Saturday, November 10, 2012

Victory Continued

The news and the numbers continue to define the 2012 elections.

As of today, President Obama has more or less officially won Florida,  making the more or less final electoral vote tally as Obama 332, Romney 206.

As votes continue to be counted, President Obama is expanding his popular vote lead, which is now above 3 million votes.  It's now Obama 51% to Romney 48% with a margin that surpasses GW Bush in 2004. 

Although Paul Ryan won reelection to his House seat in Wisconsin, it was not only by a narrow margin, but he lost his hometown in spectacular fashion.  At the beginning of his vp campaign, Ryan made a big deal out of going back to his hometown of Janesville and accusing the Obama administration of going back on its promises to save a plant there in the reorganization of the auto industry.

It didn't exactly work.  Ryan had been used to winning reeelection handily and Janesville by big margins.  Not this time.  He lost Janesville by 11 points. His Democratic opponent led 55% to 44%. 

The Romneyryan ticket did even worse than that in Janesville.  They lost by 25 points.  President Obama got 62% there. 

Who's Better At Business?

Mitt Romney ran on the image that he was better at business than President Obama.  He made millions in the private sector, while Obama was a community organizer, a professor, a public servant and an author.  Slam dunk.

Except it was all an illusion, and for the Romney campaign, a delusion.  Being good at business also means getting the job done.  It means efficiency and organization.  And Romney turned out to be very bad at business.

This is becoming clearer in the campaign postmortems. Usually a strategist or candidate will divulge the moment they knew they were probably going to lose.  But apparently, with the same data available to them as to everyone else, they never believed it.  They were in denial on election night.  They were so very sure of themselves.  Confidence is great.  Not being able to read the numbers is incompetence.

But that's just one bit of evidence.  The Romney campaign spent millions and perhaps billions on media, enriching its senior staff but getting little bang for their bucks.  They made inefficient media buys throughout the campaign.

Their ground operation also failed.  It failed partly for the same reason their media did: they outsourced.  Their vaunted system to target and deliver voters called  ORCA  was an ineffective mess. 

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign ran what some are calling the best political operation in history.  They used their strategic advantages, made some big bold moves.  But basically they worked the details.  They were very organized and disciplined about identifying and bringing in new voters, and identifying and delivering their voters. 

So it turns out that President Obama is the CEO of this campaign.  The Obama campaign was good at business.  The Romney campaign was terrible at their business.

The truth is that Mitt Romney has never been good at business.  He's been good at making money, which is an entirely different thing.   

Friday, November 09, 2012

Ripples of Hope

This video has been making the rounds since some of us got the link in our in-boxes. At his Chicago campaign hq the day after the election, the President is talking about the hope he has for the future based on the young people who he met working on his campaign.  It's not the first time he's teared up recently when talking about his supporters--he did so in his Des Moines speech (photo below) but it was prompted basically by the same thing--he was talking then as this time about the people who worked in his campaigns.  The full circle of his campaigns turns out to be the circle in the center of the pond, from which the ripples flow out--the "ripples of hope" Robert Kennedy talked about, and President Obama quotes in the video above.

"Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."

Senator Robert F. Kennedy, June 6 1966 (South Africa address)


In about 8 minutes, President Obama outlined his plan for immediate action on the economy.  Missing from most accounts of this statement I've heard is the President convening not just the same old Washington leaders but business, civic and academic leaders next week to bring some reality to the search for political solutions.  Here's a transcript of the above statement.

By the way, FDR and now President Obama are the only Democrats since the Civil War to have achieved popular vote majorities in two successive presidential elections.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Getting Richer From the Romney Campaign

So the Romney campaign didn't get to set off their planned fireworks display over Boston Harbor on election night, and their transition website's instructions on how to apply for jobs in the Romneyryan administration have been terminated.  There were stories Thursday that the campaign organization collapsed so quickly that staff expecting to charge their cab rides home to the campaign discovered their credit cards had already been cancelled. There were stories also about the non-political future of Mitt Romney.

But I wouldn't waste a lot of tears on them.  Some of those who aren't multi-millionaires may well have become so as a result of the campaign.  For there was this underreported truth: for them, a presidential campaign was just another business opportunity.  And considering the billions spent in far and away the most expensive campaign in history, it was a big business opportunity.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Romney campaign "has directed $134.2 million to political firms with business ties to his senior staff. Nine firms that are run by, or recently employed, top Romney aides have received almost a third of the $435.8 million that Romney's campaign and a related fundraising committee have spent on operating expenses through Oct. 17, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis.

To a certain extent and at a certain level, this is a business for everybody concerned (the Obama campaign spent a measly $5.8 million on consultant fees to firms with ties to its senior strategists, the LA Times said) but the Romney campaign made the most of this business opportunity in which literally billions of dollars were raised and spent:

The campaign finance reports show that this year's presidential race has created a huge economic stimulus package for campaign operatives, whose total payday is often undisclosed.

Ryan Williams, a Romney spokesman, said payments to firms with connections to staff members were not only for consulting, but also were used to purchase a variety of services, including "polling, video production, political mail, get-out-the-vote phones, online advertising, website development, and budget and compliance management, among other things." He declined to break down the specific amounts.

An examination of finance reports shows that Romney and Obama both lean on trusted advisors to provide major services, such as media, polling and direct mail. But the Romney campaign has gone further, building its operations around a small group of companies that are either run by senior campaign aides or had employed them until they joined the campaign.

All this is in addition to the millions of dollars used for television and radio advertising, much of which the Romney campaign funnelled through the companies of campaign staff.  You have to guess that superpac and dark money was likely also paid to the same people and companies.

So don't weep for them, America.  Romney provided two bonuses we know of to senior staff during the course of the campaign.  And to make sure no money-making opportunity was missed, right at the end of the campaign, the Romney campaign became the first ever known to charge reporters and news organization for access to their campaign headquarters on election night.

Andy Borowitz headlined a post-election post: Nation Spends $2.5. Billion on Nothing.  Well, it was more than $2.5 billion. And it wasn't on nothing--while it cost us donors, it enriched some people, apparently none more than Romney's. Losing feels bad, but making a killing from the campaign itself must take away a lot of the sting.

Nuggets and Oddities

The oddity at the moment is that with our ATT DSL I am unable to access any Internet sites not affiliated with Google! I get blogspot blogs, Google news--but none of the sites it connects to.  It's very weird.  Email seems to be working and there's no problem on the line that shows up anywhere I can access.  This has happened before late last month when it was intermittent for about 12 hours.

A good oddity if that's what it is--the hummingbirds have been very present and hungry today--and there are THREE of them.  I still mostly see two at a time but I did see three together.  It does make more sense since one looks younger than the other two, although with hummers who knows.

Now for the nuggets, as the dimensions of the election continue to unfold:

California Democrats attained a super majority in both houses of the state legislature, so together with the passage of Prop 30 (temp tax increase on wealthy and sales tax fraction for education funding, hardest hit in budget crunch), the worst may be over for our once-mighty public education system, including the universities and junior colleges.  A supermajority is necessary to pass any spending bills.

The Romneyryans have conceded Florida, though the votes are not all counted still.

 President Obama continues to increase his popular vote majority as more western votes are counted, Washington primarily I think.

African American votes in this election not only surpassed the number in 2008--in Ohio they were a third more.

The women elected to the Senate in Massachusetts and Wisconsin are the first women from their states to be elected U.S. Senators. 

Now that I think of it, my Internet problems may be caused by the cable TV company because I was within hours of cancelling service.  Now without Internet I am cable news dependent.

Election 2012: Truths and Consequences

I made a list of truths and consequences from Tuesday's election, but Rachel covered a bunch of them with such style that I yield the first sixteen minutes of my time to her.

It's pretty wonderful, all she said. I want to emphasize how big the Obama coalition showed up--higher percentages than in 2008 of Latinos (by several) but also of African Americans and the group that was less conspicuously enthusiastic but came through anyway--young voters.

Here are a few more things she didn't mention (at least in that segment):

Voter suppression didn't work.  It backfired.

Racism didn't work.

Lying didn't work.  Especially that one about Jeep jobs to China--a lie too far in Ohio.

War on women: not a good idea.  Didn't work.

Voucherize Medicare, didn't work.

We got Obamacare, people.  It's coming big time in a year or so. 

Money isn't everything: the dark billions the GOPers spent got them nothing.

The era of angry old white men is ending.

The Rabid Right is wrong, but unfortunately still delusional.

"a warming planet" he said in his victory speech.  It's time to take that on directly, too.

President Obama spent much of his victory speech giving credit to the people who reelected him.  He repeated things he's said before but that most people didn't hear, but now they've gone through this first term and this campaign together, and they could hear them now.  He said things that people have heard before, but in this new context.  If he can keep this sense of true participation, his second term can be wondrous.    

Wednesday, November 07, 2012


With all there is to absorb about the election, it's probably not too surprising that not a lot of attention is being paid to President Obama's victory address in Chicago last night.  But I think it is one of the most important of his presidency and most eloquent of his political career.  Not that there was a lot "new" in it--precisely the opposite.  He put everything into a continuous context.  He further defined the change he believes it, and in many ways the change he and his campaign and his administration are creating.

President Obama has won re-election as President of the United States.  By the time all the votes are counted, his electoral vote margin is likely to surpass most predictions, and to equal the most optimistic predictions, with a total of 332.  He will win the popular vote with over 50%, and so will be the first Democrat since FDR to surpass 50% in two elections. 

The dimensions of this victory will become clearer in coming days.  But what seems to be the case right now is that he has held his ground with white voters from 2008 but increased his votes from the increasing populations of Latinos and African Americans.  The Obama campaign, from its strategists to its volunteers, proved itself to be the best ever.

President Obama's victory speech before an indoor but still huge crowd, threaded together elements of his campaign speeches and even his 2004 Democratic convention speech that brought him to national attention, but most of all it put this victory in a meaningful context for going forward.

This victory was a repudiation of GOPer politics of the past year, across the country.  Democrats increased their Senate majority, the most progressive candidates won, and the most extreme Rabid Right candidates were almost without exception defeated (a few House races are still outstanding.) 

Elizabeth Warren beat the bullyboy Scott Brown to become the new Senator from Massachusetts.  Tammy Baldwin became the first openly gay member of the Senate, and one of an historically high number of women to be U.S. Senators. 

With this victory, American voters decisively rejected the terrible turn back that a Romney victory would have meant.  But with this victory speech, President Obama has begun to consolidate his presidency, while consolidating--for his supporters especially--- the kind of politics he has advocated since the beginning.   I'll try to say more about what I mean when the transcript becomes available.

 For now, it's enough to let this victory sink in.  After all the tension, it took about 17 minutes longer this election than last for his victory to be proclaimed--which after this terrifying campaign, was sort of stunning.  Even when, as in my case, this was the outcome I expected.


Monday, November 05, 2012

Land of Hopes and Dreams

President Barack Obama made his last speech of what he says is his last campaign, where his remarkable journey to the Presidency began, in Iowa.  After Bruce Springsteen talked and sang, and Michelle Obama introduced him, President Obama blended reminiscences--some of which brought a tear to his eye--with a strong case for his re-election. He sounded his consistent theme: "We are all in this together."   There was a John Steinbeck, Grapes of Wrath lilt to his close, as TPM reports:

We’ve made real progress these last four years,” he said. “But, Iowa we’re here tonight because we got more work to do. We’re not done yet on this journey, we’ve got more road to travel. As long as there’s a single American who wants a job but can’t find one, as long as there are families working harder but still falling behind, as long as there’s a child still in Des Moines, anywhere in Iowa, anywhere in this country languishing in poverty, barred from opportunity, our work isn’t done.”

Children don’t have lobbyists the way oil companies or banks do, but it’s the dreams of those children that will be our saving grace,” he said. “That’s what we fight for. That’s why I need you, Iowa, to make sure their voices are heard.”

He added: “I got a lot more fight left in me. But to wage that fight on behalf of American families, I need you to still have some fight in you, too.”

Earlier on Monday, President Bill Clinton spoke in Market Square in Pittsburgh, which is precisely where I heard him speak in 1992 and shook his hand (or maybe almost. Anyway, I tried.) Clinton has been heroic in his efforts these last few days--it literally brought back "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" to the campaign. 

  Romney will make one of his last stops in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, a last ditch effort to increase his totals in the western part of the state, hoping to offset the Obama tide in Philadelphia.  Except Romney won't get out of the airport. Nobody but the Romney campaign and the Rabid Right (who forecast a Romney landslide) thinks it will work.

As for election eve forecasting, the pundit/numbers nerd consensus seems to be that the national polls are converging with the state polls, showing President Obama ahead.  If you average polls from the major legitimate pollsters it probably averages out to be about 2 points.  Nate Silver now gives President Obama a 91.5% chance of winning.

Looking at the registered voter numbers vs. the likely voter percentages, President Obama's lead is wider. (In the Gallup tracking poll he goes from behind by one to ahead by several.)  So if turnout is high and there is less chaos at the polls in certain states than feared, chances are better that the long, long night most pundits are forecasting won't be so very long.

The first polls close at 7 p.m. Eastern.  The best of all possible worlds for Obama supporters is that Virginia is called quickly for Obama.  That pretty much means the election is over.  And if a half hour later, Obama wins North Carolina, pop open the champagne.  However, even in 2008 it was hours after polls closed that Virginia was called, and North Carolina wasn't awarded to Obama for days after it even mattered anymore.

If Virginia, NC and Florida are either still out or have gone Romney, despair is not yet in order: the Midwest is where it will then be decided, and President Obama is pretty solid there.  There's no telling when Ohio will come in (polls close officially at 7:30, but voting could still continue if there are still lines), and some other midwestern states don't close until 9 p.m.      

In 2008, once Florida and Ohio were called it was essentially over, but that was pretty close to 11 p.m., when the West Coast made it official.  So even on a night when Obama won many more electoral votes than even the most optimistic forecast this time, it doesn't seem all that likely the suspense will be over by late news time.  Maybe, however, by late news time here on the West Coast.

Anyway, the Obama campaign suggests that the longer Florida remains undecided, the better chances they have of ultimately winning it.  The voter suppression tactics alone--but also the response to them by voters--makes that state a complete mystery.

It's simplistically true in every election, but there's a point this time in saying the key is turnout.  If Obama voters turn out, Obama wins, regardless of how "enthusiastic" Romney voters are.  There are a number of possible storylines that could emerge.  One would focus on women, and the percentage of their votes for each candidate.  And one definitely will focus on Latinos--on turnout. 

A Great President

Jonathan Chiat at New York Magazine wrote an essay last week entitled Barack Obama is a Great President.  Yes, Great.  Some excerpts:

For anybody who voted for Obama in 2008 and had even the vaguest sense of his platform, the notion that he has fallen short of some plausible performance threshold seems to me unfathomable.

Obama’s résumé of accomplishments is broad and deep, running the gamut from economic to social to foreign policy. The general thrust of his reforms, especially in economic policy, has been a combination of politically radical and ideologically moderate. The combination has confused liberals into thinking of Obamaism as a series of sad half-measures, and conservatives to deem it socialism, but the truth is neither. Obama’s agenda has generally hewed to the consensus of mainstream economists and policy experts. What makes the agenda radical is that, historically, vast realms of policy had been shaped by special interests for their own benefit. Plans to rationalize those things, to write laws that make sense, molder on think-tank shelves for years, even generations. They are often boring. But then Obama, in a frenetic burst of activity, made many of them happen all at once.

Obama can boast a record of accomplishment that bests any president since Roosevelt, and has fewer demerits on his record than any of them, including Roosevelt.

What can be said without equivocation is that Obama has proven himself morally, intellectually, temperamentally, and strategically. In my lifetime, or my parents’, he is easily the best president. On his own terms, and not merely as a contrast to an unacceptable alternative, he overwhelmingly deserves reelection."

What about the issues? In endorsing President Obama, a newspaper I'm proud to have written for, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote this:

Every election is meaningful. But some, like Tuesday's, are pivotal. The choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could not be more clear. Each man, as president in the next four years, would lead the country to a vastly different place.

Saddled from day one with the largest economic calamity the United States has seen since the Great Depression, Mr. Obama worked to stimulate jobs and business, stabilize a teetering banking system, calm a housing market in free fall and save a large chunk of the economy by way of the auto industry.
Along the way, he inaugurated a comprehensive health insurance overhaul that had eluded presidents of both parties and that now guarantees coverage for tens of millions who once fell through the cracks. He also accomplished a sweeping reform of financial regulations to prevent what happened in 2008 and reduce the vulnerability of average savers and investors to the risky gambits of high-flying market manipulators.

The choice is clear. Barack Obama wants to lead the country out of its morass and deserves the support of all Americans. His challenger is a man of shifting convictions, save for one core belief -- that he should be president. In America that's not enough, no matter the size of one's checkbook."

E.J. Dionne began his endorsement in TIME magazine by describing the America that President Obama represents, as opposed to Romney's.

If Obama wins, he will owe his re-election to a little bit of all of us: blue-collar white voters in the Midwest, upscale voters in the Northeast and on the West Coast, an overwhelming percentage of Latino voters turned off by a new nativism on the right, and near unanimous solidarity on his behalf among African Americans. Obama is not the sort to think about dismissing 47% of us.

Romney's crowds and Romney's support is nearly all white.  The intensity and delusionary quality of the hatred of Obama among them points to ideological zealotry mated with racism.  It drips from Romney himself, who also makes it a class reaction.  It reminds me of a point made by Toure and Andrew Sullivan that the real test of the state of racism in America wasn't the election of a black President, but the re-election.  As Sullivan noted, some people were willing to elect a black President, but not prepared to be governed by one.     
Dionne goes on to discuss policy:

Most relevant to this year’s choice is the fact that the economy is in far better shape than it would have been if we had followed the counsel of Obama’s foes. They would have allowed the auto industry to collapse. They would have ignored history’s lesson that government must step in to stimulate economic activity when private demand plummets. We know from the experience of Europe that austerity leads to stagnation. Obama made the better choice.
Beyond these large questions are concrete Obama achievements: his support for women’s rights, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; the end of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and his endorsement of gay marriage; passage of Wall Street reform, including the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; reform of the student-loan program; his appointments of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, checking the right-wing drift in the judiciary that gave us decisions like Citizens United; and many of the investments in the stimulus package, notably in clean energy. In quieter times, these would be playing a much larger role in the campaign.

Dionne's conclusion is about the same as Chiat's though he says it more delicately.  
 Obama is battling to defend the long consensus that has guided American government successfully since the Progressive Era. It is based on the view that ours is a country whose Constitution begins with the word we, not me, and that the private success we honor depends on a government that serves a common good and remembers the most vulnerable among us. The task of our moment is to revive that long consensus and renew it. Of the two major candidates, only Barack Obama accepts this mission as his own."

Nov. 6, 2012: The Future is On the Ballot

The most historically important--and heartening--election of my lifetime was 2008.  But the most important election for the future is this one, 2012.

Never has the threat to the future been so clear.  Over the course of the campaign, Romney and Ryan have flat out said what they want to do, even if they've been trying to obscure those statements in the last weeks. 

They want to undo the hard-won progress of the past four years.  And the past fifty years.  And the past 70 years. 

They are contemptuous of providing universal health care, something which every advanced democracy provides, and which leaders have been trying to institute since Harry Truman.  Even in the hybrid form that is going to make billions for the same private insurance companies that have been soaking vulnerable citizens and denying them care for a generation or more.  In doing so, Romneyryan will stop the falling prices of health care that have begun as a result of Obamacare, which will cost individuals, families and businesses--including and especially the small businesses they profess to champion--billions of dollars, and in the case of some businesses and some people, their very lives.

They want to bring back Don't Ask Don't Tell or something similar.  They want to reverse the very measured economic incentives that have helped to bring the U.S. economy back and set it on the road to a better future, as well as further enriching Wall Street.  They want to destroy the beginnings of real protections for consumers against predatory capitalists.

They want to erase the gains America has made in the world.  They want to return to armed swagger, costly wars, torture.  They want to erase gains made in immigration fairness.

But erasing the gains of four years is not enough.  They want to erase the gains that women have made towards full equality in the workplace, in the courts, and in managing their health and their families.  They want to defund the largest network of healthcare providers for women, especially poor women.  They want to criminalize abortion and possibly even certain forms of contraception.

They want to destroy the most successful programs in helping seniors avoid poverty, starting with Medicare and Medicaid, and moving on to Social Security.  They want to reverse hard-won principles that work in practice: to help students of all ages get an education, to rebuild our infrastructure, and even to help rescue and rebuild in times of disaster, like hurricane Sandy.  And they aren't too sure about public services like firefighters, EMTs, teachers and public schools.  Oh, and public television has got to go, too.

They justify all this with narrow theology and lies.  They wail about the national deficit, which soared from a surplus under Clinton to huge debt under Bush, but which has been declining under Obama.  But their announced plans add up to creating massive deficit, without doing anything for the country but transferring more to the wealthy.

And that's the basic reversal, the most dangerous one.  For years now--since the 1980s perhaps, certainly since 2000--the middle class has been declining while the wealthy have taken a bigger and bigger share of the country's wealth.  The most important threat to the future represented by plutocrat Mitt Romney is making that imbalance greater--so much greater that economically and politically, it will become very very difficult to reverse.

As Jonathan Chiat concludes: "Both his fealty to his party and his belief in his own abilities point in the same direction: the entitlement of the superrich to govern the country."

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Heroes and Villains

The polls look good, but close.  The crowds look good, too.  Romney is getting his biggest crowds of the campaign but the largest is 5,000.  President Obama spoke before 23,000 in Virginia, 24,000 in Florida and to the largest political gathering in New Hampshire history, 14,000. 

But the danger to not only President Obama's reelection but the election itself continues to be GOP voter suppression and intimidation, particularly in the probably determinative states of Florida and Ohio.  At this point it is taking the form of incredibly long wait times and incredibly long lines at early voting polling places, with the GOPer state officials refusing to remedy an obvious need.  And of course they are trying to make it even worse.

In Florida, a four hour wait is speedy.  One woman reported waiting more than 8 full hours.  In Miami Dade the last person in line Saturday evening cast a vote at 1 a.m.  Extra hours for in-person absentee voting (the local officials' way of trying to get around Florida state government's rules) was announced but then rescinded, with hundreds of people literally locked out, chanting "Let us vote!"  In further intimidation attempts, cars of waiting voters were towed from the parking lot.  Eventually the doors opened.

On the court-ordered Sunday early voting in Ohio, there were hours-long lines in the Ohio counties with the highest population, hence black people and minorities, hence Democrats.  Officials continued to limit hours to fewer than in 2008.

But people are coming out, they are standing in line and staying in line until they vote.  They are the heroes of democracy at this moment in America.  The hardships are more than hours in line, which actually look like they can be sociable and fun.  This is lost family time, lost work time, lost revenue.  It's scheduling, babysitters, impatient bosses.  It's also a scandal in the country that prides itself as the beacon of democracy.  Noone knows how many leave the lines, but a lot are staying.  They know what's up.  They are fighting for voting rights not only for themselves but for the future.

These are the heroes, and the villains are very well known.  They are the GOPer officeholders who are abusing their power to make people suffer in order to vote.  Because they don't want those people to vote.  It's way more than partisan politics.  The division is between districts where people of color are, versus districts where white people live.  So it's racial.  The division often is between districts where rich people live--districts where there are plenty of voting machines and staff--and districts where the non-rich live.  It's class warfare.

A lot of this election is about class warfare: it's the war by the rich on everybody else.  It's Romney's war on the 47%.  On the 99%.   "They think we're stupid," Bill Clinton says.  Some people are--those not in the 1% who believe that Romney has their interests at heart.

But the people in line aren't stupid.  They know exactly what's going on.  And they're doing their best not to let it happen.  They are the heroes of democracy now.


Weekend Update

Late Sunday: TG Political Wire: if final polls from The Economist/YouGov are correct, President Obama will win 303 electoral votes. The final Reuters/Ipsos polls suggest Obama will win 294 electoral votes. The final Public Policy Polling surveys point to an Obama landslide of 332 electoral votes.

All this comports with predictions of poli sci types who hang out at Jonathan Bernstein's blog.
Sunday: New polls continue to show an Obama surge, especially national polls. " The final USA Today/Gallup Poll of swing states finds voters "have become as enthusiastic and engaged in the 2012 presidential election as they were in the historic contest four years ago."

Pew has President Obama up 48-45, and all the other polls released Sunday have the President with a slight lead or tied nationally.  Several polls show independents coming back to Obama.  And some of these polls don't yet reflect the period of the hurricane response, Chris Christie or the NY Mayor's endorsement.  State polls in battlegrounds generally show an Obama advantage, however small.  Nate Silver increases President Obama's chances of winning the election to 85%.

With his job approval up after last week's hurricane and positive jobs report, President Obama took the biggest lead in the PPP tracking poll that either candidate has taken, at 50% to Romney's 47.

The latest swing state polls: all four show Obama ahead in Ohio, two of two show him ahead in Virginia and in Iowa, and polls of PA, Wisconsin and Michigan show him comfortably ahead.  Of 3 Florida polls, one has his ahead, one behind, and one tied.  The one poll in Colorado gives Romney a one point edge, with New Hampshire tied. 

Meanwhile, desperate GOPers are doing their best to subvert voting in Democratic and minority districts.  Early voting in Florida was disrupted twice by bomb threats.  The Ohio Secretary of State is trying another ploy to nullify provisional ballots--it's back in court on Monday. 

And while a lead essay at Kos quantifies how Obama wins if minorities vote, Politico wimpmeister Mark Halperin writes: "Don't kill me for the obvious, but the near absence of racial diversity in the Romney crowds is teased out further by the contrast with the rainbow the President draws. It is more striking than I have ever experienced it in any presidential campaign I have covered."

The Obama campaign released a memo on their ground game, picked up by several pol outlets.  Among the stats: the campaign has registered twice the number of new voters in battleground as in 2008, and nearly 30% of them have already voted.  The memo shows the focus and the experience.  Pretty impressive.

Meanwhile, Andy Borowitz reports on Romney's November Surprise: dropping $2 billion in small bills over Ohio.