Tales from the Trail

Election shines light on long path to post-racial America

So much for post-racial. Supporters watch as U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates his re-election during his election night rally in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Supporters watch as U.S. President Barack Obama celebrates his re-election during his election night rally in Chicago, Nov. 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When President Barack Obama won his historic bid for the U.S. presidency in 2008 as the nation’s first black president, there was a lot of talk about a new era for America.

But his re-election on Tuesday showed that in U.S. politics, race has far from become a back-burner issue.

The Democratic victory driven by strong support from Latinos, blacks and Asians leaves many re-examining the impact of minority voters not only on future elections but on policies ranging from immigration to education.

Latinos are the fastest growing group in America, as my colleagues Patrick Rucker and David Adams report in their story, Hispanic vote tilts strongly to Obama in win.

Could Sandy blow away the election? Don’t hold your breath

Deadly Superstorm Sandy left millions of Americans snowed in, flooded out or stranded without power – and the federal government itself in Washington closed – just a week before voters across the country head to the polls. But if anyone is wondering whether Election Day will be put off, the answer is almost certainly no.

Local U.S. elections have been postponed before – in one relatively recent example, New York put off voting that had been set for Sept. 11, 2001, because of the attacks on the country that day. But presidential balloting has always gone on, even during the Civil War in 1864 (President Abraham Lincoln was re-elected).

Federal law mandates that the national vote must take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November every four years.

Swing state ad from hawkish Democrats hits Romney on foreign policy

A group of hawkish Democrats with close ties to President Obama’s re-election campaign announced on Thursday a new swing state television advertisement attacking Mitt Romney on national security and foreign policy issues.

The 60-second advertisement by the Truman National Security Project is part of a low six-figure media buy and is set to run in veteran-heavy Ohio, one of a handful of states that could prove pivotal to the Nov. 6 election.

The advertisement oscillates between press footage and a montage of young veterans speaking directly to a camera questioning Republican White House candidate Mitt Romney’s ability to keep Americans safe in a dangerous and unpredictable world.

Romney’s strong debate draws cheers and relief from Republicans in Congress

Mitt Romney’s strong debate performance eased concerns by fellow Republicans in Congress that his recent struggles could be a problem for all of them on Election Day.

“His first debate was very important – and he delivered,” said Congressman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House Republican leadership.

“He established himself as a person who can be president of the United States – and that will make everyone feel positive,” said Republican Senator Mike Johanns.

Obama takes a break from debate prep – at the Hoover Dam

U.S. President Barack Obama took a break from preparing for Wednesday night’s debate with a quick visit to the Hoover Dam.

Wearing a gingham shirt, khaki trousers and sunglasses, according to a White House press pool report, the president asked some questions of a dam manager and a staffer from the U.S. Department of the Interior. He learned that most of the power generated from the dam – in Nevada, not far from Las Vegas – goes to Southern California, and that some of the 28,ooo people who built the dam were killed, but “fewer than you can imagine.”

A reporter asked Obama why he made the trip, and he responded: “It’s spectacular and I’ve never seen it before. I didn’t realize it was so close by.” Obama often takes breaks to visit tourist sites as he travels. Aides have said the tourist stops offer a mental break from the work of his office.

The “likability” factor

Is Mitt Romney “likable enough”? The eve of the first 2012 presidential debate is a good time to revisit that concept, made famous in an exchange between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during a primary debate in 2008.

The answer, based on Reuters/Ipsos polls, is bad news for the Republican nominee.

It’s not just that, as anyone who has followed this race knows, President Obama claims a majority of respondents on the question, “Which candidate is more likable?” – 52 percent among men and 51 percent among women. What must concern the Romney campaign is how low the favorable response to that question is for their candidate. At 24 percent for men and women, it is lower even than the combined number of “neithers” and “don’t knows.”

Romney’s problems with minority voters extend to Asians, study shows

Republican Mitt Romney’s problems appealing to minority voters extends beyond blacks and Hispanics, with Asian-Americans also heavily favoring Democratic President Barack Obama’s re-election on Nov. 6.

Among likely voters who are Asian American, 43 percent back Obama, compared with 24 percent for Romney. But there are still many out there to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, according to the National Asian American Survey, which organizers said was  the largest such study of Asian American and Pacific Islanders’ public opinion ever done in the United States.

Many, however, have yet to be won over, because a third – 32 percent – of those who are judged likely to cast ballots on Nov. 6 have not yet made up their minds, the study found.

“Outside” spending for 2012 election already beats 2010

 

There are still six weeks before Election Day on Nov. 6, but spending by Super PACs and other outside groups has already hit $465 million, more than all of the entire 2010 campaign season, with Republican-aligned groups spending well over twice as much as those backing Democrats.

Democratic-aligned Super PACs have spent $108.4 million this year, and Republican-aligned Super PACs have spent $270.5 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks political spending. The total independent expenditures by other Super PACs was $15.6 million.

Spending by outside groups in 2010 totaled $454 million, the group said.

And much of the latest uptick in spending is focused on congressional races, even in the closely contested ” swing” states ultimately expected to determine whether Democratic President Barack Obama is re-elected or his Republican challenger Mitt Romney ousts him from the White House.

Pelosi confident Democrats will win back House, says Obama will “win big”

U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said on Friday that despite predictions by so-called experts to the contrary, she’s confident her party will win back the chamber in the Nov. 6 election.

“The momentum is with us,” Pelosi said. “Our motto is don’t agonize, organize.”

Pelosi declined to say, however, if she would remain as her party’s House leader if Republicans retain control of the chamber.

This election, abortion rights activists are looking for just a few good women

This fall, there is going to be a relatively small group of women voters who may be very, very sick of hearing from NARAL Pro-Choice America by Election Day on Nov. 6.

Like most of those involved in politics this election year, the abortion rights advocacy group says that women will determine the outcome of the contest on Nov. 6 between Democratic President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney.

But unlike most, the group has identified, by name and address, the thousands of women across the country that it thinks might make the difference – and it plans to go after their votes,  and in a big way, but in small numbers – in many cases as few as 1,000 or 2,000 in an individual county.