November 6, 2012 - 9:03am ET
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Each morning, Bill Scher and Terrance Heath serve up what progressives need to effect change on the kitchen-table issues families face: jobs, health care, green energy, financial reform, affordable education and retirement security.
MORNING MESSAGE: A Vote Against Despair
OurFuture.Org's Richard Eskow: "Some people I respect are agonizing over their Presidential vote. Others are voting third-party, or not at all. Speaking only for myself, my choice wasn't made lightly: I'll be voting to re-elect a President whose Administration I've often criticized over the last four years. And yet, despite my concerns, I'll be casting that vote without despair. Why not? Most Americans agree on a broad range of issues, according to polls. Across party lines and "left/right" boundaries, clear majorities oppose cutting Social Security or Medicare to balance the budget. They want to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires. They want government to invest in restoring our economy. And they want Wall Street held accountable. Neither candidate is fighting unequivocally for these majority positions. But like the old cliché says: Despair is not an option
Campaigning Ends, Voting Begins
State by State, Battle for Presidency Goes to Voters [NYT]: "The most expensive presidential race in American history now becomes the biggest show on television, a night with enough uncertainty that it could become a telethon lasting well into morning. For the third time in the last four presidential campaigns, the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees went into Election Day close in the national polls, with not one of the major opinion surveys giving President Obama or Mitt Romney a lead of statistical significance. But presidential races are decided in the states, and the nation will get an answer to the opposing cases for victory that each candidate has made for so many months. It will finally know, as one of Mr. Obama’s top aides has put it, 'which side is bluffing' and whether battleground-state polls, which have given Mr. Obama a slim but consistent edge where it matters most, accurately foretold the outcome. As the night unfolds, clues to the outcome will spill out well before the votes are counted."
Obama, Romney Tie in Dixville Notch [ABC News]: "The first votes are in! Ten of them, anyway. And it’s an Obama, Romney tie. The small hamlet of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire distinguishes itself every primary and general election by voting right at midnight. This year ten voters showed up and they split evenly – five votes apiece – for President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Obama won the Dixville Notch vote in 2008. But in elections before that, the town had stuck to more conservative candidates, twice selecting a Republican instead of Bill Clinton. Dixville Notch and its 10 voters may be symbolic, but they’re not a bellwether for the state. Obama won in Dixville Notch in 2008, but that was the first time a majority of the town went for a Dem in 40 years."
Odds Favor Obama
Nate Silver: Late Poll Gains for Obama Leave Romney With Longer Odds: "But the most recent set of polls suggest another problem for Mr. Romney, whose momentum in the polls stalled out in mid-October. Instead, it is President Obama who is making gains. Among 12 national polls published on Monday, Mr. Obama led by an average of 1.6 percentage points. Perhaps more important is the trend in the surveys. On average, Mr. Obama gained 1.5 percentage points from the prior edition of the same polls, improving his standing in nine of the surveys while losing ground in just one. ...All of this leaves Mr. Romney drawing to an inside straight. I hope you’ll excuse the cliché, but it’s appropriate here: in poker, making an inside straight requires you to catch one of 4 cards out of 48 remaining in the deck, the chances of which are about 8 percent. Those are now about Mr. Romney’s chances of winning the Electoral College, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast."
Gallup: Majority of Americans expect Obama to win re-election [The Grio]: "According to interviews conducted by Gallup‘s polling site, no matter how people plan on voting, Americans still believe that President Obama has a better chance for re-election. The polling was conducted from October 27-28, before Hurricane Sandy first hit the East Coast. Current polls show a tight race between Obama and Romney, but Americans views haven’t changed from what they were in May and August. Americans still think that Obama will beat Romney by a margin of 54 percent to 34 percent."
WaPo's Dylan Matthews says polls would have to be wrong by four points for Romney to win: "A four-point swing in the final days isn’t unthinkable. [Robert] Erikson and [Karl] Sigman note that a swing nearly that big happened in the national vote in 2000, with almost 4 percent of voters swinging toward Al Gore following the discovery of George W. Bush’s DUI arrest. The problem was that the swing bypassed battleground states, where the candidates had already spent more time campaigning, indicating that those voters’ opinions were more fixed in the last weeks than those of voters in safe states. So a four-point swing in battleground states is a little harder to imagine than a swing that large in the national vote. 'Unheard of' doesn’t mean 'impossible,' of course, but it does suggest that Romney has tough odds to overcome Tuesday."
The Lucky One?
Washington Whispers' Elizabeth Flock says Obama is still the luckiest politician alive: "Throughout Barack Obama's political career, a series of fortuitous events have led pundits, comedians and conservatives to dub him 'the luckiest politician alive.' One day out from Election Day, with images of heroic cleanup and rapid recovery after Superstorm Sandy splashed across TV screens, that moniker seems to still fit. A Pew poll out Monday shows Obama taking a three point lead over Romney, with 69 percent of all likely voters approving of the way the president is handling the storm. ...If Obama wins reelection Tuesday, of course, it can't be attributed just to luck. "You make your own luck and, to a large extent, Obama has done just that," the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza notes of the president. But few can deny that if Obama wins Tuesday, it will be with the appearance of good fortune on his side."
Matthew Yglesias says the next president will be lucky to preside over a recovery ... and take credit for it: "While anything’s possible, 2012 is shaping up to be the reverse kind of election: Whoever wins is poised to preside over a return to economic normalcy that’s bound to make any kind of basically competent governance look fantastic compared to the last decade of misery. Consider Mitt Romney’s assertion that his policies would lead to 12 million new jobs. This has gotten him in trouble with fact checkers for an unusual reason. Many people think it’s too likely to happen. Moody’s Analytics, for example, published an analysis of the economic outlook back in April that has 11.7 million jobs over the next four years as its baseline forecast. Macroeconomic Advisers has made a similar forecast, calling for 12.3 million jobs over the next four years."
Fiscal cliff: Next president's first big problem to solve [CNN Money]: "No matter who wins the election on Tuesday, the next president will have to immediately stare down the country's largest, most pressing domestic problem: the fiscal cliff. That cliff -- which starts to take effect in January -- includes $7 trillion worth of tax increases and spending cuts over a decade. Among the policies at issue are reductions in both defense and non-defense spending, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the end of a payroll tax holiday and extended unemployment benefits, and the onset of reimbursement cuts to Medicare doctors. Lawmakers must choose whether to leave in place some or all of them, replace them, postpone them or cancel them entirely. The decision will affect the economy, the country's credit rating and the U.S. debt burden."
The Day After
Swampland's Massimo Calabresi ponders what happens on November 7th, when voting goes bad: "Nine swing states hold the keys to victory in the race for the White House, and most polls have them within the margin of error, albeit with a distinct Obama edge. Many have mandatory recounts if the difference between the candidates is within a few percentage points (in most cases that amounts to several thousand votes). Come Wednesday morning there is currently an 8% chance, according to the New York Times’ Nate Silver, that one of these states will hold up the determination of a winner in the presidential contest. If that happens, things will get ugly. All clean presidential elections are alike—whoever gets 270 electoral college votes becomes president. But each contested election is a misery all its own. In addition to the classic problems from past elections, like crowding, difficulty counting ballots and complaints of limited voter access, this year the expansion in early voting holds a new set of concerns.
Is Ohio voting software vulnerable to fraud? Court to hear Election Day case [CS Monitor]: "A federal lawsuit filed Monday in Columbus, Ohio, charges the secretary of state's office with illegally installing untested software on voting systems in dozens of counties – a step that creates a digital 'back door,' which someone wishing to alter vote totals might be able to exploit. With Ohio seen as perhaps the most pivotal state in the presidential election, it is being closely watched for the slightest sign of irregularities. The suit seeks a temporary injunction to prevent the state from using the software in Tuesday's election. A hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the US District Court for the southern district of Ohio, eastern division. If granted, an injunction could prevent Ohio votes from being formatted by the new software and sent to the office of Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) after polls close."
Obama, Romney campaigns brace for battle after Tuesday’s vote [Washington Post]: "Even before Tuesday’s voting began, the two sides were already skirmishing over how the balloting was being administered. ...The fight over those ballots has now increased the possibility that — if Tuesday’s election comes down to the Buckeye State, it won’t end on Tuesday night at all. Instead, it might be weeks before Ohio has a final result. Voting rights advocates contend that a new directive issued Friday evening by Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted improperly places the burden on voters — rather than poll workers — for accurately recording the form of identification on provisional ballots."
Voter Suppression Tactics Likely to Affect U.S. Election [IPS]: "Voter suppression has reached new heights in the United States, analysts and experts say, as elected state officials have increasingly resorted to a new and growing generation of voter suppression tactics. Whether these tactics will tip the outcome of the presidential race is uncertain, but they are likely to affect races at least at state and local levels during elections on Nov. 6. Although no U.S. citizen can technically be deprived of his or her right to vote due to race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, the majority of these tactics, driven in part by groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, appear to be directed at black and low-income communities, as they have a disproportionate negative impact on voters in those communities."
The Status Quo Congress
What will happen if Congress remains status quo? [CS Monitor]: "No matter who wins the presidency — President Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney — the nation's chief executive will be dealing with a Congress no closer to bridging the ideological chasm and showing no inclination to end the months of dysfunction. Tea party numbers are certain to tick up in the Senate with Republican Ted Cruz heavily favored in Texas and Deb Fischer looking to grab the Nebraska seat. In the House, the movement that propelled the GOP to the majority in 2010 will be even more emboldened even if a few of the big-name tea partiers lose."
Next Congress expected to look very much like this one [USA Today]: "Wednesday could bring about a frustrating reality to the 69% of Americans who disapprove of Congress, which ranks among the lowest pre-election measurements recorded by Gallup, and the gridlock that has defined the institution for the past two years. There will be new faces in Congress next year, but the number of Republicans and Democrats isn't going to change much. According to data compiled by the non-partisan Cook Political Report, there are 62 U.S. House seats with no incumbent on the ballot — a record since 1992 — but not enough seats are forecast to change partisan hands to upset the current balance of power. House Republicans are heading in to Election Day with a 242-seat majority, and Cook projects the likeliest outcome for a zero- to five-seat gain for Democrats."
Ezra Klein notes that moderate Republicans endorsing Romney always assume a Democratic Senate: "Moderate Republicans endorsing Romney have been doing something similar. They all work off of a similar premise. 'Let's assume we have a Democratic Senate,' they begin. ...All of these endorsements are dealing with the same problem: They want to endorse Mitt Romney, the moderate governor of Massachusetts. But over the past few years, we’ve mainly seen Mitt Romney, the “severely conservative” champion of the Tea Party. The only way to ensure we don’t get that guy is to give Democrats the Senate. But that’s not actually something that can be assured. Democrats might lose the Senate tomorrow. If they don’t, they might lose it in 2014. ...It’s a strange kind of endorsement that only works as long as the presidential candidate being endorsed isn’t able to govern alongside members of his own party. More to the point, it’s a self-nullifying kind of endorsement."
The GOP's Self-Sabotage
The GOP's chances of taking the Senate have been done in by the candidates [NYT]: "For Republicans intent on unraveling President Obama’s accomplishments, electing Mitt Romney has been only one part of the equation. Almost as important was installing a Republican majority in the United States Senate, where 50 votes (plus the vice president) would be necessary to repeal much of health care reform, roll back tax increases on the rich and gut social welfare programs. The party’s hopes, however, have been severely damaged in recent weeks. Republican candidates who are crucial to regaining a majority in the Senate have tumbled, according to a variety of polls, and Democrats are now considered likely to retain control. The reason for this is clear: Primary voters chose several unappealing or ideologically driven candidates who repelled general-election voters once they began speaking their minds."
The Guardian's Michael Cohen writes that the real story behind the 2012 election is how the GOP sabotaged itself: "The single most defining element of American politics over the last four years is that the Republican party has fallen out of the crazy tree and hit every branch on the way down. It is no longer even appropriate to say the Republican party is dominated by its conservative wing; but rather, that the GOP is controlled by its extreme, radical wing. The shift of the Republican to the far, far right is not a recent development. Instead, it is reflective of a four-decade shift in ideological orientation in the GOP: from a party once torn between distinct conservative and moderate wings, to one in which moderates have gone the way of dinosaurs and VCRs. ...For years, the national Republican party emboldened this wing of the GOP and made it the vanguard of its efforts to maintain national power. That group now holds ideological sway in the Republican party. In the naked pursuit of short-term partisan gain, the Republican party has unleashed forces that it can no longer fully control."
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