Mike Berman’s Washington Watch

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August 23, 2012

The Money in the 2012 Presidential Election

(Through June 31, 2012)

In the 2007-08 cycle (through 11/24/08), the Obama campaign raised $778 million and spent $760 million. Through July 31st, the campaign had raised $348 million. To reach the amount spent in 2008, the campaign needs to raise $412 million between August 1st and October 31st. This amounts to roughly $137 million per month. Given that in July the Obama campaign committee raised only $49 million, it is clear that the campaign will not come near matching its 2008 total.

The following compares the two Presidential campaigns and each of their national party committees through July 31st of this 2011-12 election cycle. Effectively, Obama has controlled the DNC through this period, and Romney has taken control of his national party mechanism since he became the putative nominee. It also compares the two Super PACs specifically organized to support each of the two candidates. (Other Super PACs, as well as non-disclosing 501(c )(4)s, are playing in this space as well.)

  Obama Romney
Raised $348,413,128 $193,373,762
Spent 262,966,849 163,205,427
Cash net of debt 84,915,262 30,181,373
Total raised $242,464,371 $265,419,293
Total spent 222,765,539 166,493,827
Cash net of debt 22,717,997 89,811,729
  Obama + DNC Romney + RNC
Raised $590,900.000 $458,800,000
Spent 485,800,000 329,700,000
Cash net of debt 107,700,000 119,900,000

Also in play for the Presidential candidates are the two Super PACs which were organized to support them in particular.

  Priorities USA Action (Supports Obama) Restore our Future (Supports Romney)
Raised $25,500,000 $89,700,000
Independent Expenditures 19,800,000 72,100,000

The following represents the financial activity of the Democratic and Republican House and Senate campaign committees.

Total raised $115,499,329 $109,112,107
Total spent 80,132,768 62,752,546
Cash net of debt 36,172,185 48,897,863
Total raised $77,751,128 $74,972,593
Total spent 47,147,856 47,809,307
Cash net of debt 31,356,864 27,281,602

DNC – Democratic National committee
RNC – Republican National Committee
DCCC – Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
NRCC – National Republican Congressional Committee
DSCC – Democratic Senate Campaign Committee
NRSC – National Republican Senatorial Committee

Suburban women – a key voting block

On August 13, 2012 Peter Hart conducted another in his series of focus groups under the auspices of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

The following is WW’s summary of that focus group. The summary is composed of quotations from a memorandum that Peter prepared. (I did watch the focus group online.) The group was composed of a dozen suburban women in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

“Eight of the 12 women still prefer to call themselves “undecided,” though two “lean” toward Romney, and two “lean” toward Obama.”

“Scott Walker, the controversial Governor, is providing the strong leadership and hard choices that these women feel President Obama is failing to make. These voters – Democrats, Independents and Republicans – may not agree with Walker’s actions but they applaud his leadership.”

“...In meteorological terms, they see current economic conditions as “foggy,” “overcast,” “thunderclouds,” and “stormy” – no patches of blue or clearing forecasts for these women. Indeed, eight of the 12 tell a story about how the “economic recession” has changed their own life or that of an immediate family member. The pain from the economic recession remains very raw and real. When 10 of 12 people say the recession has had a direct effect on them or their immediate family, one gets a sense of how deeply it cuts – ‘loss of jobs,’ ‘reduction of work,’ ‘foreclosure,’ and ‘closing of a family business’ gives one a sense that voters are looking for answers and a roadmap, not shibboleths.”

“The one area of agreement among most of these voters is the quality of the campaign that is being run. While they seem resigned to it, they are turned off. The campaign is ‘cut throat,’ ‘backstabbing,’ ‘dirty and annoying,’ and as one woman stated, ‘I don’t trust anything,’ and another chimed in, ‘Everything is negative. I don’t know positives about either candidate.’ ”

“Bill Clinton has returned to center stage, and in some respect to these women he has become the symbol of what America needs. He is to 2012 what Ronald Reagan was to 2000: the shortcomings have washed away and all the good things grafted onto him.”

“The gap between how these voters related to and felt about Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is huge. Whatever reservations voters have about Obama as a leader, they like him as a person. For Mitt Romney, whatever credit he receives as a business leader, they have nothing but reservations about him as a person.”

Peter asked the group what each of the men would be like as a next door neighbor. The women described Obama as “nice, friendly,” “fun,” “neighborly,” “down-to-earth; playing with his kids,” “would have a vegetable garden.” They described Romney as “snobbish,” “wouldn’t talk to us,” “would make you feel uncomfortable,” “has an elevator for his cars.”

The memorandum describing the focus group has an extended discussion of the views of one of the participants, Michelle W. She is 38 years old, an electrical assembler, and mother of three pre-teen boys. She was laid off in 2009, and had a hard time finding a job. She was laid off for about three years.

“Michelle views the 2012 election through the lens of her background. She was a Democrat most of her life and she was into Obama in 2008. But 2012 is different. She states that she is undecided, but in listening to her views, it is clear that she is undecided not on Obama, but on Romney. Her skepticism and disappointment in Obama makes it difficult to convince her that he deserves four more years in office.”

“Yet , while there is a clear disappointment in how the President has performed, there is an appreciation of Barack Obama, the man. As a next door neighbor ‘he would take my boys in, ....It takes good neighbors to deal with them, and I think he would be fine with them.’.... She would want to be with Obama for commuting to get into the HOV lane, because he ‘seems friendlier.’ ”

“To Michelle W., Romney is just the opposite, ‘I’m unsure, I don’t know that much about him.’....’It just seems like he’s secretive and a weasel; I’ve always viewed a president as a leader, and that’s not what I view as a leader...I don’t want someone like that being a leader.’ ”

“So Michelle W.’s struggle is what many voters seem to be going through: they are looking at the President as someone who they are not certain is ready to provide strong leadership, and at a challenger that they cannot relate to and even fully trust.”

A bit more about Paul Ryan

Paul Ryan is the most conservative member of Congress to run for Vice President, at least since 1900. The most liberal member to run for the office was John Nance Garner in 1932 and 1936. In more modern times Walter Mondale, who was a candidate for VP, in 1976 and 1980 is the most liberal. [Fivethirtyeight.blog. NYT]

Ryan is getting better known. In the June 2011 NBC/WSJ survey, 46% of Americans said they did not know the name. Last week in that survey only 17% of Americans said they did not know him. But to know him is not necessarily to love him. In the August survey, 33% rated him positively, while 32% rated him negatively.

Only 4% do not know Vice President Biden’s name, and he is rated negatively by 40% and positively 36%. 41% find Ryan to be out of step with the mainstream of American thinking, but 49% think that Biden is “out of step.” About equal numbers Biden (40%) and Ryan (38%) think they are in the mainstream of American thinking.

During the last several presidential elections, right after a non-incumbent candidate for President has announced his choice for Vice President, the NBC/WSJ survey has asked respondents whether the selection made them more or less likely to vote for the Presidential candidate.

On this standard, Ryan has had less impact than any VP nominee since Dick Cheney.

  More likely Less likely
Romney/Ryan 23% 24%
Obama/Biden 24 16
McCain/Palin 34 25
Kerry/Edwards 28 7
Gore/Lieberman 20 7
Bush/Cheney 16 14

The current state of play

The NBC/WSJ Journal conducted its most recent nationwide survey on August 16-20. Here are a number of its findings which relate most directly to the general election and the presidential election in particular. Also shown are findings on Medicare, which are included in the new NYT/CBS/Quinnipiac poll of three battleground states August 15-21. [Unless otherwise noted, all data from NBC/WSJ]

* On a scale of 10, with 10 being very interested, 68% score 9 or 10. At this time in 2008, 73% scored 9 or 10.

Rated Positive Negative
Democratic party 42% 40%
Republican party 36% 45%

* Preferred outcome of Congressional elections:

  • Republican controlled 42%
  • Democrat controlled 47%
* In the election for the U.S. Congress:

  8/2012 8/2010
Your Representative deserves to be re-elected 43% 31%
Give new person a chance 47% 55%

* For whom would you vote for President:

  • Romney/Ryan 44%
  • Obama/Biden 48%
  Romney Obama
Men 47% 46%
Women 41 51
African Americans -- 95
Hispanics 28 63

  • 72% of Romney voters will definitely vote for him
  • 76% of Obama voters will definitely vote for him
* Has what you have seen or heard about in the last couple of weeks made you feel more or less favorably toward:

  More favorable Less favorable
Romney 32% 44%
Obama 30% 40%

* Medicare

Does Medicare need:

  • Complete overhaul 15%
  • Major changes 27%
  • Minor modifications 39%
  • Okay the way it is 15%
The answers to on this question in April and June of 2011. [NBC/WSJ]

How important is Medicare, which pays for health care for seniors? [NYT/CBS]

  Extremely / Very Important Somewhat / Not at all important
Florida 81% 19%
Ohio 82% 18%
Wisconsin 77% 23%

Regardless of how you intend to vote, who do you think would do a better job on medicare – Obama or Romney [NYT/CBS]

  Obama Romney
Florida 50% 42%
Ohio 51% 43%
Wisconsin 50% 33%

* Which candidate, if either, do you think is running a negative campaign:

  • Romney 11%
  • Obama 20%
At this time in 2008, 29% thought McCain was running a negative campaign, and 5% thought Obama was running a negative campaign.

* As between Obama and Romney, who would be better at each of the following qualities:

  Obama Romney
Being easygoing and likeable 58% 23%
Dealing with issues of concern to women 42 24
Caring about average people 52 30
Dealing with issues of concern to seniors 46 34
Sharing your position on issues 44 36
Being open and transparent 43 31
Being honest and straightforward 41 30
Being firm in his positions on the issues 38 37
Having good ideas for how to improve the economy 38 44
Having executive and managerial skills 32 45

* By 42% to 31% people think the country is worse off than it was when Obama became President.

* Have you been contacted on behalf of one of the candidates for President by any of the following means:

  Obama Romney
Mail 10% 11%
Social media 10 8
E-mail 13% 7
Telephone calls 6 7
Other pers. contact 3 2

One astute political observer framed the election with this question: “Is the Republican Party really ready to take over the country?”

Americans and abortion rights

First, Missouri Republican Senate Candidate Todd Akin made his unfortunate remarks about “legitimate rape.” Then the Republican National Convention’s platform committee adopted a platform plank, to be presented to the convention, that is broadly anti-abortion and says nothing about any exceptions.

Now the issue of abortion is very much on the country’s political plate as it heads toward the general election.

Here is some data from Gallup surveys on this question going back at least to 1995.

* 50% describe themselves as “pro-life” as compared to 33% who held that view in 1996 and 41% who expressed that view in 2006.

  • 72% of Republicans
  • 47% of Independents
  • 34% of Democrats
* 41% say they are “pro-choice” compared to 56% in 1996 and 51% as recently as 2006.

  • 22% of Republicans
  • 41% of Independents
  • 58% of Democrats (68% of Democrats expressed this position in 2011)
* Views about whether abortions should be legal under any circumstance are roughly the same today as they were 35 years ago.

  2012 1978
Legal under any circumstance 25% 22%
Legal only under certain circumstances 52% 55%
Illegal in all circumstances 19% 20%

* Views have also been pretty consistent on whether abortion should be considered:

When the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest
  2011 2003 1996
Should be legal 75% 76% 77%
Should be illegal 22% 19% 18&
When the mother's physical health is endangered
Should be legal 82% 77% 82%
Should be illegal 15% 17% 11%
When the mother's mental health is endangered
Should be legal 61% 63% 66%
Should be illegal 35% 32% 27%

Note: In a recent study of print coverage of election issues from November 2011 to May 2012, 81% of the quotes in stories about abortion came from men.

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