Politics and Public Opinion, Elections

92 Days: U.S. 2012 elections live

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

Romney Photo Credit: Austen Hufford (Flickr)
Obama Photo Credit: Neon Tommy (Flickr)

HEADLINES

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Latest news

17:00 Robin Abcarian of the Los Angeles Times reminds us why Romney will probably pick Portman. He’s experienced, from a battleground state, and has served in an administration (Bush 43’s). But most importantly of all: He’s boring. As Abcarian puts it, “boring is the new Palin.”

While it’s true that Romney is a very cautious guy, it may also be true that picking someone exciting is the truly cautious play. Romney has been unable to take the lead in national polling, and state polls show him falling behind in some key battlegrounds. Maybe an exciting VP pick is just the thing he needs to gain some momentum. Still, the desire not to pick another Palin is pretty understandable.

16:47 Romney’s campaign announced earlier today that the former governor will launch a four-state bus tour on Saturday. He will swing through Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio.

The announcement has led to speculation that Romney will announce his running mate during the tour.

The tour has been labeled “The Romney Plan for a Stronger Middle Class.”

16:25 Romney has released a new ad, “Cherished Relationship.” It focuses on Israel and criticizes the president for not having travelled there during his first term. It also highlights Romney’s support for recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Read AEI scholar Marc Thiessen’s take on the ad here.

16:17 Polling from Gallup shows that the partisan gap on Supreme Court approval hasn’t been this large since Bush v. Gore. That makes sense given the importance and high profile of the Obamacare decision.

16:03 PolitiFact has rated Harry Reid’s claim that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years “Pants on Fire.” Can’t say I’m surprised.

16:00 Here’s a fun video from the White House showing President Obama answering some questions on twitter last May. In addition to coining a new term for the perfect tweet—“twoosh”—the video proves that Obama was indeed the one sending out the tweets. (h/t Alicia M. Cohn of The Hill)

15:43 The latest dark horse candidate for VP: Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Jennifer Rubin lays out the case for McDonnell over at the Washington Post:

If Romney is looking for an executive in a key swing state whose popularity is sky-high, who has campaigned for Romney as much as anyone and who has solid support from the base, he might just consider McDonnell. Oh, and McDonnell has a total of 21 years in the U.S. Army active and reserve service. He’d be the only one of the four on the presidential tickets with a military background. Just saying.

McDonnell may well be an excellent choice. One major drawback is his original support (later rescinded) of an extremely controversial ultrasound law in Virginia. Given the Obama team’s efforts to paint Romney as out of touch on women’s issues, this could be a very serious negative quality.

15:06 Gallup reports that 86% of those who voted for Obama in 2008 are backing him again this year while 92% of McCain voters are supporting Mitt Romney. Nine percent of Obama 08 voters have switched to Romney while 5% of McCain voters have switched to Obama.

Overall, at least 79% of registered voters are supporting the same party in 2012 as they did in 2008. That number is probably higher because 11% of respondents didn’t report their vote in 2008 or voted for a third party candidate.

Hispanics and Asians are among the subgroups most likely to switch presidential preferences this year, with 21% of them having a different preference now. That’s almost double the national average of 11%.

Despite Obama’s huge lead among them, it’s not surprising that Hispanics are among the most likely voters to switch preferences. Hispanics tend to be less active in politics than whites or blacks, and thus are more likely to have loose attachments to party.

14:49 Team Romney is expanding its “You didn’t build that” narrative into the Spanish-speaking community via a new ad, “Estas Manos: Texas” (These Hands: Texas). The ad is similar in structure to other advertisements in the same vein, featuring a small business owner–in this case, Gilbert Cantú–who is upset about the president’s words.

Romney hasn’t spent much time wooing Spanish-speaking voters, but doing so is widely perceived among the media as a necessary move. Romney is getting creamed by Obama among Hispanic voters, 70-22, according to a Latino Decisions poll released in mid-July.

Here’s the Spanish version of the ad:

Here’s the English version of the ad:

14:38 Jared Loughner—the Tucson shooter—has decided to plead guilty in his upcoming hearing on Tuesday, according to a federal judge. Loughner is accused of killing six individuals in a shooting spree last year, in addition to wounding Representative Gabby Giffords (D-AZ). Under a plea agreement, Loughner would receive a life sentence but avoid the possibility of the death penalty.

14:33 A new study from the University of Minnesota investigates battleground states—or more specifically, how one determines which states are battlegrounds.

The study found that electoral projection maps released by 12 major media outlets yielded 10 different lists designating battleground states. The number of battlegrounds ranged from a low of 3 to as many as 16. Only two pairs of media outlets agreed on which states should be considered toss-ups.

Read the full article here. Below is a list of the most common battleground states among the 12 media outlets studied.

And here is a table which shows each of the media outlets’ decisions in more detail:

14:04 The Obama campaign released a new ad on Saturday, “Important.” It’s an attempt to paint Romney as extreme on women’s issues. Obama has a large lead among female voters, and this is an attempt to maintain or even expand that advantage. Check out the ad below.

13:52 Texas GOP Senate nominee Ted Cruz said on Fox News Sunday that he’d be happy to work with anyone if he is elected. (h/t Donovan Slack).

“I am perfectly happy to compromise and work with anybody: Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians—I’ll work with Martians, Cruz said. “If—and the if is critical—they’re willing to cut spending and reduce the debt.”

That’s the essence of American bipartisanship right there. “I’m willing to work with anyone, provided that they agree with my goals and help me achieve them.” Get ready for another four years of do-nothingism from Congress.

13:42 The Romney campaign has agreed to allow the press to keep a protective pool around the candidate. The pool will function similarly to the White House press pool and will provide a day-to-day account of Romney’s activities.

The media has long been upset with the Romney campaign over their limited access to the candidate. But Romney hasn’t really broken with tradition. John McCain waited until the end of July before he allowed such a pool, and George W. bush didn’t take one on until September in his 2000 run.

More info via Dylan Byers of Politico.

13:19 Brett LoGiurato of Business Insider explains why Harry Reid’s incendiary charges about Mitt Romney’s tax returns are a no-lose proposition for the Senate Majority Leader (emphasis in original):

Reid’s charade doesn’t look like it’s going to fizzle out anytime soon. He’s going to keep insisting that the “Bain Capital investor” that told him about Romney’s tax returns is legitimate. Why? Because he’s playing a game with virtually no chance of losing.

Let’s break it down:

•    Romney has backed himself into a corner that will be tough to get out of. If he relents to Reid’s demands, then Reid wins. If he doesn’t, then Reid and other Democrats will keep making it an issue.

•    Reid has pretty successfully made this issue a loaded question. The only way to completely disprove Reid is to release the tax returns. And if he doesn’t, it will add to the perception that there’s something veiled behind his “put up or shut up” words. Because…

•    Keep in mind that a majority of voters — and, crucially, Independent voters — want Romney to release his tax returns, according to Gallup. In the clearest sign that Romney has bungled this issue, most people think that a presidential candidate’s tax returns are irrelevant, except in Romney’s case.

•    Reid doesn’t have to worry about re-election — if, at 76 years of age, he will seek re-election — until 2016.

Brett is right on the money here. Reid’s accusations are almost certainly baseless, but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that people are still talking about Mitt Romney’s taxes. Not only does it hurt Romney personally and make him look like he’s hiding something, but it accomplishes the Democratic party’s main goal in this election: Talk about anything other than the economy.

12:05 People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers to have paid more into Social Security than they will receive in benefits, according to Stephen Ohlemacher of the Associated Press. The AP quotes AEI scholar Andrew Biggs:

“For the early generations, it was an incredibly good deal,” said Andrew Biggs, a former deputy Social Security commissioner who is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “The government gave you free money and getting free money is popular.”

Well, it’s not such a good deal any more:

A married couple retiring last year after both spouses earned average lifetime wages paid about $598,000 in Social Security taxes during their careers. They can expect to collect about $556,000 in benefits, if the man lives to 82 and the woman lives to 85, according to a 2011 study by the Urban Institute, a Washington think tank.

And it’s only going to get worse for future retirees, who will either need to pay more taxes throughout their careers or accept dramatically decreased benefits.

How will this affect the 2012 election? Well, this historic shift comes at a time when entitlement reform is becoming an increasingly important issue. Although the campaigns haven’t focused on it that much yet, expect a deluge of anti-Romney ads claiming he wants to decimate Medicare and other entitlement programs, especially if he picks Paul Ryan for VP. This news about Social Security should serve to increase the issue’s prominence. We’ll find out which side it favors.

11:42 Is the mainstream media biased? According to Tim Groseclose of Prager Univeristy, yes, yes it is. Watch the video below to see his reasoning and analysis. Regardless of your view, it’s an entertaining video that brings up solid points. One question: Why doesn’t he include Fox News?

11:31 According to a new Rasmussen poll, only 32% of likely voters believe Clinton and Obama hold similar views on how to fix the economy. Thirty-nine percent think they have differing views and 29% are not sure.

Those 29% who are unsure are the reason Clinton has been selected as the keynote speaker at the Democratic convention. If he can convince those folks that he and Obama are similar or the same on economic matters, it will do the president a world of good. On the other hand, if his speech moves them in the other direction, his selection would turn out to be a disaster.

11:25 Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has joined RNC Chair Reince Priebus in calling Harry Reid a liar. On CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, Senator Graham offered host Candy Crowley his unsolicited opinion about the issue.

“One last thing—you didn’t ask me about Harry Reid,” Graham said. “I’ve been around this town for a while. I actually like Harry, but what he did on the floor of the Senate is so out of bounds. I think he’s lying about his statement of knowing something about Romney.”

You can watch the full video at the Daily Caller.

11:10 For those who like getting down into the nitty-gritty of electoral politics, check out this detailed, interactive map of Iowa’s counties from the Des Moines Register.

11:05 Keith Koffler of the White House Dossier points out that President Obama has not taken a serious question from the White House press corps in nearly 7 weeks. Koffler:

The last substantive question Obama took from a White House reporter was during a June 20 press conference following the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico. Obama allowed only six questions during the event, which was nearly guaranteed to keep him out of political hot water as the focus was on foreign policy.

Since then, Obama has held no press conferences, given no interviews to White House reporters, and taken no questions at the White House events he has held where reporters have been present.

It’s odd that you don’t hear much about this. After all, Obama promised the most transparent and open administration in history. Plus, Romney gets criticized all the time for not talking to the media. What gives?

To be fair, the president hasn’t been completely shut off from the media. He’s given several interviews with local TV reporters. But these tend to be very easy for the president as the local reporters are less well versed in national issues and are more easily intimidated by the trappings of the presidency.

10:39 The Washington Post reports that David Plouffe, a senior White House advisor, accepted a $100,000 speaking fee in 2012 from an affiliate of a company doing business with the government of Iran. From the WaPo story:

A subsidiary of MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company, paid Plouffe for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010, about a month before he joined the White House staff.

Since Plouffe’s speeches, MTN Group has come under intensified scrutiny from U.S. authorities because of its activities in Iran and Syria, which are under international sanctions intended to limit the countries’ access to sensitive technology. At the time of Plouffe’s speeches, MTN had been in a widely reported partnership for five years with a state-owned Iranian telecommunications firm.

The Iranian telecommunications firm is called Irancell and is wholly owned by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Ed Morrissey explains, but long story short, Plouffe accepted the speaking role long after the U.S. government knew about MTN’s partnership with Irancell and knew that the company was owned by the IRG.

While this isn’t good optics, there’s nothing illegal going on and this will probably pass without seriously hurting the president’s campaign. Still, it gives Romney something to talk about on foreign policy, which is an area in which he has had trouble distinguishing himself from the president.

10:27 (UPDATE 15:34): The $75 million figure reported here is actually the combined Obama campaign and DNC number, not the Obama campaign’s alone as originally stated.

Earlier this morning we reported that Team Romney raised $101 million in July. Now we know that the Obama campaign has raised $75 million. This is the third consecutive month that Team Obama has been outraised by Romney. Note that this is only the Obama campaign, not the DNC and other affiliated groups, so Team Obama’s numbers will be higher when those are factored in. Still, it’s likely that the president will be outraised by Romney for the third consecutive month.

10:17 A quick break from politics for a feel-good moment. Late last night, NASA landed the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars. It’s a big win for science, and for NASA, which has been threatened with funding decreases. Here’s hoping the mission is a resounding success and we find out some really cool stuff about Mars!

10:12 Over at the Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin wonders why the Obama team keeps sending David Axelrod on TV and why the Romney campaign shelters its candidate from the media. It’s definitely worth a read, as I think she’s on to something. Axelrod often seems hesitant and insincere when answering questions. See the video below for an example:

Moreover, I’ve been decently impressed with Romney’s performance in media interviews. Yes, he can be quite prone to gaffes, but on the whole he’s steady, calm, and reasonable. Lots of pundits are calling for Romney to more fully introduce himself to the American people. Getting him on TV more often would be a good way to start.

9:54 The Obama campaign has spent about $400 million from the beginning of last year to June 30 this year, according to a New York Times analysis of FEC records. This includes $86 million on advertising.

This high rate of spending has dramatically reduced Team Obama’s cash on hand, leaving the Romney camp with about $25 million more than the Democrats at the beginning of July. That number should be even higher now with this morning’s announcement of a $101 million fundraising haul by Romney.

The fact that Romney is leading the money race has driven Obama to ever more desperate sounding fundraising schemes, such as this one where the president sits down to walk his supporters through the donation process.

9:39 The RNC has announced its seven headline speakers for the Republican National Convention in Tampa later this month. The speakers will include:

  • Florida Governor Rick Scott
  • Senator John McCain
  • Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
  • South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley
  • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
  • Ohio Governor John Kasich
  • New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez

The keynote speaker and others will be announced closer to the convention. The convention takes place August 27-30. Specific times for the speakers were not announced yet.

It’s a well-balanced list of speakers for the GOP, with someone for everybody. Huckabee will rally evangelicals, Martinez (America’s first female Hispanic governor) will appeal to  Hispanics, and Scott and Kasich will appeal to fiscal conservatives.

The announcement leaves the door open for Chris Christie to be the keynote speaker, which was rumored to be the case. It would be pretty surprising if Christie wasn’t given a speaking role at all given his national profile.

9:23 Team Romney raised $101.3 million in July. Romney’s campaign, the RNC, and state party participants have about $186 million in cash on hand.

Here are some interesting factoids about Romney’s fundraising:

  • Over $101.3 Million Raised In July
  • 94.13% Of All Donations Received In July Were $250 Or Less
  • $25.7 Million Raised By Donations Under $250 In July
  • 600,627 Donations Received Under $250 In July
  • Approximately $185.9 Million Cash On Hand
  • Contributions Received From All 50 States And Washington, D.C.

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