In Colorado, Republicans have cast 38 percent of the early vote to 35 percent for Democrats and 27 percent for unaffiliated voters. Four years ago, the numbers were reversed: Democrats cast 38 percent, Republicans 36 percent and independents 26 percent.
In Iowa, 43 percent of the early vote this year has been cast by Democrats, 32 percent by Republicans and 24 percent by no party or other. In 2008, the numbers were 47 (D) 29 (R) 24 (NP).
While Nevada doesn’t provide comparative statewide early vote data between 2008 and 2012, a similar pattern emerges in the two counties where the bulk of the state vote will be cast – the Democratic percentage of early votes is down slightly and there’s an uptick in the GOP percentage.
When the economy is stuck at around 8 percent unemployment for years heading into a presidential election, and the incumbent is desperately avoiding questions about a foreign policy fiasco, most other issues are bound to fade from priority. And so the issue of education in America has duly taken a back seat this year. But that doesn’t mean the issue has been stagnant in the minds of Americans.
In fact, over the last couple of years we have seen a striking change take place in public opinion. The support for school choice and public union reform in places like Wisconsin and New Jersey have shown that even while school choice and voucher programs have yet to prove themselves a solution to the ailing American education system, the support for school reform even in blue states and among pro-union parts of the country signify a willingness to break with tradition on the part of frustrated parents. On that note, while education hasn’t been much a part of the election this year, Mitt Romney did include it in his closing argument, delivered in Wisconsin today:
Did the State Department receive warnings on September 11 that the Benghazi consulate was being cased for an attack? FNC’s Jennifer Griffin reports today that two cables sent from Ambassador Chris Stevens’s team to Washington the morning of the attack expressed concern that Libyan police had been seen photographing the compound earlier that day (h/t Hot Air):
American democracy is the finest system of government in the world. But if there is anything that we have learned in the last 12 years, it is that it has one terrible weakness: close elections. The Bush v. Gore Florida fiasco set the tone for a legal arms race in which two major parties have demonstrated that they have one thing above all in common: they bitterly distrust each other. The escalation of this process in the current election cycle has reached levels few dreamed of not that long ago, as both Republicans and Democrats now take it as an article of faith that their opponents’ goal is steal the election.
As the New York Times reports this morning, it is entirely possible that lawyers will outnumber election officials at many polling places. None of this will matter much if either President Obama or Mitt Romney wins easily on Tuesday. But with the polls tightening up even further this week — and today’s Rasmussen poll showing the race tied after Romney had led in that measure for many days has to discourage any GOP activists who were entertaining visions of a Mitt cakewalk — the odds are the vote will be close and the outcome in some of the battleground states may trigger bad memories of Florida’s hanging chads.
Questions surrounding any public crisis hew closely to the schedule of the crisis itself. So when Hurricane Sandy was approaching the East Coast last week, everyone wanted to know whether the affected areas were adequately prepared. During the storm itself, people wondered what the damage was going to be. And in the wake of the storm, all attention is paid to reaction and recovery efforts. Since those efforts now appear to have hit some unexpected problems, it’s natural that the earlier questions have receded to the background.
But they shouldn’t be forgotten. Because for all the comparisons of Michael Bloomberg to Rudy Giuliani, who led New York—and the nation—through the early hours after 9/11, it’s worth recalling that a big part of the reason Giuliani responded so well was because he was intent on getting the city and its employees ready for anything. When that “anything” struck, as it did a couple of times in Giuliani’s tenure, America’s Mayor struck back. It is here, too, where Bloomberg fails spectacularly to fill the shoes of Rudy Giuliani.
As John Steele Gordon noted, the unemployment rate ticked up slightly last month, but it’s still just below 8 percent — a psychological barrier that would have certainly hurt Obama days before the election. Still, it’s important to remember where we were supposed to be at this point, at least according to the Obama administration’s 2009 estimates that were used to sell the stimulus package to the public. Jim Pethokoukis writes:
Back in early 2009, White House economists Christina Romer and Jared Bernstein predicted the unemployment rate would be 5.2% in October 2012 if Congress passed the $800 billion stimulus. As the above chart shows, they weren’t even close.
The last jobs report before the election came in at 8:30 this morning. It showed a net gain of 171,000 jobs and an uptick in the unemployment rate to 7.9 percent from 7.8 last month.
These numbers are unlikely to impact the election significantly. The job growth is still not big enough to bring down the unemployment rate, at least not quickly, but it remains job growth. President Obama can claim progress. The unemployment rate did not go back above 8 percent, as some thought might happen after last month’s unexpected .3 percent drop. But it did rise a little. That’s not good news for the president.
The volume of Republican resentment of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for what many in his party think was an overenthusiastic embrace of President Obama has gotten louder. The Daily Caller’s Tucker Carlson speculated on the Rush Limbaugh radio show this week that Christie was doing more than venting a latent resentment of Mitt Romney. He said it showed Christie wanted “a clean slate” when the governor runs for president in 2016, something that would be impossible if Romney was the incumbent president that year planning his re-election. Carlson was not the only person saying that, since the pictures of the unlikely “bromance” between Obama and Christie became the new symbols of bipartisanship.
But angry Republicans need to tone it down a bit. Though I don’t count myself among Christie’s biggest fans, and think the assumption that his tough guy persona will work as well on the national stage as it does in New Jersey is probably mistaken, I doubt that his goal this week was to slip a knife into Romney’s back. His emotional response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy was genuine, as was his gratitude for federal help. But if there was any political motive in the back of his mind this week as he went about his duties amid the chaos of the hurricane, it was probably related to what will happen in 2013, not 2016. Whatever Christie may be thinking about Romney these days, any softening of his hard partisan image has a lot more to do with a desire to set the stage for his re-election campaign next year than it does with a possible future presidential run.
The Associated Press reports that intelligence officials are pushing back on the Fox News story from last week, which reported that CIA officials in Washington told its officers in Benghazi to stand down when the attack on the consulate began, and that requests from security officers for military support were rejected:
According to the detailed timeline senior officials laid out Thursday, the first call to the CIA base came in at about 9:40 p.m., and less than 25 minutes later about the team headed to the consulate. En route they tried to get additional assistance, including some heavier weapons, but were unable to get much aid from the Libyan militias.
The team finally got to the consulate, which was engulfed in heavy diesel smoke and flames, and they went in to get the consulate staff out. By 11:30 p.m., all of the U.S. personnel, except Stevens, left and drove back to the annex, with some taking fire from militants along the way.
By that time, one of the Defense Department’s unarmed Predator drones had arrived to provide overhead surveillance. …
The second CIA team headed to the annex, and arrived after 5 a.m., just before the base came under attack again.
For New Yorkers, the suffering of Sandy is everywhere and is still far from over. The election is four days away and the national media has largely shifted its concern from the heartache on the East Coast to the presidential race. The horror stories are growing, and at the same time, growing more silent because of a distracted press.
Yesterday, while Mayor Mike Bloomberg, was promoting his endorsement of President Obama, his city within a city, trapped in darkness, dissolved further into darkness. Residents of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island have been battered. They have no power, no gas to run their cars or generators (if they have them, most do not), no cell phone power to contact their families, almost no access to public transportation and very tenuous access to clean water and food. Many are watching the situation devolve into a Katrina-like scenario, but on a wider scale.
Yet more amazing revelations continue to emerge about the Benghazi attack.
Foreign Policy magazine has a story on its website by two Dubai-based Arabic TV reporters who visited the site of the former U.S. consulate on Oct. 26 and found important documents lying around that were left behind by an FBI team that visited a month ago. These included a document claiming that on the morning of September 11 one of the consulate security guards spied a police officer charged with guarding the compound photographing it instead. Sean Smith, one of the slain diplomats, wrote hours just before his death in an online forum: “Assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking pictures.”
Democrats are hoping that the Romney campaign’s decision to invest both time and money in Pennsylvania the last weekend before the election is a sign that the GOP is doomed. Memories of John McCain swooping into the Keystone State four years ago in a futile attempt to gain ground in a state that he would lose by better than 10 percentage points encourages Democrats who believe Romney is making the same mistake. But that was then, and this is now.
Though Romney must still be considered a heavy underdog in Pennsylvania, there’s little doubt that the race has tightened and that a Democratic victory there is no longer a foregone conclusion. Moreover, the Obama camp’s assumption that Romney’s move is rooted in a desperate attempt to craft an Electoral College majority without Ohio may also be dead wrong. Far from conceding the key tossup states to Obama, Romney may be sensing an opportunity to win states few thought he had a chance to take only a few weeks ago.
Let’s do a thought experiment. Let’s suppose that Barack Obama gets narrowly re-elected. And then, in a week or a month, the lid blows off the Benghazi story and what is now a trickle of leaks from bureaucrats protecting their butts turns into a flood.
The mainstream media that has been so studiously ignoring this story while the election was still to be won or lost will have no choice (and, indeed, every reason) to make it the big story it would have been had it happened on President McCain’s watch. And it turns out that Obama, to protect his re-election prospects, decided to sacrifice four American lives, including an ambassador, and spun a deliberate lie to mislead the public.