CNN's GUT CHECK | for October 26, 2012 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING: CNN POLL: OHIO WITHIN THE MARGIN OF ERROR: OBAMA 50%-ROMNEY 46%… With a week and a half to go until Election Day, a new poll indicates the race for arguably the most important battleground state remains very close. According to a CNN/ORC International survey released Friday, President Barack Obama holds a four point advantage over Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the contest for Ohio's much fought over 18 electoral votes. … The survey was conducted Tuesday through Thursday, entirely after Monday's final presidential debate. – Paul Steinhauser
CASEY WATCH? OR HEAD FAKE?: GOP PUTTING A HALF MILLION IN SLEEPER PENNSYLVANIA SENATE RACE… National Republicans are dedicating half a million dollars to the GOP candidate trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, CNN has learned. With 11 days to go before Election Day, this is the first time the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has invested in this race, a surprise since most political prognosticators consider this Senate seat likely to stay in Democratic hands. – Dana Bash
On this day in 1949, President Harry Truman raised the minimum wage. What did he raise it to? Bonus: what is the current federal minimum wage?
Reflecting on his 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry put his loss to George W. Bush in simple terms in an interview soon after with NBC’s Tim Russert: “I won the popular vote in the battleground states by two percentage points. We just didn't distribute it correctly in Ohio.”
Neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama wants to be making that speech come December 2012. So, what will it take to win the battle for the buckeye? We asked Professor Paul Sracic (@pasracic), chair of the Youngstown State University Department of Political Science.
GUT CHECK: If you talk to Romney supporters they will say, “trust the trend” and point to recent polls showing an increasingly tight race in Ohio. If you talk to Obama supporters, they will say they have the ground game mastered. Who is right?
SRACIC: Both sides have an argument, and we will really not now know until Election Day – and maybe not until days later when the provisional and absentee ballots are all counted - which side is correct. There is definitely a trend towards Romney that has to be scaring the Obama team. It is important to remember that, although Obama won Ohio in 2008, his victory was narrow. Ohio Democrats had made it clear in the primary that they preferred Hilary Clinton. More important, Obama’s performance was not that impressive in traditional Democratic areas like Northeast Ohio. In Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, which include Youngstown and the General Motors’ Lordstown facility and which are traditionally among the “bluest” counties in Ohio, Obama actually garnered 7,000 fewer votes than Kerry. Perhaps this is why Obama is bringing the much more popular (in Ohio, at least) Bill Clinton with him to visit Youngstown on Monday afternoon. I would argue that Obama won Ohio in 2008 not because he had a superior ground game (voter turnout as percentage of registered voters was actually down in 2008 from 2004) but because voters in traditionally Republican areas of the state concluded that he would be a better manager of the economy. Romney’s ability to position himself during the debates as a reasonable, moderate, alternative might have helped him recapture that vote for the Republicans, and would explain the trend that the polls are picking up.
GUT CHECK: What is each candidate’s greatest strength in the state?
SRACIC: President Obama’s greatest strength by far is the so-called auto bailout. The automotive industry is extremely important in Ohio, employing more than 100,000 people. About 80% of those employees work not in auto manufacturing, but in parts facilities. And even those who work in auto manufacturing do not necessarily work for General Motors. Honda is a major employer in Ohio. By all accounts, if General Motors had been forced to close its doors, these parts manufacturers would have suffered, and this would have had a cascading effect on other automakers who relied on these parts manufacturers. Interestingly enough, if you look at where many of these auto and auto-related facilities are located, you will find that they are up in Northwest Ohio. This is also a traditionally Republican area (with the exception of the Toledo region) where Obama did not win in 2008, but where he far outpaced the 2004 performance of John Kerry.
Mitt Romney’s greatest asset is his ability to portray himself as a moderate Republican. Although we refer to Ohio as a “purple” state, it is a reddish shade of purple, often leaning Republican. Nevertheless, Ohioans tend to like more moderate Republicans such as George Voinovich, Mike DeWine, and even John Boehner. It was telling that when Governor John Kasich and his GOP counterparts in the state legislature tacked hard to the right in 2011, passing legislation that severely curtailed the collective bargaining rights of public employees, the voters of the state quickly punished them at the polls, voting overwhelmingly to repeal the law.
GUT CHECK: What does each candidate need to do to convince the narrowing set of undecideds to vote for him?
SRACIC: This sounds like a cliché, but President Obama needs to convince voters that the next four years will be different from the last four years. Even though the economy in Ohio is better than it was four years ago, the growth has been somewhat uneven around the state. Moreover, the real unemployment rate is probably much higher than what is being measured, with so many Ohioans having apparently dropped out of the job market. Obama wasted too many months trying to drive up Mitt Romney’s negatives, and he has only a very short period of time to boast up his own positives. Talking about what he has already done – specifically bailout General Motors – may not be enough.
Romney needs to convince voters that the moderate Republican that they saw during the debates is who he really is. Equally important, he needs to drive home the idea that his personal wealth does not make him insensitive to problems afflicting most Ohioans.
For both candidates, however, it may be too late. Voters in the Buckeye State have been voting for over three weeks now. Also, remember, undecided don’t have to decide. They may just choose to not vote in the presidential race.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Tiny New Hampshire taking big role
New Hampshire's four electoral votes are turning into one of the presidential election's most fiercely fought-for prizes, with both candidates headed to the state next week and top surrogates streaming in to try and sway the notoriously independent voters there. President Barack Obama heads to New Hampshire Saturday for a rally in Nashua, while his GOP rival Mitt Romney will be in the state next week for an event in Manchester. Joe Biden will also travel north for a rally Monday. – Kevin Liptak
Leading Drudge: Now Obama Puts Romney In 'Dunce Hat'
Leading HuffPo: Rumble In 'The Red Zone' A Sign Of Things To Come
As the Election Day countdown neared single-digit territory Thursday, President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney continued their furious pace of campaigning in swing states, with both finding positive news in polls and each ending the day with a dramatic night-time rally. It's hard to see how this race could get any tighter. – Jon Ward
Leading Politico: Election in Sandy's shadow
Could Hurricane Sandy be our October surprise? The possibility of a killer cyclone from the tropics delivering a gut punch to the U.S. East Coast just before Election Day, threatening tens of millions of voters with soggy devastation and a possible burst of snow, was probably not a factor in any candidate’s game plan. But it’s suddenly all too real. – Bob King
Leading The New York Times: Bad Luck and Missteps Make G.O.P.’s Senate Climb Steeper
The Indiana Senate candidate Richard E. Mourdock’s reintroduction of rape and abortion into the political dialogue this week is the latest in a series of political missteps that have made the Republican quest to seize control of the Senate a steeper climb. Once viewed as likely to win the Senate, Republicans are now in jeopardy of losing seats in Massachusetts and Maine. If they do, they will need to win at least five seats held by Democrats and hold three other Republican seats at risk to net the three needed to take the Senate if Mitt Romney wins the presidency. – Jonathan Weisman
Leading CNN Opinion: Cool Obama vs. Square Romney
President Obama hangs out with movie stars, makes no decisions without consulting the academic elite and sings like Al Green. Obama is the president of cool America. To oppose him, where did Republicans turn? We chose the strait-laced personification of everything Obama is not. We made ourselves even more dated. … Being terminally uncool, however, may be the secret of Romney's success. – Alex Castellanos, CNN Contributor
The political bites of the day
- Romney to Iowa: Carpe Diem -
MITT ROMNEY AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN IOWA: “If we seize the moment and rise to the occasion, the century ahead will be an American century. Our children will graduate into jobs that are waiting for them. Our seniors will be confident that their retirement is secure. Our men and women will have good jobs and good pay and good benefits and we will have confidence that our lives are safe and that our livelihoods are secure. What this requires is change, change from the course of the last four years. It requires that we put aside the small and the petty and demand the scale of change we deserve. We need real change, big change. That time has come.”
- Biden to Romney/Ryan: ‘You’re in denial’ -
VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN WISCONSIN: “Look, according to a national survey, for the first time in more than five years, more Americans are feeling better off than they feel worse off than they did four years ago. Ladies and gentlemen, the confidence gap – the confidence gap is beginning to be eliminated. But Romney and Ryan instead of recognizing how much work the American people have done, their grit, their determination – it is always `America is in decline.’ Well, I’ve got news for them Romney & Ryan – America is not in decline. You’re in denial.”
- Romney surrogate injects race into presidential campaign -
FORMER GOV. JOHN SUNUNU IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S PIERS MORGAN…
MORGAN: Colin Powell has decided to opt for President Obama again despite apparently still being a Republican. Is it time he left the party, do you think?
SUNUNU: When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.
MORGAN: What reason would that be?
SUNUNU: “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”
Gut Check Full Service… Sununu walks back his comments on Colin Powell’s endorsement in a written statement: “Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the president’s policies. Piers Morgan’s question was whether Colin Powell should leave the party, and I don’t think he should.”
GUT CHECK DVR: CNN 8 p.m. ET tonight, encore of MTV’s interview with President Obama: CNN and MTV both agree on the importance of engaging young people in the political process, so tonight in a special edition of Anderson Cooper 360, MTV’s interview with the president which takes place live on MTV at 5 p.m. ET will re-air in full on CNN. Adding to the discussion on campaign 2012 and the youth vote, CNN’s Peter Hamby and MTV’s Andrew Jenks.
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Craig Gilbert (@WisVoter)
temperature rising in WI after a rather sporadic presidential fight: Biden today, Romney Mon., Obama Tues, Ryan Wed: http://bit.ly/UMjuaK
Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin)
Obama's interview rampage makes sense when you consider Romney's ad money. Way cheaper to go on Smerconish in Philly than spend $$$
Alexis Levinson (@alexis_levinson)
Mourdock post debate internal has him tied. But debate was only Mon – if his #s do drop b/c of comment, wouldn't it take a bit? #INSen
Dylan Byers (@DylanByers)
Brent Bozell is calling on National Geographic to delay 'SEAL Team Six' til after the election. @KevCirilli reports: http://politi.co/PUJ7ER
John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain)
45 years ago today I intercepted a surface-to-air missile with my own airplane over Hanoi!
Danny Yadron @dannyyadron
Adelson and his wife gave $10 million total to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC, in October, new records show.
Ben Wedeman (@bencnn)
Berlusconi convicted to 4 years for tax fraud...but thanks to statute of limitations and appeal process...may never serve time.
Adam P. Levy (@adamplevycnn)
Looking for that perfect holiday gift for that special liberal in your life? CurrentTV is up for sale http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/gore_struggling_current_tv_on_the_lufEY78RWTMHhYtV5ljbSP
President Harry Truman's increase of the minimum wage was part of a suite of promises he called his "Fair Deal," a group of policies aimed to stabilize the United States after the Great Depression. On this day in 1949, Truman's goading of Congress worked and the minimum wage was raised from 40 cents to 75 cents.
“The minimum wage fixed by law should be raised to at least 75 cents an hour,” Truman said about the proposal.
Truman’s Fair Deal also included extending Social Security to 10 million additional people and increased food control programs. It failed, however, to create a national health care insurance program.
Bonus: The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.
POPCORN TIME: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer sat down with Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz to talk about the intersection of film and politics. Wolf shares some of his personal stories about reporting on politics over the years including, breaking the news of President Nixon’s death and more.
Movies on TCM this weekend:
Advise & Consent (1962)
All the President’s Men (1976)
Seven Days in May (1964)
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
(why aren’t you in it)
Congrats to Greg Dean (@gregdean11) for correctly answering both today’s Gut Check Trivia question and the bonus question. Kudos to Doug Adams (@DAatNBC) for correctly answering the bonus question.
Our inbox awaits: email@example.com
Anyone can sign up for Gut Check by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood. We also want to give a shout out to Dan Merica, who runs our Twitter account @gutCheckCNN and enriches this product every single day.