Partisans still hoping that their candidate will build a clear lead in the presidential contest are likely to be disappointed. The race seems destined to be a close one, with the outcome remaining in doubt to the very end.
Although history argues that the popular vote and the electoral vote usually go in the same direction (that’s what happened in 53 of 56 presidential elections), today, Mitt Romney’s national popular-vote situation is different than his Electoral College challenge.
With a race this close, small but important factors will likely be key.
About 4 million more Latinos are registered to vote this year than in 2008, and President Obama has the support of 69 percent to 70 percent of them, according to the polls. But to what extent will lower enthusiasm levels among Latinos this year offset that support?
Substantially more 18-to-29-year-olds are registered voters today than was the case four years ago. However, in a just-released national survey conducted by Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, Obama is leading by only 19 points, 55 percent to 36 percent, well behind the 66 percent he won four years ago.
Although most observers expect the Obama campaign to have an even better voter-identification and get-out-the-vote operation in 2012 than in 2008, hardly anyone has a clue about what kind of ground game the Romney campaign will mount. The remarkably effective Republican field operation in President Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign was allowed to grow flaccid in intervening years.
In the end, the odds still favor the popular and electoral vote heading in the same direction, but the chances of a split like the one in 2000 are very real, along with the distinct possibility of ambiguity and vote-counting issues once again putting the outcome in question. Ugh.
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Gallup Still Has Romney Up, Marist Shows Obama Leads in Two Swing States
[CBS News, 10/19/12] Romney leads Obama 51 percent to 45 percent in Gallup’s Friday tracking poll. Meanwhile, NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist polls show Obama maintaining leads of eight points in Iowa and six points in Wisconsin.
CNN Poll: Close Contest for Florida’s 29 Electoral Votes
[CNN, 10/19/12] Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are essentially tied in swing-state Florida, according to a CNN poll out today, Romney’s one-percentage lead well within the survey’s error margin. The poll was conducted entirely after Tuesday’s presidential debate.
Political Connections: Back to Hot Button for Obama
[National Journal, 10/18/12] Recent moves by the campaign signal that Team Obama believes the president must spotlight his contrasts with Romney on social issues, in particular women’s health, if he is to energize his core groups. With white women, several polls suggest that Obama’s advantage has narrowed or vanished since his disastrous first debate.
Presidential-Ad Spending Nears $900 Million
[National Journal, 10/19/12] Obama, Romney, and the outside groups supporting their campaigns have spent more than $881 million on TV advertising since the general-election campaign began. Meanwhile, thew pro-Romney super PAC Restore our Future is making a new $12 million ad buy in nine battleground states.
Obama Accuses Opponent of ‘Romnesia’
[National Journal, 10/19/12] To the cheers and laughter of supporters at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., on Friday, Obama dubbed Romney’s tendency as a general-election candidate forget the positions he took in the GOP primaries “Romnesia.”
Why You Should Pay Attention to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website Today
[Washington Post, 10/19/12] The BLS’s state-by-state jobs report could well function as a final piece of the economic puzzle for undecided voters in swing states, The Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake write.
Sharing a Stage Again, Romney and Obama Go After Laughs and Not Each Other
[National Journal, 10/18/12] Just two days after a heated second debate, Obama and Romney shrugged off the attacks and opted for humor on Thursday night while sharing a stage at the Alfred E. Smith charity dinner in New York. The dinner dates back to 1960.
Playing to Donors, GOP Groups Spill Some Secrets
[Politico, 10/19/12] Normally secretive super PACs and other conservative groups can’t seem to stop talking about the amount they’re spending on ad buys, direct-mail drops, bus tour stops, or robo-calls. The reason? They face the very real possibility they’ll have spent $1 billion and failed to elect Romney or deliver a GOP Senate, and will have some explaining to do to donors.
Stocking the Cabinet: Who Might Serve in a Second Obama Administration?
[National Journal, 10/19/12] If Obama wins a second term, he may not want many tweaks to his senior staff or his Cabinet. But NJ’s George E. Condon Jr. writes that Obama will find that things never stay the same.
Stocking the Cabinet: Who Might Serve in a Romney Administration?
[National Journal, 10/19/12] If Romney wins the White House, he would not have quite as free a hand to pick his top aides as he did as governor of Massachusetts. NJ’s Jim O’Sullivan writes that in Washington, a GOP awaiting its restoration to the executive branch would have needs.
Mitt, Tagg, and the Romney Family's Myth of Self-Reliance
[The New Republic, 10/19/12] Eldest son Tagg’s biography is littered with stories of short cuts he couldn’t have taken without his last name. And yet, thanks to the Romney myth, he and his family believe that most of what he has achieved comes from old-fashioned industriousness, as Noam Scheiber argues, not older-fashioned status and wealth.
Romney Snags Orlando Sentinel Endorsement, Obama Lands Denver Post
[Orlando Sentinel, 10/19/12] The Sentinel’s editorial board--which endorsed Obama in 2008--writes that they have “little confidence that Obama would be more successful managing the economy and the budget in the next four years.” Also on board with Romney: the Chicago Jewish Star. Meanwhile, The Tampa Bay Times, Denver Post, and Salt Lake Tribune endorsed Obama, as all three did in 2008.
Romney Would Want a Say in ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Talks
[CBS News, 10/19/12] Romney’s transition team is quietly talking with government officials and those on Capitol Hill to develop a plan to prevent the looming sequestration and extend expiring tax provisions, if he wins the election.
A Financier in Chief
[New York Times, 10/18/12] The Times’s Peter Joseph, who spent close to 25 years as a partner in two private-equity firms, describes exactly how private equity works and how Romney’s experience would inform his presidency.
Special Editorial: Speak for America, Mitt
[Weekly Standard, 10/19/12] Editor William Kristol says that while “it’s not 1939,” the “clouds are darkening and the storms are gathering.” For the foreign-policy debate on Monday, Kristol urges Romney to rise above debating points and electoral calculations, speak in a “bipartisan way,” and invoke Joe Lieberman and Ronald Reagan.
Ground Game: Advantage Obama?
[Daily Beast, 10/19/12] In swing states, the Obama camp has opened twice as many offices. In all-important Ohio, Obama has 122 local headquarters compared with 40 for Romney. Still, the Republican National Committee might offer help to Romney on Election Day.