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Author: woodymw Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 1951232  
Subject: Electoral College Math Date: 10/10/2012 9:40 PM
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So the day after the first presidential debate my boss, a military guy I can only assume is a Republican, asserted his theory that there are a whole bunch of people who were sitting on the fence just waiting for a reason to like Mitt Romney … and that he thought Governor Romney’s debate performance was it. His expectation was that Romney’s bump would be pretty substantial, and in many ways that has been the case. There have been several polls released that indicate an admirable bump for him, and in some cases he has now taken the lead.

And all of this is good for him. Makes for an exciting election, I guess.

The problem is that these polls are largely meaningless. In the United States of America, presidents are not elected by direct popular vote – they are elected by the representatives of the Electoral College, an anachronistic and misunderstood body that only really is discussed every 4 years and then only in passing unless something like the 2000 presidential election happens.

So, given that a national popular vote doesn't mean anything (ask Al Gore) and that national polling is therefore irrelevant, what we should be looking at is Electoral College math – and that paints a different picture. There are several sites that will do running totals, and I follow three of them pretty closely. Most of what I’m about to do below is based on how these sites have trended over the last several weeks & months … those sites are:

www.electoral-vote.com Run by a Democrat and my favorite in terms of readability
www.electionprojection.com Run by a Republican and not updated as regularly as I’d like
www.270towin.com Useful largely for a current “Probability of reaching 270”, which helps with trends

OK – based on what I’ve seen, there are several states that can be pretty well considered “safe” for both Democrats and Republicans:


Blue Red In Play
California 55 Texas 38 Florida 29
New York 29 Georgia 16 Pennsylvania 20
Illinois 20 Arizona 11 Ohio 18
New Jersey 14 Tennessee 11 Michigan 16
Washington 12 Indiana 11 North Carolina 15
Massachusetts 11 Alabama 9 Virginia 13
Minnesota 10 South Carolina 9 Missouri 10
Wisconsin 10 Louisiana 8 Colorado 9
Maryland 10 Kentucky 8 Nevada 6
Oregon 7 Oklahoma 7 Iowa 6
Connecticut 7 Utah 6
New Mexico 5 Kansas 6 Total 142
Hawaii 4 Arkansas 6
Maine 4 Mississippi 6
New Hampshire 4 Nebraska 5
Rhode Island 4 West Virginia 5
Vermont 3 Idaho 4
Delaware 3 Montana 3
DC 3 Wyoming 3
North Dakota 3
Total 215 South Dakota 3
Needed to Win 55 Alaska 3

Total 181
Needed to Win 89


OK – so this is a starting point that is going to be pretty hard to argue with, I think. Probably the biggest arguable inclusion here is Wisconsin for Obama, given the Paul Ryan connection. However, all of the poll aggregation has been very consistent over time, and there is of course the 2008 history … overall, I don’t think that is too egregious.

So right off the bat we see that the starting line is not in the same place. Governor Romney’s problem is that the states where he is most popular tend to be smaller in population – most of the old South and the plains states especially. If you take just the top three states in each “safe” column (California, New York, and Illinois for Obama; Texas, Georgia, and Arizona for Romney) you can see that these spot Obama a 39 point lead before things have even gotten started good. Romney has to make up for that with the smaller population states, and there are only so many of those before the runway shortens too much. Given this built-in lead, the Romney campaign’s strategy on the right-most column is critical because there is very little room for error.

And that room for error factor really starts shortening up if you start being realistic about the column on the right. For example – Missouri is going to vote for Romney. They voted for McCain in 2008, and they have been consistently leaning right this whole cycle. Michigan has consistently leaned left, and Romney’s auto-industry bailout problems mean that his chances there are realistically pretty slim. North Carolina has flopped a little, but has leaned right a bit too much to discount – the Obama camp has basically conceded here, though they won’t tell you that. But I’m not giving Romney North Carolina without giving Iowa to Obama – they have wobbled very little on the “barely Democrat” side of the line. Just those four states, which the campaigns would argue about but which represent pretty reasonable assessment of the prevailing wisdom and campaign direction, make that table look like this:


Blue Red In Play
California 55 Texas 38 Florida 29
New York 29 Georgia 16 Pennsylvania 20
Illinois 20 North Carolina 15 Ohio 18
Michigan 16 Arizona 11 Virginia 13
New Jersey 14 Tennessee 11 Colorado 9
Washington 12 Indiana 11 Nevada 6
Massachusetts 11 Missouri 10
Minnesota 10 Alabama 9
Wisconsin 10 South Carolina 9 Remaining 95
Maryland 10 Louisiana 8
Oregon 7 Kentucky 8
Connecticut 7 Oklahoma 7
Iowa 6 Utah 6
New Mexico 5 Kansas 6
Hawaii 4 Arkansas 6
Maine 4 Mississippi 6
New Hampshire 4 Nebraska 5
Rhode Island 4 West Virginia 5
Vermont 3 Idaho 4
Delaware 3 Montana 3
DC 3 Wyoming 3
North Dakota 3
Total 237 South Dakota 3
Needed to Win 33 Alaska 3

Total 206
Needed to Win 64


And now Mitt Romney’s math problem becomes very clear – he can’t and won’t win everything. But the built in lead that President Obama has means that every single electoral vote lost is absolutely critical.

So now lets take a look at what is left.

The first thing to do is state the obvious – Obama won every one of those states in 2008.

If Romney loses Florida, he must sweep each of the other “in play” states in order to win. That scenario is all but impossible, so lets let him win Florida for purposes of this analysis. But don’t forget as we do that that if President Obama wins Florida, this is basically over.

If Gov. Romney wins Florida, there is no other scenario by which he can achieve 270 electoral votes without winning either Pennsylvania or Ohio. Pennsylvania has been awfully consistent about “leaning left” throughout this cycle, and I personally don’t think Romney can win there unless there are get-out-the-vote problems associated with things like the voter ID requirements that have been suspended. And I also think that Ohio presents the exact same auto-industry problem for him that Michigan does. But one of those states must break his way, or he cannot win.

So what are the scenarios? Including the incredibly improbable one where he loses Florida, there are 7:

Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio
Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Colorado
Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Nevada
Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada
Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado
Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada

That’s it. In 6 out of the 7, he must win Florida. In 5 out of the 7, he must win Pennsylvania. If the path goes through Ohio, he must either win Florida AND Pennsylvania or also win Virginia and somebody else.

So whether or not you think Romney has a shot here depends on how you feel about these 6 states, and really the three biggest ones are the absolute most important. Even if you assume all of them are toss-ups (which the trending, by the way, has not agreed with), you’re looking at an incredibly difficult … and improbable … path to the White House.

This is all, of course, as of right now. Several things could still happen:

1. An October surprise could pop up, though every day shortens that runway in terms of both time and early / absentee voting
2. Voter turnout could be radically different than what is expected, particularly if voter ID laws are upheld and / or enforced. The objective reality is that voter fraud is largely non-existent in terms of affecting elections, but some of the disenfranchisement efforts we’ve seen could sway a very close election in some states. Also, the demographics that elected President Obama in 2008 may not be as likely to turn out again in big numbers – African Americans, young people, and Hispanics / Latinos being the primary list. The flip side of that is how energized the Southern and Mid-Western Republican base will be to vote for a Northeast Mormon businessman who sounds like an idiot when he says “y’all” and talks about eating biscuits and gravy.
3. The Libertarian candidate for president, Gary Johnson, is on 47 of the 50 state ballots plus the District of Columbia … and appears to be likely to be added to Pennsylvania, though less likely for Michigan and Oklahoma. That won’t matter in Oklahoma, but in a state like Pennsylvania, which will be extremely close if Romney wins, even 0.5% or less could make a difference. This isn’t Ross Perot in 1992, or probably even Ralph Nader in 2000 … but it isn’t so easy to dismiss, either.

All of which is to say that we need to actually have the election and not just declare a winner now. However, given the data we have on October 10, a Mitt Romney victory would be a pretty incredible upset.

Woody
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Author: kenm47 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823216 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/10/2012 9:51 PM
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"However, given the data we have on October 10, a Mitt Romney victory would be a pretty incredible upset."

From your mouth to our alien overlords' ears.

Ken

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Author: WuLong Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823227 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/10/2012 10:15 PM
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a Mitt Romney victory would be a pretty incredible upset.
You've gone to a lot of trouble to write what pretty much every other pundit has been able to say in a single sentence:
FL, OH, PA.. whoever gets 2 of 3 wins.

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Author: woodymw Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823238 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/10/2012 10:54 PM
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FL, OH, PA.. whoever gets 2 of 3 wins.

Actually my point is that this single pundit sentence makes it seem like this is pretty even when it really isn't. If Obama wins 2, game over. If Romney wins 2, he still has a lot of work to do. Which means that this single sentence needs some work.

Or ... context, background, exposition, nuance ... meh, too much trouble I guess.

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Author: spikie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823244 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/10/2012 11:52 PM
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Blue
California 55
New York 29
Illinois 20
New Jersey 14
Washington 12
Massachusetts 11
Maryland 10
Oregon 7
Connecticut 7
Hawaii 4
Maine 4
Rhode Island 4
Delaware 3
DC 3

I would venture at this point, 183 votes are pointed to Obama. I believe that Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, certainly Iowa, and New Mexico, New Hampshire and Vermont are all definitely in play for Romney - and very iffy for the current occupant.

It isn't so much math as it is broken promises, exceedingly high unemployment, and loss of wages (over 3000$ per year per family) lost under Obama's last 4 years. Add to that the promise from Obama of more of the same, with higher taxes a certainty, more unemployment a likelihood, and a non-existent foreign policy that is getting American civilians killed now, and things are not simple math any more, imho.

We shall see, shall we not...

You know, come to think of it, I wouldn't necessarily discount Massachusetts and perhaps even Connecticut. They have lost tremendous amounts of industry and jobs under Obama. Those folk are not stupid.

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Author: mbarr Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823277 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 8:43 AM
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and Vermont are all definitely in play for Romney

How is Vermont in play? Vermont is left of Massachusetts. I know it's only 3 votes but Romney isn't getting those.

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Author: woodymw Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823282 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 9:06 AM
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I would venture at this point, 183 votes are pointed to Obama. I believe that Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, certainly Iowa, and New Mexico, New Hampshire and Vermont are all definitely in play for Romney - and very iffy for the current occupant.

Before the cycle started I would have agreed with you on Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Mexico, and New Hampshire ... and I included Iowa in my original list of "still in play" states. However, we're not at the beginning of the cycle, we're near the end - and the numbers have consistently said that those states are increasingly safe for Obama, with the possible exception of Iowa. I'll bet if we watch where the ad spending goes over this last 6 weeks we'll see most of those states out of the money loop.

You know, come to think of it, I wouldn't necessarily discount Massachusetts and perhaps even Connecticut. They have lost tremendous amounts of industry and jobs under Obama. Those folk are not stupid.

Putting Massachusetts and Vermont on a list of "in play" states for Romney is, at this point, an exercise in saying "how deeply can I damage my credibility in this discussion". Since the 1920s, Massachusetts has voted for Republicans four times - Eisenhower twice and Reagan twice. And there are a lot of things Gov. Romney is, but he is no Eisenhower, and he is no Reagan. Hell - they even voted for George McGovern. And Obama's largest margin of victory in 2008 outside of Hawaii was Vermont - nearly 70 / 30. If they don't vote for Obama 60 / 40 or better I'll be shocked.

Also ... note that since Obama took office in 2009, jobs have:

Increased in Massachusetts
http://www.deptofnumbers.com/employment/massachusetts/

Held flat in Connecticut
http://www.deptofnumbers.com/employment/connecticut/

Increased in Vermont
http://www.deptofnumbers.com/employment/vermont/

Etc. If I believed jobs numbers in these states were going to drive a vote for Romney, I'd expect to see graphs that look like 2008 in the charts I linked to above. That has just not been the case.

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Author: eatenbybears Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823284 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 9:14 AM
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This is what the Democrats need to be concerned with everywhere

Only 73 percent who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote, compared to 86 percent who back Romney. Likewise, 84 percent of Republicans say they are extremely likely to vote, compared to 76 percent of Democrats.

Among those extremely likely to vote, Romney actually leads Obama 52 percent to 46 percent. That’s up from a 2-point lead last week. Obama led 50 percent to 47 percent


http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1012/82122.html#ixzz28z...

Bears

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Author: PeterRabit Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823285 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 9:21 AM
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woodymw added to your Favorite Fools list

Thanks for this excellent work. I've been saying for some time that Romney MUST take Florida AND Ohio (he will not get PA), but you have shown exactly why this is true.

http://boards.fool.com/rt-obama-has-many-roads-to-the-white-...

Peter

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Author: ramsfanray Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823286 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 9:33 AM
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I believe that Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, certainly Iowa, and New Mexico, New Hampshire and Vermont are all definitely in play for Romney - and very iffy for the current occupant.


Rasmussen just released a poll that shows Obama up 11 points in New Mexico

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Author: FoolinGrapeApe Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823300 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 10:15 AM
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You have NH listed blue. The state is very much in play.


http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elec...


Grape

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Author: xLife Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Recommended Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823314 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 10:34 AM
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You know, come to think of it, I wouldn't necessarily discount Massachusetts...

Analytical fail.

I'll eat my dog if Massachusetts goes for Romney.

Focus.

Obama needs to win Ohio or Florida and one of the following states to win the election:

Colorado
Iowa
North Carolina
Virginia
Nevada

Romney needs to win Ohio and Florida and two other states to win.

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Author: kenm47 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823323 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 10:43 AM
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Overall Rasmussen showing Obama in the lead again. Looks like the debate "bounce" is deadcatting.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obam...

Ken

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Author: CCinOC Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Recommended Fools Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823360 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 11:55 AM
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Don't forget about the "silent majority," an unspecified large majority of people who don't express their opinions publicly. The silent majority was not so silent in the political campaigns of Ronald Reagan during the 1970s and 1980s, the Republican Revolution in the 1994 elections, and the victories of Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg.

I've received several poll calls that I never answer, and I'm voting for Romney.

kenm47, your victory lap is premature.

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Author: kenm47 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823368 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 12:03 PM
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"kenm47, your victory lap is premature."

It wasn't. Just poking a Romney-ite here who likes to cite Rasmussen.

After 2004, I don't do victory laps until the counting is done.

Ken

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Author: FoolinGrapeApe Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823392 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 12:54 PM
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It wasn't. Just poking a Romney-ite here who likes to cite Rasmussen.

I cited Rasmussen because it was the latest poll available. Would you rather I posted a pre debate poll? Polling changed dramatically across all polling agencies post debate did they not? My only point is NH is in play according to the latest poll. I have no idea what it is you're trying to "poke". The polls are what they are. So be it.


Grape

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Author: WuLong Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823420 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 2:03 PM
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Or ... context, background, exposition, nuance ... meh, too much trouble I guess.
No, not at all.
But the single sentence encompasses the fact that whoever wins in those battle grounds is likely to take the others as well.
Guaranteed? No. Likely? Yes.

Or ... Does that concept require too much context, background, exposition, nuance ...

Sigh.

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Author: woodymw Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823468 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 3:50 PM
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Or ... Does that concept require too much context, background, exposition, nuance ...

Actually - yes, I think it does. The battleground state dynamics are so particular to individual states this year that I think a broader discussion is important. The keys to winning Florida and Ohio are very different because the demographics are so different and the issues are weighted so differently. And the issues that people care about in those states may or may not align with folks in Virginia, or Colorado.

For example, I could easily see Romney winning Virginia on defense budget fears and winning Nevada on general principle. Those two things are in many ways independent of whether he wins Florida, which is going to hinge on how well they can do damage control on Paul Ryan's Medicare Plan. If you're going to make the assertion that whoever wins one wins them all, I think you need to be able to give me context, background, exposition, or nuance that will let me understand what Nevada's electoral profile has to do with Ohio's, or any other states.

My position is that much of the gridlock and enmity that we are dealing with in today's system is based on an inability and unwillingness to have that kind of nuanced discussion. We're too busy saying things like "two out of three wins" without a real understanding of any of the underlying dynamics and how that impacts broader policy direction, political efficiency, and ability to govern.

Mileage varies, I know, but "whoever wins 2 out of 3 for those three states" doesn't explain enough for me.

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Author: FoolinGrapeApe Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823479 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 4:14 PM
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The battleground state dynamics are so particular to individual states this year that I think a broader discussion is important. The keys to winning Florida and Ohio are very different because the demographics are so different and the issues are weighted so differently. And the issues that people care about in those states may or may not align with folks in Virginia, or Colorado.

Sounds like you just made a states rights argument...


Grape

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Author: NoSeeUm Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823545 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 8:52 PM
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You know, come to think of it, I wouldn't necessarily discount Massachusetts and perhaps even Connecticut. They have lost tremendous amounts of industry and jobs under Obama. Those folk are not stupid.


Massachusetts did elect carpet-bagger, pseudo-resident Romney as governor. His was not exactly a distinguished rule, in spite of Romneycare, which, of course, he more or less disavows now.

Fool me once.....

Fool us twice....I don't think so. You are right: the people of Massachusetts aren't that stupid. And they'll bounce Scott Brown, too, regardless of the right-wing feces that have been hurled Elizabeth Warren's way.

And, the Massachusetts economy is getting back in gear, contrary to your insinuations.

Keep the faith, spikie.
You're going to need it.


Jimbo

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Author: NoSeeUm Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823546 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 8:55 PM
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Only 73 percent who support Obama say they are “extremely likely” to vote, compared to 86 percent who back Romney. Likewise, 84 percent of Republicans say they are extremely likely to vote, compared to 76 percent of Democrats.

Among those extremely likely to vote, Romney actually leads Obama 52 percent to 46 percent. That’s up from a 2-point lead last week. Obama led 50 percent to 47 percent


Look up, bears. Look up!

The point the OP is making is flying over your unconscious head.


Jimbo

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Author: NoSeeUm Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 1823548 of 1951232
Subject: Re: Electoral College Math Date: 10/11/2012 9:05 PM
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If you're going to make the assertion that whoever wins one wins them all, I think you need to be able to give me context, background, exposition, or nuance that will let me understand what Nevada's electoral profile has to do with Ohio's, or any other states.

Clearly, you're new in this neighborhood.
'Nuance' is a French word here.
The Righties ain't that smart.

Allow me: Dream on.

Meanwhile, welcome. You're a breath of fresh air. And that observation pertains to yours truly as much as to the rest of the Lefties. That the Righties need a breath of fresh air is a given. Won't do them much good: they're still holding that breath because they're mad at President Obama.


Jimbo

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