Tags: Mitt Romney

Notes On David Frum: Where The Republican Rich (As A Group) Aren’t The Problem


David Frum has an interesting essay over at Foreign Affairs trying to help the magazine’s readership understand the genus Republicanus.  While Frum’s analysis is earnest, and he has some solid points, I think that the magazine’s readership would be led astray in several ways. Today, let us look at the Republican donor class.  The GOP donors are problematic in multiple ways, but they aren’t the problem in several areas that Frum identifies.

1.  Frum places Republican insistence on tighter monetary policy under the category “radical rich”. You could find individual rich guys calling for more contractionary monetary policy, gold standards, etc. But focusing too much on those loud (and sometimes obnoxious) voices is misleading. Romney was the candidate of the donor class and he was the candidate who was the least critical of Bernanke and the Federal Reserve. It was Romney’s underfunded Tea Party-branded  rivals who were falling all over themselves to make nonsensical statements like calling Bernanke the most inflationary Federal Reserve Chairman ever. To the extent that there was monetary sanity in the 2012 Republican presidential primaries, that sanity was found In the candidate of the donor class.

2.  The same thing is true about the relationship between the Republican donor class and taxes. The original Romney tax plan involved some cosmetic middle-class tax cuts (basically cutting taxes on investment income most middle-class people didn’t have much of) combined with a modest cut to the corporate income tax. It was only later in the campaign, after Romney faced a challenge from Santorum, that Romney proposed bringing down the top marginal income tax rate as part of an across-the board income tax cut.

Romney didn’t do this because he needed the support of the donor class. He already had the support of the donor class and, by the time Romney proposed his revised tax plan, the only viable alternative was Santorum. There was no way on Earth the donor class was going to ditch Romney to back Santorum. Romney’s revised tax plan was designed to show rank-and-file- conservative primary votes that he was conservative – was Reagany – enough for them. See? I’m for a Son of Kemp-Roth tax plan. Isn’t that what you people like?   

The Republican donor class has a lot to answer for, but they were not the cause of the 2012 GOP’s problems on monetary policy, and they were not the reason Romney adopted his plans to cut the top marginal income tax rate.

Tags: David Frum , Mitt Romney

Plurality of Registered Voters: We Would Be Better Off With Romney


Good morning, Mr. President. Quinnipiac polling has some news that may depress you:

President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, 33 percent of American voters say in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Another 28 percent pick President George W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan is the best president since WWII, 35 percent of voters say, with 18 percent for Bill Clinton, 15 percent for John F. Kennedy and 8 percent for Obama, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.

Obama has been a better president than George W. Bush, 39 percent of voters say, while 40 percent say he is worse. Men say 43 – 36 percent that Obama is worse than Bush while women say 42 – 38 percent he is better. Obama is worse, Republicans say 79 – 7 percent and independent voters say 41 – 31 percent. Democrats say 78 – 4 percent that he is better.

Voters say by a narrow 37 – 34 percent that Obama is better for the economy than Bush.

America would be better off if Republican Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election, 45 percent of voters say, while 38 percent say the country would be worse off.

Wait, Mr. President, don’t go back to bed! There’s more!

The economy and jobs are the most important problems facing the country today, 35 percent of voters say, with 12 percent listing politicians/campaigns/corruption, 6 percent each for healthcare and foreign affairs, 5 percent for the budget and 4 percent each for education and immigration.

Obama gets negative grades for his handling of most key issues:

• Negative 40 – 55 percent for handling the economy;

• Negative 37 – 57 percent for foreign policy;

• Negative 40 – 58 percent for health care;

• 50 – 40 percent for the environment;

• Negative 44 – 51 percent for terrorism.

The poll was conducted from June 24–30, surveying 1,446 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points, and used live interviewers to call land lines and cell phones.

Don’t worry, Mr. President. Tee time gets closer every minute.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney

Who Did You Vote for Last Year? Think Hard. I’ll Wait.


A few minor quibbles with the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing terrible numbers for Republicans. (Don’t get me wrong, I think the news for the GOP is largely bad.) For starters, the most prominent numbers come from surveying adults, not registered voters or likely voters.

And then you get deep into the numbers . . . 

So for starters, 14 percent of this sample isn’t registered to vote. I’d love to see the crosstabs of how this sub-sample feels about what’s going on in Washington.

You’ll recall President Obama won the popular vote in 2012, 51.1 percent to 47.2 percent — a four-point split in a high-turnout presidential year. This one splits . . . 44–35.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson received 1 percent and everyone else amounted to about a half a percentage point. So the “someone else” category is much, much higher than we would expect.

Finally . . . who are these 5 percent of people who aren’t sure who they voted for president last November? Guys, it wasn’t that long ago.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Polling

Mitt Romney’s Son Adopts a Child and the Left Erupts with Venom


Last week, I wrote about a strange phenomenon we experienced firsthand after adopting our daughter from Ethiopia: Liberals think adoption is great, unless white, Christian, Republicans are the ones doing it. It was odd and sad to have strangers questioning and criticizing our family composition. The same crowd who emphasizes that there are all kinds of families — gay, lesbian, straight, divorced — suddenly got the vapors when they saw my black child on my hip at a GOP convention.

Well, as if on cue . . . check out the liberal Twitter reaction to Mitt and Ann Romney’s announcement last week that their son Ben and his wife Andelyne recently adopted.

Tags: Mitt Romney , adoption , race

Remember Last Year, When a Candidate’s Tax Returns Mattered?


Dear mainstream media, 

If you wanted to know why more and more Americans don’t think of you as something they read or watch, and increasingly think of you as something they step in, one big reason is the ludicrous double-standards you have for Republican and Democrat candidates.

In January 2012, Mitt Romney released his 2010 tax return; in September, he released his 2011 return after filing for an extension. 

For much of last year’s presidential campaign, the tax returns for the preceding and most recent year were treated as a huge pressing issue for the wealthy candidate. Romney’s tax returns warranted segments on CNN, segments on Meet the Press, the roundtable on ABC’s This Week, and the roundtable on PBS NewshourCNN and Gallup asked questions about it in their surveys. Obviously MSNBC hosts treated his tax returns as if they contained the location the Lost City of Atlantis in them. Obama surrogates and Romney surrogates were asked about it. Ann Romney was asked about it on NBC’s Rock Center. Romney was asked about it in interview after interview. The Obama campaign put out plenty of “what is he hiding?” ads. To ensure the low-information voters heard about it, The Daily Show and Funny or Die did segments on Romney’s delay in releasing his tax returns. 

The calls for Romney to release more of his tax returns became an all-out crusade, and deemed one of the major issues of the campaign. Because openness, financial transparency, and accountability are important in evaluating candidates for higher office, right?

This year, the Democrats’ candidate for Senate in New Jersey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker allowed their hand-picked reporters to look at his tax returns for three hours, with no copies or photographs:

Newark mayor Cory Booker, who hopes to be New Jersey’s next senator, claims to have “released” 15 years’ worth of his tax returns in what his campaign trumpeted as a “historic gesture of transparency.” Perhaps the mayor should consult T-Bone or another of his possibly imaginary felonious friends about the definition of “release.” The mayor’s tax returns remain locked up, though they were allowed a conjugal visit with the press: Nine reporters, all hand-picked by the Booker campaign, were permitted three hours with the documents in a hotel ballroom in Newark — no photographs, no copies, no removing documents from the room, resulting in what one of the reporters present described as a mad scramble to record information as the clock ticked to zero.

In Virginia, the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe still hasn’t released any of his tax returns; choosing to release summaries of his financial information

Booker and McAuliffe are two wealthy guys, with lots of business ties to companies that have business before the Newark city government and Virginia state government. The possibility of conflict-of-interest or financial misdeeds is at least as great for these two as it was for Romney. 

And yet neither Booker nor McAuliffe have received even one-hundreth of the grief Romney received from their local or state press.

And we know why this is. The mainstream press cares about the tax returns and financial disclosures of Republican candidates and doesn’t care about the tax returns and financial disclosures of Democrat candidates, because Republicans are the bad guys and Democrats are the good guys.

If I’m wrong, prove me wrong, mainstream media.


Tags: Mitt Romney , Tax Returns , Terry McAuliffe , Cory Booker

Research Firm: Hillary Clinton Would Be Sixth-Wealthiest Presidential Candidate Ever


In a press release designed to turn heads, the private-wealth research firm Wealth-X declares that if Hillary Clinton were to run, she would be the sixth-wealthiest candidate for president ever, with a net worth of $100 million.

Their ranking of the past candidates:

Rank       Name                  Political Affiliation     Net Worth (US$ millions)

1             Ross Perot           Independent                4,300

2             Steve Forbes       Republican                   430

3             John Kerry           Democrat                     280

4             Mitt Romney        Republican                   220

5             Al Gore                Democrat                     190

I asked Wealth-X how they calculated the net worth of the candidates, and was told, “Wealth-X uses their own proprietary assessment of one’s wealth. Tax returns that were public would be one component of our larger methodology.”

Tags: Hillary Clinton , Ross Perot , Mitt Romney , John Kerry , Al Gore

Chris Christie’s Primary Campaign Funds: Spend ‘Em if You’ve Got ‘Em!


You may look at incumbent Republican governor Chris Christie’s gigantic, 30-percentage-point lead in polling for this year’s race in New Jersey and ask yourself, “If he’s so far ahead, why is he spending so much on television advertising?”

Christie spent $1.5 million on the first ad of his reelection bid, and recently dropped another $850,000 to run radio and television versions of a negative attack ad against his likely Democratic rival, state senator Barbara Buono.

Obviously, New Jersey is one of the most expensive states for campaigning, as it is covered by the most expensive television market in the country (New York) and the fourth-most-expensive (Philadelphia). But a big factor is that a significant portion of Christie’s current campaign cash was raised for his primary race (Christie faces nominal opposition from Seth Grossman), so all of that money must be spent by the state’s June 4 primary.

Second, while Buono’s fundraising has been pretty anemic, a liberal group headed by Buono’s former spokesman spent tons of cash on attack ads hitting Christie:

A liberal advocacy group — One New Jersey — has sunk another $700,000 into purchasing airtime for advertisements opposing Gov. Chris Christie, reports. That brings the group’s total purchases to $1.8 million for television and another $100,00 on radio, the report said.

Russ Schriefer, a veteran of Christie’s 2009 campaign, is advising him again. He and his longtime business partner, Stuart Stevens, the campaign manager for Mitt Romney in 2012, visited National Review’s Washington offices today. Schriefer said that while the outlook for Christie is good right now, he has little doubt that at some point polling in the governor’s race will tighten, at least slightly, as Democrats who are not currently paying much attention to the race drift back into the Buono camp.

Schriefer’s comment about the primary funds echoed one of Stevens’ comments about an unforeseen challenge for the Romney camp in the late spring of 2012. Romney had effectively won the Republican nomination but could not spend money raised for the general election until he was officially named the GOP nominee at the convention in Tampa. Romney and his team were left trying to get people to donate, but only to the primary fund.

“It’s very tough to raise money for a primary campaign that everybody thinks you’ve already won,” Stevens said.

At first glance, this would be an argument for moving conventions to much earlier in the year. Or perhaps the distinction between primary- and general-election campaign donations should be eliminated entirely.


Tags: Chris Christie , Barbara Buono , Mitt Romney , Stu Stevens

Between the GOP and Victory: 429,000 Votes in Four States


How short did the Romney campaign fall in 2012? If he had moved 429,000 votes in four states, he would have finished with 270 electoral votes — and won the presidency. has a great graphic on which counties a Republican must win, in which counties he (or she) must improve upon Romney’s performance, and in which counties the candidate must narrow the gap:

Tags: Mitt Romney , Barack Obama

Virginia GOP Readying Obama-Style Criticism of McAuliffe


I am reliably informed that Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, will soon release his tax returns for the past eight years and call for his Democratic counterpart, Terry McAuliffe, to do the same.

In a mirror image of the attack against Mitt Romney last summer, Republicans in Virginia and Washington are ready to point to any delay as a sign that there’s something shady or scandalous in McAuliffe’s tax returns and personal finances. Republicans have a long list of quotes from David Axelrod, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former White House Press Secreary Robert Gibbs, and other Obama campaign officials demanding the release of Romney’s returns, with some comments insinuating or explicitly stating that failure to release the returns indicates criminal behavior.

McAuliffe may or may not release all those returns; as the Virginia Pilot notes, candidates for governor in this state typically don’t release tax return information partly because the state requires them to submit personal financial disclosure statements that are considered public records. And the returns may not reveal much in terms of wrongdoing, but two figures might be intriguing or cause indigestion for the McAuliffe campaign. First, just how wealthy is McAuliffe? Back in 2009, the disclosure forms revealed “a net worth of at least $5.8 million. But McAuliffe is likely worth considerably more because candidates in Virginia do not have to report the exact value of an investment that tops $250,000.”

Secondly, how much as McAuliffe made from his investment/role with GreenTech Automotive in the past four years?

Here’s the old quote to get the spotlight: last cycle’s head of the Democratic Governors Association:

Then DGA Chairman Martin O’Malley on Romney’s failure to release his tax returns: “His failure to release those is a bit of an implicit admission of…guilt…” (Zeke Miller, “O’Malley: McCain Saw Romney’s Tax Returns And He Chose Palin,” BuzzFeed, 7/13/2012)


Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Mitt Romney , Barack Obama , Tax Returns

Ryan: I Have a Clear View of Our Nation’s Altered Trajectory


Rep. Paul Ryan stopped by National Review’s Washington offices today. Towards the end of the meeting, I asked him about the contrast in his life in the past year — last autumn, when he spent every day in the white-hot spotlight running for vice president, and now, when he’s back chairing the House Budget Committee. I asked whether a part of him felt happy to be back in his budget-policy element.

“No, I actually wished I was doing something different,” Ryan said with a laugh. “I had a different vision than this.”

“I guess one of the most distressing things is that . . . I worked with Mike Leavitt — after my debate was done, I got to jump into the transition planning more. Mitt had two more debates to go. So I worked with Mike Leavitt and Chris Liddell and his team on the transition plan. And knowing what we were going to do in the first 200 days, how we were going to tackle the entitlement problems, the debt crisis, tax reform, energy exploration, all the things we said were going to do, we were going to do. And we were really getting down to the specifics. Losing the election and now seeing where the country is headed in this kind of level of detail . . . [holding up a summary of President Obama’s budget proposal, unveiled today] . . . Very few people have such a clear view of the whole alteration of trajectory that has occurred. And that’s obviously . . . I won’t say it’s despairing, it’s distressing, I’m distressed. I gave up despair for Lent this year,” he joked.

“I look at the situation now, and I do what you have to do as a legislator: make the best of a situation as it is, and try to improve things. I want to get an agreement to get a down payment on this problem to buy the country time, and help create some space for economic growth. But it’s distressing that all of these things are happening — I think Obamacare is going to destroy health care. I think the tax code is holding us back. I think we’re on the cusp of an energy renaissance, if we allow it happen, that could be a game changer for America. I think they’re regulating jobs out of existence with uncertainty. We could have changed all that. But we didn’t. So let’s go to Plan B, which is make the best of it.”

Tags: Balanced Budgets , Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Paul Ryan

Mitt Romney, the 60.5 Million Vote Man


A quick note on the discussion of how disappointing the Republican get-out-the-vote effort was this year: Despite the mess with ORCA, his inability to connect with working-class voters, the notion that voters tuned out his ads late in the cycle, etc., Mitt Romney’s vote total this year is the fourth-highest of any presidential candidate in American history. The vote totals for the four most recent cycles:

Obama 2008: 69,498,516

Obama 2012: 64,970,512

Bush 2004: 62,040,610

Romney 2012: 60,517,602

McCain 2008: 59,948,323

Kerry 2004: 59,028,444

Gore 2000: 50,999,897

Bush 2000: 50,456,002

Of course, there are no silver medals for second place in a presidential campaign. But it’s worth noting that after the initial questions of “how could Romney get 3 million fewer votes than McCain?” that Romney now has a half million more votes than McCain, and that total will get higher.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney

How Many 2008 McCain Voters Went Libertarian in 2012?


Campaign Spot reader Michael writes in, having examined the claim of the missing Republican voters — the drop-off from McCain’s 2008 total to Romney’s 2012. Immediately after the election, many were left incredulous in response to the apparent news that Romney received 3 million fewer votes than McCain did.

As more and more states have counted their absentees and reported 100 percent of precincts, the numbers are less shocking. Michael points to Dave Leip’s  Atlas of US Presidential Elections and calculates the drop off is now only 479,000.*

Most intriguingly, many of those missing McCain voters may have voted in 2012, but this time for the Libertarian party’s nominee, Gary Johnson.

From 2008 to 2012, those voting for the Democratic ticket dropped from 69.49 million to 63.16 million, a drop of 6.3 million.

From 2008 to 2012, those voting for the Republican ticket dropped from 59.95 million to 59.47 million, a drop of just over 479,000.

From 2008 to 2012, those voting for the Libertarian ticket increased from 523,433 to 1.22 million, a jump of just over 700,000.

(* UPDATE: The great Dave Wasserman offers a spreadsheet with numbers updated day by day. Obama is up to 63.8 million votes, Romney is up to 59.87 million votes. This would have Romney down only 120,000 from McCain’s vote total, while Obama is 5.69 million behind his 2008 total.)

The irony is that at least at first glance, the Romney-Ryan ticket would appear more appealing to libertarian-leaning voters than McCain-Palin: No author of a restrictive campaign-finance law atop the ticket, a more sustained focus on cutting government, a nominee who opposed the bailout of General Motors (and paid a dear price for that stand in key states), and certainly a less interventionist tone than McCain offered in 2012.

This is the sort of time where someone traditionally offers a “How the GOP Can Win Back the Libertarians” op-ed. (Note that the popular vote margin for Obama was 3.69 million, so the Libertarian vote did not make up the difference, just about a third of it.)  But I suspect that if you voted Libertarian this cycle, you’re a pretty hard-core Libertarian, and unlikely to be won over by any half-measures the GOP might offer in the near future. Considering how there was little dispute that another four years of Obama would mean another four years of government growing bigger and taking a more active role in citizens’ lives, and how no one really thought Johnson would win, it would appear that the 1.22 million Libertarian voters were content to “send a message” with their votes . . . a message that will now be almost entirely ignored in Washington.

It’s their right; every vote has to be earned, and surely a Romney presidency would have offered its own disappointments to the Libertarian worldview. But it may be a continuing liability for the GOP that roughly 1 percent of the electorate believes strongly in limited government, but votes in a way that does not empower the GOP to do anything to limit that government.

Tags: John McCain , Television , Mitt Romney

The 2012 Campaign, a Tale of Two Hurricanes


Jeff Dobbs looks at the numbers from Gallup, and concludes that if they’re right, almost 11 points of the electorate decided to vote for Obama based upon his response to Hurricane Sandy. Of course, some of that response is unlikely to be true,  as folks who otherwise would have voted for Obama simply cited the most recent reason they saw to vote for him.

But even if it’s one in three who are accurately assessing the factors in their vote, that’s 3.6 percentage points in the electorate.

What’s more, think back to the GOP convention in Tampa. The central message from the stage, aimed at Obama voters from 2008, was that it’s okay to vote against Obama this time around — trying to overcome the “sunk costs” theory, the hesitation to admit a particular previously selected approach has failed. Obama himself played to that instinct with the slogan, “We can’t turn back now.” Think of Clint Eastwood’s simple declaration, “When somebody doesn’t do the job, you’ve got to let them go.” Of course, that convention garnered a smaller audience than usual, in part because Hurricane Isaac forced the cancellation of the first night and because it provided another major story to compete for the public’s attention at that moment.

Clearly the electorate included a significant number of disappointed Obama voters who were wavering, and who were looking for an excuse to feel good about the president again, a reason that would justify a second vote. Hurricane Sandy provided that reason, just when Obama needed it.

Secondly, think about Romney’s closing argument, that he could end the partisan division; as a governor who had worked with a heavily Democratic state legislature, he could end the party warfare in Washington and get things done. And just as the late deciders tuned in, here was Obama looking buddy-buddy with Chris Christie in New Jersey, the GOP governor who had given the party’s keynote address. Sandy stepped on the closing message that only Romney could heal the partisan divide, while dominating news coverage and blocking out much other news.

Tags: Barack Obama , Hurricanes , Mitt Romney

407,000 Votes in Four States Away from the Presidency


On Wednesday, I added up Obama’s margin in a few key states, to get a sense of just how agonizingly short the Romney campaign finished from 270 electoral votes.

Some of those straggling precincts have reported, and so here is an updated set of numbers, according to the results this morning on the New York Timesresults map:

Florida: 73,858

Ohio: 103,481

Virginia: 115,910

Colorado: 113,099

Those four states, with a collective margin of, 406,348 for Obama, add up to 69 electoral votes. Had Romney won 407,000 or so additional votes in the right proportion in those states, he would have 275 electoral votes.

Obama’s margin in some other key states:

Nevada: 66,379

Iowa: 88,501

New Hampshire: 40,659

At this hour, 120,556, 279 votes for Obama and Romney have been counted nationwide.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney

A Quick List of 50 Key Counties to Watch Tonight


The Election Day edition of the Morning Jolt offers a list of 50 counties I’ll be watching tonight — in some cases, counties that have proven to be historical bellwethers of the national vote, and in others, counties that are useful measuring sticks for each candidate’s support. I’ve included the vote in 2008, both percentage and vote totals.


6 p.m. Eastern


Vigo County, Indiana (county seat: Terre Haute (pronounced ‘Terra – Hote’) perfect since 1956, and from 1960 to 2004, Vigo County had been within 3 percent of the national presidential vote every election. In 2008, Vigo County again voted with the winner, but Obama’s percentage of 57.3% was about 4.4% above Obama’s national vote.

Bush won this county with a 6.4 percentage point margin over John Kerry (52.8 percent to 46.4 percent)

Voter registration down from 76,000 to 74,000.

7 p.m. Eastern


Prince William County (MAJOR BELLWETHER)

2004: Bush 53–47     2008: Obama 58-42

Obama 93,386 to McCain 67,589

Population: 402,002    Largest community: Dale City

Henrico County

Obama 56-44

Obama 86,262  to McCain 67,340

Loudoun County

Obama 54-46

Obama 74,607 to McCain 63,328

Winchester (independent city, not part of any county, small but useful)

Obama 52-47

Obama 5,268 to McCain 4,725

7:30 p.m. Eastern


Forsyth (Winston-Salem)

2008: Obama 55-44

90,712 to 73,304

Pitt County (Greenville)

2008: Obama 54-46

39,763 to 33,429

Wake (Raleigh)

2008: Obama 57 to 43

247,914 to 183,291



(Note that anyone on line at a polling place in Ohio at 7:30 will be permitted to cast a ballot.)

Cuyahoga (Cleveland):

2004: Kerry 448,503 vs. Bush 221,600 (+226,903);

2008: Obama 458,422 vs. McCain 199,880 (+258,542) (69-30)

Franklin (Columbus):

2004: Kerry 285,801 vs. Bush 237,253 (+48,548);

2008: Obama 334,709 vs. McCain 218,486 (+116,223) (59-40)

Hamilton (Cincinnati):

2004: Bush 222,616 vs. Kerry 199,679 (+22,937); Bush 52.5 – 47

2008: Obama 225,213 vs. McCain 195,530 (+29,683) Obama 52-47

Lucas (Toledo):

2004 Kerry 132,715 vs. Bush 87,160 (+45,555);

2008: Obama 142,852 vs. McCain 73,706 (+69,146) (65-34)

Wood County, Ohio (Bowling Green):

One miss since 1964 (in 1976).

Obama 32,956 vs. McCain 28,819 (52-46)

Tuscarawas County, Ohio (New Philadelphia):

Has voted for the winning candidate since 1972.

Obama 20,957  vs. McCain 19,940, 50-48

8 p.m. Eastern

FLORIDA (entire state finishes voting at this hour)

Volusia County “In 2008, Mr. Obama carried Volusia by five percentage points. Both sides are girding for a closer battle this year.”

Pinellas County (major bellwether)

2004: Bush 49.6 – 49.5           2008: Obama 54 – 45

Population: 916,542    Largest city: St. Petersburg

Hillsborough County (major bellwether)

2004: Bush 53 – 46     2008: Obama 53 – 46

Population: 1,229,226 Largest city: Tampa

MAINE (Second Congressional District)

Piscataquis County (least populated, but lone McCain county of 2008)

McCain 51-47

4,785 to 4,430

Washington County (carried by Bush in 2004)

Obama 50-49

8,241 to 8,070

Penobscot County (Bangor)

Obama 52-46

42,975 to 37,523



For those watching the Scott Brown-Martha Coakley race, Suffolk identified three bellwhether towns: Gardner, Fitchburg, and Peabody.

Back in January 2010, Scott Brown led all three by a wide margin.



Jefferson County – for McCaskill/Akin race; winner of this county almost always wins statewide.


Claire McCaskill 53, Jim Talent 47



Hillsborough County (key bellwether)

2004: Bush 51 – 48     2008: Obama 51 – 48

Population: 400,721    Largest city: Manchester


Chester County (key bellwether, western suburbs of Philly)

2004: Bush 52 – 47.5  2008: Obama 54 – 45

Population: 498,886    Largest city: West Chester

Bucks County (Philly Suburbs, north)

Obama 54-45

178,345 to 149,860

Delaware County (immediately southwest of Philly city)

Obama 60-38

170,949 to 109,766

Montgomery County (northwest of Philly)

Obama 60-39

249,493 to 163,030

Monroe County (Stroudsburg, fast-growing, north of Philly along NJ border)

Obama 58-41

36,655 to 25,892

Allegheny County (Pittsburgh)

Obama 57-42

368,453 to 269,819

Westmoreland County (Pittsburgh suburbs)

McCain 58-42

96,786 to 69,004

In all of the Philadelphia suburb counties, watch for drop-offs from 2008 because of casual voters being more focused upon Hurricane Sandy cleanup.


Believe it or not, Texas has a bellwether county: Bexar County,  which includes San Antonio, has voted for the winning presidential candidate  since 1972, and only one miss since 1928.

9 p.m. Eastern


Jefferson County (key bellwether)

2004: Bush 52 – 47     2008: Obama 54 – 45

Population: 534,543    Largest city: Lakewood

155,020 to 129,291    

Arapahoe County (key bellwether)

2004: Bush 51 – 48     2008: Obama 56 – 43

Population: 572,003    Largest city: Aurora

128,366 to 100,409

Larimer County

Obama 54-44

84,461 to 68,932

Ouray County (small but useful)

Obama 53-45

1,629 to 1,360

Huerfano County (small but useful)

Obama 55-43

1,989 to 1,582

Alamosa County (small but useful)

Obama 56-42

3,521 to 2,635


MICHIGAN (Central Time Zone counties finish voting)

Macomb County (Detroit suburbs)

Obama 53-46

223,754 to 187,645

Oakland County (Detroit suburbs)

Obama 57-42

372,694 to 276,881



Anoka County (Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs)

McCain 50-48

91,357 to 86,977



Hidalgo County (county seat: Lordsburg) has voted for the winner in every presidential race since 1928 (except 1968). Keep in mind this county is tiny (just 4,894 according to the 2010 census), and the Romney campaign hasn’t really made a push in this state.

Obama 50.9 percent to 48 percent

990 to 934



Chautauqua County (county seat: Mayville; largest city: Jamestown) — perfect since 1980; two misses (1960 and 1976) since 1952. This county is the state’s southwestern corner.

Obama 49 percent to 49 percent

26,936 to 26,593



Brown County

Obama 54-45

67,241 to 55,827

Kenosha County (Ryan’s home county)

Obama 59-40

45,615 to 31,237

Racine County

Obama 53-46

53,405 to 45,941

Waukesha County

McCain 62-37

145,089  to 85,248


10 p.m. Eastern


Scott County

Obama 57-42

48,675 to 36,239

Woodbury County BattlegroundWatch describes it “in the heart of Iowa’s red west, but unlike Pottawattamie to the south, it’s an outpost of urban Democrats.”

McCain 50-49

20,798 to 20,290

Warren County

Obama 50-49

12,261 to 12,112



Democrats run up almost all their statewide margin in just two counties – of course, they’re the two counties that include the cities of Reno and Las Vegas. To have a shot, Romney has to cut into their margins here (mostly focusing on the suburbs) and run up the score as much as he can in the sparsely populated rural counties everywhere else.

Clark County (Las Vegas)

Obama 58-40

379,204 to 256,401

Washoe County (Reno)

Obama 55-43

99,365 to 76,743


Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Swing States

Romney Narrowly Holding Bellwether Ohio County, N.H. Towns


Credit Suffolk for doing some of the most interesting polling of this cycle. Rather than toss another statewide poll onto the pile, they took a detailed look at one bellwether county in Ohio and two bellwether towns in New Hampshire. The verdict? Good news for Romney, but not much room for comfort:

In Lake County, Romney led Obama 47 percent to 43 percent with Independent Richard Duncan receiving 4 percent and Stewart Alexander (Socialist Party) receiving 1 percent, while 2 percent were undecided and 4 percent refused a response. Romney led 49 percent to 44 percent among those planning to cast ballots and led 43 percent to 41 percent among those who had already voted. Duncan, an Ohioan listed on the presidential ballot, received most of his support from voters who have already cast ballots for him in Lake County, causing neither major candidate to reach a decisive 50 percent there.

“What better place to decide this presidential election than on the banks of Lake Erie,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center in Boston. “A word of caution about Lake County. It is widely recognized as an Ohio bellwether, correctly predicting the last four presidential elections. But there have been some elections where it has trended more Republican. That was the case in 1996 and 2008, where Lake County voted for the Democratic nominees who won, but still leaned more Republican than the statewide vote.”

Meanwhile, over in the Granite State:

Two New Hampshire towns, Epping and Milford, have mirrored the statewide New Hampshire vote in four out of four presidential elections going back to 1996. In Milford, Romney led Obama 51 percent to 46 percent and in Epping, a closer bellwether, Romney led Obama 49 percent to 47 percent.

At the link they provide the history of the county and towns and how they compare statewide.

Of course, any trend may be broken. Vigo County, Indiana, is a county that has voted for the winner in every election since 1956 and is being mentioned as a bellwether again this cycle — except the Obama campaign hasn’t really contested Indiana this cycle, and Romney’s expected to win the state by a healthy margin — so perhaps the dynamics in Vigo won’t be quite as representative of the country as a whole this cycle.

One local station did call 100 residents, a quite small sample: “The result: 42 residents planning to vote for President Barack Obama and 48 in favor of Governor Mitt Romney; which matches other polls across the country.”

The web-comic XKCD made a humorous observation about precedents in presidential campaigns.

Tags: Barack Obama , Indiana , Mitt Romney , New Hampshire , Ohio

The Voters Have Not Been Kind to Pollsters Since 2002


From the final Morning Jolt before Election Day:

A Quick Trip Down the Memory Lane of Recent Polling

So a lot of people who don’t read me that closely are going to look at what follows and interpret it as “Jim’s saying the polls are always wrong.” That’s not what I’m saying, but I’m prefacing all of this with that prediction, because we’ve all seen that when people don’t like what you have to say, they attempt to cut off discussion by calling you insane or silly. Sneering “truther” in response to a disagreement from the conventional wisdom is almost as worn out as “racist.”

At the heart of the entire point of polling in political races is that supposition that the people in the sample are a realistic representation of the folks who will vote in the election. Now that the response rate for polls has plummeted all the way down to 9 percent — that is, out of every 100 calls the pollster makes, only 9 are completed — getting a sample that looks like the likely electorate in Election Day is tougher and tougher.

So pollsters adjust, they make extra calls and make sure they have a sample that is properly balanced by gender, by race, by age, and often times, by geography of the nation or state that they’re polling. They do this based on this fairly simple conclusion — the makeup of the kind of people who will answer questions from a pollster for ten or twenty minutes may not accurately represent the makeup of who will vote in the election. So if one gender, racial group, age group, or region may be more likely to take the time to answer questions than another, why not one party?

Folks like me have been wondering for a while whether folks on the Right — with distrust and suspicion of the media fueled by decades’ worth of stories and examples and anecdotes of what they deem media bias — are more likely to hang up on the pollster, and/or urge him to do anatomically difficult things to himself, than folks on the Left. Think of this as an American version of the “Shy Tory” factor.

In 2002, Democrats argued, and the media largely agreed, that President George W. Bush was “selected, not elected” and contended that despite the events of 9/11, and the talk of war with Iraq, Democrats would thrive in the midterm elections.

I found this article describing the difference between the late polls and the final results on a lefty site charging massive voter fraud in favor of the Republicans. He summarizes:

– 14 races showed a post opinion poll swing towards the Republican Party (by between 3 and 16 points);

– 2 races showed a post opinion poll swing towards the Democratic Party (by 2 and 4 points);

– In three races the pollsters were close to correct;

– The largest post opinion poll vote swings occurred in Minnesota and Georgia where pollsters got the final result wrong

2004: Bob Shrum was calling John Kerry “Mr. President” after seeing the first round of exit polls. Think about it, this wasn’t just guessing who would actually vote; everybody coming out of a polling place was a definite voter. Even then, it got thrown off because Kerry voters were much more willing to talk to the exit pollsters than Bush voters:

Interviewing for the 2004 exit polls was the most inaccurate of any in the past five presidential elections as procedural problems compounded by the refusal of large numbers of Republican voters to be surveyed led to inflated estimates of support for John F. Kerry, according to a report released yesterday by the research firms responsible for the flawed surveys.

The exit pollsters emphasized that the flaws did not produce a single incorrect projection of the winner in a state on election night. But “there were 26 states in which the estimates produced by the exit poll data overstated the vote for John Kerry . . . and there were four states in which the exit poll estimates overstated the vote for George W. Bush,” said Joe Lenski of Edison Media Research and Warren Mitofsky of Mitofsky International.

One other point: the exit pollsters were disproportionately collegiate women. Raise your hand if you think some men might be willing to tell a cute college coed that they voted for Kerry. Yup, me too.

2006: The popular vote in the House of Representatives races came out to 52 percent for the Democrats, 44 percent for Republicans, an 8 point margin. Some institutions came close on the generic ballot question, USA Today/Gallup (7 points), ABC News/Washington Post (6 points) and Pew (4 points). But others overstated it dramatically: Fox News (13 points) CNN (20 points) Newsweek (16 points) and Time (15 points), CBS/New York Times (18 points).

2008: If you’re a pollster who tends to overstate the number of Democrats in your sample, this was your year — fatigue over President Bush and war, a Wall Street collapse and economic meltdown, a drastically underfunded Republican candidate who spent much of his career fighting his own party, the first African-American nominee of a major party . . . and yet, some pollsters still overshot it: Marist, CBS News, NBC/Wall Street Journal had Obama winning by 9, and Reuters had Obama winning by 11, as did Gallup.

2010: Polling wasn’t quite as bad this cycle; everyone seemed to know a GOP wave was coming, and by the time Election Day rolled around, the GOP lead on the generic ballot turned out to overstated in quite a few of the later samples. But what’s interesting is how the polls indicating a GOP tsunami didn’t impact the conventional wisdom within Washington. The GOP’s gain of 63 seats — a final majority of 242 seats — was well beyond the total predicted by Politico’s John Harris and Jim Vandehei (224), NPR’s Ken Rudin (219), Arianna Huffington (228), and CNN’s Candy Crowley (223). This is not to argue a crazy conspiracy among the Washington crowd, just to point out that this year, for some reason, the polls didn’t influence the Beltway expectations — why, it’s almost as if poll results showing good news for Democrats are taken more seriously than ones showing good news for Republicans.

Then of course, you have the individual pollsters who sometimes go . . . well, haywire. This is from my piece about Zogby, who became the liberals’ pollster of choice in 2002 and 2004:

In 2002, his final polls were pretty lousy. In Minnesota, Zogby predicted Democrat Walter Mondale over Republican Norm Coleman by 6 points; Coleman won by 3. In Colorado, Zogby picked Democrat Ted Strickland over GOP incumbent Wayne Allard by 5; Allard won by 5. In Georgia, Zogby picked Democrat Max Cleland over Republican Saxby Chambliss by 2; Chambliss won by 7. In Texas, Zogby’s final poll had Republican John Cornyn over Democrat Ron Kirk by 4 points; Cornyn won by 12. Zogby’s final poll in the Florida gubernatorial race had Jeb Bush winning by 15, but only three weeks earlier he had Bush winning by only 3. Bush won by 13 points.

Late afternoon on Election Day [2004] — awfully late for a final call — Zogby predicted that Kerry would win Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and New Mexico (0 for 4!) and get at least 311 votes in the Electoral College, while Bush was assured of only 213. (The remaining 14 electoral votes were too close to call.)

There’s no other way to say it: The Big Z’s final polls were garbage. His final poll had Colorado too close to call; Bush won by 7 points. He had Florida by a tenth of a percentage point for Kerry and “trending Kerry”; Bush won by 5 points. Zogby had Bush winning North Carolina by 3; the president won John Edwards’s home state by 13. Zogby had Bush leading Tennessee by 4; the president won by 14. Zogby called Virginia a “slight edge” for the GOP; Bush won by 8. In West Virginia, Zogby predicted a Bush win by 4; the president won by 13. And in the vital swing state of Wisconsin, Zogby had Kerry up by 6; the final margin was 1 point.

Zogby’s dramatically far-off results were, I would argue, fueled by a combination of hubristic overconfidence in his own ability to read the mood of the electorate and the desire to tell his biggest fans what they want to hear. I’ll let you conclude if you think that description might apply to any other pundit you see cited a lot these days — including myself.

Besides pollsters seeing what they want to see, we must recall the fairly recent example of Research 2000, which may not have actually conducted the surveys that it announced to the world. Here’s a good summary of that scandal:

It came after Daily Kos published a statistical analysis of Research 2000′s polls that alleged a series of statistical anomalies among the results. That analysis led Moulitsas to conclude that the weekly poll Research 2000 had conducted and run on Daily Kos during 2009 and 2010 “was likely bunk.”

Moulitsas added that Ali had “refused to offer any explanation” for the anomalies or turn over raw data as requested. Daily Kos lawyer Adam Bonin vowed to “file the appropriate discovery requests” in order to determine whether Ali had fabricated data.

In a rambling public response published last July, Ali characterized “every charge” made by the Daily Kos lawsuit as “pure lies, plain and simple.” He promised that “the motives as to why Kos is doing it will be revealed in the legal process.”

But by agreeing to a settlement, Ali leaves open the question of whether his data were in fact fabricated.

The same July statement also included a comment that raised eyebrows among pollsters (typos in original):

Yes we weight heavily and I will, using the margin of error adjust the top line and when adjusted under my discretion as both a pollster and social scientist, therefore all sub groups must be adjusted as well.

After sending that statement, Ali disappeared from public view. Attempts to contact his email account temporarily bounced, his Twitter account went silent and the Research 2000 website started redirecting to a Wikipedia entry on opinion polls. Ali started posting again to his Twitter account two weeks ago, although he has so far not mentioned either the lawsuit or his polling business.

Now, not every pollster is making up their results; probably none of the polls we read about today are made up of whole cloth. But this case suggests that the most paranoid scenario — a pollster not really collecting data, just pretending to and telling the client some combination of what they want to hear and what sounds realistic — can happen.

I mention all of this because I hear from a lot of readers — throughout this past weekend, in fact — with some variation of “EEK! X poll shows my candidate down!”

Well, your candidate may be down. But you should know better than to panic over a poll, and you should know that there’s nothing anyone could or should be telling you to make you stop being as active as you are in these final hours. Also, you should be checking the samples, too see if the partisan breakdown makes sense to you. If the percentage of Democrats in the sample is higher than the percentage of Democrats in the 2008 exit polls, some skepticism is warranted.

That’s how you find CNN releasing a poll Sunday night that has it tied, 49 percent to 49 percent, with Mitt Romney winning independents by 22 points, 59 percent to 37 percent, but “among those likely voters, 41% described themselves as Democrats, 29% described themselves as Independents, and 30% described themselves as Republicans.”

If the electorate is D+11 Tuesday, Romney’s doomed. If Romney’s winning independents by 22, he’s winning in a landslide.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Polling

Do You Vote for Revenge, or Love of Country?


A nice closing ad from the Romney campaign. “Vote for love of country.”

VIDEO TEXT: “Revenge Or Love Of Country?”

VIDEO TEXT: “11.02.2012”

MITT ROMNEY: “[D]id you see what President Obama said today? He asked his supporters to vote for revenge — for revenge.” ·

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: “[D]on’t boo. Vote. Vote. Voting’s the best revenge.”

VIDEO TEXT: “11.02.2012”

MITT ROMNEY: “Instead, I ask the American people to vote for love of country.”

VIDEO TEXT: “What Is Your Reason For Voting?”

MITT ROMNEY: “I’m Mitt Romney and I approved this message.”

I don’t know how those few remaining undecided voters will react to this ad . . . but it strikes me as just the right tone, and contrast, to end this campaign.

I’m told this ad will be rotated into existing Romney campaign buys in swing states.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney

How the Romney Camp Sees the Early Vote in Iowa


Here’s how the Romney campaign sees the early vote in Iowa:

Amid a much-hyped public relations campaign for in-person satellite voting, which included voting locations next to Obama rallies and visits from Hollywood stars like Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, the numbers tell a very different story. As of today, the Democrats are running 14,904 votes short of their 2008 performance, while Republicans are running 8,038 votes ahead of 2008.

So instead of an 18-point margin, Democrats maintain only a 5-point margin. With absentee ballots, Democrats lead in both requests and returns, as they have every cycle. And while Democrats have increased their AB and early-vote performance by 119 percent overall, Republicans have increased ours by 131 percent. So their raw-vote lead isn’t nearly as important as the dramatic slippage in margin. In combined absentee and in-person voting, their lead is barely 12 percent. That’s well within the margin Republicans need to be able to win on Tuesday, given our historic advantage among Election Day voters.

In fact, the current Democratic margin is below the margin they held ahead of George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004, the first Republican to carry Iowa since Reagan.

And the key statistic our voting models point to is that the GOP has, as of today, 87,481 more high-propensity voters available to vote on Election Day because many more of our most committed voters have made the choice to vote on November 6. Tens of thousands more mid-propensity voters are also available, which will grow our Election Day margins even further.

According to the George Mason Elections Center, 557,432 early votes have been cast in Iowa so far. Using the percentage breakdown provided by that site, we calculate that about 241,600 registered Democrats, 179,800 registered Republicans, 136,300 no party or other have voted.

This gives the Democrats a pure registered-party-member advantage of about 62,000. How have the no party/other crowd split? The University of Iowa poll has Obama leading among independents, 41.9 percent to 40.2 percent — yes, those seem low to me, too. The Marist poll in Iowa found “Obama has a 21 point lead among Independent voters who plan to cast an early ballot, while Romney is up 9 points among independents who plan to vote on Election Day.” Let’s give Obama a 60–40 split in the no party or other (although some undoubtedly are voting third party) and give him a 27,000-vote advantage in the independents.

That gives Obama an 89,000-vote advantage in the early vote; as noted above, the Romney campaign thinks they have about 87,000 more “high-propensity voters” than the Democrats do. That looks like a really close race . . . until you get to the independents who haven’t voted early, where Romney leads by 9 in Marist (let’s say 54–45).

We don’t know how many Iowa independents will vote on Election Day, but we know 1.5 million people voted in Iowa in 2008, and 33 percent were independent, according to the exit polls, so we’re looking at roughly 500,000 independent/no party/third party voters in the state. We also know that 26.1 percent of the 675,402 early voters in 2008 were no party or other party — 176,280. In other words, in 2008, about 323,000 independents voted on Election Day instead of voting early.

If Romney has a lead of 9 points among independents, he wins. The only question is by how many votes. If independent turnout on Election Day is 50 percent of 2008, Romney wins by 14,000 votes. If it’s 70 percent of 2008, he wins by 20,000 votes. If it’s 90 percent, he wins by 26,000 votes.

Tags: Barack Obama , Early Voting , Iowa , Mitt Romney

Obama Buys One Week of Ads in Michigan


Michigan is now at least in play, as I am told by reliable sources that the Obama campaign is buying a week’s worth of television ads in the Detroit market. Mark Halperin is hearing the same things.

This is an ad purchase aimed at securing Michigan; it is not aimed at crossing into Ohio or any other state. Detroit’s radio market runs into Monroe County, which borders the Buckeye State, but it does not cross over, as some metropolitan media markets do.

This is the eleventh-largest media market in the United States and one of the more expensive ones, particularly compared to the smaller cities that make up most key swing-state markets.

Tags: Barack Obama , Michigan , Mitt Romney


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