November 01, 2012

Benghazi, Sandy and the politics of disaster

Blown away by Hurricane Sandy: News of the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

But the coverage is returning as Sandy’s floodwater’s recede and Republicans press the Obama Administration for more answers about the deadly attacks in the Middle East.

“I think there’s classified information the public should know about eventually but there’s no reason for it to be classified,” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence, said, declining to discuss what classified information he has or has not seen.

Rubio said he hopes for more public information after his committee holds a closed-door hearing on the attacks Nov. 15.

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Florida GOP's early vote spin: 96=120.

In 2008, with long lines forming at the early voting polls in South Florida, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting hours by four hours daily for six days, or the equivalent of two full extra days.

In math terms, that would look like this: 4 X 6 = 24.

So that meant that, in 2008, the people of South Florida had 120 cumulative hours of early voting because the cumulative hours had been capped at 96.

In math terms, what Crist did looks like this: 96 + 24 = 120.

But you wouldn't know that from looking at the Republican Party of Florida's latest press release designed to give cover to Gov. Rick Scott for his likely refusal to keep the polls open longer this year. RPOF is good at math. It news that more early voting hours = more votes for President Obama.

"Florida has a law in regard to early voting--this law provides for 96 hours of operation for early voting locations," the RPOF statement says, "the exact same amount of hours as 2008."

Not quite. Not exact. Not the same.

It's true that, in 2008 and in 2011, the maximum statutory hours remain the same. But the actual early voting hours are not the same for about a quarter of the early voting electorate: those who live in South Florida's three big counties, Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Duval, Hillsborough and Orange (the number three, four and five early vote counties, respectively) are also majorly affected. Add these six together, and the counties account for about 44 percent of the in-person early vote ballots cast.

But we'll stick to South Florida, where the polls were opened 120 total hours for early voting in 2008. Now it looks like 96. That's a real reduction of 24 hours, or 20 percent relative to 2008.

Here's the math: (120-96)/120=.2/100

3m FL ballots already cast; Dems open 59,000 early ballot lead over GOP. Is it enough for Obama?

More than 3 million Floridians have already voted, according to new early and absentee ballot (EVAB) numbers that show Democrats continue to add to their total lead over Republicans: about 59,000.

Democrats have cast 133,000 more early votes, Republicans cast about 74,000 more absentee ballots. That could be as much as a third of the electorate. (Totals below)

But is it enough for President Obama? In 2008, Obama had about a 280,000 cumulative early vote lead before the polls opened on Election Day. At the current rate of growth, it would take Obama nine more days to get there. But that would be Nov. 13, a week after the election. And early in-person voting ends Saturday.

Guess who cut early voting days? Republicans. In 2008, including an executive order from Gov. Charlie Crist, polls stayed open a cumulative 120 hours over 14 days. The Legislature and current Gov. Rick Scott cut those days to eight and capped cumulative hours at 96. Republicans point out that the new early voting law gives the right for early voting on weekends. But in South Florida, where a quarter of early voters cast ballots, citizens had two Sundays of early voting. Now they have only one.

There have been long lines, cries of disenfranchisement and even a "nightmare" of a problem for early voters. Democrats want Scott to exend early voting. Scott probably won't. Story is here.

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UPDATED Positive campaign? Romney gives Obama the Chavez-Castro-Che treatment in Spanish ad

Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was onstage in Miami talking about the need to unite the country and to stop all the attacks. On Spanish-language TV, though, Romney's campaign was anything but positive.

Since at least Tuesday, his campaign has begun heavily running this ad that links President Barack Obama with Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro's niece and communist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara. The campaign, despite repeated requests, didn't furnish the ad. So please pardon the cheap iPhone video recording of (**) the spot that aired three times in one prime time Spanish-language news program Tuesday and at least four times on the same show Wednesday -- including twice in the same commercial break. (**) The campaign has now posted the ad online, below.

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October 31, 2012

Obama Super PAC "connects the dots" between Rick Scott Medicare fraud and Mitt Romney

Priorities USA announced it would run a "Connect the Dots" ad in Florida linking the type of fraud that occurred in 1997 at Columbia/HCA under now-Gov Rick Scott and a company connected years ago to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The Romney-Medicare fraud link is obviously disputed, and the Washington Post found fault with one line of attack about the matter when it was first raised by a Republican Super PAC backing Newt Gingrich. Whether this works in Florida or not isn't so clear. Remember: Scott was elected (albeit in a Republican wave year).


Obama campaign chief Jim Messina misquotes Florida tea-party activist’s email

In a conference call with reporters today, President Obama’s campaign manager boasted about the Democratic ground game and how the vagaries of the Electoral College disfavor Romney.

“We have the map and they have the myths,” Messina said.

But he then engaged in some myth-telling himself when he talked about the Obama campaign’s turnout machine in Florida (which is doing well).

“You don’t have to take my word for it,” Messina said. “A Republican in Florida had this to say yesterday in a memo, quote: ‘The Democratic turnout machine is cleaning our clock.’ End quote.”

But that wasn’t really the quote. And there's a little context he left out as well.

The email in question, reported first by WPTV in West Palm Beach, came from Palm Beach County tea party activist. It was about the strong Democratic turnout in Palm Beach County.

Messina’s comments, though, made it sound like the Republican was talking about the entire state, and in doing so misquoted the email that said “the Democrat turnout machine in the county has been very effective and they are cleaning our clock.”

Note the phrase “in the county.” It was utterly absent from what Messina said.

Another thing Messina left out? The sentiment that Romney will probably win: “Even if Romney wins the state (likely based on polls), the turnout deficit in PBC will affect our local races.”

Still, Messina’s right that there’s concern in Florida. But it’s on both sides. And while the trends look good for Obama right now, the polls don’t in Florida.

2.7m Floridians have voted (30%?). Dems stretch early ballot lead to nearly 49,000 over Republicans

The early vote and absentee ballot data (EV/AB) is in, and it shows that Democrats on the fourth day of voting in-person voting extended their lead over total Republican ballots cast by about 48,600**.

In all, Democrats edged Republicans by 118,000 early vote ballots, but Republicans extended their absentee-vote lead to more than 69,000.

Nearly 2.7 million ballots have been cast out of a total 12 million registered voters, 75 percent of whom will probably vote. That means about 30 percent of the ballots are already in.

There's a dispute between the Republican and Democratic parties about what the numbers all mean. Republicans claim Democrats in 2008 were up by a total of 134,000 ballots at this time (four days into early voting). That number does seem high, and the Democrats say it's not true and that Republicans are playing fast and loose with the numbers.

It is true that total early voting is down by Dems from 134,000 to about 118,00 four days in. But that's not the net EVAB number. That's just early voting. And one of the reasons for the decline is that Democrats have shifted some of their early voters in 08 to being absentee-ballot voters in 2012. And Democrats have closed the big AB gap with the GOP by about two thirds since 08.

President Obama, however, clearly has a problem in the polls. They show him winning the early vote, however he's losing independents. About 450,000 have already cast ballots and they account for about 20 percent of the electorate.

Either way, Democrats are still up. A lead is a lead. But can they keep it through Election Day?

The totals for EV

Party     EV total           %
Dem     517,909 47%
Rep     399,687 36%
Ind     182,016 17%
Total  1,099,612

For AB

Party    AB total        %
Rep     686,671 44%
Dem     617,053 39%
Ind     264,691 17%
Total  1,568,415


Party         Total            %
Dem  1,134,962 43%
Rep  1,086,358 41%
Ind     446,707 17%
Total  2,668,027

Note: The numbers might be slightly different later in the day when updates are posted. Lafayette County didn't post its data this morning

Mellman/Dem poll: Obama 49, Romney 47 in Florida

Polls are all over the map. RealClearPolics average puts it at Romney + 1.3 pecent n F. average has Fla 48-48. The latest from Democrats' Mellman group:

This analysis represents the findings of a statewide survey of the likely November 2012 Florida electorate using a registration-based sample including cellphones and landlines. Eight hundred (800 interviews were conducted in English and Spanish October 24-27. The margin of error for the whole sample is +/-3.4% at a 95% level of confidence and higher for subgroups depending upon size.

Our latest poll shows President Obama gaining momentum in Florida and now leading Mitt Romney 49% to 47%, with the pool of undecided voters shrinking to just 4%. Among the 29% who have already cast their ballot, the President received the support of over half—topping Romney 51% to 47%. Last week the President was tied with his challenger.

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Q Poll: Obama 48, Romney 47 in Florida.

From Quinnipiac University (whose survey came under instant fire from Republicans saying it oversampled Democrats. More here on that refrain):

Increased support from women likely voters helps Gov. Mitt Romney narrow the gap with President Barack Obama in Florida and Virginia, leaving these key swing states too close to call, while the president holds a 5-point lead in Ohio, according to a Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News Swing State poll released today.

By wide margins, voters in each state say President Obama cares about their needs and problems more than Gov. Romney, but the Republican is seen as a leader by more voters. 

On who is better able to fix the economy, 49 percent of Florida voters pick Romney, with 47 percent for Obama; 49 percent of Ohio voters pick Obama, with 48 percent for Romney, and 50 percent of Virginia voters pick Romney, with 46 percent for Obama.

The Obama-Romney overall matchup in each of these states shows:

•    Florida: Obama at 48 percent to Romney’s 47 percent, compared to Obama up        53 – 44 percent September 26;

•    Ohio: Obama up 50 – 45 percent, unchanged from October 22;

•    Virginia: Obama at 49 percent to Romney’s 47 percent, compared to Obama up
      51 – 46 percent October 11.

“After being subjected to what seems like a zillion dollars’ worth of television ads and personal attention from the two candidates reminiscent of a high-school crush, the key swing states of Florida and Virginia are too close to call with the election only days away,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “President Barack Obama clings to a 5-point lead in Ohio, but Gov. Mitt Romney has narrowed the president’s lead that existed in Florida and Virginia before the first debate.”