The Three to Watch

Since 1960, no one has won the Presidency without winning two of these three states: Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Combined these three states account for 67 Electoral College Votes, one less than they did in the 2008 election (Florida gained two ECVs while Ohio lost two and Pennsylvannia one). Nonetheless these three states, traditionally swing states, account for nearly a quarter of the total needed to win the Presidency.

Polls so far have put Obama far ahead in Pennsylvania so much that the Romney campaign seems to have conceded the Keystone state spending effectively little money. A landslide margin is considered to be ten points. In Pennsylvania, Obama has maintained this margin consistently throughout the summer. The current polls show give the President a twelve point lead.

Ohio and Florida have from the start of this electoral cycle been seen as tough battleground states where the contest would be won or lost. The latest Quinnipiac University/New York Times/CBS News now point to widening leads for the President approaching landslide margins in both states. In Ohio, Obama leads Romney by ten points and in the even more critical Florida contest Obama leads by nine.

I think there are number of reasons why the President is doing well but in Ohio and Florida, two of those reasons are John Kasich and Rick Scott, the respective Tea Party governors of these two rich electoral prizes. 

The election remains as it has been for quite some time. A close election nationally in terms of the overall popular vote but continuing to move in Obama's direction in the Electoral College as voters in the battleground swing states continue to favor the President. In some of these states, the margin is within the margin of error but in Florida and Ohio, it is clearly not. And if Romney can't reverse this trend in these two states, he might as well start writing his concession speech.

It is clearly too early for Obama to write his victory speech but when that time comes a shout out to Kasich and Scott is clearly in order. 

The Woes of Newt Gingrich

Via Politico

Newt Gingrich raised a meager $53,000 into his political action committee in the first three months of the year, highlighting potential fundraising difficulties as the former House Speaker girds for a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

Gingrich has raised tens of millions in huge donations into American Solutions for Winning the Future, a so-called 527 committee outside the purview of the Federal Election Commission, allowing him to build a robust political operation that has kept him in the spotlight as he flirted with a White House bid.

But his presidential campaign would not be able to accept such large contributions and would instead be restricted to limited hard money donations of $2,500 per individual — half as much as the $5,000-per-individual maximum contributions that can be accepted each year by his leadership political action committee, American Solutions PAC.

Not surprising. He doesn't poll well among non-conservatives and while he is spending considerable time and energy reaching out to social conservatives - his core campaign theme is that "America is in danger of becoming a secular atheist nation" - he's not getting through. It's not that social conservatives disagree with the twice divorced, thrice married former Speaker of the House, Newt's flaws are fairly self-evident. When it comes to Newt's presidential aspirations, social conservatives don't find fault with the message but with the messenger.

His other problem is that others say, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, former Senator Rick Santorum and pizza millionaire Herman Cain, say pretty much the same thing and they don't have the hypocrisy baggage.

I don't see Newt getting past South Carolina after faring poorly in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

Don't Know Much About . . .

well, anything.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Republican Presidential field for 2012, a bunch of regressive, know nothing ignoramuses.

The parody of Sam Cooke's Wonderful World is from Sad n Mad Productions.

"In Love with the Idea of Obama"

I received an email this morning from the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) urging me to sign the following pledge:

"President Obama: If you cut Medicare and Medicaid benefits for me, my parents, my grandparents, or families like mine, don't ask for a penny of my money or an hour of my time in 2012. I'm going to focus on electing bold progressive candidates -- not Democrats who help Republicans make harmful cuts."

You can sign the pledge, if you so wish, here.

In its email, the PCCC included some of the reactions of Obama supporters and donors in the 2008 campaign to the fear that the President in his speech today will embrace the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles deficit cutting commission which envisions deep cuts to New Deal and Great Society entitlement programs. Here are those comments because they are well worth the read: 

Susan Carpenter, Obama volunteer from Ohio:

"Like many volunteers on his campaign, I was in love with the idea of Obama. I haven't given up on him quite yet, but I'm mustering the energy to work on the resistance. He needs to know who we are." 

John Rotolo, Obama volunteer from Florida:

"I'm almost too heartsick to comment...I'm at a loss."

Barbara Louise Jean, Obama volunteer from Nevada:

"It's ludicrous to cut Medicare for seniors when Wall Street created this mess without being held accountable. At 69, I'll be in financial trouble if Medicare benefits are lowered."

Joelle Barnes, Obama volunteer from Pennsylvania:  

"This is like a knife through my heart! This is a Republican thing!" 

Suzanne Fair, Obama volunteer from Maryland:

"I know he has to compromise sometimes, but it seems that he is caving to the Republicans far too often. We elected him for real change and I would like to see him stand strong against the corporate rich."

Margaret Copi, Obama donor from California:  

"I contributed more to Obama's campaign than I have to anything else in my life, but no more dollars from me and definitely not a moment of volunteer time, unless he makes huge shifts and starts to fight for the peoples' interest." 

Frankie Perdue, Obama volunteer from Colorado:

"I do not think that Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security should be on the negotiating table at all. Have the corporations pay their fair share of taxes."

Deborah Finn, Obama volunteer from North Carolina:  

"This is wrong! We did not elect Obama to have him make cuts in valuable, important programs. He needs to stand up to the Republicans. And he needs to speak to the American people about why it is morally wrong to cut the programs."

Michaele Bonenberger, Obama volunteer from South Dakota:  

"This does not sound at all like the Barak Obama that I worked so hard to get elected in 2008." 

Dotty Hopkins, Obama volunteer from California:  

"It makes it hard to gin up enthusiasm for 2012. More like hold your nose and vote again! As a former Obama volunteer, I'm already worrying about my lack of desire to do any campaigning and I'm on our County Central Committee for heaven's sake."

I do think that tonight's speech from the George Washington University is a break or make moment for President Obama vis-à-vis for many in his liberal base that worked so passionately to elect him in 2008. But I'm not sure that the President's campaign team feels that Obama needs all of them this time around given the campaign is a battle for the political center and that center clearly wants, if polls are to be believed, movement on reducing the deficit. To a certain degree, Obama's campaign strategists believes that many liberals have no place to go and that when push comes to shove they will back the President. In this, they are probably right. 

Going back to the notes above, I was most struck by Susan Carpenter's statement. An Obama volunteer from Ohio, one of the three most crucial battleground states in every Presidential election since 1960, Ms. Carpenter confesses that she "was in love with the idea of Obama." I think that pretty much sums what befell the progressive left in 2008. We fell in love with an idea and ignored the substance. Unfortunately for us, we now have to face up to and live with the substance of Obama and desperately need to come up with an idea for 2016.

Roger Simon of Politico yesterday wrote that he doesn't think that "Barack Obama will have a hard time defeating his Republican opponent in 2012, barring a financial meltdown or a major foreign crisis" but rather that Obama should worry about a Democratic opponent from the left. Simon, a staunch old school conservative, goes on to tout the possibilities of Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Dennis Kucinich.

None of these at any point in the last two years have ever even suggested that they are interested in challenging President Obama and they are not likely to do so now. Hillary Clinton is really the only one who could mount an effective challenge given her name recognition but she has repeatedly forsworn any interest in any elective office once she retires as Secretary of State. Moreover, she still hasn't even paid off her 2008 campaign debt to Mark Penn as yet. 

The reality is that President Obama is gearing up to raise $1 billion dollars for his run. In an America where money has become the determinant factor in our politics, that is a hefty obstacle to overcome. Barring some unforeseen crisis, Barack Obama will be re-elected President simply because his talents as a fundraiser are unsurpassed. For the progressive left, I believe it would serve us better to focus on electing true progressives to Congress so that we might draw the political center leftward because right now the political center in Congress is of all people, John Boehner. The imperative of recapturing the House could not be clearer.

Mitt Romney Forms Exploratory Committee

Long expected, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney announced that he was forming an exploratory committee in anticipation of this his second run for the presidency. In 2008, he finished third behind Senator John McCain and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee or as Mittens prefer to think of it, he got the bronze.

Romney announced his move on Twitter and put up the above video on YouTube. In the video, he extolled his private sector experience and lambasted President Obama's policies.

“He and virtually all the people around him have never worked in the real economy,” Romney said in the message. “They just don’t know how jobs are created in the private sector. That’s where I spent my entire career.”

Among Republican primary voters, polls frequently show Romney in the number one or number two spot. A NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week gave Romney the lead with 21 percent support, followed by the ever weirder Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, who each garnered 17 percent. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got 11 percent and former Alaska governor Sarah Palin received 10 percent.

More from ABC's The Note.

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