Archive for the ‘October Surprise’ Category

Final poll numbers are coming out in the few days before the election. There’s a good recap of the numbers by Political Wire here and here. The signs are not looking good for Team Romney, according to Taegan Goddard’s Twitter account:

  • Movement toward Obama in nearly every national poll released today.
  • Latest USA Today/Gallup poll of 12 swing states shows a tie. Romney held a four point lead a month ago.
  • 18 new swing state polls today so far. Romney leads in just 4.
  • Publicly, the Romney campaign is bullish about its chances on Tuesday, as evidenced by surrogates who appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows today. However, when granted anonymity, they tend to hedge their bets:

    CBS News:

    Romney’s advisers know it’s now anyone’s guess. “A knife fight in the phone booth,” is a phrase you hear a lot. One adviser this morning was even more candid: “I’m not saying (Mr. Obama) is definitely going to lose.”

    But the advisers see comparable concern and tension in the Obama campaign, for all of its own outward displays of confidence.

    “We’re the challengers. We always knew we could lose,” one aide told me here in Dubuque. “They never contemplated they could lose.”

    The Associated Press:

    But Ryan’s biggest boosters realize he probably can write his own ticket, win or lose on Nov. 6.

    These Ryan allies spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private proposals they were preparing for him. They insist Ryan is not worried about anything beyond the election and is not planning anything except being a governing partner to Romney.

    They say that if he fails, Ryan’s instincts will be to return to the House — he is running for re-election to his House seat at the same time he’s Romney’s running mate — and resume his role as Budget Committee chairman.

    Some senior Republicans caution it might not be that easy.

    If Romney loses, Ryan will be seen as a leading White House contender in 2016. He will be a national party figure even without being a top member of the House leadership. That could breed resentment among current Republican leaders and perhaps splinter coalitions within the already fractured GOP alliances at the top of the House.

    A return also would make Ryan a leading target for Democrats. For the next few years, Democrats would lay traps in legislation, forcing him to take sides on measures that could come back to haunt him during a presidential bid.

    That is why some of Ryan’s biggest boosters are considering whether it wouldn’t be better for Ryan to resign from the House. He could write a book — “saving America” is a theme often bandied about — or teach at a university.

    After all, on the campaign trail, Ryan is as much lecturer as campaigner. Aides routinely set up giant video screens so Ryan can use visual aids to walk audiences through the minutiae of budget politics. Graphs and charts are as common as yard signs and American flags at some events, with Ryan settling into his role as explainer in chief.

    It’s no accident he embraces the “wonk” label aggressively. It could make him an attractive figure as a guest lecturer or visiting professor.

    Or Ryan could set up an office at a Washington think tank and focus on issues that interest him. That would give him a platform to shape public policy without the frustrations of electoral politics.

    Republicans are also preemptively blaming Sandy for a possible Romney loss on Tuesday. See these comments from Karl Rove in the Washington Post:

    “If you hadn’t had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the [Mitt] Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy. There was a stutter in the campaign. When you have attention drawn away to somewhere else, to something else, it is not to his [Romney’s] advantage,” Rove told The Washington Post.

    Rove, who served as George W. Bush’s deputy White House chief of staff, said that in the wake of the storm, there are “advantages and a minor disadvantage” for the president as well as a “subtle disadvantage to Romney.”

    “Obama has temporarily been a bipartisan figure this week. He has been the comforter-in-chief and that helps,” Rove said. The slight disadvantage for Obama, Rove said, “is that people in Eastern coastal communities are going to be preoccupied by issues of getting food to eat and having a roof over their heads; some of them won’t be thinking as much about the election.” But he conceded that those people reside in the Northeast, and not in the battleground states most likely to decide the election.

    Anonymous Romney aides to CBS News:

    Campaign sources concede superstorm Sandy stalled Romney’s momentum. For eight straight days, polls showed him picking up support. The campaign’s internal polling, which is using different turnout models than most public polls, had him on solid ground in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa. He had a slight lead or was tied in Ohio, New Hampshire and Wisconsin and was in striking distance in Pennsylvania, a state Republicans hadn’t won since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

    Coming off the pivotal first debate, the campaign pushed the message that the 2008 Barack Obama of hope and change had become the 2012 President Obama of divide and destroy, making the campaign about small things — Big Bird and binders — at a time the nation had big challenges. It resonated with voters in those swing states.

    But then came something very big: a natural disaster that left a path of death and destruction on the East Coast. Suddenly, there was little talk about small things.

    Those leads in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Iowa still hold in the internal polls, campaign sources say, but Romney’s movement flattened out or, as the campaign likes to say, “paused.” Nevada is now off the table, and those neck-and-neck swing states are even tighter.

    Haley Barbour on CNN:

    (CNN) – Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour on Sunday argued Superstorm Sandy not only wreaked havoc on the Northeast this week, but blunted Mitt Romney’s campaign as well.

    “The hurricane is what broke Romney’s momentum. I don’t think there is any question about it,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    Barbour, a Republican, said the barrage of news coverage surrounding the storm replaced the political debate in the final days leading up to the election. He added, however, he doesn’t blame the media for covering the storm.

    “Any day that the news media is not talking about jobs or the economy, taxes or spending, deficit and debt, Obamacare and energy, is a good day for Barack Obama,” he continued, adding the news “blackout” on those issues has helped the president.

    “Whether it will be good enough remains to be seen,” he said.

    Also, Bush 2004 strategist Matthew Dowd on the three signs a campaign is losing:

    DOWD: …every time you feel a losing campaign, these three things happen. The first thing happens is, don’t believe — the public polls are wrong. That’s the first sign of a campaign that’s about to lose. The second thing, we’re going to change the nature of the electorate, and you’re not seeing it reflected in the polls. And the third thing is, the only poll that counts is Election Day. When you hear those things, you know you’re about to lose.

    Bottom line: if your side is preemptively making excuses or telegraphing the running mate’s backup plans before the election, odds are you’re going to lose. I’ll publish my pre-election predictions in the next day or two.

    Update: From Nate Silver: Between national + battleground state polls so far today: 29 Obama leads, 3 Romney leads, 5 ties.

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McCain says it’s time for Ted Stevens to go, but his running mate does not.

The Republican presidential ticket appears to be of two minds on whether or not convicted Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens should resign from the Senate. John McCain called on the longest serving Republican senator to step down today in a statement.

“It is clear that Senator Stevens has broken his trust with the people and that he should now step down. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will be spurred by these events to redouble their efforts to end this kind of corruption once and for all,” McCain said.

His running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has not called on her home state colleague to resign. While the statement released by the campaign today had the McCain-Palin logo on it, it was a statement only from the Arizona senator. CNN reported Monday that Palin called the conviction a “sad day” for Alaska and said she was confident that Stevens “from this point on will do the right thing for the people of Alaska.” She did not respond when asked if she would vote for Stevens on Nov. 4.

Mixed messages during the last days of the campaign? Not a good idea.

Update: Looks like Sarah Palin figured out it wasn’t a good idea to be seen as potentially aligning herself with a convicted felon. She got with the program and called for Stevens to go.

This time, it’s the McCain campaign vs. the RNC over the Palin wardrobe shopping spree.  The story is so politically toxic, nobody wants to claim responsibility.

Update: This is absolutely stunning. Sen. John Ensign, the man responsible for getting Republican candidates elected to the U.S. Senate, is saying it’s a “fair possibility” that Democrats will get a 60-seat supermajority and points the finger at John McCain, saying during an MSNBC interview that, “There’s no question the top of the ticket is affecting our Senate races and it’s making it a lot more difficult.”

The feds got a clean sweep in their case against Sen. Ted Stevens, with the jury returning guilty verdicts on all seven counts.

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted today of lying on financial disclosure forms to hide tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and renovations to his Alaska home that were financed mostly by a powerful business executive and his oil services company.

The verdict was announced just after 4 p.m. in a packed courtroom in U.S. District Court in Washington. Stevens (R) sat quietly as the jury foreman said the panel had reached a unanimous decision and found Stevens guilty on all seven counts of filing false financial disclosure forms.

Jurors, who re-started their deliberations at 9:30 a.m. today when a juror was replaced by an alternate, were somber as they walked into the courtroom to deliver the verdict and did not look at Stevens. No sentencing date has been set, and Stevens’s attorneys are expected to file motions seeking to have the verdict set aside.

Despite the guilty verdict, Stevens remains on the ballot in Alaska, where he is locked in a tight race with Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich.

If he can pull off an upset victory, Stevens could remain in the Senate for months, if not longer, if he chose to appeal the verdict. Tradition allows him to exhaust his appeals before the ethics committee begins expulsion hearings, according to the Historical Office of the Senate.

Talking Points Memo has been all over this story since the beginning and they are a good source to explain what this mess is and how Stevens got himself into it.

Nationally, the implications are pretty simple. Stevens was in a tough reelection race to begin with after the indictment. Now that he’s been convicted a week before Election Day, the GOP can’t put a replacement on the ticket and odds are he is going to lose. If he loses, that puts the Democrats one seat closer to the 60-seat supermajority. However, sentencing is not until January of next year and a lot can happen in 3 months.

Here’s a remote scenario for you (hat tip to kos) by which Republicans might still be able to hang on to his Senate seat: If Stevens manages to win re-election, McCain loses next week, and Stevens is expelled or resigns from the Senate after exhausting the appeals process, Sarah Palin can pick a replacement to fill out his term and keep the seat in Republican hands. Correction: According to the New York Times, Palin would most likely call a special election to find someone to replace Stevens. If this happens, I think it would give the Republicans a better shot of retaining the seat.

Unlikely, but possible.

Update: According to this analysis by The Hill, Ted Stevens was his own worst enemy on the witness stand.

Update II: Now that he’s a convicted felon, Stevens can’t vote for himself next week. (Hat tip to kos)

Update III: The New York Times mentions another intriguing possibility for Stevens – getting a presidential pardon or a commutation of his sentence before George W. Bush leaves office in January.

Update IV: The Hill reports that Stevens will be allowed to vote next week.

What is it about presidential siblings that makes them get into so much trouble? Joe McCain called 911 to complain about a traffic jam. Another round of bad press for the McCain people with only 11 days to go.

Ken Vogel has this interesting story on what records or other relevant information the four major candidates (McCain, Obama, Palin and Biden) are not releasing to the public.

Sam Stein at the Huffington Post:

If Edwards had gotten one of his legendary haircuts every singe week, it would still take him 7.2 years to spend what Palin has spent. Palin has received the equivalent of $2,500 in clothes per day from places such as Saks Fifth Avenue (where RNC expenditures totaled nearly $50,000) and Neiman Marcus (where the governor had a $75,000 spree).

Indeed, the story could not come at a more inopportune time for the McCain campaign. During a week in which the Republican ticket is trying to highlight its connection to the working class — and, by extension, promoting its newest campaign tool, Joe the Plumber — it was revealed that Palin’s fashion budget for several weeks was more than four times the median salary of an American plumber ($37,514). To put it another way: Palin received more valuable clothes in one month than the average American household spends on clothes in 80 years. A Democrat put it in even blunter terms: her clothes were the cost of health care for 15 or so people.

Update: Marc Ambinder:

That’s one good week of television time in Colorado.