THE CANDIDATES: With a tear running down his face on a frigid election eve in Des Moines, President Obama offered a crowd of 20,000 Iowans this simple advice last night: "Bet on hope."
Obama returned to the state that launched him on a path to the White House four years ago for his final campaign rally as a presidential candidate, telling supporters, "To all of you who have lived and breathed the hard work of change, I want to thank you. You took this campaign and you made it your own." http://abcn.ws/ROTJ3z
He ended on Monday night by recounting the story of the South Carolina woman who came up with the slogan that became synonymous with his campaign: "Fired up, ready to go."
"That shows you what one voice can do," Obama said. "One voice can change a room. And if it can change a room, it can change a city. And if it can change a city, it can change a state. And if it can change a state, it can change a nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change a world."
About a 1,000 miles away, in Manchester, N.H., Republican challenger Mitt Romney ended his campaign in an equally symbolic place - the very state where he announced his presidential bid in June 2011. http://abcn.ws/Tt9Rra
"This is a special moment for Ann and for me because this is where our campaign began," Romney told more than 12,000 cheering supporters.
"We're one day away from fresh start, one day away from the first day of a new beginning," he said, "My conviction is that better days are ahead and that's not based on promises and hollow rhetoric but on solid plans and proven results, and on an unshakeable believe in the greatness of the American spirit."
THE MAP: On Election Day, President Obama still has the clearer path to 270 Electoral Votes, according to ABC News Political Director Amy Walter. But Romney has several scenarios available to him as well.
The most likely scenario for President Obama to re-capture the White House runs through Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa. With wins there, he wins a second term. If Iowa falls to Romney, the president can still cross the 270 threshold with victories in Ohio, Wisconsin and Nevada.
Meanwhile, the most direct Romney path includes wins in Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Iowa. If Obama takes Iowa then Romney needs Florida, Virginia and Ohio plus Colorado too.
The Best state to watch for early is Virginia. If President Obama wins there, it means Romney needs to win Ohio or else it is over.
If, on the other hand, Romney wins Virginia, but loses Ohio, he needs to win the combination of New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado, and Wisconsin or the combination of New Hampshire, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada.
PENNSYLVANIA IS THE NEW OHIO: All the body language from the Romney campaign suggests that they see Ohio as a long-shot. Instead, it is now Pennsylvania that paves their path to 270. The Keystone state has eluded plenty of industrious and hopeful Republicans before Romney. While the western and central parts of the state tilt red, the city of Philadelphia and its sprawling and populous suburbs are the key to winning the state. And, those Philly suburbs, once a GOP bastion, have been voting Democratic for the last dozen years.
If you want to know if Romney can pull off a Pennsylvania surprise, watch the following counties tonight: Bucks, Delaware, Chester and Montgomery. Obama carried all of them by at least 54 percent. Romney can't win the state and lose those suburbs by that kind of margin. Also, check out the Philadelphia margin. Last time, Obama racked up 83 percent and logged over 574,000 votes from the City of Brotherly Love. Again, if Romney is to prevail, he can't come out of the city down 400,000 votes.
THE SENATE: The key races to watch are in Maine, Massachusetts, Indiana and Virginia, and there's a good chance Republicans will lose all four - and with them - any chance at the majority.
Two years ago, conventional wisdom held that Democrats would almost certainly lose their majority. After all, they had 23 seats up compared to just 10 for the GOP. And, many of those Democratic-held seats were in deep red states like Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana as well as battleground states like Wisconsin, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. So, why on Election Day are Democrats poised to remain in the majority? The biggest reason: Poor recruiting in states like Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania and flawed candidates in states like Missouri (Todd Akin) and Indiana (Richard Mourdock). And, just plain bad luck (Olympia Snowe's unexpected retirement).
Check out ABC's Senate map: http://abcn.ws/TU77sc
THE HOUSE: Democrats won't recapture the majority. But, while races in the East and Midwest may determine the majority, Democrats are poised to pick up at least four to five seats out west in California, Nevada and Arizona. Republicans currently hold a 25 seat majority. Redistricting helped to shore up a lot of vulnerable Republicans. And the tight presidential contest means that Democrats don't have the long Obama coattails like they did in 2008.
THE GOVERNORS: It is a relatively quiet year at the gubernatorial level. Just 11 states hold governor's races. Of those, just four - New Hampshire, Montana, North Carolina and Washington State - are competitive. The betting is that Republicans pick up at least one (North Carolina) and probably one more of those four. It would mean that the current map would hold at least 30 governorships for Republicans to 19 for Democrats. (Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee is an independent.)
The Note's virtual political roundtable:
ABC's AMY WALTER: They say the only poll that matters is the one on Election Day, but Team Romney doesn't exactly buy that. Their get-out-the-vote effort - dubbed Project ORCA - is also serving as a kind of shadow exit poll operation, ready to debunk reports that come from either the actual exit polls or estimates from the networks. Said one Romney advisor yesterday on a call to discuss the ORCA operation: "What we are saying is your numbers don't matter to us." This could make for a long and confrontational evening.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: A campaign that really hasn't been about race for the most part could be settled along racial lines. If President Obama wins, he'll be powered to a second term by another surge in minority voting. If Mitt Romney wins, white voters will carry him to the presidency in states like Ohio, Wisconsin, and possibly Pennsylvania. Among the many challenges of the new presidency will be rising above a divided moment, one that pits two sides that don't speak the same language - sometimes literally. The losing side may not represent a silent majority, but it will be a silenced near-majority - one that's either growing or shrinking, depending on who wins.
TEAM ABC'S REPORTS FROM THE FILED:
OBAMA GETS EMOTIONAL. ABC's Jake Tapper reports for "Good Morning America" that President Obama and the first lady arrived in Chicago at 1 a.m., spending the night in their Hyde Park house after a whirlwind day of campaigning-when President Obama teared up addressing 20,000 Iowans just a few yards away from his former 2008 campaign headquarters. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/RCXlck
ROMNEY'S FINAL PUSH. ABC's David Muir goes behind the scenes on the Mitt Romney campaign for "Good Morning America," reporting that Romney will vote this morning in Belmont, Mass., after a sprint to the finish that started in Ohio on Monday. Romney told voters there that he won't "waste any time complaining about my predecessor" if elected, and aboard his campaign plane he told ESPN's Chris Berman, during a Monday Night Football halftime interview that he supports the New England Patriots (not the Detroit Lions), "and I take full personal responsibility for their two Super Bowl wins." WATCH: http://abcn.ws/UvcPMM
WHO WILL CONTROL THE SENATE? Republicans have a good opportunity to make gains in the Senate today, ABC's Jonathan Karl reports, with 23 Democratic seats and only 10 Republican seats up for election. Three races to follow: Massachusetts, where Republican Scott Brown trails badly to Democrat Elizabeth Warren; Indiana, a previously safe Republican seat that's in danger after tea partier Richard Mourdock unseated incumbent GOP Sen. Dick Lugar in their primary; and Missouri, where Todd Akin endangered a GOP pickup opportunity with his "legitimate rape" comment. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/SRkTet
HOW WILL WOMEN VOTE? After a campaign that's focused heavily on he female vote, and with President Obama leading Mitt Romney among women 53 percent to 45 percent according to the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asks Donna Brazille, Cokie Roberts, and Nicolle Wallace how women will vote tonight. There will always be a gender gap for Republicans, Wallace says, but Romney could win the election on his success in communicating with women about the economy. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/PAm8Oi
POLLS: OBAMA HAS THE LEAD. On "Good Morning America," ABC's Matthew Dowd breaks down the latest polling, which gives President Obama a narrow edge. Hurricane Sandy was the "unexpected event" that may have turned the race, Dowd says. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/U6qIR2
OBAMA, ROMNEY ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Josh Elliott reports for "Good Morning America" on what voters are searching for on Election Day. WATCH: http://abcn.ws/UvcQQZ
VIDEO: BIDEN VOTES. Vice President Joe Biden voted in Delaware this morning, glad-handing in line at the polls and joking with voters about how he has to wait as long as everyone else. "Don't forget: think of me when you go in to vote. I'm not supposed to campaign," he told a little girl, apparently voting with her mother, after he left the voting booth. http://abcn.ws/RcYs0W
VICTORY IN SIGHT?: TWO VIEWS FROM THE CAMPAIGN.
FROM TEAM ROMNEY: A campaign aide passes along an Election Day state-of-the-race memo: "Mitt Romney is up or tied with Obama in every key battleground state, forcing Obama on defense in states he won by double digits in 2008 like WI, IA, MI, MN and PA. Obama's firewall includes two states - WI and IA - he won by double digits and is even with Romney in the polls today. Ohio is his other firewall - a state Obama has been visiting for 4 years and has spent millions of dollars on the air. Obama is behind where he was in 2008 in early vote. The Republican ground game is going to push us over the top. We're seeing this everywhere - Obama has lost his 2008 advantage with his ground game and early vote. With the campaigns even on the ground and in early vote, GOP enthusiasm is going to carry Romney to victory."
Romney aides also highlight what they say will be a massive poll monitoring effort called Project ORCA that will engage tens of thousands of volunteers armed with smart phone apps to keep an eye on the progress of voting in key battlegrounds states. The campaign views it as one enormous exit poll as well as a tool to determine where they need to re-allocate get-out-the-vote resources in real time:
"Project ORCA enhances and magnifies the impact of the turnout operation. To date, we have more than 34,000 volunteers throughout the target states, and we will have more than 800 volunteers at headquarters in Boston … It is estimated that Project ORCA will decipher 18 to 23 million people have voted by the time all voting has concluded. This massive 'sample size' not only ensure the most accurate ballot projections ever, but it will also ensure hyper-accuracy of our supporter targeting as we work to turn them out to the polls. The general idea is to conduct the world's largest exit poll. Through Project ORCA, at any given moment we will know the current ballot in every State, DMA & County … For example: If we happen to be down in a state at lunch time, we can pinpoint exactly what is causing. So, if we know we're going to win X state by 3 points, let's move our resources to Y state, county. In sum, Project ORCA will give us an enormous advantage by being able to know the current result of a state."
FROM TEAM OBAMA: "We've already banked a big portion of our votes - in several battleground states, more than 50 percent of votes have already been cast. Here's where things stand already this morning: We are winning in every battleground state among those who voted early - by large margins in most states. That leaves Romney needing to make up significant ground in order to tie us. Newly registered voters, infrequent voters, and those who voted for the first time in 2008 have voted early, and the overwhelming majority of them are Democrats. Most early voters are African-Americans, Latinos, women and young people, all groups that overwhelmingly support President Obama. More people will vote in 2012 than in 2008 - but Election Day started weeks ago. No matter what you hear today about turnout in Republican counties or exit polls, particularly early in the day, it's important to remember that, because of early votes, we've banked hundreds of thousands of votes already. With the historic grassroots GOTV effort we have in place for Election Day, we're exactly where we need to be to win."
with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)
OBAMA, ROMNEY COURT 'MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL' VOTE. In their last widely broadcast appeals to the nation, both President Obama and Mitt Romney sat for interviews with ESPN's Chris Berman, airing at halftime of last night's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New Orleans Saints. Both candidates showed off their "everyman" credentials in what could be their last chance-outside of TV ads-to address Americans who don't follow political news.
-OBAMA: CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE TOUGH TO REPEAT. From ABC's Devin Dwyer: Comparing politics to sports, Berman asked Obama how he planned to "repeat"-one of the most difficult feats for a "championship" team. "It has to do with not getting distracted, by your own hype, or the critics," Obama said. "It's interesting, political reporters are a lot like sports reporters. And, you lose a game, and you're a bum. You win a game, you're a God. "Just like in sports, in politics, we're all human. We make mistakes. Sometimes we perform well," he said, seeming to allude to the 2012 presidential debates. "But the key is just to stay focused on what it is that you're doing." http://abcn.ws/YOn2Z5
-ROMNEY: SPORTS REVEAL HUMAN CHARACTER. More from ABC's Devin Dwyer: Berman asked Romney about the most valuable lesson he could apply in the Oval Office he learned from shepherding the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games. He cited a greater appreciation for the human spirit. "I think most people watch the Olympics not just because of the interest in the sport itself. I mean how many people were avid fans of women's bobsled for instance before the Olympics? But they watch the bobsled event because they get to see the character of human beings if you will… the crucible of sport," he said. "It's a place where you see what is beneath the surface of an individual human being and you come away inspired." http://abcn.ws/YOn2Z5
ROMNEY WILL CAMPAIGN ON ELECTION DAY. The candidate will milk his final hours on the trail for all they're worth, ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Dulles, Va.: Mitt Romney has been chanting "one more day" all day today on the stump, but as it turns out, he will campaign for yet another day, Tuesday, Election Day. A campaign official said today that after Romney votes in his hometown of Belmont, Mass., tomorrow morning he will head to two swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The stops will be in Cleveland and Pittsburgh. It was not immediately clear how many events would be held in each state or what kind of events they will be. http://abcn.ws/RMQSrT
OBAMA: WE HAVE THE VOTES, BUT WILL THEY SHOW UP? Many an analyst has opined that today will be all about turnout, and ABC's Devin Dwyer reports that President Obama agrees: We have enough voters to win, it's just a matter of whether they show up," Obama told syndicated radio talk show host Warren Ballentine in a taped interview that ran Monday morning. "Obviously there are going to be some voters who at this late date may still be undecided, and if they are, I am making a closing argument," he said. "But the main thing I want everybody to understand is that the number of undecided voters at this point is much smaller than the number of voters who support me but just aren't voting. "If all the people who support me vote, then we'll be fine," he said. http://abcn.ws/TtOCHP
RYAN GOES HOME FOR FINAL RALLY. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Milwaukee: Paul Ryan held his final rally of the campaign in his home state late tonight telling his fellow Wisconsinites that they may not have been in the presidential spotlight in a long time and were taken "for granted," but that time is now over, asking the crowd to "prove them wrong." "They have always taken us for granted, Wisconsin," Ryan said to a crowd of 2,500 including Wisconsin political leaders and many family members. "They thought it was easy. We haven't gone Republican since 1984. One more day… Let's prove them wrong." http://abcn.ws/VwQC6I
BIDEN 'FEELING GOOD' ABOUT ELECTION. ABC's Arlette Saenz reports from Sterling, Va.: Vice President Joe Biden told reporters today that he was feeling optimistic about Tuesday's election and joked that the election is "all over but the shouting." "I'm feeling good. I really am. But you know, as an old expression goes, it's all over but the shouting," Biden told reporters during a stop at Mimi's Café here. "But it feels good though, feels good. You've been with me long enough to know that I'm always optimistic, but I really do feel good, the responses have been great. So far, so good." http://abcn.ws/RN9cRG
ANN ROMMNEY ASKS VIRGINIANS: WILL WE BE NEIGHBORS? ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Fairfax, Va.: Ann Romney may already be daydreaming about life in the White House, asking a huge crowd in northern Virginia today if they thought she and her husband might be moving to neighboring Washington come January. "Are we going to be neighbors soon?" Mrs. Romney asked a roaring crowd of 8,500. http://abcn.ws/Tt6T5K
NOTED: MY 16 MONTHS WITH MITT. ABC's Emily Friedman recaps her year and a half on the campaign trail with the Republican presidential nominee: The meeting was brief, the handshake firm. I remember thinking at the time that he's the type of person who lingers with his handshake as a way to remember a person's name. I might have been right because since then, he has always referred to me by name. That meeting was more than 16 months ago, and since then I have traveled the globe tracking Romney's every movement, from how many press conferences he's held (49) to how many flights his campaign plane has taken (more than 80, and I was on board for all but a few)." http://abcn.ws/RFZjXO
ROMNEY: THE WORLD IS WATCHING. ABC's Emily Friedman reports on Romney's rally in Sanford, Fla.: "Tomorrow, we begin a new tomorrow," Romney said, speaking to his first of five rallies today. "Tomorrow, we begin a better tomorrow. This nation is going to begin to change for the better tomorrow. Your work is making a difference. The people of the world are watching. "The people of America are watching. We can begin a better tomorrow tomorrow, and with the help of the people in Florida, that's exactly what's going to happen," he said. http://abcn.ws/SKiDod
RYAN IN IOWA: WE HAVE MOMENTUM. ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Des Moines, Iowa: Paul Ryan held the last Romney 2012 campaign event in Iowa this evening, flying in from Colorado for a brief airplane hangar rally to the place where the presidential choosing contest begins: the first caucus state of Iowa. He told several hundred people his ticket will be victorious tomorrow. "That's why we need your help," Ryan said , standing in front of a huge "Victory in Iowa" banner. "That's why we have momentum. That's why we are going to win. And that's why we only have one more day before we get us on the right track." http://abcn.ws/Qjz0d9
RYAN SAYS HE FEELS 'VERY GOOD.' ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Johnston, Colo.: Just hours before voting starts, Paul Ryan stopped at a diner here, but didn't give much away about how he was doing before what could be the biggest day of his life. "I feel very good," he told reporters as he stopped in at Johnson's Corner, a truck stop diner famous for their large cinnamon rolls. Ryan didn't answer when reporters asked him if he has spoken to his running mate today, although he has said in the past they talk daily. http://abcn.ws/YMZFiy
RYAN'S FINAL NEVADA PUSH: 'LEAVE IT ALL ON THE FIELD.' ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Reno, Nev.: Rep. Paul Ryan began his final day on the campaign trail today with a stop here before he holds four other events, stopping in each of the time zones in the United States for his final push, calling the whirlwind sprint a "barn burner." "Are you going to help us win this thing, Nevada?" Ryan asked several hundred people in an airplane hangar. "We're doing a barn burner today. We are crisscrossing the country, Mitt and I are, because we are asking you to work with us, to stand with us to get our country back on the right track." http://abcn.ws/Vv0AFu
OBAMA CALLS CHRISTIE, PASSES PHONE TO BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: On the phone with New Jersey Gov. - and Bruce Springsteen superfan - Chris Christie to discuss Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts, Obama patched in the legendary rocker, who was joining him on the flight. Springsteen has famously avoided the governor because of political differences, somewhat to Christie's dismay. "The president told me if I had one more minute, there was someone else he wanted me to talk to," Christie told reporters at a press conference. "In times of real difficulty, he thought the only thing better than one Jersey guy was two Jersey guys, and he put Bruce Springsteen on the phone. "Bruce said to me how proud he was of his state," Christie said. "How proud he was and how tough we are. It was a good conversation today and it was great to talk to the president-and even better to talk to Bruce." http://abcn.ws/Ue8W4n
THE NEXT KATHERINE HARRIS? If one state has caused nightmares about a delayed result in the presidential election, it's Ohio. At The Week, Marc Ambinder asks if Secretary of State John Husted will become the next Katherine Harris: "Mr. Husted seems determined to make a name for himself, and not in a way that will please those of us who want the election to end on a peaceful and lawsuit-free note. … Husted, 45, went along with national GOP efforts to try and eliminate early voting in the state. It would protect the integrity of the ballot, he insisted. … A week ago, Husted told local election officials that ballots marked with improper identification had to be rejected and destroyed … Husted acted as if the integrity of election machines were trivial. …Husted allowed the creator of voting tabulation software to install so-called "patches" on machines that will ultimately process more than 4,000,000 votes. Husted's defense is that the coding changes are 'experimental.'" http://bit.ly/U50oa0
JAY-Z INSERTS 'MITT' FOR 'B****.' How many problems does Jay-Z have? ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Columbus, Ohio, where the rapper performed at a rally for Obama: Jay-Z, a longtime Obama backer and fundraiser, brought down the house with a bone-shaking and deafeningly loud set of his hits that included a censored rendition of "99 Problems," replacing the word "b***" with "Mitt." "They told me no colorful language. So I brought two songs. I have to do it, I'm sorry," Jay-Z joked upon taking the stage. "I changed the lyric of the song. It goes like this-so let's do it real fast before they come up here" and take the mic away. http://abcn.ws/REMtJp
WHAT HAPPENS IF WASHINGTON LEGALIZES POT? Today, Washington may very well become the first state to legalize the possession, cultivation, and commercial sale of marijuana, both Republicans and Democrats say-bringing the state into apparent conflict with federal law if voters approve Initiative 502, which would allow residents over 21 to buy pot from stores licensed and regulated by the state liquor board. If I-502 passes, it remains unclear how the president, whoever he is, will respond. The White House declined to comment to ABC News when asked whether President Obama would seek to overturn I-502, should it pass and should he remain in office. So did Obama's Office of National Drug Control Policy. Neither Obama's nor Romney's presidential campaign responded to multiple emails seeking comment over the weekend. "We are not going to speculate on the outcome of the various ballot initiatives in each of the states," Department of Justice spokeswoman Allison Price wrote in an email. http://abcn.ws/VQg9TE
OBAMA: IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO IGNORE TRUMP. From ABC's Devin Dwyer: In a radio interview this morning with "Pedro Biaggi en la Manana" on El Zol 107.9 FM, President Obama was asked what he thought of Donald Trump's stunt two weeks ago, offering to make a $5 million donation to charity if Obama released his academic records. "So, did you choose to ignore him?" Biaggi asked. "Well, it's always good to ignore Donald Trump," Obama replied. "I think it's always a good rule." http://abcn.ws/UdrAcE
@HotlineJosh : Based on the early/absentee vote tallies, more optimistic about O's chances in VA, more pessimistic about his chances in OH
@bdomenech : Early numbers looking better for Romney in Ohio than I expected, worse in Virginia
@KLSoltis : I've spent the last 4 years focused on one number: Obama won young voters by a 34-pt margin. Feels weird knowing that number expires today.
-President Obama will spend Election Day in Chicago, according to his campaign. He will participate in a dozen satellite interviews in battleground states in the morning and afternoon and later he "will honor his Election Day tradition of pickup basketball with friends and staffers." The First Family will have dinner at their home in Hyde Park before heading to an Election night watch party at McCormick Place Lakeshore Center in Chicago.
-Mitt Romney begins the day by casting his ballot at the Beech Street Center in Belmont, Mass. before heading to Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pa. for get-out-the-vote events. Tonight he returns to Massachusetts to attend an Election night watch party at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
-Vice President Joe Biden voted this morning in Wilmington, Delaware before heading to Chicago. The vice president and Dr. Jill Biden will join the First Family at an Election night watch party at McCormick Place Lakeshore Center in Chicago.
-Paul Ryan will cast his ballot at the Hedberg Public Library in Janesville, Wisc. before joining Mitt Romney for a get-out-the-vote event in Cleveland, Ohio and traveling on to Richmond, Va. Ryan ends the day in Boston for an Election night watch party there.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV