The Voters Are Voting (The Note)

David Goldman/AP Photo

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


  • DEBATE EXPECTATIONS - FRIDAY MORNING EDITION: The campaigns are continuing to lower expectations before next week's first presidential debate, as ABC's David Muir reported on "Good Morning America" today: "Overnight, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign sent a memo to Romney surrogates, setting expectations low, writing, 'President Obama is a uniquely gifted speaker and is widely regarded as one of the most talented political communicators in modern history.'" WATCH:
  • THE MESSAGE FROM CHICAGO: Senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod, in a memo released this morning, offered a retort to Mitt Romney, who told ABC's George Stephanopoulos earlier this month that he expects Obama to "say a lot of things that aren't accurate" during Wednesday's debate, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. "He has suggested that he plans to accuse the President of distorting Governor Romney's record and proposals. This would be disappointing for any American tuning in to learn more about how each candidate would lift the country, rather than to hear them tear each other down," Axelrod writes.
  • EXCLUSIVE - CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN THE HOUSE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will air TV ads in eight California House districts, starring a member of President Obama's Jobs Council, ABC's Chris Good reports. Darlene Miller, owner and CEO of precision-machining company Permac Industries, serves on the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which has come under fire for its infrequent meetings. In the ads she tells viewers: "Well, I wanted to hire more people, but we don't know what our tax rates are going to be. We don't know what our health care is gonna be, or our energy costs. When you go in that voting booth, you need to know who you're voting for." The ads cite Democrats' support for "higher energy costs," "job-killing regulations that hurt small businesses," "raising taxes in the health-care law," and cuts to Medicare. WATCH: CA-24 - Rep. Lois Capps -; CA-26 - Julia Brownley -; CA-10 - Jose Hernandez -; CA-07 - Ami Bera -; CA-52 - Rep. Brian Bilbray -; CA-41 - Mark Takano -; CA-47 - Alan Lowenthal -; CA-09 - Rep. Jerry McNerney -
  • TRY ABC'S 2012 ELECTION MATCH-O-MATIC: Before the first debate, answer the questions to choose your candidate. It's not always as obvious as it seems!
  • COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION DAY: There are 39 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here's the ABC News' battleground state rankings:


It happened yesterday at the Woodbury County Courthouse in Sioux City, Iowa.

Todd Tripp decided to give President Obama another chance.

"I wanted to make sure my vote is counted," Tripp, a Democrat and local resident, told the Sioux City Journal. "I feel like Obama deserves a second shot."

And it also happened in the tiny town of Orange City, Iowa where, according to The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jennifer Steinhauer , 76-year-old Gert Kooi said her "mind is long made up."

"We just don't care for Obama here," Kooi told The Times as she cast her ballot for Mitt Romney.

Tripp and Kooi were among the first wave of Iowans to head to the polls in the crucial swing state where early, in-person voting began yesterday. And they won't be the last. In increasing numbers, Americans will be heading to the ballot box early or voting absentee this year, and it has forced the campaigns and political parties to change the way they do business.

Early voting has drawn both proponents, who say it gives voters more opportunities to do their civic duty, and critics, who contend that Americans are casting their ballots with incomplete information. After all, we haven't even seen the candidates face off in their first debate yet.

But it does give both sides a chance to get their most committed voters to polls ahead of schedule so that they can focus on the undecideds closer to Nov. 6.

Four years ago, more than 30 percent of the vote was already in nationwide by Election Day, and the parties expect an even higher percentage this year. In battlegrounds like Ohio, upwards of 45 percent of all votes may be cast by Nov. 6, and in Nevada a whopping 75 percent of the vote could be in by the time Election Day rolls around.

However, as ABC News Political Director Amy Walter notes, the big question is: Who exactly is voting?

Republicans argue that they've got a very smart and sophisticated operation designed to target and turn out so-called "low propensity" voters: voters who lean Republican but don't always show up to vote.

But, Democrats may be benefiting from an increase in energy and enthusiasm from their base that could bring more of their folks to the polls. They can bank these votes now.

EARLY VOTING - A PRIMER: Iowa is one of 32 states (plus the District of Columbia) that allows no-excuse early voting, meaning that any registered voter can head to the polls before Election Day and cast their ballot, ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield reports. Idaho and South Dakota were the first states to start early voting last week, but Iowa is the first of the key swing states that could determine the outcome of the election where voting has begun. Ohio is the next swing state to begin early voting. Polls there open on Tuesday, Oct. 2. While the number of voters who turned out yesterday are not yet known, over 185,000 absentee ballots have been requested, and just over 3,500 have been returned, according to the Iowa Secretary of State's office. So far, those ballots tilt heavily towards the Democrats. About 119,000 of the 185,000 requested are from registered Democrats, while a little more than 24,000 are from registered Republicans. The remaining ballots come from voters registered as "no party" or "other." Republicans do boast an advantage in terms of total registered voters in the state, however, with about 620,000 to 602,000, according to figures from the secretary of state's office.


OHIO: The Secretary of State's office says that 723,000 absentee ballots have been requested so far, which includes 713,400 non-military ballots. Ballots begin being mailed out on Tuesday, October 2 - the same day that the polls open for in person early voting in the Buckeye State.

VIRGINIA: 71,347 absentee ballots have been requested so far. 12,253 have been returned either via in person absentee or by mail (mail: 4,309, and in person: 7,944.)

NOTE: Neither Ohio or Virginia offer party breakdowns.


The Note's virtual political roundtable:

ABC's RICK KLEIN: He's got 'em just where he wants 'em … or something like that. We're about a week away from the Mitt Romney comeback - or at least the Mitt Romney comeback story. The race is bound to tighten again, and the first debate is the best opportunity to drive that tightening, from the challenger's perspective. Just as conventional wisdom is that President Obama is currently leading the race, conventional wisdom also says that Romney will bounce back. The race can't be over yet because it's not over yet, and Romney is primed to be the beneficiary of that dynamic.

THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE. Days before the critical first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks with George Stephanopoulos on the latest in the 2012 presidential contest, Sunday on "This Week." Plus, the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with former Mississippi governor and RNC chair Haley Barbour; former Vermont governor and DNC chair Howard Dean; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd; and POLITICO senior political reporter Maggie Haberman. Tune in Sunday:

ROMNEY IN THE KEYSTONE STATE: For the first time since June, Romney will campaign today in Pennsylvania, ABC's Emily Friedman reports. The Republican presidential candidate holds a rally in Wayne, Pa. this afternoon. The Romney campaign has no ads on the air in Pennsylvania and the state looks out of reach for Romney who is trailing behind President Obama in a recent Quinnipiac University-New York Times-CBS News poll, 54 percent to 42 percent in the Keystone State. Following the rally, Romney heads to Massachusetts, where he will attend a 5 p.m. fundraiser with running mate Paul Ryan. The GOP candidate has no public events scheduled this weekend, and it is anticipated that he will be getting ready for next week's debate.

LOWERING THE BAR: MORE FROM TODAY'S OBAMA CAMPAIGN DEBATE MEMO. Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod e-mails a memo on the first debate: "[J]ust as he was in the primaries, we expect Mitt Romney to be a prepared, disciplined and aggressive debater. … Second, debates - and particularly the first debate-generally favor challengers. Five out of the last six challengers were perceived to win the first debate against an incumbent president. Most profit from having debated throughout the primary season, as Gov. Romney will. And it is natural for a challenger to gain simply from standing on the stage, toe-to-toe with the incumbent. Finally, the challenger, unencumbered by the responsibilities of being the President, has more time to prepare - a benefit of which Gov. Romney has taken full advantage."

SIDE DISH: A new Obama for America web video questions Romney's assertion that President Obama will say things that aren't true in their debates. WATCH:


with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)

DEBATE PREP: WHAT ROMNEY NEEDS. After Romney joked onstage at the Clinton Global Initiative that he's waiting for his polling "bump" from Bill Clinton's kind words, ABC analyst and former John McCain aide Nicolle Wallace said Romney needs to reproduce that in next week's debate. Wallace, on "Good Morning America" today: "Romney needs to have a moment like we what some of us saw this week, when Bill Clinton introduced him and he had this self-deprecating, humorous, normal moment where his humanity showed through. He needs to do the impossible: He needs to try to orchestrate a moment where he can create that in a way that seems and feels spontaneous and natural." WATCH:

ADMINISTRATION CALLS BENGHAZI SIEGE A PLANNED ATTACK. After the Obama administration initially suggested that the attack was a mob riot sparked by the now-infamous anti-Islam film, ABC's Jake Tapper reportst that the administration now calls it a planned attack. Tapper reported for "World News": This 180 comes on the heels of criticism, much of it from Republicans, that the White House downplayed this terrorist attack less than two months before the election. WATCH Tapper's report:

PANETTA CALLS IT A 'TERRORIST ATTACK.' ABC's Luis Martinez reports on Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's Pentagon Briefing: "It was a terrorist attack" said Panetta. Asked to explain how he'd come to that conclusion Panetta said," Well, I mean, the reason I think it pretty clearly was a terrorist attack is because a group of terrorists obviously conducted that attack on the consulate and against our individuals."

SOME OFFICIALS WERE CONCERNED ABOUT INITIAL DESCRIPTION. ABC's Jake Tapper notes: Even before Defense Secretary Leon Panetta contradicted the initial story about the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, today, Obama administration officials told ABC News they were concerned after the White House began pushing the line that the attack was spontaneous and not the work of terrorists. Events were too uncertain, and suspicions had been aroused, officials said.

ABC/YAHOO! VIDEO: FOULEST ADS. In the latest installment of "Politically Foul," ABC's Amy Walter looks at the foulest political ads of the campaign season so far-from Medicare cuts, to the "47 percent," to a jogging mom. WATCH:

IN THE MONEY: SOROS PLEDGES $1 MILLION TO PRO-OBAMA SUPER PAC. Democrats might be finally committing to the super PACs as Republicans have for most of the election cycle. The New York Times' Nick Confessore reports: "The billionaire George Soros is committing $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the 'super PAC' supporting President Obama, two people with knowledge of the matter said Thursday, a significant donation that could help spur more contributions in the closing weeks of the election campaign. … Mr. Soros, a retired hedge fund manager, will also give an additional $500,000 to two super PACs backing Congressional Democrats. Other donors at the lunch were expected to commit at least $10 million more to Democratic super PACs, suggesting that many - like Mr. Soros - had overcome their aversion to financing super PACs that focused only on advertising."

COUNTERPOINT: DOES SMALL MONEY TRUMP BIG MONEY? Calling for reforms, Jonathan Alter argues at Bloomberg View: "The billionaires trying to buy the U.S. election with contributions of $1 million, $10 million or even $100 million aren't succeeding. … The reason is that big money in politics has a competitor: small money in politics. Even though big money is winning this year - it accounts for more than 75 percent of donations - small money raised on the Internet is better adapted to the 21st century political battlefield. … Super-PACs can dominate the air war, but they have trouble buying ground troops. … I'm not suggesting that small donations are competitive yet. In House races in 2010, only 8 percent of contributions were for less than $200. But with a boost, small money can play with the big boys."

ROMNEY RAISES $5 MILLION. ABC's Sunlen Miller reports: After taking a few days off from fundraising, Romney had a big money night, pulling in $5 million at a Washington, D.C. fundraiser. Romney commented, as he did earlier in the day at his event in Springfield, on the revised GDP growth.

OBAMA 'PLEASED' THAT THE REFS ARE BACK. ABC's Jon Garcia reports that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One: "The president is very pleased that the two sides have come together to resolve their differences and ensure that going forward when we watch our favorite teams play in the NFL, we can focus on the players and the game rather than on the officiating. It's a great day for America."

OBAMA CALLS FOR NEW 'ECONOMIC PATRIOTISM.' ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Virginia Beach: President Obama today called for a "new economic patriotism" in America, coining a new phrase for his vision for a second term as the election campaign enters the home stretch. "During campaign season, you always hear a lot about patriotism. Well, you know what? It's time for a new economic patriotism," Obama told a crowd of 7,000 Virginians, "an economic patriotism rooted in the belief that growing our economy begins with a strong and thriving middle class."

SCOTT BROWN RELEASES NEW TV AD. Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is out with a new ad today, the latest in a series of negative attacks from both candidates in the hotly contested senate race. In the ad, titled "Got Caught" Brown continues to criticize his opponent, Democratic nominee, Elizabeth Warren, for self-identifying as Native American to her employers. "Professor Warren got caught in a lie" a man in the ad says. "It should affect a lot of voters and how they feel about Elizabeth Warren." WATCH:

RYAN GETS FIRST INTEL BRIEFING, ROMNEY VISITS CIA. After the Romney campaign announced two weeks ago that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would begin receiving intelligence briefings, ABC's Shushannah Walshe and Sunlen Miller report: ABC News has learned that GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan has received intelligence briefings from the U.S. government. Ryan spokesperson Michael Steel confirmed the briefing took place. The campaign would provide no other details, such as timing. Presidential candidates and their running mates traditionally receive classified briefings from the intelligence community in the run up to an election. … Romney received his second intelligence briefing from President Barack Obama's administration Thursday morning at a CIA office building at the Dulles Discovery Center in Dulles, Va. The briefing lasted about two hours. His first came on September 17 in Los Angeles.

NOTED: RYAN'S NICKNAME FOR REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN. From Fox's pool report of Paul Ryan's fundraiser in Memphis last Ryan takes stage thanking Blackburn - "Marsha, pretty lady, thanks very much. That's my nickname for Marsha, we go back a long ways."

BILL CLINTON HITS THE TRAIL FOR OBAMA. An Obama campaign press release reads: " will travel to New Hampshire on Wednesday, October 3rd for a campaign event in support of President Obama. Details on President Clinton's campaign event in New Hampshire are forthcoming."

ROMNEY CAMP HAMMERS OBAMA DEFENSE CUTS. Spokeswoman Andrea Saul e-mails the following statement: ""President Obama's looming defense cuts are threatening to devastate our national security and destroy jobs across the nation. In Pennsylvania alone, the President's cuts are jeopardizing nearly 40,000 jobs, including tens of thousands of jobs at small businesses. Mitt Romney will reverse President Obama's devastating cuts and ensure our troops and veterans never pay the price for failed leadership again."

BIDEN TO CAMPAIGN ON SOCIAL SECURITY IN FLORIDA. President Obama's campaign announces: "Vice President Biden will kick-off his two-day Florida tour with grassroots events in Boca Raton and Tamarac, where he will highlight the clear choice Floridians face between two fundamentally different visions on whether to create an economy built to last from the middle out, or go back to the same failed economic policies that crashed our economy and punished the middle class. As part of this conversation with Florida voters, Vice President Biden will explain to voters how Mitt Romney's tax plan could raise taxes on Social Security benefits by $460 per year to pay for tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires."


@ktumulty : Medicare working to boost Obama in swing states, poll finds

@seanspicer : WSJ Editorial: "As Good As It Gets?"

@McCormickJohn : Democrat Leaners Prefer Clinton to Obama in Poll: #2012

@RealClearScott : Kit Bond to endorse Akin today & Reince Priebus says RNC "absolutely" prefers him to McCaskill:

@bfouhy : A NH political tradition: fmr Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland stumps for Obana at Politics & Eggs breakfast in Manchester


with ABC's Joanna Suarez

-President Barack Obama will attend three campaign fundraisers in Washington DC.

-Mitt Romney will hold a rally in Wayne, PA. In the evening, he will attend a campaign fundraiser with Paul Ryan in Massachusetts.

-Paul Ryan has no public events. He will attend a campaign fundraiser with Mitt Romney in the Massachusetts.

-Vice President Joe Biden will hold two campaign events in South Florida

-First Lady Michelle Obama will address college supporters at campaign events in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Appleton, Wisconsin.

Check out The Note's Futures Calendar :