CNN's GUT CHECK | for November 5, 2012 | 5 p.m.
- n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
BREAKING… ROMNEY 49% – OBAMA 48% IN FINAL NATIONAL GALLUP POLL: While Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama – 49% to 48% – Gallup’s final daily tracking poll shows a noticeably tighter race than the Gallup polling before Superstorm Sandy halted surveys last week. In the last poll before the storm, Romney led the Gallup poll 51% to 46% on October 28.
MEANWHILE… CNN POLL OF POLLS SHOWS TIGHT RACES STATE-BY-STATE:
New Hampshire (Likely voters' choice for President)
Iowa (Likely voters' choice for President)
Ohio (Likely voters' choice for President)
ROMNEY LAST STOPS: Mitt Romney will campaign in Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Election Day, CNN’s Jim Acosta reports.
OBAMA LAST STOPS: “There’s no plan to leave the state of Illinois at this point,” said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki during a gaggle with reporters on Air Force One. “I don’t think that will change.” But former Obama body man, Reggie Love, will play basketball with Obama – an Election Day tradition.
Which senator introduced a bill to abolish the Electoral College and fought long and hard for it?
Gut Check Flashback:
Bush v. Kerry in Ohio 2004 – Vote difference: 118,599
Bush: 2,859,764 (50.81%) – Kerry: 2,741,165 (48.71%)
This article and headline from our colleague Bill Mears caught our eye:
Why does Ohio matter? When it comes to deciding the presidential race, you have probably heard the oft-mentioned narrative: No Republican candidate in recent memory has claimed victory without first winning the Buckeye State. And a diverse state like Ohio with its 18 electoral votes has long been evenly split between the two parties.
Now add another chapter to the potential drama - provisional ballots in Ohio that will not be counted until November 17. And yes, the scenario is not far-fetched: If the presidential vote difference in Ohio is razor thin, then absentee, mail-in, and especially provisional votes could delay a final total until perhaps ten days later.
Even then, the nation may still have to wait even longer. If the vote totals still remain close, an official recount in Ohio could be ordered, or one or more candidates– or his political party– could challenge the outcome in court.
Why a 10-day wait? By law, local election boards in Ohio are given up to 10 days to determine provisional ballot eligibility. Officials want to make sure there is no double-dipping– so that who vote early by mail do not then show up on Election Day in person and try to vote again. Discrepancies such as checking recent address or name changes could complicate a process, where every vote is considered in play.
The fight in Florida in 2000 was all about how disputed ballots should be counted– and whether uniform standards established by a legislature were being applied fairly statewide. That may be the key issue in Ohio in 2012 if there is controversy over why and how many provisional ballots are being discarded.
Ohio has had many of its Republican-led legislative efforts thwarted in recent weeks. Federal and state courts have expanded early voting to everyone in the crucial last days before Tuesday. The original legislation would have only allowed military members and their families to vote in person in the three days before Tuesday. Judges found that violated "equal protection" guarantees.
And courts have ordered the state to preserve the provisional votes of those who may have cast in error because of poll worker misinformation– such as sending someone to the wrong polling place and precinct to cast the ballot.
The state has among the highest provisional ballot rates in the United States - an estimated 200,000 or more were cast in Ohio four years ago. About 40,000 were later declared ineligible.
Ohio officials promise voters will get a fair, transparent election process, and that their ballots will be counted.
"It's important for folks to know we're in Day 33 of voting," Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted told CNN’s Don Lemon about the early voting process. "It's gone smoothly here in Ohio. The rules are fair and consistent for everyone."
But state Democrats as well as labor unions and left-leaning groups have challenged the regulations. Two federal lawsuits are pending over the provisional ballots, and the electronic software the state is using to coordinate the vote totals in the counties. Those groups claim Ohio voters are being disenfranchised.
State election officials tell CNN Monday 1.6 million voters in Ohio have cast early ballots. Of those, more than 1.1 million voted by mail and nearly 500,000 in person, said Matt McClellan, a spokesman for the secretary of state in Ohio. This year for the first time, Ohio mailed absentee ballot applications– one for every registered voter there. More than 85 percent have been returned.
There has been a public expectation that courts would be the ultimate arbiters of any voting disputes, especially those in a post-election environment. When federal courts recently ruled against state efforts to limit access to early voting, and by doing so used unusual legal reasoning.
"These two rulings in Ohio could give Obama the edge," said election law expert Rick Hasen. "What the Republican [state] legislatures have taken away, the federal courts, including some Republican judges, have restored, relying in part on the arguments conservative justices endorsed in Bush v. Gore.
That 2000 blockbuster relied on "equal protection" guarantees to dismiss Florida's ballot-counting procedures. It was a rare federal and judicial intervention into broad election administration, a duty the Constitution essentially bestows on the states.
The super lawyer who successfully argued that high court case for George W. Bush has a message for those anticipating a long, litigated road tot he White House:
"If you follow the rules that were in place on Election Day with respect to counting the ballots then the presumptive outcome will be respected when the Electoral College votes are counted."
–CNN Senior Producer Carol Cratty contributed to this report.
Did you miss it?
Leading CNNPolitics: Could close race produce a popular/electoral vote split?
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are neck-and-neck in national polls, while Obama has an edge in crucial battleground states that will decide Tuesday's election. The dynamic sets up a possible outcome that has happened rarely in American politics and could undermine the credibility of the victor - Romney beats Obama in the overall vote, but the president gets reelected by winning the decisive Electoral College. – Tom Cohen
Leading Drudge: GALLUP: R 49% O 48% – RASMUSSEN: R 49% O 48%
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows Mitt Romney attracting support from 49% of voters nationwide, while President Obama earns the vote from 48%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, and one percent (1%) remains undecided.
Leading HuffPo: Polls: O Edge
With just one day remaining in the 2012 race for president, the polling picture is now virtually complete. President Barack Obama continues to hold narrow but significant leads over Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in enough battleground states to put him over the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. The sheer volume of data tells us that Obama's leads in the tipping point states like Ohio and Nevada are not a matter of random chance, and there are no signs of any late breaks to Romney. If anything, the latest national polls appear to indicate a slight uptick in Obama's favor. – Mark Blumenthal
Leading Politico: The looming GOP civil war - whether Mitt wins or not
Regardless of whether Romney wins or loses, Republicans must move to confront its demographic crisis. The GOP coalition is undergirded by a shrinking population of older white conservative men from the countryside, while the Democrats rely on an ascendant bloc of minorities, moderate women and culturally tolerant young voters in cities and suburbs. This is why, in every election, since 1992, Democrats have either won the White House or fallen a single state short of the presidency. – Jonathan Martin
Leading The New York Times: As Candidates Make Final Pleas, Legal Battles Begin
President Obama and Mitt Romney hunted for last-minute support on Sunday in a frenetic sprint across battleground states, even as their parties faced off in the first of what could be a growing number of legal disputes over presidential ballots and how they are counted. In Florida, the state’s Democratic Party filed a lawsuit on Sunday morning that would force the Republican-led government to extend early voting in South Florida after complaints that extremely long lines on Saturday had prevented some people from casting their ballots. The Republican-controlled Legislature cut back early voting, which ended Saturday, from 14 days to eight. – Mark Landler and Michael D. Shear
The political bites of the day
– Obama: my gray hair proves I have fought for you –
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA AT A CAMPAIGN RALLY IN WISCONSIN: “Wisconsin, you know me by now. ... You know that I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I said I'd end the war in Iraq, and I ended it. I said I would pass health care reform, I passed it. When I say, Wisconsin, that I know what real change looks like, you've got cause to believe me because you've seen me fight for it and you've seen me deliver it. You have seen the scars on me to prove it. You have seen the gray hair on my head to show you what it means to fight for change.”
– The sun will come out, tomorrow? –
MITT ROMNEY AT A CAMPAIGN EVENT IN FLORIDA: “Tomorrow we begin a new tomorrow. Tomorrow we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow… We can begin a better tomorrow, tomorrow. And with the help of the people in Florida, that's exactly what's going to happen.”
Gut Check Full Service: CNN’s embed with the Romney campaign, Rachel Streitfeld (@streitfeldcnn) tweeted: “I counted 8 "tomorrows" in that section.”
– Ohio may hinge on provisional ballots, says governor –
REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH DISCUSSES WHETHER PROVISIONAL BALLOTS COULD DECIDE OHIO ELECTION IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CBS NEWS: “Yea, it is possible. A lot of people got ballots to vote early and if you don’t turn those in and then you show up to vote, then you become a provisional ballot operator. It is possible, if it is very, very close that we won’t know the results of this for a while. … The provisional ballots could numerous, but we will see.”
– Palin likes Romney –
FORMER ALASKA GOV. SARAH PALIN IN A POST ON HER FACEBOOK PAGE: “In 2008, Barack Obama promised to fundamentally transform America. And for all his failures and broken promises, that’s the one thing he has delivered on. He’s transformed us from a nation of hope to one of anxiety. It doesn’t have to be this way. Tuesday is our chance to turn things around. On Tuesday, please vote for Governor Mitt Romney and the commonsense conservatives running for office in your states.”
– What faces whomever wins on Tuesday –
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER (R-OHIO) ADDRESSES THE FISCAL CLIFF IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’S DEIRDRE WALSH: “Lame duck Congresses aren't known for doing big things, and frankly lame duck Congresses probably shouldn't do big things. So I think the best you can hope for is some kind of bridge. Listen, the House has done its work. We've passed a bill to extend all the current tax cuts for a year, it's sitting over in the Senate. The House has passed a bill to replace the sequester for a year or two, it's sitting over in the Senate. At some point the Senate has to be responsible for doing something instead of just ignoring all the work the House has done.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
Jim Acosta (@jimacostacnn)
Romney's stops tomorrow in Pittsburgh and Cleveland come after he votes tomorrow morning.
Neil King (@NKingofDC)
The infallible @BuskenBakery cookie poll in Cincinnati has Obama up, 13,247 to 11,880. Still not too late to skew it, though.
Rachel Weiner (@rachelweinerwp)
More than 700,000 of Nevada's roughly one million expected voters have already voted http://wapo.st/PREqvO
Jake Tapper (@jaketapper)
Springsteen admits to Madison, WI, crowd, "The first debate really freaked me out.” http://abcn.ws/VuMd46
The Fix (@TheFix)
Last 48 hours of campaign hardest to cover for me. SO much interest but not all that much actual change or even strategy.
Jose Antonio Vargas (@joseiswriting)
The momentum towards Obama isn't about #Sandy-storm–it's an earthquake called changing demographics. A new emerging majority.
Tara Benwell (@tarabenwell)
"No matter who is elected, close to as many Americans will have voted against him as for him." http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/04/politics/margin-of-error-campaign-foreman/index.html
Susan Page (@SusanPage)
Bipartisanship omen? MT @feliciasonmez: Per flight crew, after Election Day Romney's charter jet is next set to be used by ... Springsteen
CNN-FACEBOOK SOCIAL WATCH: With Election Day just hours away, the election has dominated Facebook chatter among users in the United States.
According to data provided to CNN by the social media giant, the four terms or phrases used most in posts or comments from users in the United States are vote, Obama, Romney, & election.
To put that further into context, Facebook says that typically the top terms on a Sunday and Monday in the fall are related to football. With more than 170 million people, over half the U.S. population, actively using Facebook, this gives a glimpse into how the elections are taking over the American conversation. – Eric Weisbrod
Top 7 Trending terms/phrases in the US right now:
- Vote (remember to vote, vote tomorrow)
- Obama (Obama, President Obama, Obama's record)
- Remember the 5th of November (And other terms around Guy Fawkes Day)
- Sunday football
Throughout most of the 1960s and 70s, Democratic Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana regularly attempted to eliminate the Electoral College and replace it with the popular vote. Most of Bayh’s attempts came in the form of a proposed change to the Constitution.
The closest Bayh ever got to fulfilling this goal was when Bayh’s Electoral College reform passed the House but was then filibustered in the Senate. After being defeated in 1980 by Congressman and future Vice President Dan Quayle, Bayh joined the National Popular Vote Inc. in 2006, a group that aims to reform the Electoral College.
Bayh even wrote the foreword to the book “Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote” by John R. Koza.
“Today more than ever, the Electoral College system is a disservice to the voters. With the number of battleground states steadily shrinking, we see candidates and their campaigns focused on fewer and fewer states,” Bayh wrote. “While running for the nation's highest office, candidates in 2004 completely ignored three-quarters of the states, including California, Texas and New York, our three most populous states. Why should our national leaders be elected by only reaching out to ¼ of our states? It seems inherently illogical, and it is.”
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