicts Dems to Gain 13-17 House Seats

Chris Bowers has produced a chart looking at 101 potentially close House races. The chart lists the candidates, polls, 2006 results, PVI, how much money each candidate has, and some notes. Bowers' analysis race by race indicates a net gain for the Democrats of 13-17 seats. He thinks the Democrats will pick up Republican-held seats in AK-AL (Berkowitz), IL-11 (Halvorson), NJ-03 (Adler), NM-01 (Heinrich), NY-13 (McMahon), NY-25 (Maffei), and VA-11 (Connolly). He also thinks Republicans will pick up Democratic-held seats in AL-05 (Parker), FL-16 (Rooney), LA-06 (Cassidy), NH-01 (Bradley), PA-11 (Barletta), and TX-22 (Lampson).

Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) Gets Both Nominations

One seat the Republicans won't get is VT-AL. They didn't bother to put up a candidate to oppose Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) in their (open) primary, so not many Republicans showed up to vote. A small band of Democrats organized a campaign to write in Welch as the GOP nominee and he won the Republican nomination as well as the Democratic nomination and will oppose himself in November.

Today's Polls

We have 30 presidential polls today.

State Obama McCain Start End Pollster
Alaska 38% 53% Sep 15 Sep 17 Research 2000
Alabama 34% 64% Sep 16 Sep 17 SurveyUSA
Colorado 45% 44% Sep 11 Sep 15 FD
Colorado 51% 41% Sep 17 Sep 17 Insider Advantage
Connecticut 53% 41% Sep 16 Sep 16 Rasmussen
Florida 44% 44% Sep 11 Sep 15 FD
Florida 45% 51% Sep 16 Sep 17 SurveyUSA
Florida 46% 46% Sep 14 Sep 17 ARG
Georgia 41% 57% Sep 14 Sep 16 SurveyUSA
Georgia 43% 51% Sep 17 Sep 17 Insider Advantage
Georgia 43% 54% Sep 16 Sep 16 Rasmussen
Iowa 45% 45% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
Illinois 53% 37% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
Indiana 43% 47% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
Michigan 48% 44% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
Minnesota 47% 45% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
Nebraska 34% 60% Sep 12 Sep 17 ARG
New Hampshire 45% 48% Sep 13 Sep 15 ARG
New Jersey 55% 42% Sep 16 Sep 16 Rasmussen
New Mexico 49% 42% Sep 11 Sep 15 FD
Ohio 41% 42% Sep 11 Sep 15 FD
Ohio 46% 45% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
Oregon 50% 40% Sep 11 Sep 14 Davis Hibbitts Midghall
Pennsylvania 45% 45% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
South Carolina 37% 59% Sep 14 Sep 17 ARG
Virginia 41% 48% Sep 11 Sep 15 FD
Virginia 46% 48% Sep 17 Sep 17 Insider Advantage
Vermont 60% 36% Sep 13 Sep 13 Rasmussen
Wisconsin 45% 44% Sep 14 Sep 17 U. of Wisconsin
Wisconsin 49% 45% Sep 14 Sep 16 Opinion Research

We also have six Senate polls.

State Democrat D-pct Republican R-pct Start End Pollster
Alabama Vivian Figures 31% Jeff Sessions* 66% Sep 16 Sep 17 SurveyUSA
Georgia Jim Martin 36% Saxby Chambliss* 53% Sep 14 Sep 16 SurveyUSA
Georgia Jim Martin 43% Saxby Chambliss* 50% Sep 16 Sep 16 Rasmussen
Michigan Carl Levin* 56% Jack Hoogendyk 36% Sep 10 Sep 10 Rasmussen
New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen 52% John Sununu* 40% Sep 13 Sep 15 ARG
Oregon Jeff Merkley 36% Gordon Smith* 37% Sep 11 Sep 14 Davis Hibbitts Midghall

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-- The Votemaster