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News from the Votemaster

Pew Poll: Obama Up over Romney 51% to 41% Nationally

Don't you believe it. A Pew poll taken just before Mitt Romney's Europe trip shows President Obama a full 10 points ahead of Romney. That's absurd. No other poll taken by anyone has shown Obama with a lead anywhere near that. Pew is a neutral organization and the actual polling was done by Princeton Survey Associates, which is nonpartisan, so what is going on here?

At the end of the story they let the cat out of the bag. They surveyed 1505 people on landlines and 1003 on cell phones. That is a lot of cell phones and it is well known that cell phones skew Democratic--well, their owners skew Democratic. Sure enough, the internals show there were 813 Democrats surveyed, 459 Republicans, and 599 independents (the others were either not registered voters or something else invalidated them). In the sample, 43% were Democrats and 24% were Republicans. No conceivable electorate looks like this, with a 19-point Democratic advantage. The sample was corrected for gender, age, race, Hispanic origin and nativity, education and region, but there is no mention of correction for political party. You should take this poll with a grain (or better, a kilogram) of salt. But the lesson here is that polling with samples of 2500 people is a tricky business. Pew ought to know that.

DSCC Retracts Prostitution Claim Against Adelson

The DSCC has retracted a claim it made earlier suggesting that Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson had made money off prostitution in the Chinese special administrative region of Macau, where Adelson has a casino. This is how politics works. You make a wild claim, not backed up by any evidence. Nobody notices. The other side howls and threatens to sue. The howl gets lots of publicity. The public thinks: "Where there is smoke, there is fire." The net result of this (and many similar) incidents is that people are now aware that a lot of the money Adelson is pumping into Republican campaigns came from China and maybe there was some sleazy stuff going on at his casino, who knows.

Politics by innuendo is not new. The late Lee Atwater was a master of it. Atwater died in 1991, but his pupil, Karl Rove, picked up the torch. Rove's most famous stunt was a whispering campaign and series of push polls against John McCain in his 2000 primary against George Bush in which it was suggested that McCain had a black child. Factually that is true--he and Mrs. McCain adopted a black child from Mother Teresa's orphanage in India--but Atwater made it sound like McCain had an affair with a black woman without actually saying it.

Both sides can play this game although generally the Republicans are far more aggressive and better at it than the Democrats. In a way, it is going on right now about Romney's taxes. Majority Leader Harry Reid has said and now reiterated that Romney paid no federal income tax for 10 years. Romney vigorously denies this and told Reid to put up or shut up. Reid said that the only way to settle this is for Romney to release the tax returns. For Reid, this is a win-win proposition. If Romney continues to fail to live up to the Romney standard (his father releasing 12 years of tax returns when he ran for President in 1968), Reid will continue to attack him and people will start to believe it is true. If Romney does release his tax returns and they show he paid some tax, Reid will apologize but the Democrats will then start going over them with a microscope.

Obama and the South

When Obama ran in 2008, he promised he would be postpartisan and try to bring the parties closer together. He has clearly failed at that--in no small part due to Sen. Mitch McConnell's statement that his biggest legislative goal was to make sure Obama was a one-term President. While some parts of the country are less polarized than they were, one region where polarization has increased is the South. We are almost to a point where whites are Republicans and blacks are Democrats, despite the fact that for the first half of the 20th Century the South was solidly Democratic. The change began when Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, which led to Richard Nixon's "southern strategy."

That said, the South is a complicated place. States like Virginia and North Carolina are trending blue and Florida is really two states: the real Florida in the north and the sixth borough of New York City in the south. Politico has a long background piece on politics in the South these days.

Romney's Horse Becomes Political

While we normally focus on the horse race here, sometimes the horse itself becomes an issue. In this case, Ann Romney's horse, Rafalca, which is currently in 13th place in dressage in the Olympics, has become newsworthy, not for its performance, which is not all that good, but because Romney took a $77,000 tax deduction for it and has been criticized by conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer for entering the horse in the Olympics in the first place. He thinks it reinforces an image of Romney as a detached rich guy. Actually, the Romneys got the horse to treat Ann's MS, but if they had played that angle and had stayed out of the Olympics, it might have worked for Romney instead of against him.

Today's Presidential Polls

State Obama Romney   Start End Pollster
North Carolina 44% 49%   Aug 01 Aug 01 Rasmussen
New Jersey 49% 36%   Jul 23 Jul 29 Fairleigh Dickinson U.

Today's Senate Polls

State Democrat D % Republican R % I I % Start End Pollster
New Jersey Bob Menendez* 45% Joseph Kyrillos 33%     Jul 23 Jul 29 Fairleigh Dickinson U.

* Denotes incumbent