By MICHAEL FALCONE and AMY WALTER
FINAL PITCHES. President Obama heads to Cleveland, Ohio today wrapping up a four-state weekend campaign sprint to the finish. On Saturday he made stops in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Illinois to fire up Democratic voters. ABC’s Ann Compton filed this dispatch from Chicago: “His 11th hour campaigning brought President Obama home to his Hyde Park neighborhood and a giant evening rally in the center of the University of Chicago campus.“Now Chicago, in three days you have the chance to set direction of this state and this country for years to come,” the president shouted to the thousands stretching far down the mall in the dark. “You can defy the conventional wisdom.” But here in Illinois the freshest polls give the edge to Republicans in both the governor’s race and in the contest to fill the Democratic seat Barack Obama surrendered when he became president.”
CHANGE 2010. Results from a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that apathy as much as anger is what's driving this election. For example, 79 percent of 2008 McCain voters say they're certain to vote compared to 64% of Obama voters. More from ABC’s Gary Langer: “This ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that critics of the president and his policies, by contrast, are highly motivated — and broadly pro-Republican. The result is a turn of the screw: Riding the theme of "change" in 2008, Obama was supported by 82 percent of likely voters looking for "new ideas and a new direction." Today, by contrast, "new direction" voters — as numerous now as they were two years ago — favor Republican candidates for the House by a 21-point margin, 57-36 percent. Overall, Republicans lead Democrats in House vote preference by 49-45 percent. That's narrowed from the GOP's remarkable 53-40 percent advantage in early September, a record in ABC/Post polling since 1981. But it's still enough to suggest substantial GOP gains.” http://bit.ly/dd9Z6n
RALLY WRAP. In case you missed it, ABC’s Huma Khan and Kevin Dolak have everything you need to know about yesterday’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, brought to you by Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. “Despite their disclaimers, the rally was in many ways a rebuke to Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally held just blocks away two months ago. Dominated by skits on "sanity," racial diversity and religious tolerance, the comedians blasted the press and pundits as they handed out comedic "Fear" awards. "This was a not a rally to ridicule people's faith or people's activism … or suggest that times are not difficult or that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies," the "Daily Show" host said.
"Sanity will always be and always has been in the eye of the beholder," Stewart said. "Seeing you here today and the kinds of people you are has restored mine." Though the rally, taking place just days before the midterm elections, had been billed as an opportunity for people to air frustrations with American politics and the media, Stewart had claimed that the event was meant as a satirical comedy event rather than a serious political rally.” http://bit.ly/bB8s28
VOTE 2010: ABC VOICES. ABC News has lined up an all-star panel of correspondents and political experts to weigh in on the results during our election night coverage, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos. Between now and Election Day, we’ll be bringing you insights from our panelists. Today we have ABC Political Director Amy Walter and correspondent Jonathan Karl.
Amy Walter: Perhaps the most misunderstood — and perhaps purposely so — part of this election has been the difference between a "mood" and a "movement." The anger fueling conservative Republicans – as most of these self-described Tea Partiers are -is understandable. The notion of bank bailouts and more government involvement in things like health care and financial regulation is as frustrating to them as the Iraq war and Bush agenda was to liberal Democrats.
But, to call that a "movement" is overstated. What successful candidates – Tea party affiliated or not -were able to do this year was to read the "mood" of the electorate (angry, sacred, tired of status quo and distrustful of major institutional powers) and adjust their campaign rhetoric to reflect that. The best example of this- Marco Rubio, a former speaker of the House in Florida – who transformed himself into an "outsider" to drive Charlie Crist out of the party and become the face of the Tea Party. In a different year and a different political climate, one could easily see Rubio touting his experience in state government.
So, will the Tea Party live on after November? In some form yes. And we all expect to see its influence felt most acutely in the 2012 GOP primaries. But, we also know that "mood" can be altered by changing events. And, it's really hard to sustain a credible "outsider" message once your team is on the inside. Just ask Dems about that.
Jonathan Karl: A high-level GOP source tells me party leaders have essentially given up on Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller and are now banking on a victory by write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski as the best bet for Republicans to keep the Alaska Senate seat. Murkowski defied party leaders by deciding to run a write-in campaign after she lost the Republican primary last month. But with Miller's campaign faltering, the source tells me that Republican leaders are now worried that Democrat Scott McAdams has a shot of winning and that Murkowski may be the only way to stop him.
It's remarkable turnaround for Murkowski. Just last month, she was punished by party leaders — unceremoniously stripped of her chairmanship of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and her role in Senate leadership — when she refused to bow out of the Senate race and endorse Miller. But she has consistently said she is still a Republican and would caucus with the Republican party if she wins.
The nightmare scenario for Republicans is that McAdams comes in second on election day, trailing "write-in candidate." Those write-in votes won't be counted unless their are more write-in votes than there are votes for any candidate on the ballot. Once the write-in votes are counted, however, some of them will inevitably be disqualified (illegible writing, wrong name, etc). And a small number will be for candidates other than Murkowski. If enough are tossed out, second place McAdams would be the winner. http://bit.ly/aeD8Rg
CLOSING ARGUMENTS. Candidates have been making their final pitches to voters on the stump and in television commercials, and we’re taking a look at some of those “closing argument.” Here is today’s pick:
Barbara Boxer: In the California Senate candidate’s latest, and likely final ad, she does not distance herself from President Barack Obama. Just the opposite. She features a speech the president recently gave at a rally for Boxer. In the ad, Obama says: "I'm optimistic because I know there’s people like you out there, and I know there are people like Barbara Boxer in the Senate who's fighting to change this country for the better.”
Keep your eye on ABC’s updated House, Senate and governor’s race maps right here: http://bit.ly/cRwPpH
UPDATED ABC iPAD APP IS HERE: Just in time for the elections, introducing the updated ABC News iPad app! It includes great features including an interactive map that will show real time results on election night and the "What If?" game in which user can select the races they think could tip the balance of power in the House and Senate. You can start the game with ABC news race ratings and then predict your own winners and losers. On election night continue to play along, and watch the returns come in. How to get it? Download the app free from the iTunes store.
RUSH’S RATING. Newsweek recently asked Rush Limbaugh to rate the potential 2012 candidates. Here are the results according to Zev Chafets: “I recently asked him to rate a list of the leading aspirants—Newt Gingrich, Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, and Chris Christie—on a scale of 1 (if this is the nominee, I’m moving to Costa Rica) to 10 (Reagan redux). In reply he gave Huckabee a 4; Pawlenty, Gingrich, and Romney 6’s; Barbour a 7. Palin and Christie each scored an 8.” http://bit.ly/9HWQHW
STEELE CONFIDENT. Republican National Committee Chairman Michel Steele says he’s feeling good about the prospects that he will continue to head the RNC, if he decides to run again. Steele made the comments in an interview with Politico: ““Oh, if I run, I'm going to win,” Steele said in an interview for the POLITICO video series “Countdown to 2010.” Steele said he has told committee members, “Yeah, I'm thinking about it, and I'll let people know what I'm doing. “I'm not playing coy or cute,” Steele added. “I'm going to assess and evaluate what I think the party needs based on how we do this week, where I think the party needs to go based on how we do this upcoming week, what additional work still needs to be done.” http://politi.co/bhSduF
@GlennThrush: Warning to near-Speaker Boehner: Your approval rating going into the election is 25%, CNN/ORC says That's one point LESS that Pelosi's.
THE NUMBER: 120
The number of campaign events that former President Bill Clinton said he had been to over the course of the election season. He noted it while campaigning for Ohio Gov. Ted Stickland at a rally yesterday.
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