Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Where the race stands

Nate Silver:

The FiveThirtyEight “now-cast” now pegs Mr. Romney’s bounce as being 3.1 percentage points, compromising between the trackers and the broader group of polls. In addition, Mr. Romney had appeared to gain about one percentage point on Mr. Obama before the debate, so his overall standing has improved by almost four points in October.

However, the “now-cast” put Mr. Obama ahead by about five percentage points in advance of the debate, meaning that Mr. Romney’s gains are not quite enough to have erased Mr. Obama’s advantage entirely.

The strongest evidence that the race is a true dead heat right now is from national polls. The 10 national polls that we added to our database on Tuesday showed an exact tie between the candidates, on average.

Mr. Romney’s numbers are just slightly weaker in the majority of swing state polls, however. In the day just after the debate, Mr. Romney led in five of six polls between the top nine “tipping-point states,” but Mr. Obama has led in 10 of 14 such polls since then.

FWIW, the states remain stronger for Obama than the nationals. perhaps because that’s where the campaign spent the money.

I remain a bit skeptical of the large Likely Voter – Registered Voter split in some of the polls, and think the RV might be a more real indicator of the state of the race. Romney’s made gains there, but not as dramatically. In any case, razor thin race, at least until we get past debate week polling.

Charlie Cook:

More data are always a good thing, and there should be more reliable surveys–both nationwide and in swing states–released in the next day or so that will make it easier to pinpoint exactly how much Obama fell and Romney gained from the rumble in the Rockies.

Romney desperately needed a break, something to change the trajectory of this race, and clearly he got one in the debate. How much exactly the debate did and how much the surprisingly strong jobs report on Friday offset it will become more clear in the coming days.

Mark Blumenthal:

Gallup released its first polling results on the presidential race among respondents they consider most likely to vote. Among likely voters interviewed over the last week, they show Republican nominee Mitt Romney with a 2-point advantage over President Barack Obama (49 percent to 47 percent). Their results for all registered voters continue to give Obama a 3-percentage point advantage (49 percent to 46 percent), although that margin narrowed by 2 points compared to the previous day.

Separately, however, Gallup noted that interviews conducted Monday and Tuesday nights suggested that Romney’s debate performance “may not have a lasting impact.”

Nate Cohn:

Viewed collectively, the state and national polls conducted after the debate point toward an extremely close race, with Romney gaining an average of 3.4 points in post-debate polls. There does appear to be a split between the battleground and national polls and perhaps between live interview and automated methods, although those two factors overlap and there are not enough national or live interview surveys to make the comparison with confidence.

NY Times:

After a Pew Research Center poll on Monday that suggested Mr. Romney’s debate performance had helped him erase Mr. Obama’s lead nationally, a Gallup survey released Tuesday showed a similar result, with the candidates statistically tied.

But polls in battleground states appeared to show the race to be back where it was before Mr. Obama went on a run, and Mr. Romney stumbled, after their party conventions, with Mr. Obama for the most part holding slight but shrinking edges in surveys, within their margins of sampling of error.

Politico:

It’s now clear that Mitt Romney got a bounce from the first presidential debate. But pollsters warn that it’s far from certain how big or how lasting such a bounce will be.

The GOP presidential nominee certainly has momentum from his performance in Denver last Wednesday — but most of the gains being attributed to him are the result of a single poll released Monday by the respected Pew Research Center that showed a 12-point swing in Romney’s direction. That’s enough to start the cable talking heads and political scribes chattering but doesn’t necessarily mean a permanent groundswell of support for the Republican.


Abbreviated pundit round-up: Jobs report will not be any help for Romney

68.6% chance of Obama win

Predictwise summary of betting markets

Paul Krugman avoids “BuLShitters” and “Welchers” in his explanation of the Truth About Jobs. But he still says they’re nuts:

The U.S. economy is still far short of where it should be, and the job market has a long way to go before it makes up the ground lost in the Great Recession. But the employment data do suggest an economy that is slowly healing, an economy in which declining consumer debt burdens and a housing revival have finally put us on the road back to full employment.

And that’s the truth that the right can’t handle. The furor over Friday’s report revealed a political movement that is rooting for American failure, so obsessed with taking down Mr. Obama that good news for the nation’s long-suffering workers drives its members into a blind rage. It also revealed a movement that lives in an intellectual bubble, dealing with uncomfortable reality — whether that reality involves polls or economic data — not just by denying the facts, but by spinning wild conspiracy theories.

It is, quite simply, frightening to think that a movement this deranged wields so much political power.

Robert Reich says The drop in the unemployment rate is good news, but we’re far from having a normal economy.:

[W]e’re still crawling out of the deep [job loss] crater we fell into in 2008 and 2009. The percent of the working-age population now working or actively looking for work is higher than it was, but still near a thirty-year low.

But at least we’re crawling out.

Romney says we’re not doing well enough, and he’s right. But the prescriptions he’s offering—more tax cuts for the rich and for big companies—won’t do anything except enlarge the budget deficit. And the cuts he proposes in public investments like education and infrastructure, and safety nets like Medicare and Medicaid, will take money out of the pockets of people who not only desperately need it but whose spending is necessary to keep the tepid recovery going.

Robin Wells writes The Obama campaign needed some good news. September’s jobs report brought it:

So, what is keeping the lid on hiring? The usual suspects: the ever-worsening economic turmoil in Europe has clearly been hurting the US economy since summer of 2011; add to that the uncertainties about the election, and the fiscal cliff, and companies are understandably nervous about taking on new hires.

Yet, in the world of soundbite and debate-a-thon economics, September’s job report was a great boon for the Obama administration. With unemployment now falling below the headline number of 8%, the Obama campaign can now credibly refute Republican challenger Romney’s claim that the economy is not improving. And this may, in the end, be worth a whole lot more than one night’s debate performance.

Kevin Drum speculates on how The BLS Employment Figures May Have Been Unfairly Hurting Obama, Not Helping Him. Could be right. But he fails to do enough due diligence. Last year’s BLS “benchmark revision” went the opposite direction, hundreds of thousands of fewer jobs:

Although BLS didn’t cook the unemployment books, there’s no question that the headline number, which is derived from a telephone survey of households, can be fairly noisy from month to month. There was a big spike upward in September’s employment figure, and that could be real or it could be a statistical outlier.

Or there might be a third option: In a little-noticed part of yesterday’s report, BLS announced that it had systematically undercounted jobs by 386,000 from April 2011 through March 2012. So maybe it’s continued to undercount jobs since then, as Karl Smith suggests here. If so, then not only is the September number accurate, it’s making up for an undercount over the past six months. That’s the shaded portion under the red line in the chart below, which is a simple trend line that runs through the revised March 2012 figure and extends it through September. It suggests that the September employment number is right where you’d expect it to be if the economy were continuing a steady but modest recovery — which seems like a reasonable bet.

So here’s the irony: if BLS really has been undercounting, it means that the jobs picture has looked overly gloomy during the first half of the year, which is exactly when it hurt President Obama the worst.

Robert J. Samuelson in The Great Reversal argues (in a whisper without a mention of the word) that entitlements must be chopped or America will become Europe:

The role of economic growth in advanced societies is increasingly to satisfy the many claims from different groups. People can (or think they can) pursue their self-interest without harming the common good. When the system reduces or rejects many of those claims, as is now happening in Europe, the pursuit of self-interest becomes more contentious and destructive.

What’s happening in America is different in degree, but not in kind, from what’s occurring in Europe. Stalled economic growth there is straining the political system’s ability to meet all expectations. People take to the streets; extremist parties expand. To avoid Europe’s fate, we should reduce people’s claims on the system and strive for faster economic growth. That’s the lesson. If we ignore it, history may slip into reverse.

Frances Fox Piven, activist-academic with emphasis on poverty

Frances Fox Piven and Lorraine C. Minnite:

In historical fact, movement politics and electoral politics are continuously intertwined. The fundamental dynamic is triggered when politicians have to deal with voter blocs composed of the same people to whom movements direct their appeals. We can see this dynamic on both the right and the left. The Tea Party picked up steam when Republicans eager for re-election began to repeat its slogans. So did the labor movement of the 1930s gain momentum from Franklin Roosevelt’s rhetorical appeals to the “common man,” just as the civil rights movement was energized by Lyndon Johnson’s echo of the movement refrain “We shall overcome.” When politicians echo a movement’s demands, they signal a degree of vulnerability to its constituency, and the movement gains traction.

It’s also worth remembering that when politicians are dependent on electoral blocs that are also movement constituencies, they will often hesitate to use the full arsenal of the state’s repressive capacities against movement actions and may even make uncertain efforts to protect movements—as when Robert Kennedy, as attorney general, grudgingly tried to protect the Freedom Riders. […]

This is why the diverse protests we call Occupy need a Democratic victory in 2012: not because Democrats on their own will magically implement the movement’s agenda, but because Democrats depend on some of the same constituencies that the movement represents and to whom it directs its appeals. The overlap creates space for movements to grow and thrive.

The editors of The New Republic endorse the president for a second term in Why Obamaism Must Live:

Obama’s pitch is hardly easy. His stimulus staved off depression—and prevented untold human suffering—but it wasn’t large enough to fully curb rising unemployment or spur a robust recovery. His administration’s response to the collapse of the housing market, in many ways the nub of the whole crisis, was particularly weak. By populating his administration with disciples of Robert Rubin and former denizens of the investment banks, he cloistered himself off from aggressive proposals—the kind that might have propped up homeowners with the same vigor that the government supported the banks.

The first term has a list of meaningful international accomplishments—chiefly his ruthless pursuit of Al Qaeda, the deft intervention in Libya, and the conclusion of the Iraq war. The president’s open hand to China and initial overtures to the Iranian regime have smartly been replaced by a new assertiveness. This willingness to change course has helped preserve American power in an era where it could easily have slipped away. But there have been times when Obama’s pragmatic impulses have yielded unfortunate policies. While his Cairo speech anticipated the Arab Spring, he never reaped the credit for his prescience, because he has largely sat on the sidelines as dictators have attempted to crush revolutions in Syria and Bahrain. His decision to authorize the surge in Afghanistan seems to have yielded few tangible results for the high cost of the operations in dollars and lives.

But these shortcomings do not compare with what his opponent might do if elected.

Joel Bleifuss argues that This year’s Democratic ticket may not be perfect, but, like life, it is much better than the alternative:

In his 2003 book, The Postmodern Prince: Critical Theory, Left Strategy, And The Making Of A New Political Subject, John Sanbonmatsu applied the lessons of Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci to the post-1968 world. He wrote that the American Left has done itself a disservice by pursuing a politics of self-expression over strategic thinking.

In electoral politics, this current has manifested itself as a tendency to view the ballot as a personal statement. Any number of tiny parties on the Left will be running presidential candidates in 2012; to vote for these parties is to “vote one’s conscience.”

But what if your ballot is not your voice? What if, in fact, your ballot is really just a small quantum of power, to be deployed strategically in concert with other like-minded persons? In the words of Carl Davidson, a former SDS leader who is a fan of Sanbonmatsu, “In the long run you need both self-expression and strategy. You need the inspiration that can be provided by self-expression, but you need a smart strategy that enables you to win.” […]

Of course, it could be worse. The Chicago-based anarchist group Revolutionaries for Romney is organizing under the (satiric?) slogan: “It needs to get worse before it gets better.” In 1933, anarchists in Spain believed the same thing. They urged people to boycott the congressional elections, arguing that the Right’s “victory will favor our plans.” It didn’t quite work out that way.

Caryl Rivers and Rosalind Barnett say in the Myth of men in decline that “the media routinely exaggerate women’s success and present the worst possible scenarios for men. The implicit message for women is ‘step back, you’ve gone too far.'”

Adam Weinstein ponders the difference between how the British commemorated the beginning of the 12th year of the U.S./NATO war in Afghanistan and how it was done in the United States in The War in Afghanistan Turned 11 Today:

The anniversary is being commemorated in Great Britain, where television news still airs the procession of virtually every killed servicemember’s casket: Peace activists reportedly held a “naming of the dead” ceremony in London’s Trafalgar Square Sunday. Yet despite the Afghan War’s immensity—the longest American war since Vietnam, a rare war that started with near-universal approval, with even the French after 9/11 declaring “nous sommes tous Américains”—there was no mention of its birthday on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, or Washington Post.

President Obama discussed mortgage refinancing rates in his weekly address Saturday, but not America’s 11-year-old war. Mitt Romney—who failed to even mention Afghanistan in his long nomination acceptance speech—made no mention of the war on his website Sunday. But he does have a major foreign policy speech planned for Monday; perhaps he’ll give the conflict some acknowledgement there.

Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute pretends that the GOP candidate just needs to put “flesh on the bones” of his pitiful excuse of a blueprint for how the United States should behave overseas in Romney’s Missing Foreign Policy.


Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: the Mystery of the Stranger on the Stage

I called upon 1600B Pennsylvania Avenue just after dawn, and was enjoying a bite of toast and coffee when Mr. Barack Obama came into the room.

“Ah, Biden,” he said, walking briskly across the eagle at the center of the carpet. “Here. See what you make of this.”

I took the folded paper from his outstretched had and began to read.

Ross Douthat

What Romney executed on Wednesday night was not just a simple pivot to the center … what he did was clarify, elevate and translate. He clarified what kind of tax reformer he would be, by promising that revenue neutrality would take priority over sweeping cuts for the rich — a premise that plenty of Republicans are already happy to accept. … And he translated the basic free-market vision to a nonideological audience, by talking more about decent jobs than heroic job creators, and more about the struggling middle class than about the supposedly persecuted John Galts.

I stared at the words and scowled. “But Obama,” I said. “Romney has never expressed any concern for the middle class, and neither has this Douthat fellow.”

“Precisely,” said Obama.  “In fact, Mr. Romney’s opinions are well known to fall firmly in line with this sentiment.” With this he indicated the next item on the creased sheet of newsprint.

Kevin Baker

The Republican Party is, more than ever before in its history, an anti-urban party, its support gleaned overwhelmingly from suburban and rural districts — especially in presidential elections. … For Republicans, cities became object lessons on the shortcomings of activist government and the welfare state — sinkholes of crime and social dysfunction, where Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queens” cavorted in their Cadillacs. …

The national Republican Party still can’t get seem to get past its animus toward the very idea of urban life. The only place that Amtrak turns a profit is the Northeast corridor — yet all Republicans can think to do is privatize it, along with the local rail lines on which millions of Americans have been commuting into cities to work for as long as a century and a half. Republicans promise to ban same-sex marriage, make it easier for anyone to get a gun, delegitimize and destroy what they mockingly call “public employees’ unions,” and deport the immigrant workers performing so many thankless but vital tasks.

In short, they promise to rip and tear at the immensely complex fabric of city life while sneering at the entire “urban vision of dense housing and government transit.” There is a terrible arrogance here that has ramifications well beyond the Republicans’ electoral prospects.

Scanning the page, I found myself nodding in agreement. “Yes, that certainly fits the Republican Party I know. Dismissive of most Americans, working to benefit only a few.”

Obama folded his hands behind his back and stared at the rain splattered window.  “And yet the man I shared a stage with this week professed none of those positions. How are we to reconcile this, Biden?” A frown creased his strong features, and as it did I peered down at the words of

Thomas Friedman

Maybe we should have seen this coming. For weeks, Romney had performed so badly and had fallen so far behind in swing states that if this campaign were a Ryder Cup singles match, you’d have said the president felt he had the match in the bag with just a few holes left to play. So he did the worst thing you can do in match play golf: he started playing not to lose. He continued with an uninspired, vague and cautious campaign and just waited for Romney to keep hitting balls out of bounds. Romney, his back to the wall, had no choice but to start aggressively playing to win.

“Good lord,” I exclaimed. “What a supercilious asshole.”

Obama broke into a grin as he turned back to me. “Reading Friedman, are you? Well, Biden, there are some things that never change.  But see here…”  He took another paper from his desk and passed it across to me.

Parker?” I asked, shaking my head. “But I thought she didn’t agree with Romney.”

“She doesn’t. She never has.”  He took the paper back sand strolled across the floor more slowly. “Think on this, Biden.  Willard Romney has spent months, even years, building up the story that he is a ‘severe conservative’.  He opposes improving health care, wants massive tax cuts for the rich, and desires little more than to decimate the programs that middle class Americans most favor.” Obama’s pacing had brought him once again close to the window. He stared out, past his own reflection, into the gloom of the day.  “And yet conservatives have done nothing but proclaim that Romney must move ever further to the right.”

“Well, yes. Of course.

“But the man who I met the other night took positions exactly the opposite. He disavowed every belief conservatives hold dear.”

Suddenly, I felt cold fingers run along my spine. “You can’t mean… Someone has kidnapped Romney and substituted a reasonable man!”

Obama waved a dismissive hand. “Of course not. Mitt Romney is simply a serial liar, willing to say whatever he thinks people want to hear at that moment. In that, he is absolutely consistent. We’ve learned nothing about Romney we didn’t already know.”

I frowned again in confusion. “But then, Obama, where is the mystery?”

“The mystery, my good Biden, is in the reaction of conservative Republicans.” He gave the page in his hand a shake. “You see, despite all the claims about the importance of their positions, conservatives were willing to renounce their beliefs in a trice when it appeared they might gain advantage.” With a quick flip of his wrist, Obama sent the folded page spinning across the room where It landed quite neatly in a bin. “It’s not Romney that revealed himself as having no positions worth noting — that much we knew already.  It’s the Republican Party that went missing on that stage.”


Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The debate, the jobs numbers, and the polls

Mark Blumenthal:

For the moment, the only evidence of a Romney bump comes from a handful of one-night, automated, recorded-voice surveys released Friday whose methods and timing may exaggerate the change. At the national level, the daily tracking surveys are still based on interviews conducted mostly before the Denver debate.

Unbelievable jobs numbers..these Chicago guys will do anything..can’t debate so change numbers
@jack_welch via Twitterrific

David Corn:

So he’s changed his tune. Big surprise? Not really. This is an indication, though, that he and his strategists believed his 47 percent minute are still an important factor in the race and a profound problem for him. Romney wouldn’t otherwise shift his response at this stage. Focus groups conducted by the Obama and Romney campaigns have indicated that his 47 percent remarks have alienated independent voters and even “weak Republican voters.” Apparently, the 47 percent effect is not fading fast.

More trouble for Romney:  Occupy Sesame Street formed–and its leader is an angry Grouch. http://t.co/…
@GregMitch via web

AP:

Sasquatch might as well have traipsed across the White House lawn Friday with a lost Warren Commission file on his way to the studio where NASA staged the moon landing.

Conspiracy theorists came out in force after the government reported a sudden drop in the U.S. unemployment rate one month before Election Day. Their message: The Obama administration would do anything to ensure a November victory, including manipulating unemployment data.

The conspiracy was widely rejected.

RT @JonEasley: Stuart Varney on Fox, jobs numbers a straight up conspiracy: “Oh how convenient…five weeks before the election…”
@daveweigel via TweetDeck

Meanwhile, Kathleen Parker summarizes the pre-jobs post debate victory lap:

Contrary to conventional wisdom that debates are rarely, if ever, game-changers, the first presidential debate was a demolition derby.

Victory lap a bit premature?

AP:

The cheering stopped on Mitt Romney’s campaign plane Friday morning.

The day before, aides had whistled and clapped when the Denver control tower commended the Republican presidential nominee’s debate performance. It was a rare moment of exuberance for a campaign that had fallen behind President Barack Obama in a number of polls.

Click for bigger picture here

The euphoria ended after the morning report that the nation’s unemployment rate had dropped to 7.8 percent, its lowest level in Obama’s presidency. Romney and his team sat stone-faced and quiet on the flight to Virginia’s coal country, taking in the good news for the country that’s bad news for their political prospects.

While it’s too early to tell, we are not seeing a game-changing poll just yet. And note to Kathleen, the idea is to win the election, not the debate.

Simon Jackman:

I thought it would be helpful to give a big picture review of the state of play before we’re starting to see polls with post-debate field periods.

The graph below compares two-party vote share for Obama in 2008, by state, with last night’s estimates from our model-based poll averaging. Pre-debate and nationwide, Obama was performing about a percentage point below the 2008 election result, from just over 53 percent (2008) to just over 52 percent (current estimate from our model-based poll averaging). Most states appear to be swinging away from Obama by a similar amount. This small amount of swing isn’t translating into many states changing hands relative to 2008. A large win for Obama in the Electoral College is the clear implication of the current polling and our modeling.

Charles Blow:

Big Bird is the man. He’s 8 feet tall. He can sing and roller skate and ride a unicycle and dance. Can you do that, Mr. Romney? I’m not talking about your fox trot away from the facts. I’m talking about real dancing.

About 2/3rds of Minnesota Republicans on the 1st night of our poll say they think the BLS manipulated the unemployment numbers to help Obama
@ppppolls via web

This may be a speed record for a conspiracy theory taking hold with the GOP base- less than 12 hours
@ppppolls via web

Gail Collins:

There are 33 Senate contests this year, although voters in some of the states may not have noticed there’s anything going on. In Texas, for instance, Paul Sadler, a Democrat, has had a tough time getting any attention in his battle against the Tea Party fan favorite Ted Cruz. Except, perhaps, when he called Cruz a “troll” in their first debate.

In Utah, Scott Howell, a Democrat, has been arguing that if the 78-year-old Senator Orrin Hatch wins, he might “die before his term is through.” Suggesting a longtime incumbent is over the hill is a venerable election technique, but you really are supposed to be a little more delicate about it. Howell also proposed having 29 debates. The fact that Hatch agreed to only two was, he claimed, proof of the senator’s fading stamina.


Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: The post-debate debate

Well, they’re done and we’re starting.

Nate Cohn just before the debate:

When the debate ends and the candidates step off the podium, a chorus of political analysts will begin to battle about whether Romney won and, if so, whether he won by enough to make a difference. But while the pundits will consider who made the best arguments or came out with the best sound bite, it’s the big picture that should really frame assessments of whether Romney wasn’t just good, but good enough. The question is whether Romney can make progress toward fixing his favorability problem.

Harry Enten:

Why we need national polls even when it’s swing states that decide the election

You might think we’d only care now about swing state polling, but here are five reasons why national numbers still count

And now to the post-debate debate:

CNN:

While nearly half of debate watchers said the showdown didn’t make them more likely to vote for either candidate, 35% said the debate made them more likely to vote for Romney while only 18% said the faceoff made them more likely to vote to re-elect the president.

CBS KN instant reaction poll: Big win for Romney. By 46-22 say think  won, 56% have better opinion of Romney, Romney cares up from 30 to 63
@MysteryPollster via Tweetbot for Mac

The pundits give the win to Romney. Typical example:

Ron Fournier:

Voters expect sitting presidents to win debates and, indeed, polls showed that Obama was heavily favored Wednesday. That benefits a challenger like Romney who grows in stature simply by standing next to the president.
Romney helped himself by looking directly at Obama when he answered questions. Obama looked at moderator Jim Lehrer, which on screen made it appear like he was speaking to the ground.
Romney smiled and cracked jokes (“I like Big Bird!”). Obama smirked.

Romney was a dick, though I thought he did better in the debate.

Not how reality works. RT @sullydish: [Obama] choked. He lost. He may even have lost the election tonight. http://t.co/…
@AndrewRomano via web

The Hill:

Jim Lehrer, the third man on stage at Wednesday’s presidential debate, quickly earned his own moment in the Twitter spotlight as viewers interpreted his attitude as one of growing exasperation.

The PBS “NewsHour” host, who has moderated many presidential debates in the past, appeared visibly frustrated while attempting to direct the debate. He sought to interrupt the two candidates several times only to be shut down, often by Mitt Romney rushing to respond to President Obama.

The Fix:

No Bain, no “47 percent”: Inarguably, Obama came into tonight’s debate with more obvious set-piece attacks on Romney.  But, he seemed to be disinterested in using them. He made no mention of either Romney’s “47 percent” comment or Romney’s work with Bain Capital — two demonstrably difficult topics for the former Massachusetts governor.  Our guess is that Obama and his team made the calculated decision not to hit Romney on either matter because a) it wouldn’t look presidential and b) it’s already penetrated deep into the political consciousness of the electorate.  Maybe so. But does it ever hurt to repeat the attacks that have been proven to work against your opponent?

Romney win, but does it matter? That’s the real question.

 

Voter persuasion math. It’s O 48.7 – R 44.5 with ~6 undecided. http://t.co/… To win, Mitt would need undecideds to break 5-1.
@DrewLinzer via web


Abbreviated Pundit Round-up: Voter suppression laws continue to lose in court

NY Times:

“Every voter restriction that has been challenged this year has been either enjoined, blocked or weakened,” said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice, which is part of the New York University School of Law and opposes such restrictions. “It has been an extraordinary string of victories for those opposing these laws.”

Yay, good guys!

WSJ:

A majority of voters want one party to control Congress and the White House next year, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News Poll, a remarkable opinion shift that suggests deep frustration with Washington gridlock.

The Journal survey of registered voters, to be released in full at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday on WSJ.com, found 52% want effectively one party to rule Washington, with 39% wanting a divided government. It’s the first time a majority of voters supported the idea in the Journal poll going back to the mid-1980s.

How can anyone be frustrated with Washington gridlock? Isn’t the Republican House beloved of the people?

Nate Silver:

There were nine national polls published on Monday, which are listed in the table below. On average, they showed Mr. Obama with a 3.5 percentage point lead over Mr. Romney.

That’s smaller than the leads we were seeing in national polls last week, which seemed to be concentrated more in the range of a five- or six-point lead for Mr. Obama. It also suggests a smaller lead than recent state-by-state polls seem to imply…

On average, however, the polls showed only a 0.2 percentage point gain for Mr. Romney — not a meaningful shift in either a statistical or a practical sense.

NBC/WSJ polled ‘you didn’t build that’ line: 36% said it made them feel more positive/32% more negative. Romney’s 47% comment got 23% to 45%
@samsteinhp via TweetDeck

Gallup:

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index averaged -19 in September, up from -27 in August and nearly matching the -17 seen in May, the highest monthly reading since the start of Gallup Daily tracking in 2008.

Meanwhile a bad swing state polling day for Romney as well:

Here are the latest polls from the battleground states, updated as needed through the day:

Florida: Obama 46%, Romney 43% (Suffolk)

Nevada: Obama 53%, Romney 42% (We Ask America)

New Hampshire: Obama 51%, Romney 44% (Public Policy Polling)

Virginia: Obama 47%, Romney 39% (Roanoke College)

Meanwhile, it’s not officially a battleground state where the campaigns are competing but…

Missouri: Romney 48%, Obama 45% (We Ask America)

Ron Brownstein:

Across most of the presidential battleground states, particularly in the Midwest, President Obama’s lead rests on a surprisingly strong performance among blue-collar white women who usually tilt toward the GOP.

A National Journal analysis of recent polling results across 11 states considered battlegrounds shows that in most of them, Obama is running considerably better than he is nationally among white women without a college education. Obama’s gains with these so-called “waitress moms” are especially pronounced in heartland battlegrounds like Iowa, Ohio, and Wisconsin…

“Advertising matters, and a lot of the advertising is aimed at that group,” said Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who is advising the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA. “That’s certainly been our No. 1 priority.”

Garin earlier this year described the movement of blue-collar women in battleground states toward Obama as “the demographic development of the summer” and the Obama campaign has tracked the same shift.

I don’t get how you can work somewhere like Breitbart or Drudge and not feel like you’re doing something pathetic with your life.
@jbarro via TweetDeck

Business Insider:

The Obama Video That Drudge And Others Are Freaking Out About Has Already Been Extensively Covered

If the present tension is not moderates against conservatives but reality-based Republicans vs. the other kind, many things make more sense.
@jayrosen_nyu via web

Speaking of reality, check out Bibi and the Bombs from Buzzfeed.


Abbreviated pundit round-up: The campaign’s end game begins

Paul Krugman on The Real Referendum:

Voters are, in effect, being asked to deliver a verdict on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy. Will they vote for politicians who want to replace Medicare with Vouchercare, who denounce Social Security as “collectivist” (as Paul Ryan once did), who dismiss those who turn to social insurance programs as people unwilling to take responsibility for their lives?

If the polls are any indication, the result of that referendum will be a clear reassertion of support for the safety net, and a clear rejection of politicians who want to return us to the Gilded Age. But here’s the question: Will that election result be honored?

I ask that question because we already know what Mr. Obama will face if re-elected: a clamor from Beltway insiders demanding that he immediately return to his failed political strategy of 2011, in which he made a Grand Bargain over the budget deficit his overriding priority. Now is the time, he’ll be told, to fix America’s entitlement problem once and for all.

E.J. Dionne Jr. on Defining the debate game:

Paradoxically, Obama’s advantages over Romney create the president’s biggest debate challenge. He does not want to take great risks because he doesn’t have to. Above all, he wants to avoid a major blunder that would dominate the post-debate news and replace Romney’s problems and mistakes as the principal elements in the media’s narrative.

Yet concentrating too much on avoiding mistakes could itself prove perilous. An excessively cautious performance could give Romney an opening to take over the debate and make the president look reactive. If Romney showed one thing in the primaries, it is that he can be ferocious when faced with the need to dispatch an opponent. Recall the pummeling Romney gave Newt Gingrich in a Jan. 26 debate before the Florida primary.

Charles Krauthammer Jr. offers the same tired old rant without even dressing it in new clothes:

Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post columnist

Obama seems not even to understand what happened. He responded with a groveling address to the U.N. General Assembly that contained no less than six denunciations of a crackpot video, while offering cringe-worthy platitudes about the need for governments to live up to the ideals of the United Nations.

The United Nations being an institution of surpassing cynicism and mendacity, the speech was so naive it would have made a fine middle-school commencement address. Instead, it was a plaintive plea by the world’s alleged superpower to be treated nicely by a roomful of the most corrupt, repressive, tin-pot regimes on earth.

Yet Romney totally fumbled away the opportunity.

Keli Goff asks Will Romney Reach out to Racists in Debates?

Now the Romney campaign finds itself at a crossroads. With just over a month to go before the election, the question becomes: Will he be willing to do what McCain wasn’t, in order to win at any cost? Will he give in to the temptation and begin lacing his ads and language with messages to appeal to those who miss the days of the Southern strategy — and the days of a white Republican president?

We’ve already seen him begin flirting with the racially inflammatory line by making a joke about his birth certificate that many saw as a reference to the manufactured controversy surrounding the president’s birth. Romney’s language in the debates will confirm whether or not he is willing to cross that line in the quest for victory.

Michael Kinsley on The unsuccessful ethic of success:

If, as seems possible, Mitt Romney is not elected U.S. president on Nov. 6, he will not be the first presidential candidate to run on the issue of competence and then lose because he ran an incompetent campaign. He will not even be the first governor of Massachusetts to do so.

In 1988, Michael Dukakis, who was ahead in the polls just after the Democratic convention, declared in his acceptance speech: “This election isn’t about ideology. It’s about competence.” Then he proceeded to blow his large lead and lose to George H.W. Bush, who turned out to be a tougher old bird than anyone suspected.

It would be hard to think of two politicians more different than Dukakis and Romney. […]

Even if Romney wins the election, because of some unpredicted development between now and Nov. 6, the judgment on his campaign is fixed: It has been terrible. Despite his success in business, he’s a lousy politician. And if he loses the election, that will be a comment not just on his campaign strategy but also on his whole way of thinking.

Carl Hiaasen checks out the long reach of a couple of meddlesome sibs in Billionaire Koch brothers try to buy state’s court:

The new stealth campaign against three Florida Supreme Court justices is being backed by those meddling right-wing billionaires from Wichita, Charles and David Koch.

They couldn’t care less about Florida, but they love to throw their money around.

Last week they uncorked the first of a series of commercials from their political action committee, Americans for Prosperity. The targets are Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.

They were three of the five-vote majority that in 2010 knocked down a half-baked amendment slapped together by state lawmakers seeking to nullify the federal Affordable Health Care Act.

The Florida Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions in finding that the proposed amendment contained “misleading and ambiguous language,” the hallmark of practically everything produced by this Legislature. Stoned chimpanzees have a keener grasp of constitutional law.

Elizabeth Kolbert shakes her head over the lack of interest over climate change in the presidential contest:

You might have thought that with the Arctic melting, the U.S. in the midst of what will almost certainly be the warmest year on record, and more than sixty per cent of the lower forty-eight states experiencing “moderate to exceptional” drought, at least one of the candidates would feel compelled to speak out about the issue. If that’s the case, though, you probably live in a different country. Remarkably—or, really, by this point, predictably—the only times Mitt Romney has brought up the topic of climate change, it has been to mock President Obama for claiming, back in 2008, that he was going to try to do something about it.

Next week, Romney and Obama will meet for their first debate, in Denver. There’s no particular reason to believe that they will be asked about climate change, but here’s hoping—because by the time of the 2016 debates, the Arctic sea ice may already be history.

Robert Robb says Romney must improve economic pitch:

I think that the only thing that matters in the first debate is whether Romney can convince about 5 percent to 8 percent of the electorate currently skeptical that he can reasonably be expected to do better on the economy. If he can, the race returns to within the margin of error and becomes a turnout slugfest.

To do that, Romney needs a better case than he has mounted so far, and it will be difficult to come up with one at this late date.

Romney’s pitch so far has been: Obama’s economy is bad. I’m a successful businessman who knows how the economy works and can fix it.

Among swing voters, however, Romney’s business experience is seen as much as a negative as a positive.

David Moberg urges a tougher stance from Democrats in “Going Nuclear” on Class:

[S]upport for Obama does not follow class lines. Overwhelmingly, African-Americans and Latinos, who are disproportionately working class, say they will vote for Obama. But in the NBC poll, only 34 percent of white registered voters without a college degree say they will vote for Obama, which would be—if it holds—the lowest percentage for that group of voters for a Democratic presidential candidate since George McGovern’s 1972 loss.

Those white working-class voters would personally benefit from a more progressive tax system, more support for education and protection of the Social Security system. And should Obama lose because many white working-class voters failed to cast ballots in their own interests, it would raise the urgent question of why the Democrats have failed to make their case to the white working class, especially when polls on issues show strong majorities open to a progressive economic message that is relevant to their lives. It’s not too late for Obama, even now, especially against Romney and Ryan, the candidates of the 1%.

Sadhbh Walshe follows the money in How lawmakers and lobbyists keep a lock on the private prison business:

Sadhbh Walshe, columnist at the Guardian

The private prison companies insist that their lobbying and campaign donations are above board and legally compliant. They are corporations in the business of making profit, and so you cannot really blame them for doing whatever it takes to achieve that end.

It is their political enablers, the lawmakers who accept millions of dollars from these corporations, who ought to be doing some serious soul-searching. Of all the public services to be outsourced, incarceration, where the state deprives a person of their liberty and assumes responsibility for his or her mental and physical well-being, is not one to be auctioned for campaign contributions.

James Joyner ponders why America’s Scandalous Drone War Goes Unmentioned in the Campaign:

Despite the increasing intensity with which this issue is being debated in foreign policy wonk circles, the discussion has been all but absent in the ongoing presidential campaign. Terrorism is not among the twenty-six “issues” discussed on Mitt Romney’s website and the treatment of “Afghanistan & Pakistan” doesn’t mention the drone policy. To the extent that the issue is getting any traction on the domestic political front, it’s coming from the likes of Glenn Greenwald and others on the president’s left. One suspects that’s just fine with Obama, whose ability to tout the fact that “we got bin Laden” has put him in the unique position among Democrats of having the edge on national security issues.

Indeed, Obama has shrewdly—some might say cynically—positioned himself to the right on foreign policy, thereby insulating himself from the “weak on defense” canard that has plagued his party going back to the days of George McGovern.