Politics and Public Opinion, Elections

57 days: U.S. 2012 elections live

Tuesday, September 11th
Image Credit: DonkeyHotey (Flickr) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Image Credit: DonkeyHotey (Flickr) (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Latest news

16:58 The CBO reports that America will experience its fourth consecutive year of trillion dollar-plus deficits. Specifically, the federal government will spend $1.17 trillion more than it took in.

That’s slightly better than the $1.23 trillion deficit in 2011, and down from $1.4 trillion in 2009. But the CBO also reported last month that we are likely to have another trillion dollar shortfall next year.

16:44 In case you weren’t aware, Paul Ryan is running for reelection to Congress in addition to the vice presidency. According to Wisconsin law, he is not allowed to withdraw his name from the ballot past a certain date. In 2008 and 2000, the Democratic VP candidates (Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman), were both simultaneously running for re-election to their Senate seats.

Ryan had nearly $5.4 million in his campaign coffers in July, and it was announced today that he will begin spending some of that money. The campaign has purchased about $65,000 worth of airtime on the Milwaukee NBC affiliate between September 12th and 25th on programs including local news, The Tonight Show, and Sunday Night Football.

Ryan’s Democratic opponent, Rob Zerban, had about $558,000 in his campaign reserves in July. But Ryan’s recent elevation to the national spotlight may assist his opponent in fundraising.

16:34 The Right is really freaking out about the election right now. Conservative talk radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh both made some startling pronouncements.

First, Ingraham said, “If you can’t beat Barack Obama with this record, then shut down the party. Shut it down, start new, with new people. Because this is a gimme election, or at least it should be. Election after election, we hire people who have lost previous campaigns, who have run campaigns that have failed, who have messaged campaigns where the message falls flat, and they keep getting re-hired.”

Limbaugh, meanwhile, predicted that the Republican Party would end. “If Obama wins, let me tell you what it’s the end of: The Republican Party. There’s gonna be a third party that’s gonna be oriented toward conservatism. I know Rand Paul thinks libertarianism. And I know if Obama wins, the Republican Party is gonna try to maneuver things so conservatives get blamed.”

“The only problem is, right now Romney’s not running a conservative campaign. But they’re gonna set it up to say, ‘Well, the right sat home,’ or, ‘The right made Romney be other than who he is.’ They’ll try to deflect the blame, but they got who they want.”

Seems like a pretty strong reaction. Yes, Obama’s in the lead right now, but the election is far from over.

16:00 Romney appears to have cleared up some confusion and vagueness surrounding his Afghanistan policy today. During a speech to the National Guard convention earlier today, Romney said the following:

“While the war in Iraq is over, nearly 70,000 American troops still remain in Afghanistan,” Romney said. “Our goal should be to complete a successful transition to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014. We should evaluate conditions on the ground and solicit the best advice of our military commanders.”

Romney avoided attacking the president’s policies because today is 9/11. Still, if anything it appears that he moved closer to Obama’s positions. The president also expects to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

15:42 Here is some old footage of Mitt Romney speaking about the 2002 Olympics. In particular, he discusses the effects of 9/11 on the Games, and how the tragedy gave them a deeper meaning.

15:24 President Obama has moved to a 3.6-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

15:20 Dissecting that WaPo/ABC News poll even further, there’s a troubling sign for Mitt Romney. He leads among white voters by 13 points, which sounds like a huge lead but is actually similar to Obama’s 12-point deficit in 2008. If Obama loses whites by 12 or 13 points again, he will win the election.

15:10 Politico reports that the Romney campaign has spent about $360,000 for its first week of TV ads in Wisconsin. Politico calls this a “serious if not overwhelming play for the traditionally Democratic-leaning state.”

The buy is for broadcast TV statewide between September 12th and 18th. The heaviest buy, for $143,145, was in the Milwaukee media market.

14:53 The Illinois Policy Institute has put together a short video that presents 5 key facts about education in Chicago. Useful information in the context of the ongoing strike there.

14:35 A bit of solid wordplay from Mitt Romney on the trail today. Obama’s campaign slogan is “forward,” but Romney says it should be more like “forewarned.”

14:19 Gallup reports that its Gallup Economic Confidence Index surged to -18 last week, up 11 points from -29 the week before. The index is now near the high point for the year. It’s also on par with the highest levels seen since the start of Gallup Daily tracking in January 2008. The Index has never really been higher than that, reaching -16 or -17 only a few times in weekly averages.

Last week’s 11-point jump is the biggest single-week improvement in the Index since its inception. The largest weekly change ever was the 15-point decline in September 2008.

What explains this gigantic jump? Gallup cites the Democratic National Convention, saying that the Index sharply improved on the first night of the convention. Specifically, the convention seems to have fired up Democrats, who are now significantly more likely to have a positive view of the economy than they had before. There is a staggering 83-point gap between Democrats and Republicans on this survey.

Independents, meanwhile, saw their perceptions increase as well, although they are still almost as negative as the Democrats are positive, at -22.

13:52 More detail and a nice chart on that WaPo/ABC News poll. Here you can easily see that Romney really needs to give more specifics when it comes to his policies. (Via Business Insider)

13:36 President Obama has sent out a personalized tweet addressing 9/11. The president signs off on tweets that he wrote himself by initialing -bo at the end.

13:32 Check out the latest Electoral College map from Karl Rove and company. They see Romney taking 191 EVs, Obama taking 225, and 122 up for grabs. That’s a lead of 34 EV’s for the president.

13:08 Good old Joe Biden. Earlier today, he used some pretty strong language when inviting a group of Pennsylvania firefighters to have a beer at the White House. Biden told the firefighters that his assistant would contact them about a visit, saying, “He’s going to call you, no bulls—t.”

When he realized that the press pool was close enough to have heard him, he quickly rephrased his promise, saying “This is no malarkey. You come to the White House. I’ll buy you a beer.”

Via the pool report, here’s the context:

Shober, holding a Coke Zero, told your pool that Vpotus last year had given him one of his vice presidential challenge coins and told him, “’Next time I see you, if you have that coin, drinks are on me. If you don’t have it, drinks are on you.’ Now knowing that he might come, I made sure that was on my pocket.” Since Vpotus didn’t have his coin to show him back, he made the spontaneous invitation to come back to DC.

Biden said the event would happen after the election. “Win, lose, or draw, I’m still going to be vice president in January.”

11:55 Digging a little deeper into the Washington Post/ABC News poll released earlier today, check out this tidbit: Romney holds an 11-point lead over Obama among Independents. Not sure how Obama can win if that advantage holds up.

11:37 And here is some text of Mitt Romney reflecting on his 9/11 experience:

“The morning of September 11, 2001, I was in Washington, D.C., working on security preparations for the Games. The last $13 million in federal appropriations required by our plan had been included in the Senate budget but missed by the House of Representatives. There had been confusion in the House committee about a similar figure requested by the FBI. They had mistakenly deleted what they thought was a redundancy. We were anxious to meet with key legislators to clear up the confusion and reconfirm their support.

We had planned to be in New York City on the 11th. That was the date originally set by our public relations people for announcing the names of our Olympic torchbearers. Our team had planned an elaborate press conference adjacent to the World Trade Center at Battery Park. But we delayed the announcement in New York to accommodate our meeting on Capitol Hill.

Cindy Gillespie had scheduled a meeting with House and Senate appropriators in the U.S. Capitol building for 10:00 a.m. on the 11th. I met Cindy at 8:00 a.m. to put the finishing touches on our presentation. She had an office in the Ronald Regan building on Pennsylvania Avenue, just blocks from the White House. I was on the phone to Salt Lake City, doing a radio interview. The interviewer interrupted to say there were reports that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I hung up and turned on the small TV in the office.

Like so many other Americans, I watched in horror as flames poured from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I called my wife Ann; she was watching coverage on the Today show. It seemed like a dreadful accident, Ann wondered out loud how a plane could fly into a building in clear daylight. Could it have been done on purpose? Then a plane hit the other tower. We watched it happen on TV. We were stupefied. These were deliberate acts. This was terrorism.

Soon, damage to the Pentagon was reported, absent any video footage. The worst place to be right then was a government building like the one we were in. It was also pretty obvious that Washington, D.C., would soon be grid locked by a massive evacuation. We left the building and found Cindy’s car.

We drove north toward Alexandria, Virginia, where Cindy shared a house with her sister. Interstate 395 comes within a few hundred yards of the Pentagon, and as we reached the Pentagon exit, we found abandoned cars blocking the two right lanes. Stunned drivers and passengers were leaning on the guardrail to watch the flames coming from the Pentagon. Acrid black smoke poured into our car. It didn’t smell like burning jet fuel or a house fire. It smelled like nothing I had ever smelled before. Like war. Things that do not normally burn ignite and smolder under the extraordinary heat of military ordinance–or in this instance, the heat of a plane filled with fuel penetrating a building at 500 miles per hour. It was combusting concrete and metal that I smelled.

It immediately struck me that the world would never be the same.”

11:23 Here’s a video of Obama describing where he was on 9/11:

10:49 Here are the Obama and Romney twitter feeds’ only tweets so far today:

Seems to be a slight difference in focus, doesn’t there?

One thing to note is the “under God” in Romney’s tweet. Sure, it’s a patriotic phrase from the pledge of allegiance, but it’s probably also a dog whistle to religious voters in an attempt to draw a contrast between himself and Obama on religious issues.

10:44 A new CNN/ORC International poll released yesterday showed 52% of likely voters support President Obama while 46% support Romney. Before the Democratic convention, it was tied 48-48.

The Democratic convention seems to have energized the base, with 59% of Democrats saying that are enthusiastic about voting. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans said the same. Prior to the convention, republicans had a 6-point lead on the issue.

Romney’s favorable rating had risen to 53% after the GOP convention, but has fallen to 48% in the latest poll. Meanwhile, Obama’s has risen to 57%, his highest mark since 2010.

Fifty-one percent of likely voters think Obama has a more optimistic vision for the nation’s future compared to 41% for Romney. Last week, 43% said Obama was more optimistic and 47% said that about Romney.

Romney and Obama switched places on the question of who had a more specific plan to help the country. Prior to the Republican convention, 45% thought Romney had a clearer plan while 39% said that about Obama. Now, those numbers are reversed.

10:09 A new Washington Post/ABC News poll released today shows the race very close among likely voters, with Obama taking 49% and Romney 48%. This is essentially the same as a poll taken just before both parties’ conventions.

Among registered voters, Obama holds an edge of 50-44, and leads on important issues. Obama leads on 15 items, including a 21-point advantage on addressing women’s issues, a 15-point lead on advancing the interests of the middle class, and an 11-point lead on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. He also leads, albeit narrowly, on the issue of dealing with taxes.

The bad news for Obama? Voters still don’t approve of his handling of the economy. Fifty-three percent disapprove of his stewardship on the economy and strongly negative views are twice as common as strongly positive ones. Moreover, a plurality of 43% say the country’s economy has gotten worse since Obama took office while just 32% say it has improved.

Two-thirds of voters think Romney understands what it takes to create a successful small business while about 50% say the same of Obama. By 53 to 35 percent, a majority say government programs to more to hamper small business than bolster it.

Sixty percent of Americans say Romney has not done enough to provide details on his tax and budget plans, while 49% say the same about Obama’s second term agenda.

9:49 A new poll b y the Catholic Association shows some positive signs for Republicans among Catholic voters. Click through the link to see the full results, but here are two of the most interesting slides.

First, 72% of regular mass attendants and 60% of non-regular mass attendants agreed with the idea that religious charitable institutions should not be forced by the government to provide or pay for goods and services they morally object to.

However, only 67% of “regular” and 48% of non-“regular” Catholics agreed that the Obama administration had gone too far in restricting religious freedom.

The disparity in these two numbers indicates to me that the GOP needs to do a better job of getting the message out about the Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate. There is a 14-point disparity among non-“regular” Catholics between their theoretical support for religious independence and the reality of the administration’s plan that could be closed.

9:38 American Crossroads, the GOP Super PAC, will announce the launch of $2.6 million in new ads in 3 Senate races today: Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia.

Five spots will run in the 3 states. Virginia will have 3 different spots while Ohio and Nevada have one each. The ads start airing tomorrow and will run for 1 week.

9:30 President Obama is commemorating the 11th anniversary of 9/11 today. At 8:45 AM he, the first lady, and the White House staff gathered on the South lawn to observe a moment of silence. At 9:30, the Obamas travel to the Pentagon Memorial for the September 11th Observance Ceremony. At 2:15, Obama will travel to Walter Reed National Military medical center to visit with Wounded Warriors. At 5, the president will meet with Secretary of Defense Panetta in the Oval Office.

Mitt Romney is addressing the National Guard Association Convention in Reno, Nevada, at 2:15 Eastern.

Joe Biden is travelling to Somerset County, PA, to deliver remarks at the Flight 93 National Memorial Commemorative Service to honor the passengers and crew who died there 11 years ago. He flies back to DC for a meeting with Obama and Panetta.

Paul Ryan has no public events today. He will campaign in Wisconsin and Ohio tomorrow.

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