Thursday, October 30, 2008

AP Poll: Obama Leads Or Ties In Eight Crucial States

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., pauses for a moment while addressing supporters at a rally in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

WASHINGTON — Barack Obama leads in four states won by President Bush in 2004 and is essentially tied in two other Republican states, according to new AP-GfK battleground polling that suggests most roads to victory are closed to John McCain. Obama could win big.

While no poll can predict next week's results, the AP-GfK surveys explain why Obama is hoping not just for a win but a transcendent victory that remakes the nation's political map. McCain is scrambling to defend states where he wouldn't even be campaigning if the race were closer.

Less than a week before Election Day, the AP-GfK polls show Obama winning among early voters, favored on almost every issue, benefiting from the country's sour mood and widely viewed as the winning candidate by voters in eight crucial states _ Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

"I've never seen the United States in this bad of shape," said Debby Granik, an executive assistant from Las Vegas who voted for Obama last week. "We need change. We need change desperately."

Despite a mounting chorus of Republicans predicting their nominee's demise, McCain aides insist their internal surveys show victory is still within reach.

Indeed, polls are mere snapshots of highly fluid campaigns, and this race has been unusually volatile. McCain was written off prematurely last year, and Obama seemed poised for victory in New Hampshire's Democratic primary just before Hillary Rodham Clinton thumped him.

Even this close to Election Day, racial tensions and the numbers of late-deciding voters identified by the AP-GfK polling leave room for doubt. But the surveys confirm what McCain aides acknowledge privately _ their chances of winning are low.

The polling shows Obama leading in Ohio (7 percentage points), Nevada (12 points), Colorado (9) and Virginia (7), all red states won by Bush that collectively offer 47 electoral votes. Sweeping those four _ or putting together the right combination of two or three _ would almost certainly make Obama president.

It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House. Obama can earn 252 by merely reclaiming states won by John Kerry in 2004. There are only two Kerry states still in contention _ Pennsylvania with 21 votes and New Hampshire with four _ and AP-GfK polls show Obama leading both by double digits.

Ohio alone has 20 electoral votes. Nevada has 5, Colorado 9 and Virginia 13.

In addition, Obama is tied with McCain in North Carolina and Florida, according to the AP-GfK polling, two vote-rich states Bush carried in 2004. Obama is throwing his time and money into the Sunshine State, which has 27 votes, part of a strategy to create many routes to victory and push toward a landslide of 300 or more electoral votes. North Carolina has 15 votes.

Independent polling suggests that New Mexico and Iowa, two traditionally GOP states, are out of reach for McCain. Other red states may be creeping away from him and into contention, including Montana.

The bottom line: McCain must overtake Obama in the many red states where he is trailing or tied _ a tall order. Or he needs to gain some breathing room by winning Pennsylvania, where he trails by 12 percentage points, according to the AP-GfK poll.

Many of his own supporters say the race is all but over.

"If you believe in miracles," said GOP consultant Joe Gaylord of Arlington, Va., "you still believe in McCain."

"I get the sense it's shutting down," said Tom Rath, a GOP consultant in New Hampshire where McCain trails by 18 points.

He added, "Where there's a week, there's hope."

A couple of factors might cut McCain's way.

First, there are still a good number of voters are open to changing their minds _ from as low as 4 percent in Nevada to 14 percent in New Hampshire.

Thomas Aelker, a Republican from central Florida who considered voting for Obama, said he's back with McCain. He said of Obama, "I just think his lack of experience will be a detriment."

Second, the impact of race is a hard-to-measure factor as Obama seeks to become the nation's first black president.

In three states _ North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania _ the number of white Democrats who said the word "violent" described most blacks hit double digits in the polling.

In those same states, Obama was having trouble winning over white Democrats _ 20 percent of them in North Carolina said they were voting for McCain; 12 percent in Florida and 8 percent in Pennsylvania.

Obama may have coattails. Democrats lead the Senate races in Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia, according to AP-GfK polls. In North Carolina, GOP Sen. Elizabeth Dole is essentially tied with state Sen. Kay Hagan.

In all four of those Senate races, the Democratic candidate leads among early voters, a sign of a strong ground game driven by the top of the ticket. Obama easily outpaces McCain among early voters, holding about a 2-1 advantage in six of the states.

Obama is favored on almost every issue in every state, the polling says:

_Voters in all eight states gave him the highest marks on whom they trust to fix the economy and improve health care.

_Even on the question of "who would make the right decision about national security," typically a strong suit for McCain, Obama holds a slight lead in Nevada and is running even against his GOP rival in Colorado, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

_Obama's message of change is playing well among women, especially in Florida where they gave Obama 54 percent of their support in the polling.

Susan Pogue, 56, of West Palm Beach, said McCain lost her vote during the final debate. "When it comes to meeting with world leaders," she said, "I want someone who is not clucking and rolling his eyes."

_By large margins, voters in each of the eight states consider Obama the likely winner Tuesday.

_Voters in each state believe McCain has run a far more negative campaign.

_Seven in 10 Hispanics in Colorado say they are voting for Obama, a margin that could help him win a state that has chosen Democratic presidential candidates just three times since 1948.

The political landscape tilts against McCain. Just 8 percent of voters in New Hampshire think the country is headed in the right direction. Three-quarters of voters in Pennsylvania disapprove of Bush's job performance. Nine in 10 voters in North Carolina are worried about the economy.

"I'm a Bush-generated Democrat," said Connie Lilly of Richmond, Va.

The AP-GfK Battleground State Poll was conducted from Oct. 22-26 in eight states. It involved interviews by landline telephone with likely voters in each state, ranging from 600 in Florida and New Hampshire to 628 in Nevada. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points in Colorado and Nevada, and 4 points in the other states.


AP Writers Gary D. Robertson in North Carolina, Kathy McCormack in New Hampshire, Kristen Wyatt in Denver, Martha Raffaele in Pennsylvania, John Seewer in Ohio, Brendan Farrington in Florida, Bob Lewis in Virginia and Kathleen Hennessey in Nevada contributed to this story.

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Clerk charged with unlawful search of Joe the Plumber

Toledo Police have confirmed that a TPD records clerk is accused of performing an illegal search of information related to 'Joe the Plumber.'

Julie McConnell, has been charged with Gross Misconduct for allegedly making an improper inquiry into a state database in search of information pertaining to Samuel Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16.

Wurzelbacher came under the spotlight after being spoken about during the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain.

The inquiry into Wurzelbacher's record is a violation of department and state policy governing the use of the Law Enforcement Automated Data System. The clerk is under fire for making the inquiry for a non-law enforcement purpose.

McConnell was hired by the Toledo Police Department in April 1995 and assigned to the Investigative Services Bureau.

A discplinary hearing will be scheduled within the next ten days.

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The Richardson Report: Two-and-a-Half (Fundamental, Plumber-Free) Reasons Not to Vote for John McCain

By John H. Richardson

John H. Richardson

Norma Jean Roy

Ed. Note: This is the third installment of John H. Richardson's weekly column, "The Richardson Report." Browse an archive here.

Can everybody please get a grip?

It doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin’s wardrobe cost $150,000. It doesn’t matter that a Web site with ties to Al Qaeda endorsed John McCain. Joe Biden’s "mark my words" gaffe about Barack Obama being tested early in office doesn’t matter. Neither does John McCain’s "I couldn’t agree more" gaffe about the racism of people in Western Pennsylvania.

Some pundits say McCain lost his honor when his campaign started this crap about Obama palling around with terrorists. Others say Obama hit a low blow with his inaccurate line about McCain wanting to fight in Iraq for 100 years. It doesn’t matter. And what really doesn’t matter is anything Joe the Plumber has to say about economics. In fact, I’m not so sure Joe the Plumber’s ideas on plumbing would, um, hold water.

Two things do matter: the war and the economy. Okay, maybe there’s a third: the Supreme Court. For that, I’ll refer you to the third part of the incredibly eloquent endorsement of Obama by the editors of Esquire. For the rest of why McCain’s Bizarro, plumber-laden realities don’t hold water with America’s real issues today, here’s my bottom line (plus a Palin-induced reality check):

1. Dr. Surgelove, or How McCain Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Iraq

John McCain is a war hero. He risked his campaign to support the surge. He took a principled stand against torture. These things are extremely admirable. But when it comes to Iraq, it’s scary how often he uses the words "victory" and "honor." Case in point, from a campaign stop in May: "I will never surrender in Iraq. Our American troops will come home with victory and with honor."

True, McCain doesn’t say such things so much anymore. He prefers to focus on Joe the Plumber and on the surge. But the surge is a tactic. The strategy was to roll back rogue states. The strategy was to put the big foot down in Iraq and scare the crap out of the Iranians and the Syrians and Hezbollah.

And that didn’t work out so well. The Iranians are stronger than ever, Hezbollah is practically running Lebanon, and the Bush administration is negotiating a plan for us to leave Iraq with our tail between our legs -- and even that is no guarantee that Iraq will stay peaceful five minutes after we leave. The strategy has failed, and failed spectacularly, but McCain and his cheerleaders on the right are too obsessed with "victory and honor" to admit it.

As Jeffrey Goldberg suggested recently in his intimate and thoughtful portrait of McCain for The Atlantic, all this is rooted in one of the most persistent delusions of the far right: the belief that America could have won the Vietnam war with just a little bit more effort.

McCain’s champions like to point out that he’s resisted foreign entanglements in places like Somalia. Even The New York Times described him this weekend as reflective and again as not the kind of "neoconservative idealist, who would promote American values anywhere and everywhere." But the fact remains that McCain started talking about "rogue state rollback" long before 9/11. The day after the attacks, he went on ABC and said that invading Afghanistan or killing Osama Bin Laden wouldn’t be enough -- that we would have to attack a "network" of terrorist sympathizers that included Iraq, Iran and Syria. A month later, he said on CNN that "very obviously, Iraq is the first country." In January 2002, he made his views even more explicit on an aircraft carrier on the Arabian sea: "Next up, Baghdad."

None of these philosophies have changed. McCain’s chief foreign policy advisor is Randy Scheunemann, a passionate supporter of the Iraq war who first started pushing for an invasion in 1998, said there was "no doubt" that Saddam Hussein had WMDs, helped Donald Rumsfeld plan the war, fought giving any role to the U.N., and promoted Ahmed Chalabi. Another top advisor is William Kristol, who recently compared Obama to Neville Chamberlain and said he would have stood by "as U.S. interests were sacrificed and U.S. honor besmirched."

If Neville Chamberlain is going to go down in history as the guy who appeased Hitler, then John McCain has to go down in history for promoting the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history.

And the scariest part is what McCain might do next. Consider what he told Goldberg: "While we don’t go around launching preemptive strikes all the time, we can’t afford to wait until a terrorist organization, or a nation which is an avowed enemy of the United States, has the capability to use weapons of mass destruction." Sound reasonable? Look at the words more closely, and think about the Cuban Missile Crisis. By McCain’s standards, the world would have ended already.

2. Bizarro Reagan and the Free Lunch Party’s Economic Katrina 2.0

As far as financial meltdowns go these days, all a sane person can really do is sit with his mouth open like a goldfish, blinking his eyes in amazement. McCain has abandoned 99 percent of the Republican talking points on economics. He never mentions the trickle-down theory. He doesn’t talk about deregulation. He certainly doesn’t talk about small government or fiscal prudence or getting rid of Social Security or privatizing every function of government that doesn’t include his current job. But he does talk about how important it is to give $600 billion to Wall Street or another $300 billion to buy up every bad mortgage in America. He’s like a Bizarro-world version of Reagan -- any minute, you expect him to reinstate the air traffic controllers.

But there is one talking point McCain loves: taking imaginary money away from Joe the Imaginary Plumber.

Again, it’s like a Bizarro-world version of reality. McCain’s party has bankrupted the country and presided over the greatest transfer of wealth since the Gilded Age -- due to Bush’s tax cuts, 20 percent of the money in the country is now in the hands of 1 percent of the people -- and all McCain can do is call for more tax cuts on the rich.

It’s an economic version of Bush’s response to Katrina: Spend trillions more dollars and don’t pay for it! Don’t look out the window of the plane! I say we change the name of the GOP to the FLP -- the Free Lunch Party.

As Politico reminded us this week, the geniuses in financial analysis still say that "the stock market likes Republicans more than Democrats." Why? Because "the key issue on Wall Street minds is…" Can you guess? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the economic meltdown, not the millions of foreclosed homes, not the fact that without a middle class their corporations might cease to exist. Try corporate taxes.

All this as McCain’s closing-week stump speech on the economy proclaims that "this election comes down to how you want your hard-earned money spent." Sigh.

2.5. Sarah Palin and, Oh, Just the End of the World as We Know It

Okay, there is one more fundamental reason not to vote for McCain. Nobody put it better than Charles Fried, the McCain advisor who just endorsed Obama. Here’s the bomb -- involving more Reagan, financial meltdown and, yes, the contender with the $150,000 wardrobe -- that Fried dropped on The New Republic’s doorstep last week.

From the Mailbag

Lately I feel like this country is back in the O.J. moment, drawing opposite conclusions from the same evidence. So this e-mail cheered me up: "You’re stupid…PS. My fiancé is canceling his subscription to Esquire! You guys are soooooooo liberal, yuck!"

The good part came after I sent my dear reader some proof (in the form of old Esquire articles) that I believe that Charlton Heston was an American patriot and that the Bush administration drifted into torture in a sincere attempt to protect the country.

"Thanks for responding," she answered. "Maybe I was being harsh, I apologize. Fair enough!"

Thanks for writing, Cathy! That’s the spirit that might just save America -- with a little help from President Obama…

Also, last week I misspelled Richard Hayes Phillips's name. Sorry about that.

Original here

Obama Addresses Crowd in Downpour; McCain Cancels

Tuesday was a tough day to be outside in Greater Philadelphia. The rain poured and the wind howled. The weather turned so nasty that the fifth (and possibly final) game of the World Series game scheduled for the night was postponed.

John McCain canceled a Tuesday morning rally at Memorial Stadium in the Philly suburb Quakertown.

Back in the city meanwhile, in driving wind and rain on the campus of Widener University in Chester, Senator Obama was greeted by thousands of supporters who cheered Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell when he introduced the Democratic presidential nominee and kept right on cheering as Obama took the stage and addressed the crowd. The crowd was multi-racial, wildly enthusiastic and drenched. Attendee Charlene McGrady was impressed with the enthusiasm but not surprised by the crowd's tenacity. "Philadelphia Phillies fans waited hours in the rain for the third game of the World Series. McCain either doesn't know much about the people in this area or doesn't have much faith in his supporters."

In a photo taken of the event taken by Robert Ford, Obama appears determined and hatless in the open air, buffeted by the storm.

Click on the photo to see HuffPo's slide show of the event.

Among the crowd at the Obama rally were many children. Described as an "historic day in Chester," the local school district closed the schools and Superintendent Gregory Thornton encouraged parents to take their children to the rally. He said they should "take advantage of this educational opportunity."

"The passion and persistence of Obama and the crowd that turned out to hear and see him despite the weather speaks volumes," said McGrady. "It's a telling contrast to the fair-weather attitude of the McCain campaign, which threw in the towel at the first drop of rain." She went on to add that John McCain and Sarah Palin went ahead with an indoor rally today in Hershey, Pennsylvania, which caused McGrady to comment wryly: "$150,000 for clothes and they apparently didn't buy her a raincoat."

McGrady felt the Pennsylvania cancellation was indicative of the entire McCain campaign, adding: "What a washout his campaign has been, in more ways than one."

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