Confidence Wars: Why Both Sides Say They're Winning (The Note)

Steven Senne/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • FULL SPEED AHEAD: ABC's Jonathan Karl reported on "Good Morning America," today that the polls show a solid approval of the president's response to Superstorm Sandy and narrow leads in all of the battleground states, but this campaign is about to return with a vengeance. On Wednesday, as Obama toured New Jersey with Republican Governor Chris Christie, he seemed to make a new, powerful Republican friend. Both men had high praise for one another. In a new ABC News-Washington Post poll, 78 percent of likely voters said that Obama has done a good or excellent job handling the storm. Meanwhile, Romney has struck a more positive tone in the wake of the storm, campaigning in Florida on Wednesday Romney didn't directly criticize the president. The latest ABC News-Post poll shows the race completely tied nationally - 49 percent for both Romney and Obama - but each side seems convinced that they're winning (more on that below).
  • WHAT'S BEHIND ROMNEY'S FORAY INTO BLUE STATES? ABC's George Stephanopoulos explains some of the electoral logic behind the Romney campaigns recent venture into Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan on "Good Morning America." He illustrated the math on ABC's electoral map touch-screen. If Obama holds onto those three states and carries just the Midwestern toss-ups - Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio - that will be enough to put him over the top even if Romney carries all of the other battleground states. But, if the Romney campaign is able to pick up Pennsylvania, Michigan or Minnesota, just one of those will be enough to put Romney over the top.
  • NEW BATTLEGROUND NUMBERS: New NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll numbers in three battleground states - New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Iowa - each give President Obama a slim lead. In the Granite State, Obama is up 49 percent to 47 percent over Romney. In the Badger State he leads 49 percent to 46 percent, and in the Hawkeye State, Obama's at 50 percent to 44 percent for his GOP challenger, according to this morning's polls.
  • HANG OUT WITH ABC NEWS ON ELECTION DAY: On Election Day, ABC News is teaming up with Google for Google+ Hangouts with voters from all 50 states. In order to be a part of the hangouts, participants will need a webcam and a fast Internet connection. Interested in being a part of our coverage November 6th? Let us know who you are here:
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 5 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


At the five-day mark before Election Day, both the Romney and Obama campaign not only think they can win, but are convinced that they will win.

To be clear, this is not just about spin and bravado. Each side says that they have empirical evidence that shows their candidate is ahead.

"We have the math, they have the myth," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said on a conference call with reporters yesterday, expressing confidence in the president's position heading into Nov. 6.

Messina and his Obama campaign counterpart, David Axelrod, dismissed speculation that new ads and campaign stops by Republicans and Democrats in states that had been considered safe - Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania - are signs of a struggling campaign.

"I've put my moustache on the line," Axelrod said of Obama's odds of holding those states.

Axelrod characterized the momentum the Romney campaign has been projecting as "faux-mentum" and said there was a "growing recognition on the other side that Ohio is fading away."

Meanwhile, Republicans, and not just Team Romney, but every Republican we talk to who is involved in surveying voters in swing states, say their polls show a very different race than the one that Democrats and media pollsters have shown.

"We have an intensity advantage," Romney campaign pollster Neil Newhouse said on a conference call with reporters yesterday. "And you know what? We don't even need to prove this to you in terms of campaign interest and all these other pieces of data. All you need to do is look at Obama's job approval rating."

ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes that in conversations with three different Republicans over the last week who have done polling in Ohio, none of them show Romney losing. At worst, he is tied. At best he is up 2 points.

At the same time, Democrats - and again, not just the Obama campaign - but reputable Democratic pollsters, say that their polling in places like the Buckeye State gives Obama a lead similar to what the public polls are showing.

"When you look at counties that John McCain won, which we know in a year like 2008 would be a pretty good county for Republicans, we are 11 percent higher than we were in 2008," Romney campaign political director Rich Beeson said of Ohio. "There are 35 counties in Ohio that John McCain won where turnout is already over a hundred percent of 2008."

And of those blue states the Romney campaign is trying to turn red - Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Michigan - Romney strategist Russ Schriefer noted, "I think we're in an excellent position to win."

At the heart of the difference is an assumption about the make-up of the electorate and the composition of the independent vote. But, at the end of the day, one group of pollsters is going to be right and one group is going to be wrong.

Even so, both sides can agree on this: Ohio is where this race will be won or lost. And, because the race is likely to be so close, the loser will be able to argue that difference between the ultimate result and their own polling was within the margin of error.

ABC News' Devin Dwyer and Emily Friedman contributed reporting.

Keep an eye on ABC for our next ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll at 5p.m. today:


The Note's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: Just as consistent as the narrow battleground-state edge for President Obama is the across-the-board advantage for Mitt Romney among independents. This isn't 2008 in terms of Obama's appeal, and 2012's independents aren't 2008's, either. (Many are actually Republicans who don't like the label so much anymore.) It's surely not 2004, when John Kerry won independents narrowly and still lost the presidency. Still, it's hard to imagine a scenario where the president loses independents by anything close to double-digits and still captures a second term. Add to that polls that show near-parity in voter contact, and even among those who have voted early, and you start to see some data to make the Romney argument that the race isn't as lopsided in the battlegrounds as Team Obama claims.

EARLY VOTE VIEW. We're heading into the final days of the election, but over 19 million Americans have already made their decision and cast their ballot via early voting. Below is a look, from ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield, at the early voting numbers in the battleground states where it's available.

COLORADO: Over 1.15 million votes have been cast-about 47.5% of the total vote cast in 2008. Republicans boast a slightly higher number- 439,269 to Democrats 404,870. An additional 295,122 voters registered as "unaffiliated" have also cast ballots.

NEVADA: 533,064 votes have been cast- 55% of the total votes cast in 2008. 235,514 of those ballots are from registered Democrats, 200,678 are from registered Republicans, and 96,872 are from "other."

IOWA: 531,996 votes have been cast- 32.2% of the total vote in the Hawkeye state in 2008. Democrats maintain a lead- 232,462 ballots cast, the number of ballots cast by registered Republicans totals 171,272. An additional 127,620 voters registered "no party" have also voted.

OHIO: Over 1.2 million votes have been cast in Ohio according to figures released Tuesday by the Secretary of State's office- about 21.8% of the total vote cast in the state in 2008. Ohio does not register voters by political party.

FLORIDA: Over 2.6 million votes have been cast- 31.6% of the total votes cast in Florida in 2008. Votes cast by registered Democrats currently outnumber the votes cast by registered Republicans- 1,134,962 to 1,086,358. An additional 446,707 independent voters have also cast their ballots.

NORTH CAROLINA: Over 1.8 million votes have been cast- 43.2% of the total vote cast in the state in 2008. Democrats currently hold a lead over Republicans- 914,697 ballots cast are from registered Democrats while 592,712 are from registered Republicans. Unaffiliated voters have cast 368,034 ballots.


with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

STORM RESPONSE EARNS OBAMA PRAISE. ABC's Gary Langer reports: Likely voters of all political stripes give broadly positive ratings to Barack Obama's response to the devastating storm that smashed the East Coast this week. Whether it makes a difference in the long-deadlocked presidential election is another question. Initially, the latest ABC News/Washington Post daily tracking poll finds essentially no change: Likely voters are back to exactly an even split in preferences, 49-49 percent between Obama and Mitt Romney - within a point or two of where the race has been all along. Regardless, in interviews conducted last night, 78 percent rate Obama's response to the hurricane positively (as excellent or good), while just 8 percent see it negatively. Romney, who naturally has had a far less prominent role in this issue, is rated positively for his response to the hurricane by 44 percent, negatively by 21 percent, with many more, 35 percent, expressing no opinion.

SANDY PROVIDES OBAMA WITH AN OPPORTUNITY. ABC's Jake Tapper reports on World News Tonight, Hurricane Sandy has forced the president to cancel his appearance at 17 campaign events- but he may have gotten something more valuable: the opportunity to lead and be seen leading. On Wednesday Obama joined up with Republican Governor Chris Christie in Christie's state of New Jersey- a most public display of bipartisanship- a trait many undecided voters profess to love. The President seems confident- his campaign manager said they have the math, Romney's campaign has the myth. Campaigning has not discontinued entirely for team Obama- Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton have been out on the trail in Florida and Minnesota on Obama's behalf. Obama will get back on the trail on Thursday morning- hitting Wisconsin, Colorado, Nevada and three cities in Ohio on Thursday and Friday. WATCH JAKE'S REPORT HERE:

BILL CLINTON BARNSTORMS BATTLEGROUNDS FOR OBAMA. For a president who was impeached in an ugly scandal during his second term, and then suffered a quadruple bypass and heart complications, Bill Clinton is proving that he's still a political force to be reckoned with reports ABC's Devin Dwyer and Ann Compton. The 42nd president has been barnstorming the 2012 battlegrounds for President Obama, holding 13 events in seven states over four days this week alone - ratcheting up what has already been, by most accounts, an unprecedented amount of time on the presidential campaign trail by a former president.

JERSEY BROMANCE: PRESIDENT OBAMA AND CHRIS CHRISTIE SURVEY STORM DAMAGE. Showcasing their budding political bromance, President Obama and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pledged Wednesday to work together to repair the damage done by Hurricane Sandy reports ABC's Mary Bruce. Obama and Christie, one of Mitt Romney's most prominent backers and the keynote speaker at the Republican convention, spent the afternoon together getting a firsthand look at the damage and meeting with victims of the storm. "I just want to thank him for his extraordinary leadership," Obama told reporters.

A CLOUDIER CRYSTAL BALL: THE WACKIEST ELECTION PREDICTIONS OF 2012. As Election Day approaches, candidates, campaign staffers, supporters and journalists are trying to foresee the future. Will Obama win the women's vote? Can Romney hold on to the edge he got in the first presidential debate? Some say they have the answers to these questions. But as with all fortune tellers, the crystal ball is sometimes cloudier for some than others, and some predictions sound a little bizarre. ABC's Sarah Parnass takes a look at the wackiest sounding predictions of the 2012 cycle.

SWING STATE SNAPSHOT: IOWA. Iowa was the site of President Obama's sudden rise into the political spotlight, and in 2012 he'll look to recapture that energy in the key Midwestern battleground state. ABC's Chris Good reports, if the main issue of this election is the economy, Iowa offers a notable exception to the recession's doldrums: It has the best economy of any swing state by far, reporting the nation's fourth-lowest unemployment rate in September (tied with Oklahoma) and has been relatively untroubled by foreclosures.

THE ELECTION BRINGS FOUR YEAR OLD GIRL TO TEARS. Four-year-old Abigael Evans from Colorado is sick of the elections reports ABC's Jilian Fama. Her mother, Elizabeth Evans, 27, posted a Youtube video of her daughter saying that she is tired of "Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney." The 22-second YouTube clip shows the little girl with a frown on her face and tears rolling down her cheeks, telling her mother she is tired of this election. Elizabeth Evans told ABC News that her daughter got emotional listening to NPR. "I just picked her up from daycare so she was grumpy after a long day and we were driving to the grocery store listening to NPR," Evans said. "And I wasn't really listening and when I was getting her out of the car, she started saying that she was tired of Bronco Bamma and Mitt Romney."

BIDEN CALLS ROMNEY JEEP AD 'OUTRAGEOUS LIE.' Vice President Biden launched a stinging critique of Mitt Romney for an Ohio ad suggesting the president allowed Chrysler to move Jeep operations to China, calling Romney's ad an "outrageous lie." ABC's Arlette Saenz reports, the vice president said the ad was an act of "desperation" and he accused the GOP nominee of using scare tactics to frighten thousands of autoworkers in the final days of the campaign.

NOTED: RYAN HITS BACK ON AUTO BAILOUT. Paul Ryan wrapped up his two-day tour of his home state with an event in his own district, blasting opponent Joe Biden in a back and forth the two had throughout the day on the auto bailout reports ABC's Shushannah Walshe. "Everybody wants a strong and vibrant auto sector," Ryan said to an enthusiastic crowd at civic center in Racine, Wisconsin. "We want a strong manufacturing sector. But today you might have heard that Joe Biden was at it again. Today he was talking about the government bailout, which they keep touting as an unqualified success story… Chrysler in particular we know this story, are now choosing to expand manufacturing overseas. These are the facts. Those facts are inconvenient for the president, but no one disputes them."

GOVERNOR TWEETS TO SAVE LIVES DURING SUPERSTORM SANDY. In past weather emergencies, Americans have tuned in to radios and televisions to get information on how to handle disasters, but with Hurricane Sandy, some governors used Twitter as a new way to reach their citizens reports ABC's Sarah Parnass. Governors in every state where President Obama declared an emergency, except New Hampshire, tweeted about the storm throughout the day Tuesday, and their efforts continued Wednesday. Some sent out photos of damage, survival tips, traffic updates and other information.

ELECTION LAWYERS TO MONITOR OHIO BALLOTING. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Sabrina Eaton reports: "As Ohio voters cast ballots next week that could decide the fate of the presidency, lawyers of every political stripe will swarm through the state. They will represent presidential campaigns, political parties, as well as the state, local, and federal government, to ensure elections run smoothly and voters aren't hassled."

LABOR DEPARTMENT REPORT ON JOBS TO BE RELEASED FRIDAY, AS PLANNED. The New York Times' Annie Lowrey reports: "The October jobs report - the most anticipated piece of economic data still to be released before the election - will come out as scheduled on Friday morning, the government said Wednesday. The hurricane had shut down government offices on Monday and Tuesday, and threatened to delay the release of the monthly jobs numbers. But a Labor Department spokesman said Wednesday in an e-mail message that the report would come out as planned, at 8:30 a.m. E.S.T. on Friday."


@MikeBloomberg: Please join me in saying THANK YOU to the thousands of city employees working around the clock to get NYC back up and running. Please RT.

@Ari_Shapiro: Press guidance today said VA is 77 degrees. We landed in 47. O/h on the bus: "The campaign's internal forecasts had much better numbers."

@AdamFetcherOFA: Youngstown Vindicator headline: Romney's GM and Chrysler ads are an insult to Ohioans …

@wexler: Bold predictions from Rove in today's WSJ. On 10/24/2006, he predicted GOP would hold House and Senate:

@Ted_Newton: New Romney video, "Bill's Barbecue," an 82-yr. old small business in Richmond, VA that closed in the Obama economy:

@NYGovCuomo: TY to hard wk of @PANYNJ to help make this happen after #LGAsubmerged in water: #sandy

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