Tick, tick, tick, tick. That's the soundtrack political operatives, strategists, candidates and pundits are hearing as the clock winds down to Election Day.
The final six weeks of campaigning will be filled with frenetic activity—three presidential debates, ramped up travel schedules for both candidates, and a blitz of ads in key battleground regions.
Mitt Romney’s campaign in particular is feeling the pressure as it tries to reset the dynamic of the race after a tumultuous few weeks. The team has promised to sharpen its message and fully deploy its resources—two areas criticized as falling short thus far.
But will all the activity be for naught? After all, analysts predict that up to 40 percent of voters may be casting their votes early this year. Early and absentee voting is already in progress or about to start in pivotal swing states like Virginia, Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina.
But some experts say the campaigns don't need to panic quite yet. “There’s no real threat to the campaigns from early voting in the immediate short term because the sorts of voters who are voting right now… are people who have already made up their minds,” said George Mason University government professor Michael McDonald. “They are hard-core partisans. Any more information you can throw at them is only going to reinforce their decision.”
Most early voters will hold off for a few more weeks. The highest volume will cast their ballots the week before the election, in time for at least the first two presidential debates (on Oct. 3 and Oct. 16) and other campaign maneuvers to make an impression. Still, it’s time for both campaigns to start closing the deal. Read more
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Obama Campaign Redoubling Efforts Amid Fears of Voter Complacency
[Washington Post, 9/22/12] All the damage Mitt Romney has sustained in the past two weeks has been seemingly good news for the Obama camp, but is it too much good news? Aides are warning supporters not to get cocky. As for the Romney camp, they remain "defiant and realistic."
GOP Super PACs Hit a Crossroads
[Politico, 9/23/12] Despite tens of millions of dollars in spending from conservative groups like American Crossroads, the presidential race remains tight. Republican operatives and donors are keeping a close eye on where the spending goes from here in the national race and the other key GOP goal, retaking control of the Senate.
Walker: Romney Campaign Should Get 'Off Its Heels'
[National Journal, 9/23/12] Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker had strong words for the Romney campaign, suggesting that it get “off its heels” and press the case for budgetary reform.
In Ohio County, Electorate is Hardened and Fractured
[Washington Post, 9/22/12] The Post takes an in-depth look at Steubenville, where President Obama squeaked by John McCain in 2008. In the town, there are strong opinions about the direction of the country and the proper role of government — and the opinions are all over the ideological map. A new poll shows Obama leading in Ohio.
Ryan Lets His Inner Wonk Flag Fly
[National Journal, 9/23/12] In recent days, as GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has settled into his role on the Republican ticket, he has delved distinctly more often into policy details, including using PowerPoint presentations in his stump speeches.
Romney’s Tax Returns: Small Potatoes
[National Journal, 9/22/12] The Republican nominee’s long-awaited tax records are the least of his problems right now, as NJ’s Michael Hirsh argues.
Romney Pulls in Big Bucks in Southern California
[Reuters, 9/23/12] Having declared that his presidential campaign does not need a makeover, Romney raised millions of dollars at two fundraisers in southern California on Saturday to help bankroll the final weeks of the race.
Bill Clinton: Obama Win Will ‘Strengthen’ Boehner’s Hand
[National Journal, 9/23/12] Former President Bill Clinton predicted that that an Obama victory in November would be an “action-forcing” event that would prompt both parties to sit down and hash out their differences on the budget, the debt and taxes -- and that would be good news for Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
GOP Pushes Romney to Break From Obama's Afghan Strategy
[The Hill, 9/23/12] Republican defense hawks are urging Romney to separate himself from President Obama on Afghanistan and back an extended presence for U.S. troops in the country, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., leading the charge.
Romney Calls USA a 'Foreign Country' in His Tax Returns
[U.S. News & World Report, 9/21/12] When Romney released his official 2011 tax return Friday, he (or whoever actually filled out the form) appeared to have mistakenly referred to the United States as a foreign country.
Obama: Romney 'Sure Can Afford' to Pay More
[The Hill, 9/22/12] Obama made a campaign stop on Saturday in Wisconsin, saying Romney "sure can afford" to pay more as part of his argument on tax policy.
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