In Maricopa County, home to more than half of Arizona’s voters, material reminding Spanish-language speakers to vote lists Election Day as Nov. 8, two days after polls close. In Florida, the Division of Elections is investigating letters sent to voters in 24 counties that say recipients have been flagged as possible noncitizens and are ineligible to vote. In Wisconsin, billboards warn of jail time for voter fraud. And voters in several swing states have reported receiving calls telling them they can vote by phone instead of at the ballot box.
Welcome to the unseemly underside of politics. While President Obama and Mitt Romney work to mobilize as much of their base as possible, some operatives are working behind the scenes to dissuade the other side’s voters from casting ballots.
While there’s no evidence that the official party organizations or the two presidential campaigns are involved in the shadiest efforts, operatives on both sides are engaged in underhanded, sometimes even illegal, tactics. The letters in Florida targeted Republican voters. The billboards in Wisconsin are in prominent African-American neighborhoods, where huge numbers of Democratic voters live.
In other cases, simple mistakes in local elections offices threaten to disenfranchise at least a handful of voters. In a close election, any problem at the polls will cause the losing side to scream. Both the Obama and Romney camps claim they are confident they’ll win by sufficient margins. But privately, each side is preparing armies of lawyers and warning staff to be ready to mobilize quickly on Election Night.
Simple errors at local elections offices, whether poorly designed ballots in Palm Beach County in 2000 or mislabeled elections materials like those in Maricopa County today, can give both parties a chance to claim voting irregularities. Long lines at early voting locations in Iowa and elsewhere have already caused grumbling—just a preview of the strain that will be put on election workers when they deal with the tens of millions of voters on Nov. 6.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney Campaign Raises $118 Million in First Half of October
[National Journal, 10/25/12] The Romney campaign and its supporting committees raised $118 million in the first half of October, just $60 million less than it raised in all of September.
In Polls, Romney’s Momentum Seems to Have Stopped
[New York Times, 10/25/12] FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver writes that while Romney clearly gained ground after the Denver debate, recent polling shows that he is apparently no longer doing so.
Ryan Mocks Obama’s ‘Comic Book’ Agenda Pamphlet
[NBC News, 10/25/12] In Virginia on Thursday, Paul Ryan called the Obama campaign’s pamphlet laying out a second term “a slick re-packaging of more of the same.” The pamphlet, issued the day after the final presidential debate, came in response to criticisms that Obama hadn’t laid out a positive vision for his next four years in office.
Obama in Ybor City
[ABC Action News (Florida), 10/25/12] Along with former Republican governor Charlie Christ, the president addressed a crowd of 8,500 supporters in the Ybor City section of Tampa, Florida, on Thursday. He vowed not to turn Medicare into a voucher system and said women should have control of their own health care.
Obama Goes After Romney, Wall Street in Rolling Stone
[Politico, 10/25/12] Obama went after Romney and Wall Street executives in a wide-ranging interview for Rolling Stone, which hits stands on Friday, at one point describing his GOP opponent with an expletive.
Obama, Romney Wooing Early Voters
[Boston Globe, 10/25/12] As of Wednesday, at least 6.5 million Americans had already voted, and experts expect that about 40 percent of ballots will be cast before Nov. 6 —up from about 31 percent in 2008. Republicans are stepping up their game to try to match Obama's 2008 early voting advantage.
Colin Powell and the Fix Endorsement Hierarchy
[Washington Post, 10/25/12] So where does the former secretary of State’s endorsement fit on the importance scale? Chris Cillizza writes that “it’s hard to see the endorsement having the same sort of lift that it did four years ago.” Sen. John McCain said of Powell: "You have harmed your legacy even further" with the endorsement.
Guns, Climate, Gays Missing in Presidential Race
[Associated Press, 10/25/12] The 2012 presidential campaign has focused heavily from the start on jobs, pushing other once high-profile issues to the sidelines and dismaying activists. In none of the three presidential debates this month did either of the candidates focus much attention on gun control, climate change, or gay rights.
In Iowa, the Race Becomes Surprisingly Competitive
[Los Angeles Times, 10/25/12] The Obama campaign has long felt Iowa, with its 6 electoral votes, was theirs for the taking, a place likely to reject Romney’s corporate demeanor and credentials in favor of the president’s populist appeal. But, as with a handful of other swing states, polls show Obama with only the thinnest edge over Romney.
Romney’s Stemberg Divorce Testimony to Be Released
[Bloomberg, 10/25/12] Romney’s testimony in the divorce case of Staples Inc. cofounder Tom Stemberg will be released, a judge said. The records were released at the behest of Stemberg’s ex-wife, who must still abide a gag order on the case.
Auto Industry Bailout Has Staying Power in Presidential Race
[Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/25/12] The government bailout of the auto industry and Romney’s 2008 opinion piece opposing it continue to resonate on the campaign trail, particularly in the crucial battleground of Ohio. Obama has touted the resurgence of the auto industry in countless stops across the Buckeye State, and how thousands of Ohio jobs were saved as a result.
Mitt Romney’s Secret ‘Rock Star’ on Energy
[National Journal, 10/24/12] NJ’s Amy Harder introduces readers to the woman in Romney’s camp that nobody knows about: Rebecca Rosen, the Romney campaign’s top energy and environment policy adviser. Rosen was the lead author of the GOP nominee’s energy plan released in August.
Palm Beach County Back in Election Spotlight
[Politico, 10/25/12] The Florida county that brought us the hanging chad in 2000 is in the midst of yet another electoral mess. The problem this time is 27,000 filled-out absentee ballots in Palm Beach County that were misprinted and cannot be read by tabulation machines.
Political Diehards Flood Into Colorado From Other States
[Denver Post, 10/25/12] Volunteer after volunteer, Republicans and Democrats alike, are spending their weekends traipsing across the western Mesa County border from the Beehive to the Centennial state to try to persuade undecided voters in one of the small handful of states that is still too close to call.
Obama’s Recast Agenda Faces Doubters
[Roll Call, 10/25/12] This week, the Obama team repackaged many of the president’s first-term ideas and proposals, most of which have been rejected by Congress, into a boiled-down “Plan for Jobs” brochure outlining his second-term agenda. Roll Call’s Steven T. Dennis examines the plan and its opposition.
Reid’s Machine Powers Obama in Nevada Test
[New York Times, 10/24/12] Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has spent the last 10 years building a political machine that helped Obama win Nevada in 2008 and carried Reid to victory two years ago. But the Reid machine is now facing its biggest test yet: the state’s bleak economic outlook, and a parallel political organization built by Team Romney.