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Tags: North Carolina

Coming to North Carolina: An Attack Ad Against the Media



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

It’s Come to This: Attack Ads Against The Media

A two-minute television ad?

Conservative War Chest unveiled its final ads of the 2014 midterm elections, with different ads running in North Carolina and New Mexico.

A new 2-minute TV ad airing in North Carolina asks voters to make the election a referendum on the “corruption of American journalism.”

“Conservatives can never gain final victory until they confront the problem of news organizations who are the real opposition party in America,” said Mike Flynn, spokesman of Conservative War Chest. “This content-heavy spot puts before the public case studies that establish these organizations as partisan not journalistic organizations that are dedicated to activism, not the fearless pursuit of the truth.”

Conservatives will relish every second of the ad hitting the New York Times, MSNBC, George Stephanopoulos, the critics of Sharyl Attkisson, and so on. But will it change a mind, or influence the decision of a North Carolina voter who wasn’t already going to vote for Tillis? Or is this the kind of argument against the media that the Right needs to make outside the realm of blogs, articles, and so on?

Here’s the group’s explanation of the New Mexico ad buy . . . 

Flynn also revealed that the Super PAC was “doubling-down” on its ad buys in the U.S. Senate race in New Mexico.

“We were the first outside group to hold U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) to account for his extreme liberal agenda and its threat to national security,” Flynn said. “Many pundits laughed that we were engaging with New Mexico voters, but since then the polls have tightened.”

“Tom Udall has spent his entire adult life in the family business of liberal politics,” Flynn said. “His family’s policies were wrong in the 1970s and they are devastatingly wrong today.”

Flynn said his group was increasing its buy behind its groundbreaking, 2-minute “Blame America First” ad, which details the national security failures of radical liberal policies like those espoused by politicians like Udall.

The group is also launching its ad highlighting the liberal “war on Hispanic dreams and values.”

Flynn said, “New Mexico has a proud Hispanic legacy stretching back generations. They understand that the liberal policies of taxes and regulations stifle dreams of economic growth. Their alliance with social issue extremists insults Hispanic values.”

As noted earlier, Allen Weh has improved his standing, but still trails significantly. New Mexico is a pretty consistently Democratic state, which is not to say that Republicans always lose in a landslide. In 2012, Heather Wilson lost the New Mexico Senate race, 51 percent to 45 percent, to Democrat Martin Heinrich. No one is going to argue that incumbent Democratic senator Tom Udall is a whirling dervish of raw political charisma, and the political environment is not good for Democrats. But there are no cases of an incumbent blowing a seven-point lead in a statewide race in the final week since 1998.

Tags: North Carolina , Media , Campaign Ads

Colorado’s Early Vote Through Monday: 42.8 Percent Republicans, 32.4 Percent Democrats



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From the Tuesday Morning Jolt:

What the Gardner and Tillis Campaigns Are Thinking Right Now

I talked to a consultant who’s plugged in to the Republican Party’s efforts in the Senate races in Colorado and North Carolina.

For obvious reasons, he’s feeling good about Cory Gardner’s effort in Colorado, noting that Republicans continue to hold a big lead in early voting.

The October 27 numbers for early voting indicate that the returned ballots are 42.8 percent from registered Republicans, 32.4 percent from registered Democrats, and 26.9 percent from voters who are unaffiliated. In 2010, Republicans led the early vote 39.5 percent to 33.6 percent over Democrats.

In terms of raw numbers, 281,638 registered Republicans have voted so far, 213,738 Democrats, and 163,311 unaffiliated.

This consultant said that unlike with Ken Buck in 2010, the Republican base is rock-solid with Gardner, more than 90 percent of Republicans supporting him. (According to CNN’s exit poll, Buck won 89 percent of self-identified Republicans, while Democrat Michael Bennet won 94 percent of Democrats.) Udall is getting 90 percent of Democrats, and the independents break slightly to Udall; as noted before, Colorado independents are more Democratic-leaning than in other states.

He doesn’t expect Republicans to keep the ten-point lead throughout early voting, but he says it’s good place to be in at this stage of the early vote. The final turnout number should be somewhere around 2 million, not 2.3 million – so with 657,000 votes cast, close to a third of the vote is already in.

In North Carolina, the outlook for Thom Tillis has brightened somewhat. After he consistently trailed by about three points through most of September and early October, Tillis and incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan are tied in the latest NBC News/Marist poll and the latest Survey USA poll.

This consultant thinks that the ads from liberal outside groups in favor of Hagan may actually be backfiring. A key part of Hagan’s message for this reelection bid is to emphasize – or at least claim – her centrism, her independence, her willingness to defy the liberal party line. Then the airwaves are suddenly full of ads touting Hagan and attacking Tillis from the political action funds of . . . Planned Parenthood, the League of Conservation Voters, and unions’ groups.

“That’s the comparison we wanted!” the consultant chuckles. “Conservative vs. liberal is a better split for us than Republican vs. Democrat. ‘Conservative senator’ is the runaway favorite in what voters wanted, and Hagan had been trying to insist she’s a conservative. And now all these liberal groups are coming in [trying to reelect Hagan]. They don’t realize that it’s a dog whistle to independent voters.”

This consultant does have one or two variables keeping him up at night.

“We definitely need our ground game to work,” he says. “It’s been reinvented a lot since 2012. If they can turn out more low-propensity Democrats than they did in 2010, then we need to turn out more low-propensity Republicans this cycle than we did in 2010. There’s a really big opportunity here to win a lot of Senate seats. To do that, it doesn’t have to be a climate like 2010, but it needs to be close to that.”

Overall, this consultant suggests that the disappointing early vote numbers for Democrats in other states reflect that there are “a few” members of that party who are now begrudgingly recognizing that the Obama approach hasn’t worked. “It’s hard to generate enthusiasm for something that isn’t working,” he says, listing ISIS, Ebola, and the border crisis as “new and fresh reminders no one is running the shop.” Throw in the VA and the awful launch of Obamacare, and voters are concluding, “maybe these people just aren’t good at government.”

Tags: Cory Gardner , Thom Tillis , North Carolina , Colorado , Early Voting

Kay Hagan, With Tiny Lead, Chooses to Skip Debate



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Senator Kay Hagan, Democrat of North Carolina, chose to not appear at tonight’s debate against Republican Thom Tillis.

“Senator Hagan declined our invitation.”

For this decision, she was ripped by . . . Rachel Maddow, who describes the race as “basically tied” — Hagan has enjoyed a shrinking lead in recent weeks.

Maybe she had a cocktail hour to attend; that’s what kept her from an Armed Services Committee classified hearing on ISIS.

Tags: Kay Hagan , North Carolina , Thom Tillis

Republicans Doing Just Fine in Early Vote in N.C., Iowa, Florida



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Rmmember when the rest of the country laughed at Floridians for not being able to correctly fill out a ballot? A lot of Floridians — particularly Republicans — have gotten the early-voting part down:

More than 683,000 absentee ballots were cast as of Thursday morning, and Republicans continue to hold a solid lead over Democrats in returns, 48-35 percent.

That’s not huge news, in that Republicans typically overperform in absentee-ballot casting while Democrats do the same when it comes to early in-person voting. But Democrats have been expected to close the gap with Republicans in ballots cast. Instead, the margin has increased, to 13.7 percent.

Throw in the news from Iowa . . . 

. . . and North Carolina . . . 

. . . and it looks like reports of the Republican demise in early voting have been greatly exaggerated. Love it or hate it, early voting is a big part of the process now:

Tags: Early Voting , Iowa , North Carolina , Florida

NRSC Feeling More Confident About Tillis in North Carolina



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Somebody at the NRSC feels good about Thom Tillis:

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is planning to reserve more than $6 million in additional North Carolina airtime Monday, sources tell POLITICO.

The article says the committee is “seeing overnight tracking numbers that show the race tightening.”

It’s worth noting that the Libertarian candidate, Sean Haugh, continues to draw a significant percentage of voters. In the latest Survey USA poll, Tillis actually leads head-to-head with Hagan, 46 percent to 45 percent. But when the Libertarian candidate is an option, Hagan leads, 44 percent to 41 percent.

Haugh — “Libertarian” — not only supports term limits, but (tongue-in-cheek?) calls for term limits for “aides, bureaucrats, journalists, and anyone in the political class.” That may be a good idea or a bad idea, but it’s hardly a limited-government idea to impose new rules on who can participate in the political process.

He also wants to “stop all war” and this is his response to U.S. military action vs ISIS:

Somebody has got to look you dead in the eye and remind you that killing people is wrong. And I guess that somebody has got to be me. . . . If you want an excuse to keep on killing, you’ve come to the wrong guy. Killing people is wrong, period. Somebody has got to be smart enough to see the results and realize that we’ve got to try another way. Somebody has got to be moral enough to be the first to stop the killing. And it’s got to be us . . . 

The people you see on the news are not abstract concepts. Those dead bodies are real. Real human beings who have been murdered to advance some government policy of ours, whether it’s in Mosul, or Gaza, or Ferguson, or Nogales.

It’s long past time we tried different, peaceful solutions. I’m Sean Haugh, and I am not at war.

Maybe Tillis’s messaging in the closing weeks ought to be something that can peel off a portion of the Libertarian demographic? His desire to eliminate the federal Export-Import Bank? Concerns about NSA abuses?

Gay marriage and drug testing for those collecting public benefits are out, obviously.

Tags: Thom Tillis , Kay Hagan , North Carolina

Doesn’t the Panic Over the Early-Voting Totals Look Silly Now?



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Remember in late September when Democrats were giddy and Republicans were despondent over “the early-voting totals”? Even though only about 2,000 ballots had been returned in Iowa and North Carolina? Even though about 1 million votes will be cast in Iowa’s statewide races, and about 2 million in North Carolina’s? You may recall my observation, “This is kind of like that moment a half-hour or so after the polls close, when a handful of precincts have reported, and some people freak out with 1 percent of the vote counted.”

A couple weeks later, the outlook for Republicans is considerably brighter. University of Florida professor Michael McDonald tracks the data and sees Republicans rapidly making up ground and catching up with Democrats in Iowa . . . 

. . . and Republicans have now caught up in North Carolina:

This does not mean Republicans are certain to win the high-profile Senate races in these states; polling still shows an exceptionally tight race in Iowa and a slight lead for Senator Kay Hagan in North Carolina. But it confirms that it’s silly to draw a conclusion about who’s going to win based upon the registered party affiliation of the first few thousand absentee ballots returned.

Tags: Early Voting , Iowa , North Carolina

An Early Red Flag for Republicans



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As noted in today’s Jolt, if you look at this survey on voter contact . . . 

Democrats also have modest but still notable leads in voter contact in North Carolina and Colorado, two states that look like must-wins for Democrats to hold the Senate.

The Republicans still have a lead in the fight for the Senate, even though the Democrats appear to be out-campaigning them in more states. That’s because the Republicans have built leads in Arkansas and Louisiana, where the effectiveness of the campaigns seems fairly balanced, and Alaska, where the Begich campaign’s advantage on the ground hasn’t overtaken the Sullivan campaign’s advantage in advertisements.

It’s a red flag for Republicans. But I’d rather see a red flag in the first week of October, when there’s still a month to address it and catch up, than in the first week of November.

Also note these aren’t enormous differentials in voter contact — 6 percentage points in Colorado, 9 in North Carolina.

The same pollster has Democrat Udall up 3 and Democrat Hagan up 1 — so the voter-contact spread is bigger than the polling spread.

Tags: North Carolina , Colorado

A Quick Point About the ‘Early Voting Totals’...



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From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

A Quick Point About the ‘Early Voting Totals’ in Iowa and North Carolina

You’re seeing a bit of giddiness among Democrats about “the early voting numbers.”

A little perspective, please.

In Iowa, Democrats can boast 68,000 registered members of their party have requested absentee ballots, and only about 35,000 registered Republicans.

But 1,295 registered Democrats have returned an absentee ballot; 1,129 registered Republicans have done the same.

For perspective, in the last midterm election Senate race in Iowa in 2010,  Iowans cast more than 1.1 million votes.

In North Carolina, 2,236 ballots have been returned. 44.7 percent registered Democrats, 35.6 percent registered Republicans. Back in 2010, 2.6 million votes were cast.

This is kind of like that moment a half-hour or so after the polls close, when a handful of precincts have reported, and some people freak out with 1 percent of the vote counted.

Would Republicans prefer to be ahead in this very early indicator? Sure. But it’s a waste of brain cells to spend time worrying about the early vote totals on the first couple days.

Tags: Iowa , North Carolina , Early Voting

Expect a Lot More ‘Soccer Mom’ Ads in North Carolina



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From the midweek Morning Jolt:

Expect a Lot More ‘Soccer Mom’ Ads in North Carolina

Remember when I showed you the television commercials for Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis, and asked if they were too soft?

Are the TV ads from Thom Tillis’s Senate campaign in North Carolina too generic or nice? Look them over, and you can see the points Tillis and his team want to emphasize:

• Tillis raised school funding and raised teachers’ pay.
• He’ll work with both parties.
• Hagan voted with Obama 96 percent of the time.
• He’s been a paperboy.

Well, here’s the answer . . . 

The most recent Fox News poll in North Carolina has Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan winning among women, 46 percent to 30 percent.

The most recent PPP survey finds, “Hagan continues to have a massive advantage with women at 49 percent to 33 percent.”

And then the most recent Civitas poll, which has Hagan ahead among women, 52 percent to 38 percent.

So there you have it. Thom Tillis is trailing by a handful of points against an incumbent stuck in the mid-40s, and she’s hanging on because of her margin among women. So North Carolina television watchers can continue to hear more about Tillis’s paper route, and his first election as president of the PTA, and more visuals of him at the diner and in the school library.

Not the red meat that conservatives want to see, but then again, Thom Tillis already has most conservatives voting for him — 71 percent of self-identified conservatives in the Civitas poll, 76 percent of self-identified Republicans in the Fox News poll, and 81 percent of the self-identified “very conservative” and 63 percent of the “somewhat conservative” in the PPP poll.

Some of you may be asking, ‘Why isn’t he getting 90 or 100 percent?’ But remember that some portion of self-identified conservatives have completely misidentified themselves. A national Gallup poll found 20 percent of self-identified conservatives say they have a positive view of socialism.

One other thought — as mentioned in last week’s article, North Carolina is one of the most expensive states to run in this cycle (at least one of the most expensive with a competitive Senate race). Yes, the DSCC committed $9 million to helping save Kay Hagan. But if they find themselves needing to triage . . . all that money going to help her might go a lot farther in Arkansas, or Alaska, or Louisiana, or some other cheaper state.

Tags: Thom Tillis , Kay Hagan , North Carolina

Who’s Saying Veterans Can’t Trust the Obama Administration?



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You almost have to admire the opportunism of Senator Kay Hagan as she suddenly turns into a full-throated critic of the Obama administration, months from Election Day: 

Ahead of President Obama’s speech Tuesday before the American Legion, a vulnerable senator in his own party voiced skepticism about the commander in chief’s commitment to veterans. Sen. Kay Hagan, who is locked in a tight re-election race against Republican Thom Tillis in North Carolina, said in a statement that the Obama administration “has not yet done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans and implement real and permanent reforms at the VA.”

The American Legion is holding its convention in Charlotte this week; Obama is scheduled to speak there tomorrow. Hagan is scheduled to attend the event.

The CQ/Roll Call study found that Senator Hagan voted with the Obama administration’s position 96 percent of the time

Senator Kay Hagan, left, with an unidentified supporter.

UPDATE: Here’s Kay Hagan back in 2008, talking about how she’s heard first-hand about how veterans are having difficulty getting care at VA hospitals, and how, “we really need to honor them for their service and make it a seamless transition from the time they get out to when they get their care. And that’s one of the things that we’ve got to correct.”

How’s she doing on that, huh? 

Tags: Kay Hagan , Veterans , North Carolina

New Tillis Ad: Washington Is Out of Touch



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In North Carolina’s Senate race, Republican Thom Tillis enjoys a small lead over incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan in recent polls, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee committed $9 million to help Hagan last week. Television advertising is going to be one of the key battlegrounds in this fight, and Tillis is starting the week with a new ad, declaring, “Washington has completely lost touch with working Americans.”

“The Senate could use more people who had to sweat for a living, and fewer of the politicians who made this mess.”

Tags: Thom Tillis , Kay Hagan , North Carolina

The DSCC Just Put $9 Million Behind Hagan. Your Move, Republicans.



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Also in today’s Jolt, a clear indicator of where the DSCC thinks they absolutely must win in November:

Democrats Bet All Their Chips — Well, Almost All — on North Carolina

Here’s the bad news: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just committed more than $9 million dollars to help Senator Kay Hagan in her reelection bid in North Carolina — a big, big sum for a national committee in one state.

Here’s the good news: The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just committed more than $9 million dollars to help Sen. Kay Hagan — meaning she must need it. You don’t spend a sum like that willy-nilly.

The ad buy, the largest so far in North Carolina, would be paid out through the end of the campaign. It reflects both the outside interest in a race that will help decide control of the Senate and, some say, concern about Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.

“It tells me a couple things,” said Jennifer Duffy, an analyst with the Washington-based Cook Political Report. “One, that she really is in trouble. They’re not going to spend that kind of money defending an incumbent who’s in reasonably good shape.

“Two, they’re going to do the negative ads because I don’t think her approval ratings can take any more hits.”

Brad Dayspring, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the buy signals that Democrats have hit the “panic button.”

“The DSCC very clearly believes that if Kay Hagan loses North Carolina, their majority is gone,” he said in a release.

If you’re the type who likes giving to campaigns, maybe you can throw some bucks at Thom Tillis, and help balance out the DSCC’s big spending.

 

He’s got her back.

Tags: Kay Hagan , DSCC , North Carolina , Thom Tillis

The Great Big North Carolina Primary Roundup



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North Carolina holds its primary election Tuesday.

The highest-profile race is in North Carolina’s GOP Senate primary, competing to take on incumbent Democratic senator Kay Hagan in November.

State house speaker and past ALEC Legislator of the Year Thom Tillis is the front-runner, according to the two most recent polls, but a candidate must win 40 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff. Tillis is hovering right around that threshold.

If he goes to a runoff, his most likely rival is medical doctor and conservative activist Greg Brannon, who has been endorsed by Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Pastor Mark Harris, former Shelby mayor Ted Alexander, Navy veteran Alex Bradshaw, and nurse and Army veteran Heather Grant round out the field.

Polling finds Hagan in a close race with both Tillis and Brannon.

North Carolina’s second congressional district features one of the House primaries that might get some attention, between GOP representative Renee Ellmers and Frank Roche, who has scored some tea-party endorsements. This district attracted some fairly high-profile Democratic competition: former state commerce secretary Keith Crisco and Clay Aiken, American Idol singer. Still, Democrats will face an uphill climb; the district scores a R+10 in the Cook Partisan Voting Index.

In North Carolina’s third congressional district, Taylor Griffin was endorsed by his old boss, Sarah Palin, in his primary challenge to ten-term GOP representative Walter Jones. The primary winner will be heavily favored in November, as this is an R+11 district.

In North Carolina’s sixth congressional district, GOP representative Howard Coble is retiring, setting off a big primary fight for the nomination in this R+10 district. It’s unlikely that any candidate will win 40 percent, so a runoff is expected. If fundraising success equaled votes — which it doesn’t, obviously — the top contenders would be Bruce VonCannon, former CEO for the banking arm of the Rothschild Group, Rockingham County district attorney Phil Berger Jr., Greensboro city-council member Zach Matheny, and minister Mark Walker.

In North Carolina’s seventh congressional district, incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre announced he’s retiring, offering Republicans a golden pickup opportunity in this R+12 district. Former state senator David Rouzer and former state senator Woody White are the two top contenders for the nomination here.

In North Carolina’s heavily Democratic twelfth congressional district (D+26), Representative Mel Watt has resigned to become head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The seat is currently vacant; six Democrats are competing for the nomination.

Tags: North Carolina , Thom Tillis , Greg Brannon

From Gloom to Hope in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida



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The mood from GOP insiders, both inside and outside the Romney campaign, was looking pretty gloomy about 45 minutes ago, with great anxieties about Virginia, Florida, and even North Carolina. As more returns have come in, the mood is brightened considerably — the northern suburbs of Virginia are looking better for Romney, the Florida panhandle continues to give Romney gobs of votes when he desperately needs them, and good numbers in Wake County in North Carolina.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, subsequent counties could change things, and all proper caveats apply.

Tags: Florida , North Carolina , Virginia

Estimate: Obama Leads NC Early Vote By 1.2 Percent



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Jeff Dobbs takes a look at the numbers for early voting in North Carolina, takes some guesses as to how each group of voters – Democrats, Republicans, and “Other” – have voted so far:

Rasmussen’s latest poll in North Carolina asked responders who they intended to vote for – and asked them which party they belonged to. His results show the following:

Republicans Romney: 94% | Obama: 4% | Other: 2%

Democrats Romney: 17% | Obama: 82% | Other: 1%

Other Romney: 59% | Obama: 36% | Other: 5%

Weighting the votes by how each category is likely to vote using Rasmussen’s survey, the state of the race at this point in 2012 looks like this:

Estimated Vote Totals: Romney: 479,899 | 48.4%

Obama: 491,500 | 49.6%

Using this methodology, in 2012 Obama holds a 1.2% lead, or 11,600 votes, over Romney after one week of early voting in North Carolina.

With an 18.9 point lead at this point in 2008, Obama ultimately won 50.2% to 49.8%.

With an estimated 143,509 vote lead in 2008, Obama ultimately won by a 14,177 vote margin.

Obama is now leading by 1.2 points and 11,600 votes.

Remember, “If votes cast on Election Day decided the 2008 election, McCain would have won in Florida, Colorado, North Carolina and Iowa.”

I think the early vote may be significantly larger this year in communities where voters experienced long lines and long waits on Election Day 2008; folks may want to avoid the crowds this time around.

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , North Carolina

Dramatic Shifts in Early Voting in Tennessee, North Carolina



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Charles, a Campaign Spot reader in Tennessee, took a look at the totals after the first day of early voting in his state:

All Obama Counties in Tennessee

2008: 36,144

2012: 25,317

Change: -30%

All McCain Counties in Tennessee (except Henry which has not reported 2012EV totals):

2008: 71,846

2012: 94,588

Change: +31.7%

Data for 2008 early vote by county can be found here; data for 2012 early vote by county can be found here.

He concludes:

While Tennessee is not competitive in 2012, these results show a complete shift in voter enthusiasm from 2008 to 2012.  Total voter turnout statewide on day one of early voting was up about 10 percent compared to four years ago, but voter turnout increased 31 percent in McCain counties while it dropped 30 percent in Obama counties.

Meanwhile, Jeff Dobbs takes a similar look at North Carolina, and finds:

Total Votes: 50,674

Dem: 13,887 = 27.4%

Rep: 27,455 = 54.2%

Unaffiliated: 9,255 = 18.3%

Libertarian: 77 = 0.2%

Compare that with 2008:

Dem: 51.4%

Rep: 30.2%

Other: 18.5%

He concludes:

The 2012 numbers are breakouts by registration, not by vote cast (of course, you can’t vote for unaffiliated!). But certainly if some assumptions are made — it appears there has been a complete flip of the parties, at least at this point. But we are in the early part of early voting.

Tags: North Carolina , Tennessee

Middle Cheese: Obama Scaling Back in North Carolina, but Not Florida Yet



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Middle Cheese checks in with a short update, pouring some cold water on the talk that the Obama campaign is triaging states already: “Team Romney says they have seen evidence that the Obama campaign is scaling back in North Carolina. None yet in Florida.”

Considering that the final debate is in Florida and that Romney’s lead in the state is consistent but small, and the impact news of a scaledown/concession would have on Democrats’ morale nationwide, it would make sense for the Obama campaign to stay active in Florida for as long as possible.

Tags: Florida , CrossroadsGPS , North Carolina

Obama’s New Firewall: Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada



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Major Garrett, writing in National Journal:

What also became clear after the dust began to settle from the rumble on Long Island was the electoral map has narrowed and Obama’s team, while conceding nothing publicly, is circling the wagons around Ohio, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Plouffe said that Obama remains strong in all four states, but he would not discuss the specifics of internal polling or voter-contact analytics, saying only that Obama has “significant leads” in all four places.

It is uncharacteristic of Team Obama to concede any terrain, but Plouffe offered no such assurances about Obama’s position in North Carolina, Virginia, or Florida. Romney advisers have seen big gains in all three states and now consider wins likely, although not guaranteed, in all three. They are similarly upbeat about prospects in Colorado but not confident enough to predict victory. That Plouffe left Colorado off his list of states where Obama’s leading and can withstand a Romney surge might be telling.

Chalk one up for Suffolk University Political Research Center’s David Paleologos, which said they would stop polling North Carolina, Virginia, and Florida last week.

Fascinatingly, the description of Plouffe’s comments puts New Hampshire in the “firewall” pile, when the last three polls have Romney up by 4 (ARG) a tie (Suffolk) and Obama ahead by 1 (Rasmussen).

UPDATE: The Obama campaign is “absolutely not” giving up on those states, traveling press secretary Jen Psaki said today.

Tags: Barack Obama , Florida , Mitt Romney , North Carolina , Virginia

Middle Cheese: Romney Trails, But Not By Much



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Many, many readers have asked for updates from my nicknamed sources from previous election cycles. Circumstances prevent communications with one of my regulars, but “Middle Cheese” — nicknamed such because he was ranked in between the “big cheeses” and the “little cheeses” of the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign – is able to reappear. Since that cycle, Middle Cheese has moved around to various positions in high-level GOP politics, and still talks to the “Big Cheeses” of the Romney campaign.

His latest thoughts:

Glad to be back at “The Kerry Spot,” as it was called in back in 2004 when I first started giving my “Middle Cheese” reports.  Time flies!

You asked about the Romney and RNC ground game– is it real?  Yes, it is and it’s a record-breaking one.  Just look at the numbers:  73,000 volunteers have made more than 26 million voter contacts.  2 million more door-knocks and six times more phone calls at this point four years ago. The Victory program has identified more than 2.2 million swing voters.

You ask:  Are any swing states looking particularly good or bad?  My sources in the Romney campaign say that they have expanded the battlefield into Obama 2008 states like Wisconsin, Colorado, and North Carolina.  The latter is clearly moving out of the Obama column, while the first two remain highly competitive (I think Paul Ryan will have significant coattails in Cheesehead land).

The hand-wringers in the GOP Beltway Establishment are fixated on the recent polling data coming out of Ohio and Florida.  To be sure, Obama is ahead in both states, but the fact the race remains close in most national polls makes it impossible for polls showing wide margins in Ohio and Florida to be accurate. 

I don’t want to be accused of sugarcoating the state of the race.  It’s very close, and Mitt is trailing slightly in a few swing states.  But it is a lifetime until Election Day, with three Presidential and one Veep debate to go.  Our ground game is strong. Overall, Romney-Ryan and the GOP has a $40 million cash on hand advantage over the Obama-Biden campaign.  More importantly, I expect to see Romney to make a larger case for how he would take our country in a fundamentally different direction than President Obama, not on on the economy, but on foreign policy as well. 

Tags: Barack Obama , Colorado , Mitt Romney , North Carolina , Polling , Wisconsin

A Tale of Two Polls in North Carolina



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If you ask Public Policy Polling, Obama leads North Carolina by one percentage point, 49 percent to 48 percent.

(For those wondering about PPP’s sample in this state, note that in the most recent voter-registration statistics, about 43 percent of the Tar Heel State’s voters are registered Democrats, and only about 31 percent are registered Republicans. Of course, not every registered voter is equally likely to vote in November, and a lot of North Carolina’s Democrats are relatively conservative.)

If you ask Civitas, Romney’s up 10:

In the wake of the Republican National Convention, a Civitas Institute Flash Poll found that Republican candidate Mitt Romney took a 10 percentage-point lead over President Obama.

The Flash Poll of 500 registered North Carolina voters was taken Sept. 4-6 and had a margin of error of plus-minus 4.5 percent. Asked if the election for President were held today who they would vote for, 53 percent chose Romney and 43 percent chose Obama.

Fifty percent of the voters had a favorable opinion of Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts; 40 percent had an unfavorable opinion. The survey showed that 50 percent of those polled had an unfavorable opinion of Obama, while 42 percent had a favorable one.

“Any one poll is just a snapshot. What is important are the overall trends,” said Civitas President Francis X. De Luca. “Our regular polling will show whether this Flash Poll is an outlier, or a harbinger of a new trend in voter sentiment.”

Asked if their opinion of Romney changed after the convention, 39 percent of those responding to the Flash Poll said it got more favorable, and 33 percent said it grew more unfavorable. Those voters also said they had a favorable opinion of the GOP convention, 46 percent favorable to 37 percent unfavorable, and of the Republican Party in general, 45 percent to 40 percent.

Click here for crosstabs.

Interestingly, the PPP survey, which has Obama ahead, only has a D+13 split (47–34) while Civitas, which has Obama trailing considerably, has a D+15 split (45–30). PPP has Obama and Romney tied among independents (48 each); the previous week, PPP found Romney leading this demographic 51-40.

Civitas finds Romney winning independents 49 percent to 40 percent.

PPP finds 17 percent of North Carolina Democrats backing Romney; Civitas finds 28 percent of this demographic backing the GOP nominee.

If you’re wondering whether the Civitas survey included the Democratic Convention bump for Obama, it was conducted from September 4 through 6, the days of the convention.

Tags: North Carolina , Polling

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