The Note SPECIAL ELECTION WEEKEND EDITION: Charting A Course To 270, Candidates Follow Uncertain Paths

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


  • RACE TIED, BUT ROMNEY'S POPULARITY GROWS: The presidential race is still tied nationally at 48 percent to 48 percent, according to the latest ABC News-Washington Post tracking poll, but Mitt Romney's popularity has grown. ABC News pollster Gary Langer writes: "After lagging for months at historic lows, Mitt Romney's personal popularity has advanced in the final weekend to its highest of the 2012 campaign, rivaling Barack Obama's. But Obama pushes back with greater enthusiasm among his supporters … Fifty-four percent of likely voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll express a favorable opinion of Obama overall, the most basic measure of a public figure's popularity. Yet 53 percent now see Romney favorably-a majority, remarkably, for the first time. … Obama holds advantages in strength of support. Thirty-eight percent of likely voters see him "strongly" favorably, 8 percentage points more than say the same about Romney."
  • OBAMA AND CLINTON UNITE: The Barack Obama-Bill Clinton "bromance" was on full display last night in battleground Virginia as both men united in public for the first time on the 2012 campaign trail, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports. Clinton, who has been barnstorming the country for Obama and audibly hoarse, appeared to captivate the Democratic crowd with his vigorous endorsement of President 44 while making a hard final pitch to undecided or wavering voters. "Barack Obama is a proven cooperator," Clinton declared. Obama reciprocated with the accolades, heaping praise on the man who was famously once a fierce rival and whose economic record he now regularly invokes on the stump. "The only Clinton working harder than him is our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I'm so grateful to both of them," Obama said. The former president and current president will campaign together again this morning in downtown Concord, N.H.
  • ROMNEY DRAW BIGGEST CROWDS EVER: ABC's David Muir reports that Mitt and Ann Romney appeared before a crowd of more than 17,000 in Colorado, where Ann was visibly moved by thousands who gathered to see her and her husband at an airplane hangar. Both candidates stopped in Dubuque, Iowa, where Romney told supporters: "I want you to reach across the street to the neighbor, that has that other sign in his front yard. And I'm gonna reach across the aisle in Washington, D.C., to the politicians who are working for the other candidate." WATCH:
  • HANG OUT WITH ABC NEWS ON TUESDAY: 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 2 days to go until Nov. 6, 2012. Here are the ABC News battleground state rankings:


On the second to last campaign day of the 2012 election cycle, the presidential contenders and their allies are fanning out across the country - in every time zone and in multiple corners of some of the most hotly contested battleground states.

In Ohio, the race seems virtually immovable, with most polls giving the edge to President Obama, but not by much.

In other states like Iowa, the latest numbers are trending in Obama's direction. A Des Moines Register poll released yesterday, found the president leading Mitt Romney, 47 percent to 42 percent. (Republicans have been pointing out that four years ago, the poll showed Obama with a 17 point lead in the Hawkeye State, but he went on to win it by just over 9 points.)

If Romney is unable to make a comeback in Ohio on Tuesday, his White House hopes may rest his running mate Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin. As ABC News' Jonathan Karl points out, if Romney can successfully turn the Badger State from blue to red (it has not swung for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984) and if he also also wins Florida, Virginia, Colorado and New Hampshire, the GOP hopeful would end up with a 271 to 267 Electoral Vote victory over Obama.

Romney has been consistently behind in the polls in Wisconsin, but some top Republicans now believe he has a better chance of winning there than in Ohio.

"After the decisive victory in the Scott Walker recall election, Republicans believe their organization is stronger in Wisconsin than in any other state," Karl notes. "Republican Scott Walker won that race by seven points (53 percent to 46 percent) after most polls predicted he would win by two points. Republicans believe if there is one state they can out-perform the polls it is Wisconsin."

One important caveat from ABC News pollster Gary Langer: "Even as they kept Walker in office, Wisconsin voters in June favored Obama over Romney by 51 to 44 percent. By 46-37 percent they preferred Obama to 'do a better job helping the middle class.' It's a different electorate, but it marks Romney's challenges in the state."

Neither Romney nor Obama will be in Wisconsin today. Instead, the presidents sweeps across the country, starting his day with a rally in Concord, N.H. and ending it in Aurora, Colorado with events in Hollywood, Fla. and to Cincinnati, Ohio in between.

Romney begins in Des Moines, Iowa, followed by stops in Cleveland, Ohio, Morrisville, Pa. and Newport News, Va. The GOP candidate will show up in both Virginia and Florida tomorrow - a route that White House senior adviser David Plouffe told ABC's George Stephanopoulos was politically treacherous.

"A few weeks ago, Governor Romney's campaign was saying we're going to win Florida, we're going to win Virginia," Plouffe told Stephanopoulos on "This Week." "On Monday, the day before the election, Governor Romney is going to Florida and Virginia. Why? Because he's at great risk of losing those states. So when Florida, Virginia, North Carolina - we're playing offense on states that they thought they had the inside track on, and they don't."

But top Romney campaign strategist Ed Gillespie pointed to the fact that his candidate is heading to Pennsylvania - a leaning-Democratic state - as evidence that "the map has expanded."

"It's a remarkable juxtaposition here that Mitt Romney will be in the suburbs of Philadelphia today, and, you know, four years ago, Barack Obama was in Indiana," Gillespie said. "When you look at where this map has gone, it reflects the - the change and the direction and the momentum toward Governor Romney."


The Note's virtual political roundtable in tweets:

@matthewjdowd : Just predicted on this week that Obama wins electoral college with 303 votes. Very very tight in national popular vote. Tiny edge to Obama.

@rickklein : whatever else happens, voters like Romney more at end of campaign than at any point during it. …

@jaketapper : Fun mashup of 60 years of campaign ads from @hmatkin>

@amyewalter : Hilarious! MT @OKnox: RT @YahooNews The memes of the 2012 campaign #YahooNewsElections //

NEW ROMNEY TV AD: 'BIGGER, BETTER AMERICA.' A new TV ad released Sunday by Mitt Romney's campaign featured footage of the candidate speaking at a rally. In it, Romney says: "My conviction that better days are ahead is not based on promises and hollow rhetoric but on solid plans and proven results. And it's based on an unshakable faith in the American spirit. If there's anyone worried that the last four years are the best we can do, if there's anyone who fears that the American Dream is fading, if there's anyone who wonders whether better jobs and better paychecks are things of the past, I have a clear and unequivocal message: With the right leadership, America is coming roaring back."

EARLY-VOTE ROUNDUP: REPUBLICANS INCREASE THEIR SHARE. Numbers and percents aggregated by the United States Election Project at George Mason University.

In COLORADO where early in-person voting ended Friday, Republicans are outperforming their 2008 early/absentee-vote share, but Democrats still have the edge. With over 1.6 million ballots cast, registered Democrats make up 34.6 percent, while Republicans make up 39.9 percent of that vote. But in 2008, the early vote was 37.7 percent Democrat and 35.9 percent Republican, according to the United States Election Project at George Mason University, which tracks and tabulates early-vote statistics.

It's the same case in FLORIDA, where early voting ended Saturday. The latest numbers, from Saturday morning, show Republicans improving on their 2008 early/absentee-vote share, going from 37.3 percent in 2008 to 39.9 percent in 2012, while Democrats fell from 45.6 percent to 42.6 percent. Those numbers could change as the last day's batch of early-voting turnout is released.

Early voting ends on Monday in OHIO, and over 1.6 million votes have been cast. Ohio voters do not register by party affiliation, making the advantage tougher to assess-but, according to the latest data from Ohio's secretary of State, including turnout through Friday, the early vote is tracking about even in large Obama '08 and McCain '08 counties: In Lucas and Cuyahoga (large Obama counties in Northern Ohio), early turnout is currently about as close to its final 2008 share as it is in two large, Central-Ohio McCain '08 counties, Licking and Delaware. Voters also do not register by party affiliation in Wisconsin or Virginia, where early voting ended Friday and Saturday, respectively.


with ABC's Chris Good ( @c_good)

ROMNEY'S CLOSING ARGUMENT: I'M THE SAME GUY. ABC's Jake Tapper reports that President Obama is jetting from battleground to battleground, flying roughly 1,500 miles yesterday alone, visiting Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Virginia. Obama is making a final pitch to voters: that he's the same idealistic, nonpartisan guy they elected in 2008. "You know me. You may not agree with every decision I've made, sometimes you may have been frustrated by the pace of change, but you know where I stand," he told voters on Saturday. WATCH:

HOW WILL SANDY AFFECT THE VOTE? On "Good Morning America," ABC's George Stephanopoulos notes that even some Republicans have acknowledged Sandy might hurt them on Tuesday, blocking Mitt Romney's momentum and burnishing President Obama's image-particularly after he toured New Jersey's disaster relief with GOP Gov. Chris Christie. WATCH:

FLORIDA DEMS SUE FOR MORE EARLY VOTING. Florida's controversial early-voting hours ended on Saturday, after a year in which Democrats and voting-rights groups contested the GOP-controlled legislature's move to fewer (but longer) early-voting days. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner rejected at least one election supervisor's call for extended hours after four-hour lines were reported in South Florida, and now Democrats announced they have filed a suit in federal court to reopen early voting. A statement from Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith reads: ""Voting is a fundamental right, and we all have an interest in assuring that all Americans have effective opportunities to vote. Florida's Republican state legislature has already reduced the number of days to early vote by six days. Because of Gov. Scott's refusal to follow precedent and extend early voting hours in the face of unprecedented voter turnout in South Florida, we are requesting in federal court that more Floridians have a meaningful chance to early vote."

ROMNEY CAMPAIGN; 'VOTER INTENSITY' WILL DELIVER A WIN. ABC's David Muir reports: With three days to go until the election, the Romney campaign is arguing enthusiasm among Republican voters and the Romney ground game will lead them to victory on Election Day. When asked about Ohio, Romney campaign political director Rich Beeson argued Romney's strength among independent voters will help Romney win Ohio despite public polling that shows President Obama holding onto a slim, but stubborn lead in the Buckeye State. … The Romney campaign argues the move to spend money and time in Pennsylvania in the waning days of the campaign is based on momentum in that state and is not a last-minute effort to expand the map.

OBAMA CAMP TRUMPETS MASSIVE GROUND GAME… Obama campaign aides are claiming a bigger get-out-the-vote effort than in 2008, ABC's Devin Dwyer reports from Milwaukee: With just 60 hours until voters begin heading to the polls, the Obama campaign is heralding the mobilization of a massive battleground organizing operation - unprecedented in size and scope-that it says will be a decisive factor in the outcome on Nov. 6. It is a "ground game unlike any that American politics has ever seen and much bigger than we did in 2008," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina told reporters on an evening conference call. "Our get-out-the-vote effort-built over years and running at full speed today - is the reason President Obama will be re-elected to a second term," said Obama national field director Jeremy Bird.

…AND SO DOES TEAM ROMNEY. The Romney campaign offered its own GOTV boasts in a memo on Saturday: "Over 120,000 Romney Victory volunteers have contacted over 50 million voters since the program started this Spring. … States like OH, VA, FL, WI and IA are running the best GOTV programs their states have ever seen, making millions of voter contacts each week … This means we will contact each person in our Get Out The Vote universe 3 times to get out to the polls - these are our base voters as well as the independent voters we spent the summer identifying.

BIDEN'S DAYLIGHT-SAVINGS ZINGER. ABC's Arlette Saenz reports from Arvada, Colo.: In his first of two stops in Colorado Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden used a little comedy at a local high school to highlight how the GOP ticket's policies will set the country back, reminding voters to change the times on their clocks tonight on what Biden billed as Mitt Romney's favorite night of the year. "Look folks, I want to remind you. This is the end of Daylight Saving time tonight. It's Mitt Romney's favorite time of the year because he gets to turn the clock back," Biden said to laughter and applause at Arvada High School Saturday afternoon. "He wants to turn that clock back so desperately. This time he can really do it tonight. It happens. … I'm so ready to win this election, man," Biden added.

ROMNEY HITS OBAMA FOR 'REVENGE' REMARK… Mitt Romney seized on President Obama's comment on Friday, during a campaign event in Ohio, that "voting is the best revenge," ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Newington, N.H.: Romney said today that the remark likely "surprised a lot of people." "Speaking to an audience, he said, you know voting is the best revenge," said Romney. "He told his supporters, voting for revenge. Vote for revenge? "Let me tell you what I'd like to tell you: Vote for love of country," he said. "It is time we lead America to a better place." Romney's campaign also released an ad titled "Revenge or Love of Country" that asked viewers, "On Tuesday, what will be your reason for voting?"

…SO DOES PAUL RYAN. The VP candidate picked up on Obama's remark at a campaign stop in Marietta, Ohio, ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: At the first stop at Marietta College in must-win Ohio, the GOP vice presidential nominee echoed his running mate's comments from his massive rally in West Chester, Ohio Friday night where he hit the president for the tone of the campaign. Ryan said here that four years ago the president "appealed to our highest aspirations," but now "he's appealing to our lowest fears." "Just yesterday he was asking his supporters at a rally to vote out of revenge," Ryan said to about 1,000 people at the college gymnasium. "Mitt Romney and I are asking you to vote out of love of country. That's what we do in this country. We don't believe in revenge."

OBAMA WRAPS HISTORIC TV AD CAMPAIGN WITH FINAL BUY. ABC's Devin Dwyer reports: The Obama campaign on Friday placed its final ad buy of the 2012 election cycle, purchasing TV airtime in two Florida markets and four Virginia markets, a campaign official told ABC News. The milestone marks the conclusion of what has been a historic presidential campaign in terms of number of ads run and dollars spent by both sides. … All told, ads from both candidates and their affiliated outside groups have aired more than 1.1 million times in only 13 states, ABC's Amy Walter reported this week with data from CMAG/Kantar Media. The amount spent on TV advertising in the presidential race has topped $730 million.

ANN ROMNEY: MITT'S NO FOOTBALL COACH. ABC's Emily Friedman reports from Newington, N.H. that Ann Romney spoke with reporters in the press cabin of the campaign plane: As for her own favorite campaign experience? That touchdown pass she made last month on the beach in Florida, when she dropped in on a football game between campaign staffers and some members of the traveling press corp. "I know how to throw spirals, is that a shock for anybody?" she joked. Asked who her football coach was, Mrs. Romney didn't miss a beat. "Not Mitt," she said with a smile. "It would've been one of the boys. Probably Tagg, who taught me how to throw a spiral."

RYAN: 'FLORIDA IS EVERYTHING.' ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports from Panama City, Fla.: Paul Ryan wrapped up a marathon four-stop, five-state day at an outdoor rally at the Panama City marina acknowledging to the crowd that "Florida is everything." "Mitt Romney and I can handle whatever they are going to throw at us for the next three days, but this country cannot handle another four more years of this administration. We are asking for your help, we are asking for your support," Ryan said to a crowd of about 2,000 people. "Florida is key, you know that. Florida is everything."

NOTED: RYAN OP-ED: ANEMIC FUTURE VS. BRIGHT FUTURE. Paul Ryan writes, in an op-ed in the Des Moines Register: "This election is not just about picking a president for the next four years. It is about the kind of country we want to have and the kind of people we want to be. Another four years of anemic economic growth, of ever-higher debt and deficits, would guarantee a diminished future for our children. But this doesn't have to be our future. You can choose a better path. You can cast your vote for a proven bipartisan leader with a plan and a record of working across the aisle to balance budgets and create jobs. President Obama offers a repeat of the same failed policies of his first term. He has offered nothing different, and if re-elected, that's exactly what we can expect."

BIDEN WEIGHS IN ON HONEY BOO BOO. ABC's Arlette Saenz reports: In a rare glimpse at his pop culture habits, Vice President Joe Biden revealed what television shows he keeps up with and admitted he's watched clips of TLC's "Here Come Honey Boo Boo" while flying on Air Force Two. "Beyond Modern Family and Parks and Recreation, that's about it, those are ones that I spend most of my time," Biden said in an interview with Roxy Romeo on WMIA radio, a Miami radio station. "I haven't spent most of my time with pop culture that like my granddaughter talks about. Like Honey Boo Boo is not top on my list , but I am aware just you know by catching snippets on Air Force Two, quite a phenomenon. But, but I do try."

2016 PRIMARIES BEGIN THIS WEEK. ABC News Political Analyst Matthew Dowd writes: "If the expected happens and Obama wins, he immediately becomes a lame duck. In the aftermath of a bitter and divided election, there will be concerns about who else can appeal to the constituencies that have continually trended away from Democrats-white voters, married women, rural folks. The big question mark is, what will Hillary Clinton do? She would be the odds-on favorite to win the nomination if she chooses to run, but that remains a very open question. For the Democrats, the primaries pivot off of her decision. … For the Republicans, the course ahead is probably a bit rougher than what the Democrats face. I would guess that in the aftermath of a Romney loss, a bitter and bloody battle for the heart and soul of the GOP will ensure - a civil war between the very conservative elements and the less-conservative factions; the economic conservatives and social conservatives; the more populist members and the more establishment folks.":

TODD AKIN'S PROTEST-ARREST RECORD. National Journal's Dan Friedman reports: "Missouri Republican Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin was arrested at least eight times in the 1980s at anti-abortion protests, according to newly obtained records. That is four arrests in addition to four the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last month based on a review of its contemporaneous coverage of protests. The four additional arrests each appear to have occurred outside a women's health clinic in Ballwin, Missouri in St. Louis County between 1985 and 1987."

PAUL RYAN GOES DARK. "In his first eight weeks on the GOP ticket, Paul Ryan blazed his own campaign trail through the living rooms of swing-state voters, sitting for nearly 125 interviews with local television affiliates," Politico's Juana Summers reports. "But since the week of the vice presidential debate, Ryan has gone dark on battleground reporters - doing no local television and only a handful of network interviews and syndicated radio shows. … Ryan's final local TV interview appears to have occurred on Oct. 8. It was the sit-down with a Michigan ABC affiliate in which reporters accused the lawmaker of walking off the set after being faced with some uncomfortable questions. But video of the exchange didn't support that claim - although a Ryan staffer did cover the camera after the interview was over. … Romney and Ryan aides instead argued that the vice presidential nominee no longer needed the earned media in the final days of the campaign as much as he did when Romney plucked him out of virtual obscurity to those outside-the-Beltway on Aug. 11. At the time, Ryan's national name recognition was only 50 percent. 'We reached a different stage of the campaign. With national interest picking up, our focus shifted' Ryan spokesman Michael Steel told POLITICO."

FLASHBACK: ABC News' Michael Falcone and Shushannah Walshe reported on Sept. 26, 2012: "The Romney-Ryan campaign's local television strategy seems straightforward: It's viewers in these key swing-state markets they need to reach heading into Election Day. The data-driven team in Boston can pinpoint the exact markets where they need to deploy Ryan and, for that matter, Romney and his wife, Ann, who also have busy local interview schedules. The subsequent coverage bolsters the paid advertising dollars they are pumping into those areas. … The goal of the local media approach is also to bring the Romney-Ryan ticket's message directly to voters - preferably for the campaign - without straying too far off talking points. … Romney-Ryan campaign aides say they plan to keep Ryan on a steady diet of local interviews heading into Nov. 6?


@AriFleischer : People forget bcause all attention was on FL in 2000, but IA, NM, OR, and WI went 4 Gore by < 0.5%.

@jmartpolitico : For mitt to spend $ in PA is 1 thing, to stop there for an event speaks to his need to find an alt path beyond big 7 states

@mviser : Hours before voter verdict, Romney ("Do you want real change?"), Obama ("What he's selling ain't it") fight over change …

@kakukowski : Romney's Political Director Predicts 'Big Win' on Tuesday …

@nytjim : Forecasters say tonight will be coldest of season so far, low of 34 in NYC; below freezing in stricken suburbs. #sandy


-President Obama sweeps across the country, starting his day with a rally in Concord, N.H. and ending it in Aurora, Colorado with musical guest Dave Matthews. In between he heads to Hollywood, Fla. where he'll be joined by Pitbull and to Cincinnati, Ohio where Stevie Wonder will perform.

-Mitt Romney begins in Des Moines, Iowa, followed by stops in Cleveland, Ohio, Morrisville, Pa. and Newport News, Va. Along the way, he'll be joined by Rodney Atkins and The Marshall Tucker Band.

-Vice President Joe Biden concentrates on Ohio today, with campaign events in Lakewood, Fremont and Lancaster.

-Paul Ryan holds events in Mansfield, Ohio, Minneapolis, Minn., and Castle Rock, Colo.

-Former President Bill Clinton campaigns alongside President Obama this morning in Concord, N.H. before heading to Dover, N.H., Raleigh, N.C, and St. Cloud, Minn.

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