A Word of Explanation

Welcome to my political commentary blog. I figured I’d use this introduction to explain how I arrived at writing this blog. I grew up as a Conservative Republican and went through college and law school essentially holding to those beliefs. Being an Evangelical Christian as well, I would have been considered a member of the Religious Right. However, over the last few years, I became increasingly disillusioned by the Republican party. For instance, I believe in conservative fiscal policy, so I could not agree with continuing massive tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Americans while the country had a serious budget deficit which was only increasing due to fighting two wars. I am also a firm believer in the rule of law, so I took issue with the Bush administration using the cloak of national security to deny habeas corpus rights. Finally, the politics of fear & division used by the Bush political team, turned me off. Especially, their use of the War in Iraq, which I now believe was a major mistake.

In 2008, this caused me to do what 5 years before, I would have thought to be the unthinkable – I voted for a Democrat for President. In supporting Barack Obama and since I am an advocate by trade, I decided to write a political essay setting forth my rationale. I enjoyed the process so much, I was looking for an outlet to continue my political thoughts. When my cousin started a personal blog, it gave me the idea to start a political commentary blog.

Like the name suggests, I still consider my self a conservative as many of my political stands are conservative, but I definitely have a more progressive line of thinking. You should see both sides come out as I post. Some of the posts will be more analysis while others will be more editorial and take a position. I look forward to any feedback. Let me know if there is a topic you would like me to discuss (see my contact info at the bottom of this page).


Saturday, October 13, 2012

State of the Race – October 13 (Debate Impact = Game Changer)

As I stated last week, the effects of the debate last Wednes-day would not be felt in the state-by-state polling until my report this week. It was obvious to all observers that Governor Romney had won the debate, but it remained to be seen if it would alter the track of the race which had been trending towards President Obama. Since my post last week, there were 63 polls conducted in 24 states, including 45 polls in the 11 battleground states that I have previously identified. After those polls, here is where the race stands currently:



If you want to see how I arrived at these categories, I would encourage you to review the first “State of the Race” post I did on August 11 which can be found here. The photo above gives a visual breakdown of which side each states fall on. For a list of which states fall in which categories, I provide the following chart:


To put it mildly, the debate clearly was the game changer that Governor Romney needed. From last week to this week, the following states changed categories: Wisconsin from “Likely” Obama to “Lean” Obama; Ohio from “Likely” Obama to “Tossup”; Colorado, Nevada and Virginia from “Lean” Obama to “Tossup”; Florida and North Carolina from “Tossup” to “Lean” Romney; and Montana from “Likely” Romney to “Safe” Romney. That is a total of eight states that moved in the direction from Obama's column towards Romney's column and these eight states total 103 electoral votes. Even if you take the red state of Montana out of the equation, it still totals 100 electoral votes. THAT is a game changer.

As for the electoral vote totals, I would point out that this is the first time that President Obama has been below the magic number of 270 in my analysis. All this points to the fact that this is a brand new race. I've read some commentators who have suggested that all the debate did was returned the race to the preconvention status. In other words, the debate wiped out the bump that the President got out of the DNC. I disagree. It seems clear to me that this has tightened the race much more dramatically, and not to toot my own horn, but it was what I had expected and predicted when I first started doing this analysis in August.

Obviously, looking at the changes from last week to this week, the biggest changes were Florida and Ohio. With Florida moving to “Lean” Romney, it represents the first time in my analysis that a state which had been in one candidate's column earlier in the cycle, moved to another candidate's column. In the case of Ohio, it had been in the “Likely” Obama category and skipped right over “Lean” Obama to “Tossup.” This is very significant for Romney because I still believe that these are the two states that hold the key to him winning the election. While it is technically feasible for Romney to win without these states, it would be very improbable for him to do so. In other words, Romney needs to win both of these states if he wants to win the election.

This leads me to my next point that despite the fact that Governor Romney had some success in moving states away from President Obama’s column, the one thing he has not done is put any new states in play. For instance, Michigan and Pennsylvania still remain in the “Likely” Obama category. In addition, if you look at where the advertising dollars have been spent, it almost seems that Romney's campaign has not made a push for Michigan and Pennsylvania. (In fact, as I've traveled back to Pennsylvania the last six weeks, I found it curious how there was a lack of commercials for the presidential campaign on television; while in the DC market, we are inundated with them as we are so close to Virginia.) If his campaign is conceding Michigan and Pennsylvania, this means that Governor Romney's path to victory remains very narrow, and is why Florida and Ohio become must wins for him. Look at it this way: with Michigan and Pennsylvania in President Obama's column, he stands at 237 electoral votes or 33 electoral votes short of 270. Florida alone has 29 electoral votes, meaning that the President could win reelection by winning Florida and only one other swing state, including New Hampshire's 4 electoral votes. In the case of Ohio, it has 18 electoral votes meaning if the president wins Ohio, he would only need a combination of two or three other states to win, such as Virginia (13 EV) and New Hampshire (4 EV). As we are now three and a half weeks from the election, it will be very interesting to see how the campaigns react to the electoral map and where they put their resources both in terms of advertising dollars and visits from the candidates.

A few final notes on the remaining debates: you will note that I did not mention the vice presidential debate at all. That is due to the fact that I did not watch it because I view them as largely unimportant in the broader context campaign. On Thursday night, I made a joke on Facebook about the fact that I wasn't watching it, but rather was watching something more civilized in football. I then followed up with a further football analogy likening the vice presidential debate to preseason football in that both are meaningless. However, that is not the case with this Tuesday's second presidential debate. Most people view the first debate as being the most important and I would tend to agree with them, but that does not mean that there is no significance to the remaining debates. Both candidates clearly have clear goals with this second debate as Governor Romney will want to continue the momentum he got during the first debate, while President Obama will want to thwart that momentum. The pseudo-town hall format that will be used will not allow for the same kind of aggressive style that was used so effectively by Governor Romney in the first debate, so it will be interesting to watch and see how both candidates adjust as I think both will want to be aggressive, but they won't want to come off as attacking the citizens that are chosen to ask the questions. Once again, we'll see how the candidates fare and I will report back with my analysis next week.


  1. I originally thought that the foreign policy presidential debate would swing the momentum back to Obama's direction right before the election, but he really needs to clean up the Libya debacle. Paul Ryan's strongest argument in the VP debate was on the adminstration's failure to prevent and handle the situation. (The most entertaining part was when he said that Biden was "under diress" to make up for lost ground.) I guess we will hear your thoughts on the role foreign policy will play in the election next week?

    1. Stephen, actually the 3rd debate will be on foreign policy & you know I think that is critical! See the end of my latest post.