* PUBLIC POLICY POLLING: Obama won 53-42.
* CNN: Obama won 48-40.
* CBS: "Decisive" win for Obama, CBS says, and this one is significant in that it theoretically tests only uncommitted voters. Obama won 53-23, with others putting it at a tie.
ALSO: Nate Silver says Obama unlikely to get big debate bounce, but even a small one would be important.
If Mitt Romney and his vice-presidential running mate, Representative Paul Ryan, were to win next month’s election, the harm to women’s reproductive rights would extend far beyond the borders of the United States.
In this country, they would support the recriminalization of abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and they would limit access to contraception and other services. But they have also promised to promote policies abroad that would affect millions of women in the world’s poorest countries, where lack of access to contraception, prenatal care and competent help at childbirth often results in serious illness and thousands of deaths yearly. And the wreckage would begin on Day 1 of a Romney administration.
Mr. Romney has pledged that, on his first day in the White House, he would reinstate the “global gag rule,” the odious restriction that has been used to deny federal money for family-planning work abroad to any organization that provided information, advice, referrals or services for legal abortion or supported the legalization of abortion, even using its own money.
Merely talking about abortion could cost groups not only federal money, but also useful technical support and American-donated supplies of contraceptives, including condoms for distribution in the communities they serve.
There's more. It is worth noting, to the extent possible, a Republican legislative majority in Arkansas would do every bit of the same sorts of things in Arkansas. Refusal of expanded Medicaid — which in turn would mean a drastic reduction in the existing Medicaid program and likely a reduction in the current health coverage for children (Mike Huckabee's great positive legacy, now in grave danger) — will be every bit as damaging and anti-woman and anti-mother. Among many others, Jason Rapert, if elected, will be back with his mandatory ultrasound bill for women seeking abortions. Health professionals have said it would require mandatory transvaginal probes in the earliest stages of pregnancy. Spread 'em, ladies.
Even Republican-friendly Larry Sabato, political quotomatic, says the latest Gallup poll with a 7-point Romney lead is an outlier.
Ezra Klein digs into it a little bit. It might be that in the popular vote Romney REALLY IS ahead 7 points among likely voters. That doesn't mean an electoral college win, however. You know it. It's on account of a crazy huge margin in the South, where none dare speak the name of race in evaluating the difference. Unfortunately, the wash-off down the ballot is going to put that crowd in charge, with all the baggage that entails. Writes Klein:
I think it’s fair to say that the election is, for the moment, close.
But not according to Gallup. Their seven-day tracking poll shows Romney up by seven points — yes, seven — with likely voters. But he’s only up by one point with registered voters.
It gets weirder: Dig into the poll, and you’ll find that in the most recent internals they’ve put on their Web site — which track from 10/9-10/15 — Obama is winning the West (+6), the East (+4), and the Midwest (+4). The only region he’s losing is the South. But he’s losing the South, among likely voters, by 22 points. That’s enough, in Gallup’s poll, for him to be behind in the national vote. But it’s hard to see how that puts him behind in the electoral college.
UPDATE: Nate Silver Twitter comment at 10:30 a.m.
National polls published in past 24 hours: Obama +3.2, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +1, Obama +0.6, Obama +0.5, TIE, Romney +7.
Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight gives a good analysis of swings in poll numbers, post-debate bounce and the like.
It seems safe, if obvious, to conclude that the electorate is almost evenly split. Also: A popular vote win powered by overwhelming Obama hatred in Dixie doesn't necessarily mean an electoral vote win.
Despite what the headline writer at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette might seem to indicate, polls of undecided voters and comment from all but the blindest Republican partisans indicate that President Barack Obama won Tuesday's night presidential debate. The margin was not as decisive as Mitt Romney's triumph in Round One but it was a triumph all the same.
Debate odds and ends:
Another complication is that it is possible — although by no means guaranteed — that there will be some reversion to the mean because of the first presidential debate, meaning that Mr. Obama will benefit from memories of Denver fading as much as any new ones that were forged in New York.
But if you want my best guess: Throughout this election cycle, you would have done very well by predicting that the polls would eventually settle in at an overall lead for Mr. Obama of about two percentage points. Whenever his lead has been larger than that, it has come back to earth. But Mr. Obama has also rebounded at moments when the polls seemed to suggest an even closer race.
* WHICH ROMNEY DO YOU BELIEVE?: Mitt Romney tried again last night, as the president pasted him on women's issues, notably Romney's failure to endorse the Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, to paint himself as a moderate on contraception. He's all for it, as long as women's insurance doesn't pay for it. With the anti-abortion Republican base demanding utter devotion to its no-abortion, no-birth control dictates, Romney is now trying to disinegenuously identify himself in advertising as somewhat moderate on the issue, even as his campaign is assuring the radicals that he's with them.
* ROMNEY: WRONG ON BENGHAZI: Republican apologists, unbelievably, are trying to defend Romney's meltdown on the question of what the president said the day after the attack on the Libyan
consulate mission in Benghazi. In Fox Land, plain language doesn't mean what it says. Romney was simply and completely wrong about what the president said in the Rose Garden, whatever continuing confusion existed about the nature of the attack. The president's words:
‘‘No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. ... We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.’’
* WOMEN IN BINDERS: Romney's remark about women "in binders," a reference to his supposed effort to recruit women for jobs in Massachusetts when he was governor was another Romney lie. The Boston Phoenix explains:
What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.
I have written about this before, in various contexts; tonight I've checked with several people directly involved in the MassGAP effort who confirm that this history as I've just presented it is correct — and that Romney's claim tonight, that he asked for such a study, is false.
I will write more about this later, but for tonight let me just make a few quick additional points. First of all, according to MassGAP and MWPC, Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn't care about — and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about — budget, business development, etc. — went to women.
Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)
Third, note that in Romney's story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn't know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?
Things have come a long way from the uncomfortable 2008 campaign, the article notes.
Today, Hillary Clinton is the most popular member of Obama’s Cabinet, and her husband is not only his greatest but most tireless political ally. This past September 11, the Y-chromosome Clinton was in Miami, ripping Mitt Romney a new one over Medicare. Since then, Clinton has campaigned for Obama in New Hampshire and Nevada, raised money for him in Boston and with him in Los Angeles—and there is more to come. A TV ad with Clinton making the case for Obama’s reelection has run 16,000 times in swing states across the country. Another, featuring a clip of Clinton’s address at the Democratic convention, almost gives the impression that he is Obama’s running mate. Then there is that speech itself, which another top Obama adviser tells me flatly is “the most important moment of the campaign so far.”
The Barack-and-Bill double act on display this fall marks a new and intriguing phase in a psychological entanglement so rich that if Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung were alive, they would surely be squabbling over it instead of Sabina Spielrein’s hysteria. No one close to Obama or Clinton even bothers with the pretense that there is any real affection between them. But most concur with the assessment of a Democratic operative with tentacles deep in both worlds: that “the relationship today is totally transactional—and highly functional.”
What Obama stands to gain from the transaction is plain enough to see. The support of the political figure with the highest approval rating, 69 percent, of any in America. The suasive services of a surrogate who can talk the owls down from the trees. The imprimatur of a former president associated with a period of broad and deep prosperity, imbued with unparalleled credibility on matters economic, and possessing special traction with the white working- and middle-class voters whom Obama has always had a hard time reaching. What Obama stands to gain, in other words, is a healthy boost in his quest for reelection—one all the more invaluable in the wake of his dismal performance in the first debate.
Can we get real for a minute and talk about facts rather than style points?
From Talking Points Memo, quoting Jonathan Chait:
Let’s first imagine that, on January 20, Romney takes the oath of office. Of the many secret post-victory plans floating around in the inner circles of the campaigns, the least secret is Romney’s intention to implement Paul Ryan’s budget. The Ryan budget has come to be almost synonymous with the Republican Party agenda, and Romney has embraced it with only slight variations. It would repeal Obamacare, cut income-tax rates, turn Medicare for people under 55 years old into subsidized private insurance, increase defense spending, and cut domestic spending, with especially large cuts for Medicaid, food stamps, and other programs targeted to the very poor. Few voters understand just how rapidly Romney could achieve this, rewriting the American social compact in one swift stroke.
Oh, and seniors. Please note a new study from Kaiser says the Romney Medicare plan will likely increase seniors' premiums.
Oh, and does it matter to you that Romney has been lying about his tax plan — how he can reduce taxes without reducing revenue and without making the middle class pay for the additional sop for the wealthy? Of course not. It's style that's important, not substance. Don't interrupt the lying liars with reality-based comment.
The Republican Party, fearful of a Ralph Nader effect, are working to keep Libertarian Gary Johnson off the ballot. The GOP moves ever more inexorably to a world in which only their kind of people can either run for office or vote.
The Republican Party, with little else with which to work and preferring not to answer questions about its tax/budget/safety net destruction plans, is working hard to make death of Americans in Libya and State Department security in general a defining campaign issue. It's a fair topic. But it doesn't readily reduce itself to yes/no, right/wrong answers, the sort of which the Republican Party is so fond of declaring.
Good illustration of that this morning in the New York Times.
Lost amid the election-year wrangling over the militants’ attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, is a complex back story involving growing regional resentment against heavily armed American private security contractors, increased demands on State Department resources and mounting frustration among diplomats over ever-tighter protections that they say make it more difficult to do their jobs.
Add to this sovereignty of the nations that open doors to our embassies. We are not free to place unlimited numbers of troops, even if we could afford security worthy of, say, a U.S. airport.
We also have multiple locations in volatile countries. In Libya, for example, the requests for additional security focused mostly on Tripoli, not the Benghazi diplomatic compound 400 miles away where Americans were killed.
While it is unclear what impact a handful of highly trained additional guards might have had in Benghazi were they able to deploy there, some State Department officials said it would probably not have made any difference in blunting the Sept. 11 assault from several dozen heavily armed militants.
“An attack of that kind of lethality, we’re never going to have enough guns,” Patrick F. Kennedy, under secretary of state for management, said at Wednesday’s hearing. “We are not an armed camp ready to fight it out.”
A senior administration official said that the military team, which was authorized by a directive from Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, was never intended to have an open-ended or Libya-wide mission.
“This was not a SWAT team with a DC-3 on alert to jet them off to other cities in Libya to respond to security issues,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter.
Let the investigations continue. Does the U.S. provide enough security? How much security can it provide, both in terms of host countries' sovereignty and cost? What does creation of an armed camp signal host citizens? How high up the chain of command must staffing at the hundreds of U.S. installations worldwide be considered — mid-level State Department, secretary of state, vice president, White House?
The conclusion might be that the Libyan deaths resulted from clear shortcomings in threat assessment and staffing. Or it might be more complicated. Facts don't matter here to Republicans any more than they ever do. They have already decided that whatever the U.S. did abroad must be wrong and must be criticized — instantly, even, in the fog of confusion hours after a lethal attack in a country in turmoil. Our country — wrong or wrong. (If a Republican had been president, it would have been traitorous to do or say anything that wasn't construed as rallying around our leader and the flag.)
Please note that House Republicans, led by vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, have pushed for cuts in embassy security spending to pay for their tax cuts for the wealthy.
I was among the small but devoted following of "Friday Night Lights," the TV series that captured Texas high school football culture and lifestyle about as well as anything I've ever seen. (It also introduced me to lovely Connie Britton, now starring in "Nashville.")
So I was dismayed when I read and heard Republican Mitt Romney had cadged Coach Eric Taylor's motto for the fictional Dillon Panthers — clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose — for campaign purposes. Smash, Landry, Matt, Julie, Riggins or Tyra on Romney's team? Not likely.
I was not so dismayed as Peter Berg, creator of the TV series.
Peter Berg, the creator of the TV series "Friday Night Lights," sent Mitt Romney a letter on Friday expressing his displeasure with the Republican presidential candidate for co-opting the show's slogan, "Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose."
"Your politics and campaign are clearly not aligned with the themes we portrayed in our series," Berg wrote to Romney. "The only relevant comparison that I see between your campaign and 'Friday Night Lights' is the character of Buddy Garrity — who turned his back on American car manufactures selling imported cars from Japan."
News that the European Union has won the Nobel Peace Prize for helping "transform Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace" is a reminder of last night's vice presidential debate.
Nate Silver termed it a "hold" for Vice President Joe Biden, neither a win nor a save nor a loss, but given Republican hopes for a gaffe-laden night to remember, I'd call that a win.
Paul Ryan's full-throated support for massive defense expenditures, against Biden's argument for a military-supported leaner budget as we withdraw from wars, was one of the specific points on which Biden showed well.
Ryan's repeated trope of an "unraveling" Obama foreign policy seemed particularly lame as he conceded time after time — Afghanistan, Iran — that he agreed with Obama policy.
Biden clobbered Ryan on the budget, including his leadership for a House vote that would have wrecked Medicare, Medicaid and other important programs for working people. Biden's explanation of Ryan tax policy was convincing, unless you are a multi-millionaire.
Ryan's laughable assertion that Romney was an auto guy was swatted out of the park by Biden as he noted Mitt Romney's happiness at seeing the U.S. carmaking industry go under. Ryan would not be pinned down on his tax plan, asking that voters take it on faith that the marathon man was telling the truth.
Biden nailed Ryan, too, after he derided the stimulus program with comments about the letters Ryan himself had written seeking stimulus money to create jobs in his congressional district.
The big question is whether the Republican talk machine will plant in the media the line that the debate was NOT about the many points of fact and policy substance on which Biden did well, but on the fact that he smiled indulgently at Ryan's prevarications and sophistry and was every bit the aggressor that Mitt Romney was in the first presidential debate. OK for Mitt, not for Joe, see.
It has happened before, as with the famous Al Gore "sigh," one of many Republican-invented themes that the media willingly beat Gore with because, well, they just didn't like Gore much. Biden is more likable. Were any working class swing voters watching last night, his ironclad commitment to get out of Afghanistan, to preserve Medicare and Social Security and to put middle class tax breaks and programs ahead of comfort for the wealthy should have scored Biden some points with them.
The Republican focus on Biden's manner tells you everything about facts. But they've said all along that their campaign would not be guided by fact-checking.
Democrats looking for a silver lining in the Obama debate cloud, particularly the devastating Pew poll findings? New York Times:
The latest Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News poll, of likely voters in the three states, Colorado, Virginia and Wisconsin, found no sharp movement after the debate and the news last Friday that the unemployment rate in September had dropped below 8 percent for the first time since Mr. Obama took office.
But the poll suggested that Mr. Romney had gained strength in a number of ways since last month and that Mr. Obama’s best defense is the somewhat brighter economic outlook and the fact that voters continue to relate to him more than they do to his opponent.
Also in the could-be-worse category is Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com, who still gives Obama a narrow lead in the important electoral vote reckoning:
Following another day of strong polling on Tuesday, Mitt Romney advanced into the best position in the FiveThirtyEight forecast since the party conventions. His chances of winning the Electoral College are now 28.8 percent in the forecast, his highest since Aug. 29. For the first time since Aug. 28, President Obama is projected to win fewer than 300 electoral votes. And Mr. Obama’s projected margin of victory in the national popular vote — 2.0 percentage points — represents the closest the race has been since June 27.
The forecast model is not quite ready to jump on board with the notion that the race has become a literal toss-up; Mr. Romney will need to maintain his bounce for a few more days, or extend it into high-quality polls of swing states, before we can be surer about that.
The horse race stuff is maddening. So are style points generally, though they are indisputably important, with Ronald Reagan the exemplar. Foreign policy, tax and spending policy and judicial appointments are a whole lot more important to me. Depending on which Romney wakes up in the morning (and with the Republican base in control of most of his functions it's fairly predictable unless he's on a pander foray to a moderate Iowa newspaper on abortion), this is one of those clear choice elections.
If this is what voters want, it's what they should get. I remain unconvinced that all voters recognize the sum of all the individual parts to which various of them are responding, but that rationalization and $1 will get me a cup of coffee Jan. 1.
Anyway, Klein notes that President Reagan increased the income tax. That John McCain supported a cap-and-trade proposal on air pollution. That the last President Bush endorsed federal economic stimulus spending. These are now deadly sins to Republicans (maybe punishable by death for the Charlie Fuquas of the world.) Klein suggests readers should weigh the reality of present-day politics against the "Moderate Mitt" who emerged at the first presidential debate, repeatedly saying things at variance with party and his own past pronouncements.
The fact is that a moderate Republican today is an arch-conservative from only a few short years ago. A moderate Republican today tends to believe the individual mandate is unconstitutional, even though moderate Republicans came up with the idea in the early-90s. A moderate Republican today thinks the jury is still out on global warming, even though moderate Republicans were leading the charge to do something about it during George W. Bush’s administration. A moderate Republican today believes we should make all of the Bush tax cuts permanent even though moderate Republicans were trying to make the Bush tax cuts smaller in 2001 and 2003, when the country was much better positioned to afford tax cuts.
Why this shift? Because moderate Republicans of today fear their base more than they fear independent voters. Republican presidents have come to learn, as George W. Bush did with immigration reform and George H.W. Bush did with tax increases, that conservative anger can turn congressional Republicans against their agenda. Congressional Republicans have learned that conservative anger can lead to successful primary challenges. Swing voters, meanwhile, have fewer policy litmus tests and are far less organized.
This is why Republican leaders won't dump even cranks like Loy Mauch, Jon Hubbard and Charlie Fuqua (well, maybe they'll dump Fuqua, since his Democratic opponent is good [bad] on tax issues.) They are simply afraid they are representative of a vast chunk of Arkansas voters and dare not alienate them. This election may prove them right. God help us all if that's so.
UPDATE: This is a good point to cite Ron Rosenbaum's article for Slate on whether the Republican Party deserves the label neo-racist.
Really, just about everybody knows this—that the new solid GOP South is a gift from the legacy of racism—but few say it outright anymore, except a scattering of opinion columnists. It's been "priced in" you might say, taken for granted, or avoided for fear of offense—i.e., telling the truth.
Romney is also madly rolling back his 47 percenter remark, deciding days into the controversy — after stout defense by his own campaign and supporters — that he was "just completely wrong." Sounds like he'd crafted this sound bite for the debate and President Obama wisely didn't give him the opening. The soundbite would have lived, whilethe continuing dishonesty would have been masked.
You tell me. Was Romney telling the truth when he spoke privately to a $50,000-a-head dinner filled with rich white men like himself? Or was he telling the truth when he crafted a line to shore up eroding swing voter support widely repulsed by the glimpse of the real Mitt Romney?
Read some mail from Romney supporters. They LOVE the moocher line. And they can't wait to cut the moochers off the dole of federal benefits. The sad and awful paradox are the Republican voters who are on the dole themselves and apparently don't understand what their intentions mean to themselves — such as the devoted Republican voter who turned up at a Koch bus tour in Paragould the other day. He qualifies for food stamps, Medicaid, the earned income tax credit and child care deductions for his four children. He has a state job for its good benefits — holidays, insurance, pension. He decried government spending and said, in light of it, he could never vote for a Democrat. I kid you not.
* ROMNEY'S DEBATE WIN: All agree an aggressive Mitt Romney drove the presidential debate last night and "won," for most scoring. Will it move voters? Should it move voters? After all, neither Romney nor President Obama moved from the essential positions that make them decidedly different candidates.
It's true, however, that Romney's disingenuousness (dishonesty, if you prefer) in trying to paper over his punishing pro-wealthy ideology, particularly in his super-secret tax plan, might have been taken to yet another level. The fine points of facts and policy don't matter much in debate assessments, however. Hard to imagine how Romney doesn't get some benefit from last night. And hard to imagine the president won't change course from cool defense the next go-round.
It's all on YouTube, if you dare.
* EXPULSIONS IN WYNNE: My Cross County correspondent says the Wynne School Board settled last night on semester expulsions for two white students implicated in the hazing of a black football player who had a noose put around his neck.USA Today has provided some detailed reporting on the real estate investments that landed Razorback football coach John L. Smith in bankruptcy court with some $40 million in outstanding debts. It reports criticism given Smith by a Kentucky judge after he claimed, in justifying nonpayment, that he hadn't understood the deal. Said the judge in awarding a judgment against Smith in a civil suit:
"Smith is a sophisticated businessman capable of understanding terms and entering into legally binding contracts. Having failed to either read or comprehend the significance of the ... provisions, he may not now assert that he was fraudulently induced to sign."
Yeah, well, some people thought he was a sophisticated football coach, too.
* HILLCREST FARMERS MARKET GOING YEAR-ROUND: Good news from Pulaski Heights Baptist Church. Its popular sidewalk farmers market, held each Saturday at the church on Kavanaugh is going year-round. Full details here. When weather dictates, the market will move into the church gym. Meat, eggs, preserved food and baked goods aren't subject to seasonal whims and farmers say fall crops also will extend the availability of fresh vegetables, along with greenhouse-grown items. One farmer is promising strawberries in December. Food trucks will continue to be part of the attraction, along with a friendly neighborhood vibe.
RC, I went over there to that Arkansas Watch site (I need a shower now)…
95% of the time I am against death penalty, but it's humans like this that…
Aaaah, a voice in the wilderness.
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