Elections answer more questions than just who gets to slap their name on all sorts of government projects and ride in the plane.
For instance, just from today’s iteration of the blessedly winnowing news cycle between now and polls closing, will Mitt Romney’s 11th-hour announcement that he’ll hit the Cleveland and Pittsburgh markets pay off? How many votes is New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen worth in Wisconsin? And will reports of Republican state officials playing fast and loose with polling places cause enough outrage that folks who otherwise wouldn’t vote might actually do so?
More broadly, one of the two parties is set to spiral off into the presidential wilderness. A Romney loss would, according to party insiders, wrench the GOP apart as it attempts to reconcile its more conservative and pragmatic wings. If President Obama proves to be more Jimmy Carter than Bill Clinton, Democrats will reel as the transcendent figure to whom many pinned their hopes in 2008 folds his tent as one who tried but couldn’t go all the way.
And, no matter who wins, a lot of pollsters are going to be spending a lot of time explaining flawed analyses. Much of the country is about to learn why they have been suffering from confirmation bias.
Particularly in a campaign whose result the day before the election defies confident forecasting, the anxiety for answers runs high. In short, the campaign chatter is about to move from predictive analysis to post-mortem very quickly.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Obama, Romney Blitz Battleground States
[ABC News, 11/5/12] Obama is hitting urban centers in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa, with Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z tagging along for the ride. Meanwhile, Romney is hopping from Florida to Ohio, to Virginia, and to the finish in New Hampshire.
In Tampa, Fla., Some Worried Voters Show up Early NEW!
[Los Angeles Times, 11/5/12] After early voting in Florida closed Saturday, five counties began handing out absentee ballots as an alternative. The move is expected to help Obama (the Republican legislature has cut the number of early voting days from 14 to eight).
Secret Money Funds GOP Door-Knockers NEW!
[Politico, 11/5/12] Conservative volunteers who used to work for free are now make hourly wages, thanks to the infusion of secret political money made possible by Citizens United. The funding may have helped Romney even the playing field on the ground, where Obama is believed to have the advantage.
The Looming GOP Civil War – Whether Mitt Wins or Not
[Politico, 11/5/12] The GOP is made up of a shrinking population of older white men while Democrats rely on an ascendant bloc of minorities, moderate women and young people. The GOP must confront this demographic crisis, but Republicans are divided on the way forward.
Romney to Campaign in Pa., Ohio, on Election Day
[Boston Globe, 11/5/12] Romney's added stops in Pittsburgh and Cleveland on Tuesday before his election night rally in Boston. Obama's final campaign stop will come in Des Moines Monday night, and he will hold his election night rally in Chicago.
All Eyes on Ohio on Election Eve
[Los Angeles Times, 11/5/12] Once again, the focus turns to the Buckeye State, which could prove determinative on Tuesday.
Both Campaigns Rely on Ground Game
[Columbus Dispatch, 11/5/12] Millions of Ohioans have reached a breaking point, the Dispatch reports. But that doesn't mean the campaigns aren't still going full tilt.
Watchdog: 'Beginning to Look Like a Messy Election'
[Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/5/12] In Philadelphia, reports of election-tampering are already starting to pour in, with voters being told falsely that party-line ballots would be invalidated and that their polling places have moved. The city will have a team of lawyers and detectives on call Tuesday to try to ensure a clean election.
Obama, Ryan Stump in Wis. On Eve of Election
[AP, 11/5/12] President Obama campaigned with Bruce Springsteen in Madison today, drawing a crowd of 18,000. Retiring Sen. Herb Kohl and Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who is running to replace him, also spoke at the rally.
Whoever Wins, North Carolina and Virginia Battlegrounds Here to Stay
[National Journal, 11/5/12] Obama’s 2008 win in North Carolina and Virginia opened a new era of competitive politics in the once-deep-red South and represented a milestone in the states’ racially-fraught histories. Four years later, the states are still battlegrounds.
This Election Unlikely to Produce a Mandate
[National Journal, 11/5/12] A true mandate election is one in which the political community – members of Congress, pundits, Washington insiders – all agree that the voters have called for change in a specific direction. But short of a miracle, this election isn’t going to confer one on either Obama or Romney.
Past Is Prologue in Presidential Race’s Closing Arguments
[Time, 11/5/12] In the final days of the campaign, Mitt Romney has borrowed President Obama’s old “change” mantra, while Obama has borrowed former President George W. Bush’s “you know what I believe, you know where I stand” mantra.
Sandy’s Winds of Uncertainty Blow Through Presidential Race
[Reuters, 11/5/12] Experts say low turnout and last-minute changes due to superstorm Sandy could expose flaws in how the country conducts elections, leading to protracted legal wrangling and lingering bitterness in a nation already fractured along partisan lines.
A Pre-Mortem for the Romney Campaign
[The Atlantic, 11/5/12] UC San Diego Political Science Professor Samuel Popkin writes that Hurricane Sandy and the first debate were overblown moments, and that it was early mistakes by the Romney campaign -- namely veering too far right -- that set him up for failure. Meanwhile Politico has their own pre-mortems for both Romney and Obama.
Colorado County Clerks Ready for Scrutiny, Long Night for Election
[Denver Post, 11/5/12] As the presidential race comes down to the wire in battleground Colorado, county clerks charged with counting voters’ precious ballots have contingency plans for Election Day and Night. Some are bringing in last-minute temporary workers, while others will staff all-night shifts.
The Dangers of Close Elections
[The Foundry, 11/5/12] Photo I.D. trailblazer Hans von Spakovsky writes that he’s hoping for a decisive victory by either candidate and warns that provisional ballots – which number in the hundreds of thousands in some states – could be a flashpoint of contention, post-election.
Five Things That Could Go Wrong in Florida
[Tampa Bay Times, 11/5/12] With polls indicating a tight race, the slightest glitch could be memorialized as this campaign’s hanging chad. From rejected provisional ballots to redistricting confusion, here are five local issues that could grab the national spotlight.