No, The Race Is Not Tied

Unless something changes, Obama remains the odds-on favorite to win.

Two more national polls have been released showing President Obama and Mitt Romney within the margin of error, leading to a raft of commentary about the race being tied. But it’s simply not the case. Unless something changes, Obama remains the odds-on favorite to win.

The RealClearPolitics average gives Obama a slight 1.2 point edge. And none of the recent polls in its index shows anything but a very close race:

So, at first blush, it’s easy to see why smart reporters like Dan Balz and Jon Cohen are calling the race neck-and-neck:

The Republican National Convention opens this week with President Obama andpresumptive nominee Mitt Romney running evenly, with voters more focused on Obama’s handling of the nation’s flagging economy than on some issues dominating the political debate in recent weeks.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Romney at 47 percent among registered voters and Obama at 46 percent — barely changed from the deadlocked contest in early July.

The findings continue a months-long pattern, with neither the incumbent nor the challenger able to sustain clear momentum, despite airing hundreds of millions of dollars in television ads — most of them negative — and exchanging some of the harshest early rhetoric seen in a modern presidential campaign.

Romney’s selection of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate also did not fundamentally reshape the race, although the GOP’s conservative base has grown more enthusiastic about the ticket — but no more so about the chances of beating Obama in November.

Enthusiasm — or a lack thereof — will be on display as Republicans and Democrats hold their conventions over the next two weeks. The two parties will make their pitches to an electorate stuck in a deeply pessimistic mood. More than eight in 10 give the economy negative marks and nearly seven in 10 see the country as seriously off track — an assessment that has not changed significantly all year.

The problem with this is that, while this has been a steady state election since April, when Romney wrapped up the Republican nomination, focusing on the national numbers ignores the fact that the object of the game is to pass the 270 Electoral Vote threshold. And, as we’ve been pointing out for going on a year now, Obama’s path to that is much easier than Romney’s.

Indeed, while it’s poll of polls is what made it famous, RCP also has several Electoral College maps. None of them look great for Romney.

The most hopeful one has Obama with 221 Electors, Romney with 181, and 136 toss-ups:

And, frankly, I’m skeptical that several of the “toss-up” states are actually tossups. Most polling I’ve seen gives Obama the edge in Colorado, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, and Florida.

Indeed, RCP’s “no toss-up” map, which goes ahead and assigns the states as they’re leaning, shows the race as an Obama blow-out:

Nate Silver, whose formula includes other variables as well as poll numbers, currently has it 298-240 in favor of Obama. He finds an inordinately low “vice presidential bounce” following the announcement of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate but does see some good news on that front:

The Republicans do seem to have made some headway in Mr. Ryan’s native state of Wisconsin, however. And their last few polls in Florida have been been reasonably strong, defying the conventional wisdom that suggested Mr. Ryan’s views on entitlement programs could be damaging among the senior population in that state.

Getting Wisconsin’s 10 Electors would be a nice bonus; getting Florida’s 29 is all but essential if the GOP ticket is to have a chance to win.

Barring some game-changing breaking news event, Obama’s story is pretty much set with the voters at this point. Their opinion of the economy is baked into the results and unlikely to change; voters either think Obama is doing as well as could be expected given the hand he was dealt or think he’s a failure.

That means it’s up to Romney and Ryan to persuade such voters that are still persuadable—and indications are that it’s an unusually small number this cycle—that they’ve got the answers. Thus far, Romney hasn’t managed to get the job done despite months of free media.  The convention, which was to have started today, now starts tomorrow and is a day shorter than it was supposed to be. So, they’ve really got a handful of speeches, most notably Romney’s, to generate a bounce and shake up the race.

Next week, Obama gets his shot. And, while I don’t think he’s got the ability to change minds much at this point, he’ll likely be able to do enough to get us back to today’s numbers.

And then it’s on to the advertising wars.  Those of us in the key battleground states are in for a long few weeks.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. H M Ross says:

    I’m curious if so many are calling it a tie because they’re trying to factor in the number of potential voters who will be turned away when they attempt to vote in places like Pennsylvania, Florida, etc.

  2. I think it’s over, short of a great or terrible debate moment.

  3. Jr says:

    A lot of these polls have just switched to LV as well, which makes the national numbers look closer then they really are.

    The truth of the matter is the race has been fairly static since last year, and bearing something major happening now till November, Barack Obama will be President till 2017.

  4. Clanton says:

    Just wait until the next jobs report comes out and the leading economic indicators. Many states will be back in play. Virginia and Florida? Remember, those are southern states and this is not the 1950’s.

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I think it may come down to Republican election-theft efforts, especially in Ohio where the GOP is engaged in shameless rigging.

  6. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I don’t think it’s over, although I remain optimistic that Obama will win. This, of course, probably colors my impressions, but I just don’t see how Mitt Romney can get people to vote for him when so many just don’t like him. What I think will be particularly important are the debates. Obama is a smooth debater that commands the issues and comes across as comfortable in his own skin, Romney can appear that way in debates too (in which case, they’ll probably matter little in the race), but he can also have bizarre moments, as when he made the $10,000 bet or when he talked about his taxes at the SC debate. And he has too many issues that Obama will bring up to which Romney just has no good answer to (Romneycare vs. Obamacare, his taxes, his Bain ties, his Cayman island accounts, his positions on Medicare and his proposed budget).

  7. James Joyner says:

    @michael reynolds: Aside from the early voting for military types thing, are there more examples in Ohio? Most of what I’ve seen lately seem to be reasonable self-correction after some earlier wild-eyed attempts at vote rigging. Both parties were apparently trying to extend voting hours for “their” voters but not the others; I gather that the state has stepped in and quashed that across-the-board.

  8. James Joyner says:

    @H M Ross: No, I think it’s mostly that journalists like a horse race and subconsciously forget the rules of the race.

  9. mantis says:

    @Clanton:

    Just wait until the next jobs report comes out and the leading economic indicators. Many states will be back in play.

    Because as we all know, undecided voters always base their votes on monthly employment reports.

    Virginia and Florida? Remember, those are southern states and this is not the 1950′s.

    What does that mean? Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina went for Obama in 2008, which was also not the 1950s.

  10. Jr says:

    @Clanton: VA has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country. On top of that, we have had poor jobs reports since April, and the race hasn’t changed at all.

    Perceptions are already set in people’s mind in terms of the economy……hence why Team Romney is changing their strategy.

  11. rudderpedals says:

    Just put Florida into the chronic “tossup” column from now on. Unless something changes as I’ve commented before in a close election the loser in Florida _will_ sue because 5 counties are getting longer voting hours and we’re told disparate ballotting standards doesn’t pass equal protection muster.

  12. PD Shaw says:

    The evidence that its a tie is that most of the results in the battleground states are within the margin of error. I looked at Nate Silver’s predictions earlier today, and all of these states are within his margin of error: CO, FL, IA, NC, NH, NV, OH, VA, & WI. So things could stay the same and Romney could win, just because of the closeness of the race and the imprecision of polls.

  13. Fiona says:

    @James Joyner:

    No, I think it’s mostly that journalists like a horse race and subconsciously forget the rules of the race

    Agreed. If they couldn’t frame it as a horse race the mainstream media wouldn’t know what to do.

    While I think Romney has a shot, to win he needs to show voters that he does have an economic plan that’s more than just Bush II warmed over and convince them he understands the issues facing middle class voters. A major implosion on Obama’s part is his other path to the prize. No way will Mitt become anymore like able than he is now– he just doesn’t have it in him.

  14. Nikki says:

    Both parties were apparently trying to extend voting hours for “their” voters but not the others

    James, why would you even publish this when you know that the only political party in Ohio who was trying to change the voting hours to benefit their constituents was the Republican party. The state of Ohio has always had varying early voting hours because each county’s elections boards (comprised of 2 Dems and 2 Repubs) have been the ones to set them. For the elections boards who were split down the middle on whether to extend early voting hours, the Republican Secretary of State was breaking those ties; however, only in Democratic counties was he in favor of limiting the early voting hours. Only after the resultant partisan complaints did he decide to limit early voting hours for everyone.

    Here, let the GOP Chairman of Franklin County speak for himself:

    “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban — read African-American — voter turnout machine.”

    You had to have known this as the article I linked to was published only 4 days ago. Both sides do NOT do it and please stop trying to give the appearance that they do.

  15. mantis says:

    @James Joyner:

    Both parties were apparently trying to extend voting hours for “their” voters but not the others

    Citation needed.

  16. James Joyner says:

    @Nikki: You’ve just proven my point: Democratic districts were trying to extend hours in urban districts to give their voters an advantage. Indeed, they’re suing to try to get the ability to do just that. And some are threatening to disobey the law, simply opening up voting to African American church buses on Sundays in order to stack the deck in their favor.

    @mantis: See above.

  17. Belafon says:

    @James Joyner:
    No. If you look at the voting, Democrats were voting to extend voting hours in every district, regardless of party leaning. Republicans were only voting to extend hours in Republican districts, and since the tie vote was only needed in Democratic leaning districts, the Republican voted against extension in just those districts.

    Yes, the Democrats were trying to extend hours for their constituents, but they were doing it by extending it to everyone. And no, this is not equivalent to the Republicans finally agreeing to restrict it for everyone. Restriction is far worse than enabling.

  18. anjin-san says:

    @ PD Shaw

    I looked at Nate Silver’s predictions earlier today

    You neglected to mention that Silver has “chance of winning” at 70/30 favoring Obama.

  19. Just Me says:

    I have generally believed that Obama is going to win because he doesn’t have to try very hard to get votes and while he hasn’t been spectacular he hasn’t been really awful either.

    I think this race is going to be closer and not the cakewalk it was for Obama in 2008, but Obama can afford to lose some of the states he won in 2008 and he still wins the election.

    I do think the Democrats need for the race to appear close though. The Obama passion has worn off, and some voters are going to stay home and if some of less enthusiastic Obama supporters think Obama has the race in the bag, they may not make much effort to go to the polls which may hurt Obama in some of the close, swing states.

    I think the media wants the race to appear close, because it makes a more interesting media story. There is a lot more excitement in a close race and the media will write the narrative to make it appear more exciting.

  20. Nikki says:

    @James Joyner: No, they aren’t. They are suing to get the early voting hours from 2008 restored. That is not the same thing that you are claiming.

    If the Democrats were trying to stack the deck as you claim, why did the SoS initially only eliminate early voting in Democratic counties?

    Apparently, the Ohio Republicans believe that because the black guy won Ohio in 2008, the rules must now be changed. What else could possibly justify these shenanigans?

  21. James Joyner says:

    @Belafon:

    Yes, the Democrats were trying to extend hours for their constituents, but they were doing it by extending it to everyone. And no, this is not equivalent to the Republicans finally agreeing to restrict it for everyone. Restriction is far worse than enabling.

    There’s an argument to be made for making it easier for everyone to vote. But both sides are trying here to advantage their own side here. Republican voters tend to be more motivated and have more ability to get to the polls at the appointed hour, whereas Democratic voters need much more encouragement and flexibility to get to the polls. So, Democratic officials aren’t for extended hours because of some altruistic desire for inclusiveness but because it favors them.

  22. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    You’ve just proven my point: Democratic districts were trying to extend hours in urban districts to give their voters an advantage.

    How, exactly, would extend voting hours disadvantage Republican voters in those districts? If there’s more time for voting, that’s good for everyone who lives in that district, regardless of party affiliation — it increases voting overall. That’s not an example of voter suppression.

  23. slimslowslider says:

    @James Joyner:

    Wow. Just wow.

  24. Rafer Janders says:

    Republican voters tend to be more motivated and have more ability to get to the polls at the appointed hour, whereas Democratic voters need much more encouragement and flexibility to get to the polls

    Evidence for this completely unsourced assertion?

  25. Facebones says:

    I mostly agree with Matt Taibbi. The reporters are calling this “neck and neck” because they have to cover this thing for ten more weeks.

    Romney can still win, but when you look at it on a state by state breakdown it’s clear Obama has an advantage. Every swing state has to break Romney’s way and that’s extremely unlikely.

    (And if anyone thinks Michigan is a tossup, they’re dreaming.)

  26. Barfour says:

    Contrary to what James is saying, I think the race is more or less tied. Obama need to win three out of Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Romney can win two or more of these States and we don’t know the effect of new voter ID laws.

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    And some are threatening to disobey the law, simply opening up voting to African American church buses on Sundays in order to stack the deck in their favor.

    Well, see, now you’re just lbeing deliberately misleading. Nowhere in your link does it say that they would allow voting only for “African American church buses” (can buses vote?). The way you write it implies that they would only allow voting for African-American church members after Sunday services, when in fact they would allow Sunday voting for anyone — religious or atheist, black or white, Democrat or Republican — who could make it to the polls on that day.

  28. James Joyner says:

    @Rafer Janders: I’m not saying it’s voter suppression, I’m saying it’s trying to impact the rules in a way that advantages Democrats.

    @Rafer Janders: Click the links provided in that comment. Democratic leaders acknowledge this state of affairs: they want extended voting because chunks of their constituency can’t or won’t show up during normal hours.

  29. Rob in CT says:

    I do think the race is basically even at this point. I still think Obama will pull it out in the end, but it will be very close. Basically a coin flip, even if Obama has an edge.

  30. Nikki says:

    @James Joyner: This is the first paragraph of your second link:

    One of the more novel voter suppression techniques being rolled out by conservatives in swing states is what has gone on in Ohio. The Secretary of State, Jon Husted, first tried to mandate that Republican counties would have extended early voting hours, while Democratic counties would see their early voting hours reduced. That generated too much controversy, so he shifted back to a uniform standard. But that standard erred on the side of restricting early voting, with no weekend hours and no hours three days before the election. This has a disproportionate effect on those who have less flexible work schedules, which inevitably means the working class. In particular, the African-American community has favored weekend early voting, especially with drives through local black churches to deliver voters after Sunday services.

    .

    The article YOU cited states that it was a partisan effort on the side of the Republicans to limit early voting for the working class.

    Your first link says that it is the former Secretary of State who has filed the lawsuit against the current SoS.

  31. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But both sides are trying here to advantage their own side here.

    Yes, Democrats are trying to advantage their own side by letting everyone vote, Democrat and Republican, and counting on the chips to fall where they may based on majority rules.

    Republicans are trying to advantage their own side by illegimately restricting the ability of Democratic-leaning groups to vote, hoping that by keeping voters from voting they’ll be able to eke out a win with a minority of Republican-leaning eligible voters.

    So, you know, both sides do it.

  32. Nikki says:

    So, Democratic officials aren’t for extended hours because of some altruistic desire for inclusiveness but because it favors them

    When you make blatantly partisan statements like this, would you please preface it with “I believe”? ‘Coz just because you say it doesn’t make it so.

    Inclusiveness favors Democrats because Democrats believe the tide should try to lift everyone, not just whites or the rich or men.

  33. Phillip says:

    @James Joyner:

    in a way that advantages Democrats

    So it’s only considered an advantage to Democrats if Republican efforts to suppress the vote fail. Thank you for clarifying that.

  34. James Joyner says:

    @Nikki: That’s what I said in my first comment on this: Both sides were trying to have rules in their districts that advantaged their side. Finally, the Republican Secretary of State agreed to a system that had the same voting hours across the state. That, on its face, is fair.

    Now, obviously, Democrats want longer hours in their districts. To be sure, the handful of Republicans in those districts would also be able to take advantage of the longer hours. But it’s Democrats who think they need longer hours to maximize their vote; Republicans think they can get their voters out during the normal 7-7 period.

    @Rafer Janders: There’s nothing “illegitimate” about having voting restricted to normal hours on Tuesdays. That was the norm as long as I could remember.

  35. Rafer Janders says:

    But it’s Democrats who think they need longer hours to maximize their vote; Republicans think they can get their voters out during the normal 7-7 period

    Unlike Republicans, Democrats do have jobs, you know. Many of them have to be at work or commuting during the normal 7-7 period on a Tuesday. They’re not all elderly retirees like Republicans.

  36. Nikki says:

    @James Joyner: This is what I get from your comment. You believe that, as a nation, we should be more concerned with electing the candidate rather than ensuring that the vote for the candidate is fair and made as easily and readily available to all as much possible. Is that correct?

  37. Nikki says:

    Both sides were trying to have rules in their districts that advantaged their side.

    And this is still a lie. Both sides were NOT trying to change the rules to the advantage of “their” side. Only the Republicans were doing that.

  38. Rafer Janders says:

    Both sides were trying to have rules in their districts that advantaged their side.

    If in the sense that Democrats by were trying to advantage their side by letting everyone, Democrat and Republican, vote, while Republicans were trying to advantage their side by letting only Republicans and not Democrats vote, then yes, this is a true statement.

    In other ways, not so much.

  39. jd says:

    @James Joyner: “Democratic voters need much more encouragement and flexibility to get to the polls”

    I claim discrimination based on unchangeable characteristics: no way would I become Republican.

  40. MattR says:

    @James Joyner: If it is so clearly obvious that extended voting favors Democrats, then why did Republicans agree to it in Republican dominated areas? Was it because they actually believe it favors them in those areas? Or did they think that it favors Democrats, but that was OK since it would not hurt them enough to matter? The latter is just as bad (or worse) than the former because it shows that they agree in principle with the idea of extended voting (or they have no objection to the principle), but they object in practice when there will be a negative outcome for them. (The latter also doesn’t make too much sense in a close statewide election where any “extra” votes from the other party could change the results)

    Either way, your initial statement that “Both parties were apparently trying to extend voting hours for “their” voters but not the others; ” is clearly false since Democrats never made an effort to prevent extended voting in Republican areas of the state. (Note: While Democrats may have objected to ONLY Republican areas being allowed to have extended voting, that does not support your quote since they were asking for an equal standard applied across the entire state) Additionally, the second part of that statement “I gather that the state has stepped in and quashed that across-the-board. ” is also misleading because the same state official who stepped in to quash this (and issue across the board rules) was the same official who initially decided to create the two tiered system by voting against extended hours in every Democratic area where there was a tie.

  41. mattb says:

    @James Joyner:

    Now, obviously, Democrats want longer hours in their districts

    To some degree your rephrasing is missing one key point — yes, Democrats want longer hours in their districts, but the way that they have chosen to pursue it is by extending hours in ALL districts.

    You also noted that the initial Republican position was to increase their chances by only allowing extended hours in Republican districts. It was only when that failed that they opted to cut extended hours in all districts.

    While it’s true that both groups are attempting to game the system in a way that benefits them, I think it’s fair to say that given that they were willing to start from a more inclusive standpoint — increasing the hours in ALL districts, not just the democratic leaning ones — the Democrats took a more moral and ethical approach right from the start.

    By your own admission, the Republicans in Ohio were forced to implement a “fair” strategy only under the threat of prosecution.

  42. Phillip says:

    But it’s Democrats who think they need longer hours to maximize their vote; Republicans think they can get their voters out during the normal 7-7 period.

    In other words, vote suppression is in the greater interest of Republicans than Democrats. You’ve made that abundantly clear. What you haven’t made clear is the civic justification for creating the smallest window possible for voting. Do you support efforts to limit voting to people who have plenty of time to stand in line on a working day? Or is your point just that if everyone’s vote were counted, Republicans would go down in flames?

  43. Rick Almeida says:

    @Clanton:

    2nd quarter GDP growth is pretty much the only economic variable in most good presidential election forecasting models (e.g. Alan Abramowitz’s). 2nd quarter GDP growth was 1.5%, enough to weigh in the president’s favor.

  44. al-Ameda says:

    I think the edge (and it’s a narrow edge) goes to Obama, and the aggregated RCP Polling Data bears that out.

    However, I’m never optimistic when it comes to the average American voter. The same public that currently gives Congress an ‘approval’ rating of about 10% is the same public that in 2010 turned the House of Representative over to the Republican Party, and those Hose Republicans are basically the subject and object of that 10% ‘approval’ rating.

  45. Socrates says:

    “Democratic leaders acknowledge this state of affairs: they want extended voting because chunks of their constituency can’t or won’t show up during normal hours.”

    That is outrageous. Outrageous!

    See, both sides do it.

  46. mantis says:

    Wow, James, you’ve taken “both sides do it” to a whole new level. Do you realize how much more full of shit you are becoming as the election draws nearer?

    Let’s see if we have the formulation right, shall we?

    Republicans vote for extended voting hours in majority Republican districts, vote against it in majority Democratic districts.

    Democrats vote for the same voting hours everywhere.

    James – Both sides are trying to maximize their advantage!

    You are full of shit. The Democrats seek equal access. Republicans seek to restrict access based on party affiliation. End of story.

    If equal access is better for one party over another, we have a term for that. Democracy.

    James, you are like the Handicapper General in Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron. On an even playing field, the Democrats have a voting advantage, so they must be subject to restricted voting in order to make things “equal.” Hope you’re proud of yourself.

    But it’s Democrats who think they need longer hours to maximize their vote; Republicans think they can get their voters out during the normal 7-7 period.

    Are you kidding? As has been repeatedly pointed out to you, Republicans are voting for extended hours, but only in districts where they hold the advantage. They most certainly do not think they can get their voters out in the normal period.

    I think we can safely just assume any future posts by James will be more lying bullshit servicing the election of Republicans this fall. He has lost any sense of honesty he may have once had. Sad, really.

  47. mattb says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I think the edge (and it’s a narrow edge) goes to Obama, and the aggregated RCP Polling Data bears that out.

    Beyond RCP, the fact that the Rasmussen EC Polling data remain so close (and again so static) demonstrates the uphill battle Romney has — and that this all comes down to a handful of states with new Voter ID laws in play…
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/archive/2012_electoral_college_scoreboard

    What this also guarantees is that whichever candidate wins the election, changes are the other party will not treat them as legitimate. If Romney wins, the response will be Voter ID (those few who accept the result will blame 4 years of obstructionism as creating a fundamentally unfair environment). If Obama wins, well it will be lack of true Voter ID reform (and the rest of the usual Conservative media excuses).

  48. TheColourfield says:

    I started following political blogs in the mid 2000s and though i would probably be described as center-left, I am always willing to listen to a reasoned argument. To that end I followed a few conservative blogs, notably Balloon-Juice, Just One Minute, Captain’s Quarter’s and OTB, but avoided lunatics like Malkin, Hoft et al.

    I mostly disagreed but still followed. Starting with the 2006 mid terms and in to 2008 things began to change. Cole went independent then full Democrat, while Morrisey sold out to Malkin and Maguire went birther curious.

    I stuck with OTB despite the occasional stupid Dodd post and the tax is theft nonsense of Mataconis because I thought Taylor specifically but also James had something worthwhile to say.

    However, as this election season proceeds it has become clear with almost every post that James isn’t a conservative at all, he has gone full partisan hack.

    He has made it clear that he is fine voting for a sociopathic liar with a an impossible tax plan, no realsitic plan for fiscal balance, who is running a race baiting campaign.

    James obviously has no problem with republicans trying to restrict voting rights to harm Democratic voters, birther jokes, trashing the safety net so the top 5% can have massive tax cuts or seeing raped women forced to carry to term.

    Frankly, it’s the (too infrequent) Taylor posts and the quality of the comments section that keeps me coming back at all.

  49. Nikki says:

    I’m not saying it’s voter suppression, I’m saying it’s trying to impact the rules in a way that advantages Democrats.

    You know what might be best for everyone? Why don’t we make voting readily available to each and every citizen and then require the candidates to present their policy positions and reveal the depth of their character in detail, so that the voters can make an informed choice? Wouldn’t this system work so much better for the country rather than the lie-cheat-steal-to-create-a-permanent-partisan-majority system we have now?

  50. David M says:

    Creating rules/laws that increase voter participation is not partisan. There’s no equivalence between, “let’s extend the hours for GOP voters while we shorten the hours for Dem voters” and “let’s extend the hours for everyone”. One is repugnant, the other is admirable.

    The Dems would have had to try and shorten the voting in the GOP while doing the opposite in Dem areas for the equivalence fairy to make an appearance.

  51. James Joyner says:

    @mantis: I’m saying that both Democratic and Republican election officials are trying to operate under rules that will give them the greatest advantage. Initially, Republican districts tried to get longer hours for themselves while denying them elsewhere. That’s obviously unfair. As is extending the hours for military types but nobody else, as I’ve pointed out both here and on Fox News. But the dust settled with the Republican secretary of state forcing equality for all districts and Democratic officials looking to circumvent that to get longer hours in their districts.

    @TheColourfield: @Nikki: I’m analyzing the race within the context of the rules under which it operates. My preference would be some combination of voting on Saturdays and, if we can figure out how to do it in a way we can trust, some sort of online voting system. I think it should be easier to register and easier to vote. But, under our current system, both sides are trying to game it for maximum advantage.

  52. Nikki says:

    Democratic officials looking to circumvent that to get longer hours in their EVERYONE’S districts.

    FTFY. Now try to memorize it since you seem to keep forgetting it.

    But, under our current system, I BELIEVE both sides are trying to game it for maximum advantage.

    FTFY, too.

  53. mantis says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the dust settled with the Republican secretary of state forcing equality for all districts and Democratic officials looking to circumvent that to get longer hours in their districts.

    Again you lie, James. Democrats were and still are fighting for weekend voting hours for everyone, not just “their districts.” They are doing by objecting to the secretary’s action in the courts, not by “circumventing” the rule, as you falsely claim.

    I get that you want Romney to win, but this is just shameless. Stop lying.

  54. James Joyner says:

    @Nikki: @mantis: These are local officials trying to make and enforce local rules. If they win, it’ll be their districts, not the entire state, that have longer hours. Would they settle for longer hours everywhere? Probably. But, again, because they think it advantages their side.

  55. Nikki says:

    If they win, it’ll be their districts, not the entire state, that have longer hours.

    Really? How do you come by this determination? Do you have a link?

  56. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    I’m saying that both Democratic and Republican election officials are trying to operate under rules that will give them the greatest advantage.

    Again, false equivalence. The “greatest advantage” for Democrats is to increase voter turnout, because most voters favor Democrats. The “greatest advantage” for Republicans is to decreast voter turnout.

    However, only the Democrats’ approach is consistent with democracy. If Republicans want to be able to win in competitive races, the fair way would be for them to develop policies and proposals that voters will support. However, they don’t want to do that, so they want to win in an unfair way, by preventing the other side from voting.

    Yes, both Democratic and Republican election officials are trying to operate under rules that will give them the greatest advantage. But the Democrats want to do so by operating under fair, open and democratic rules, while the Republicans want to do so by operating under unfair and restrictive rules. To claim that this makes them equivalent is mere casuistry and dishonest in the extreme.

  57. Anderson says:

    Obama need to win three out of Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio

    Nope. He can win without OH, and MI/PA have polled solidly for him – I don’t think the recent waver in MI after the Ryan pick will hold up.

    This “Make Your Own Map” tool is useful for seeing how much of a sweep Romney needs.

  58. mantis says:

    @James Joyner:

    You continue to lie through your teeth. Have you no shame?

    These are local officials trying to make and enforce local rules.

    Whom are you talking about? I’m talking about the Fair Elections Ohio lawsuit you pointed to. They seek statewide weekend voting. If local officials, whom you have declined to name or provide any details about, are focused on hours for their districts, that is their job. The goals of Ohio Democratic Party and the Obama campaign are equal access for all voters, and you damned well know it.

    Would they settle for longer hours everywhere? Probably. But, again, because they think it advantages their side.

    And you continue to pretend that is a valid argument. It is not. If equal access advantages one side, then that side has a valid advantage in voters, which is what democracy is about.

    Fighting for equal access is not a partisan trick. It’s a fundamental issue of fairness that guarantees fair and democratic elections. If that is only a priority of the Democratic Party, that is because the Republican Party does not care for voting rights, fairness, democracy, or the Constitution of the United States of America. And you defend their shameless behavior with lies.

  59. Phillip says:

    link; link

    1. SoS Husted breaks electoral county board ties in favor of limiting voting hrs in Democratic districts and extending voting hours in Republican districts
    2. Massive outrage follows.
    3. SoS Husted sets uniform hours for all election boards (taking 10 hours away from the weekend voting).
    4. Montgomery County election officials vote to extend weekend hours not covered under the directive from the SoS; tie between D’s and R’s in Montg. Co. board sends decision back to Husted, who breaks the tie AND suspends Democratic officials from election boards for violating the SoS directive that did not reference anything about weekend voting hours.
    5. SoS Husted refuses to meet with suspended Democratic election officials at an official hearing regarding their suspension.

    I should point out that weekend voting saved the county $200,000 annually, as well as reducing wait times and lines at polling places.

  60. mattb says:

    @James Joyner:

    But, under our current system, both sides are trying to game it for maximum advantage.

    The issue, again, as other have pointed out (and I’ll try one last time) is the method by which each party pursues it.

    You are entirely correct, generally speaking, limited voting hours definitely favors Republicans and increasing voting hours favors Democrats.

    Here again is the issue — the Republican strategy began with a concerted attempt to restrict voting hours ONLY in Democratic districts. Yes, this is a negative reading of extending hours in only Republican districts, but it really is exactly the same strategy.

    If they were taking the moral “high ground” according to your own logic (I believe), they should have restricted voting hours in *all* districts from the get go.

    And, yes, if the Democrats had only attempted to extend voting hours in Democratic districts, they would have been on equally shaky moral ground. But, as you note, they began from the position of extending voting hours in all districts (including where it could conceivably hurt their chances).

    Politics isn’t mumbley-peg (however the heck you spell it), but underhanded tactics should be called out.

    These are local officials trying to make and enforce local rules.

    Wow… so are you suggesting that, all on their own, each Republican leaning district came up with the idea to extend their hours and all of the Republicans in Democratic leaning districts decided to all but unilaterally vote down extending hours?

  61. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    If equal access advantages one side, then that side has a valid advantage in voters, which is what democracy is about.

    Let me just repeat this point, because I think this gets to the heart of what James is pretending to not understand.

  62. mattb says:

    @James: BTW, regardless of how wrong I think you are on this point, thank you, as always, for not simply dropping a post and running.

  63. Fred Wilson Jr says:

    You’re right, the race is not tied.

    Obama is down. Big.

    John Nolte has the real data that the D+9 polling and pundits love to ignore:

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2012/08/25/2012-Untold-Story-Obama-Is-Losing

  64. mattb says:

    @Fred Wilson Jr:
    Please see the Rasmussen electoral college link I posted above (as they [1] are note d+9 polling, and by their own account, and most conservatives, amoung the most accurate predictors of in state voting) and then STFU.

  65. Nikki says:

    @Fred Wilson Jr: Yeah. Only the breitbart folk know that Obama is really losing.

  66. matt says:

    @James Joyner: Wow that is some serious hardcore water carrying on your part…

  67. Fred Wilson Jr says:

    Gentlemen, if you have friends in the Obama campaign (which I do), they will tell you that (a) there is no energy in the 2008 base (b) they are having serious problems organizationally with much higher turnover and (c) internal polling shows several solid blues are much closer than rcp reflects.

  68. Nikki says:

    @Fred Wilson Jr: Yeah, like we’re gonna take your word that you have friends, much less friends within the Obama campaign.

  69. Fred Wilson Jr says:

    @mattb

    http://www.jammiewf.com/2012/romney-holds-47-46-lead-in-d9-wapo-poll/

    Romney Holds 47-46 Lead in D+9 WaPo Poll

  70. mantis says:

    @Fred Wilson Jr:

    My secret friends in the Romney campaign tell me that their internal polling shows that nobody wants to vote for Romneybot 5000 and are predicting he will lose Texas and Oklahoma to Obama. For serious.

  71. James Joyner says:

    @mantis: @mattb: I think there’s an argument to be made for making it easier to vote; indeed, my preference, as noted upthread, is to go to some sort of weekend voting or workable online voting system that makes it easier. But there’s nothing inherently undemocratic about a system that, say, only allows in person voting from 7 am to 7 pm on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. I view Republican leaders seeking to keep to that schedule, even though it makes it marginally harder for Democrats to vote, as something completely different than attempts–which I’ve called out in other posts—to actually disenfranchise Democratic constituencies with ID requirements or even extra voting hours only for veterans.

    @matt: You realize that you’re making this charge in the context of a side argument in a comments thread of a post arguing that, contrary to the media narrative, Obama is winning this thing and likely to win it?

  72. mantis says:

    @Fred Wilson Jr:

    Romney Holds 47-46 Lead in D+9 WaPo Poll

    You may not have noticed, but a big part of the point of this post is that national polls don’t mean squat. The president is not elected by a national majority.

  73. jukeboxgrad says:

    phillip:

    In other words, vote suppression is in the greater interest of Republicans than Democrats.

    Exactly. The GOP hates democracy, and every now and then they admit it (link):

    I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.

  74. mantis says:

    @James Joyner:

    . But there’s nothing inherently undemocratic about a system that, say, only allows in person voting from 7 am to 7 pm on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

    Are you kidding? Do you really think that’s what this argument is about? You can’t possibly be that dumb, therefore you are lying yet again.

    It’s real simple:

    – Republicans want more voting hours for their preferred demographics and/or districts/precincts, and less for those that prefer Democrats.
    – Democrats want equal voting access for all voters.

    These are not the same thing. You claim they are. They plainly are not. You are a liar.

  75. Rafer Janders says:

    @mantis:

    – Republicans want more voting hours for their preferred demographics and/or districts/precincts, and less for those that prefer Democrats.
    – Democrats want equal voting access for all voters.

    Aha! So you admit that both Republicans and Democrats want things regarding voting!

    Therefore, both sides do it.

  76. mantis says:

    James, you should change the name of your site. This domain is available:

    http://www.BothSidesDoIt.com

  77. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    But there’s nothing inherently undemocratic about a system that, say, only allows in person voting from 7 am to 7 pm on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

    James, from YOUR OWN LINK:

    “The [Ohio] Secretary of State, Jon Husted, first tried to mandate that Republican counties would have extended early voting hours, while Democratic counties would see their early voting hours reduced.”

    If all the Republicans were doing was trying to enforce a uniform, universally applicable standard, you might have some point. But your own link noted that that’s not what they were doing — they were trying to give their own voters more time, while reducing the time that voters in Democratic districts had.

    You don’t see anything “inherently undemocratic” in that?

  78. Rafer Janders says:

    Aargh, meant to blockquote this in the above to indicate it was from James:

    But there’s nothing inherently undemocratic about a system that, say, only allows in person voting from 7 am to 7 pm on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

  79. raoul says:

    JJ: so the Ds by endorsing extending voting hours for everyone is the same as the Rs doing the opposite? Wow.

  80. Rafer Janders says:

    @raoul:

    It is the same, yes, under the Joyner-Mataconis Theorem, by which every morally depraved action by a Republican causes an equal and opposite action of comparable moral depravity to be retroactively committed by a Democrat.

    We know the Joyner-Mataconis Theorem is mathematically valid because if it didn’t work, then it might be the case that somehow, somewhere, a Republican did something wrong that couldn’t be immediately excused by pointing to something a Democrat did. And since we know that’s not the case, the theorem must be true.

  81. wr says:

    The Southerners want to forbid blacks from eating at lunch counters, drinking from water fountains and riding in the front of the bus. The Northeners want everybody to have equal access to all those public conveyances. Therefore, both sides are trying to enforce their desires on businesses, and thus both are equally guilty.

    See how easy that is?

    The Axis powers are wiling to wage war to conquer the world. The Allies are willing to wage war to protect free nations from being conquered. Thus, both are equally guilty of war-mongering.

    All together now: BOTH SIDES DO IT!!!

  82. PJ says:

    @Fred Wilson Jr:
    You probably should look up the words outlier and 95% confidence interval.
    But if the only thing you and the breitbart-zombies have to be happy about is one out of 20-40 polls, then I’m very, very happy.

  83. PJ says:

    I’m sad about James Joyner’s contribution in this thread.
    Too far gone I guess.

  84. EBL says:

    @michael reynolds: Change that to Democrat vote stealing and I would agree with you.

  85. EBL says:

    @john personna: I do not see that. Barack Obama has some significant weaknesses. But I agree the advantage goes to the incumbent.

  86. EBL says:

    @James Joyner: ID requirements do not disenfranchise voters. We need IDs to fly, IDs to drive, IDs to cash a check, IDs to apply for government benefits, and IDs to enter many federal buildings (including court houses). I would be all for helping qualified voters without ID to get ID so they can vote.

    What is disenfranchising is allowing people who are not entitled to vote to vote by not having an ID requirement.

  87. PJ says:

    @EBL:

    What is disenfranchising is allowing people who are not entitled to vote to vote by not having an ID requirement.

    Where’s your evidence for voting fraud?
    Where are all the people unable to vote because someone else voted for them?
    Where are all the dead people able to vote?
    Where are all the fictional people able to vote?
    I mean it must be lots of them because it’s so important for Republicans.

    I would be all for helping qualified voters without ID to get ID so they can vote.

    If only elected Republicans were for that too…
    Problem is, they aren’t. Much like abortion, they only care about the first part.
    Making abortion illegal, but no interest in helping the babies born.
    Demanding ID for voting, but no interest in making sure that the eligible have easy and free access to IDs for voting.

  88. al-Ameda says:

    @EBL:

    What is disenfranchising is allowing people who are not entitled to vote to vote by not having an ID requirement.

    Of course it is disenfranchising to change the rules of the game 9 weeks before the election. I don’t think very many people would have a problem this if: (1) if we started with a clean slate and implemented these kind of unneeded laws at least 1 year before a national election, and (2) there was actually evidence of in-person fake-ID voter fraud (there is none). Most experts , and even conservative non-experts like John Fund, believe there is greater chance for fraud with absentee voting (but of course Republicans have zero interest in that).

  89. anjin-san says:

    @ EBL

    We need IDs to fly, IDs to drive, IDs to cash a check, IDs to apply for government benefits, and IDs to enter many federal buildings (including court houses).

    Can you point us to where these actions are enshrined as rights in the Constitution?

  90. Jim Henley says:

    @PD Shaw:

    The evidence that its a tie is that most of the results in the battleground states are within the margin of error. I looked at Nate Silver’s predictions earlier today, and all of these states are within his margin of error: CO, FL, IA, NC, NH, NV, OH, VA, & WI. So things could stay the same and Romney could win, just because of the closeness of the race and the imprecision of polls.

    No, dammit. “Margin of error” does not work that way.

    This fallacy drives me nuts. I’m sorry. And this is not me speaking as an ideological liberal. The last time I went to war on this issue was when supporters of Scott Walker’s recall – I supported it – tried to claim a “statistical tie” the weekend before the election because several polls showed Walker’s lead over his opponent “within the margin of error.”

    Here are the two main reasons why most of what you read about “statistical ties” and results “within the margin of error” in political reporting are complete bullsh;t:

    1. The margin of error goes both ways. If a single poll shows Clinton Shartelle leading Franchot Tone by 2% and has a 3% margin of error, there’s a chance, yes, that Tone is “really” 1 point ahead of Shartelle. There is exactly as much chance that Shartelle is “really” 5 points ahead of Tone. The chance that Tone is “really” tied with Shartelle is exactly the same as the chance that Shartelle is “really” 4 points ahead of Tone.

    No matter the margin of error on a single poll, if you are on the bottom, you are losing in that poll. (Note: the poll may be bad for unrelated reasons.)

    2. The margin of error on any single poll ceases to matter at all when a series of them show a consistent result. Here’s what it means if we take several of those polls in point 1 and Shartelle leads Tone by 2 points in every single poll:

    It means that Shartelle has a stable 2-point lead and Tone is losing. Repeat: losing.

    In a genuine “statistical tie,” Tone would be on top of Shartelle about half the time and Shartelle would be beating Tone about half the time, and the net magnitudes of their leads would be roughly equal. If Shartelle is always ahead of Tone, or never actually behind Tone, or once or twice behind Tone by a point and once or twice ahead of Tone by 5 and otherwise ahead by 1-3, Shartelle is just winning by 2 points. Period.

    Please everyone in this thread, never propagate that “margin of error” and “statistical tie” malarkey again. It hurts my heart and makes Dead Ross Thomas sad.

  91. Bob says:

    @James Joyner:

    Both parties were apparently trying to extend voting hours for “their” voters but not the others

    This is astoundingly dishonest, even for you, Joyner. In what way were Dems EVER trying to not extend voting hours for “the others?” They wanted voting hours extended for EVERYONE, equally.

    You are a partisan hack. Statements like this prove it.

  92. Kelsonus says:

    It’s going to be a landslide 335 plus delegates for Romney
    AMF Obama

  93. @James Joyner:

    I haven’t been back to this thread in a while …

    There’s an argument to be made for making it easier for everyone to vote. But both sides are trying here to advantage their own side here. Republican voters tend to be more motivated and have more ability to get to the polls at the appointed hour, whereas Democratic voters need much more encouragement and flexibility to get to the polls. So, Democratic officials aren’t for extended hours because of some altruistic desire for inclusiveness but because it favors them.

    As others have said, wow.

    What James has said here is that he does not distinguish between honorable and dishonorable behavior.

    Sure, the Dems want more votes, but they go about it honorably, with a rule that allows everyone to vote more easily.

    The Republicans want more votes, but they go about it dishonorably, with a rule that favors some specific voters.

    What can you do for someone who does not see the distinction?

  94. James Joyner says:

    @john personna: Again, there have been dishonorable attempts at vote suppression by Republicans, including in Ohio. I’ve called them out in the thread and elsewhere. What I’m saying is that we’ve wound up with a rule that has uniform voting across the state with reasonable hours. Democrats are unhappy because they’d have better results with longer hours, weekend voting, etc. But requiring all voting to be done from, say, 7-7 on Tuesday isn’t dishonorable voter suppression.

    Further, I’m arguing that Democrats have tried to extend hours in their strongholds to gain an advantage. Yes, the minority of Republicans in those places would also be allowed extended hours. But the intent is clear: to boost the Democratic vote.

  95. Raoul says:

    JJ: We were not talking about the ultimate result which appears reasonable-The R tried to have different standards in different communities the Ds did not- and you seem to equate both.

  96. slimslowslider says:

    @James Joyner:

    Further, I’m arguing that Democrats have tried to extend hours in their strongholds to gain an advantage. Yes, the minority of Republicans in those places would also be allowed extended hours. But the intent is clear: to boost the Democratic vote.

    Maybe I am missing something, but are you saying the dems tried to extend hours ONLY in their strongholds?

  97. Nikki says:

    Further, I’m arguing that Democrats have tried to extend hours in their strongholds to gain an advantage. Yes, the minority of Republicans in those places would also be allowed extended hours. But the intent is clear: to boost the Democratic vote.

    Please stop trolling your own comments section.

  98. Nikki says:

    @slimslowslider: Yes, that’s exactly what he has been arguing this whole time.

  99. James Joyner says:

    @slimslowslider: Yes. The first link I provided in this long sub-thread pointed to that. They did it under the guise of “we need more time here because, um, the lines get kinda long.”

  100. slimslowslider says:

    @James Joyner:

    The first link I provided in this long sub-thread pointed to that. They did it under the guise of “we need more time here because, um, the lines get kinda long.”

    James, I hate to be a pain in the a.. but can you perhaps quote the language that makes you believe this? Maybe I am reading the incorrect article (“Ohio Secretary of State Sued Over Weekend Voting Curbs”)… but I am just not seeing it.

  101. James Joyner says:

    @slimslowslider: Hmm, it looks like I didn’t link the articles I thought I had. Here’s one that I read yesterday and one that has similar language to one I had in mind from yesterday:

    Kathleen Clyde, Democrats push for extended early voting (with video)

    Democrats in the Ohio House continued to call on Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted to allow extended early voting, saying weekend hours were needed to avoid long lines on Election Day.

    Minority Leader Armond Budish, from the Cleveland area, and others said Husted’s directive ordering elections boards to offer early in-person voting during specified hours on weekdays would not provide equal treatment for all voters.

    Instead, Budish said, the uniform hours would hamper turnout in higher population urban areas, providing less opportunities for Ohioans to cast ballots.

    “It’s a good thing Secretary Husted is not in charge of (the Ohio Department of Transportation),” said Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat from Kent. “Because we might have empty eight-lane highways going through Garrettsville in my district or jammed two-lane highways running through downtown Cleveland.”

    She added, “Fake uniformity wouldn’t make sense on the road, and it doesn’t make sense in Ohio elections.”

    But Husted indicated Wednesday that he’s not going to change his mind on the issue.

    “Voting in Ohio is uniform, accessible, fair and secure. This year with the combination of absentee ballots and early in-person voting, Ohioans will have more access to voting than ever before,” he said in a released statement. “Early voting starts 35 days before the election and there are more than 750 hours to vote by mail and 230 hours to vote in person, plus all day on Election Day. The rules are set and are not going to change.”

    Budish, Clyde and two other House Democrats voiced their concerns during a Statehouse press conference one week after Husted issued a directive mandating regular business hours for elections boards during the weeks prior to the Nov. 6 election and blocking Saturday or Sunday polling.

    Ohio Counties Defying Secretary of State, Planning on Weekend Early Voting

    [

    S]ome counties in Ohio are igoring Husted’s directive. They are planning to open for early voting on the weekends.

    […]

    Mahoning County, which includes Youngstown, is a working class, Democratic county. Another Democratic County, Montgomery County, which includes Toledo, plans to offer weekend early voting, even as its Democratic election commissioners have been threatened with expulsion by Jon Husted.

  102. slimslowslider says:

    Thanks, James.

  103. swbarnes2 says:

    @James Joyner:

    They’ve been fired.

    http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2012/08/28/13531160-ohios-husted-fires-democratic-election-board-members

    Here’s how it seems to work in Ohio. Each county has a board of 4 membesr, 2 Dems, 2 Repubs. In red counties both the Dems and Repubs agree to expand voting hours. In blue counties, the Repubs oppose, and the Republican secretary of state breaks the tie in favor of curtailing voting access.

    It was the two Dems in Montgomery County who were fired.

    And remember, this is Ohio, where there was a law giving everyone more time to vote, and the Republicans changed it so that no one but military members got that privilage.