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2012: Sandy diverts campaigns

“The presidential race’s final full week was devolving into a scheduling nightmare as President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney grappled with how to push on with campaigning while a massive storm churned toward the East Coast,” the AP writes. “Parts of four competitive states were in the path of Hurricane Sandy: Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio and New Hampshire.”

Latest polls: MNSt. Cloud U.: Obama 53-45%. Mason-Dixon: Obama 47-44%. (Obama was up 8 a month ago in the poll.) OHOhio Newspaper Association/University of Cincinnati: Tied 49-49%. A month ago, Obama was up 51-46% in the poll. PAPhiladelphia Inquirer: Obama 49-43%. VAWashington Post: Obama 51-47%.

“Many political analysts believe Ohio is the most critical of the tossup states. The candidates have visited the state more than any other. Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, were scheduled to hold three events in Ohio on Sunday as part of a bus tour through the state,” theBoston Globe writes. “Obama planned to return to Ohio on Monday evening, after campaigning in Florida with Bill Clinton.” 

The AP: “President Barack Obama is poised to eke out a victory in the race for the 270 electoral votes needed to win re-election, having beaten back Republican Mitt Romney’s attempts to convert momentum from the debates into support in all-important Ohio, according to an Associated Press analysis a week before Election Day. … While in a tight race with Obama for the popular vote, Romney continues to have fewer state-by-state paths than Obama to reach 270. Without Ohio’s 18 electoral votes, Romney would need last-minute victories in nearly all the remaining up-for-grabs states and manage to pick off key states now leaning Obama’s way, such as Iowa or Wisconsin.”

This is why Ohio’s so key for Obama – if he holds the Kerry states, wins New Mexico and Nevada, but loses Ohio and Colorado, Romney’s at 275. And if Romney tacks on Iowa, he’s at 281, and with Wisconsin he’d be at 291. Suddenly, Obama’s path shrinks.

Obama’s favored in Nevada, but it’s close, in part, because of voters like this: “It’s people like Paul Prekop who make Nevada a maddeningly difficult state for President Barack Obama to lock down, and who give Republican Mitt Romney hope that there’s a route to the White House even if he loses the big prize of Ohio,” AP writes. “Prekop, 54, said he benefits from a union contract in his job as a casino craps dealer. He credits Democrats for the stock market’s four-year rise. And he’s grateful that Obama’s health care law lets him keep his young-adult son on his insurance plan. ‘I'm not really a big Romney fan,’ he adds. So, did Prekop help re-elect the president when he voted early on a gorgeous afternoon in a northwest Las Vegas suburb on Thursday? No. ‘We just need a change,’’ he said, explaining his vote for Romney. ‘‘I'm scared of Obama the next four years, the socialistic things he’s into.’”

More AP: Racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president, an Associated Press poll finds, as a slight majority of Americans now express prejudice toward blacks whether they recognize those feelings or not. Those views could cost President Barack Obama votes as he tries for re-election, the survey found, though the effects are mitigated by some people’s more favorable views of blacks. … In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. When measured by an implicit racial attitudes test, the number of Americans with anti-black sentiments jumped to 56 percent, up from 49 percent during the last presidential election. In both tests, the share of Americans expressing pro-black attitudes fell.”

More: “The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).”

USA Today: “While President Obama's and Mitt Romney's campaigns are both pointing to absentee- and early-voting data as reasons to be optimistic about their candidates' chances, a review of election data in seven swing states offers further evidence that the race for the White House will remain extraordinarily close to the end. Already, more than 12.3 million ballots have been cast throughout the country, according to the United States Election Project at George Mason University in Virginia. There has been an increase in key battleground states such as Florida, Iowa and North Carolina, areas where both campaigns have used their formidable ground operations to encourage supporters to not wait until Election Day to vote.” 

“Five individuals and couples have contributed more than $10 million each to super PACs, the new independent political groups responsible for the record amounts of outside money gushing through this year's presidential and congressional elections. Together these super-wealthy donors account for 20% of the $644 million raised by super PACs through Oct. 17, a USA TODAY analysis of new campaign-finance reports shows.”

More: “All but one, Chicago media executive Fred Eychaner, donated to conservative groups. Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his physician wife, Miriam, surged to the top of the list early in the Republican presidential primary season and haven't turned off the spigot since, propelling them to an unprecedented $57.2 million in donations to a constellation of conservative groups. By comparison, billionaire financier George Soros, the previous record-holder for political spending, pumped $24 million into the 2004 election in an unsuccessful attempt to oust President Bush.”

Already there are several election problems being found, from bogus mailers and phone calls to state government printing errors and allegations of bullying at the polls. That’s not to mention the emails from some bosses to employees promoting Mitt Romney as well as talk from bosses around offices (here and here.) 

The Boston Globe looks at the possibility of third-party contenders getting enough votes to have an impact on the outcome of the election between Mitt Romney and President Obama.