Since 1972, every single presidential candidate who has won the popular vote has also won the Catholic vote. But with Catholics making up one in every four voters, pinning down what exactly the Catholic vote isbecomes tricky.
With the presidential debates coming up next week, we thought we'd turn once more to a man who tries to know everything, A.J. Jacobs, contributing editor at Esquire magazine and author of a number of books too numerous to mention for him to benefit from any bounce in his Amazon rankings. A.J. joins us from New York. A.J., thanks for being with us.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.
The big attraction in Ohio this time of year: football. The Buckeyes, the Bobcats, the Bengals, the Browns. But every four years, the presidential campaigns roll into Ohio with their own ground games, advertizing blitzes and game plans. And for Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the stakes are especially high. No Republican has ever won the White House without winning Ohio. NPR's Don Gonyea has this report.
In Utah, the state's lone Democratic congressman is in a tough battle for a seventh term. Jim Matheson's opponent, Mia Love, has the support of national GOP superstars and, if elected, would become the first black Republican woman in Congress.
In a state where only about 25 percent of residents vote as Democrats, Matheson has successfully gotten enough Republicans to vote for him and keep him in office for the past 12 years. He can trace his political roots back to his father, Scott Matheson, the state's last Democratic governor.
If there is a boogey man in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China. According to Bloomberg, the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have aired nearly 30,000 ads that mention trade with China, many airing in the key swing state of Ohio.
According to Bloomberg, President Obama and Mitt Romney have aired nearly 30,000 TV spots addressing the issue of trade with China, and that's just in the past month. Many of those ads aired in Ohio where both candidates are spending a lot of time. NPR's Sonari Glinton explains the Ohio-China nexus.
SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: If there's a boogeyman in the Ohio presidential sweepstakes, it's China.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 2:31 pm
A big embarrassment came this week for the Republican Party, which has made voting integrity and fighting voter fraud a major issue.
A consulting firm hired by the Republican National Committee to register voters in five battleground states has been let go after one of its workers apparently submitted over 100 questionable registration forms in Florida's Palm Beach County.
The party severed its ties with the firm — Strategic Allied Consulting — because it has "zero tolerance" for voter fraud, said RNC spokesman Sean Spicer.
Originally published on Fri September 28, 2012 1:19 pm
An oddity of U.S. presidential politics is that candidates and their campaigns spend nearly all their time telling voters how superior they are to their rivals in virtually every area: the wisdom of their policy proposals; the soundness of their characters and judgments — everything, really.
Except for debating.
It's the old game of setting the bar high for your opponent and lower for your candidate, of course. That way, anything short of a disastrous debate performance can be claimed as a knockout victory.
Less than six weeks to go and President Obama seems to have opened up a lead in the battleground states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida. Aside from poor economic numbers and worsening international events, Mitt Romney's best hope lies in the debates, which begin next week. Also to no one's surprise — and Sen. Claire McCaskill's delight — Todd Akin stays in the Missouri Senate race.
Join NPR's Ron Elving and Ken Rudin for the latest political news in this week's roundup.
Let's follow-up now on a story that prompted some debate among our listeners when it first aired. Here's NPR's Ari Shapiro, who stumbled upon this post-script.
ARI SHAPIRO, BYLINE: When Mitt Romney spoke to the American Legion Conference in Indianapolis last month, thousands of people from across the country were in the audience. I happened to speak with Bobbie Lussier of Virginia, who said this about President Obama...
One of the most important seats in the battle for control of the U.S. Senate is in Wisconsin, where Democrat Herb Kohl is retiring. Early polls showed popular former Gov. Tommy Thompson might easily flip the seat to the GOP, but he's now trailing Democratic Rep. Tammy Baldwin. It's a race that's going down to the wire in this almost evenly divided state.
Undecided voters in Ohio got a lot of attention this week from President Obama and GOP rival Mitt Romney. Coal may be the key to many swing voters in the Buckeye State, which remains a top coal producer.
It's an issue weighing on coal miner Rick Carpenter's mind at the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival in southeastern Ohio.
"Save coal — fire Obama. Yeah, I've got one of those signs in my yard," he says.
Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 4:17 pm
During the Republican National Convention last month, I traveled with Mitt Romney's campaign from Tampa, Fla., to the American Legion conference in Indianapolis.
Romney delivered a speech about foreign affairs and national security. Among the thousands of attendees from around the country, I interviewed one woman from Virginia whose quote sparked a conversation among NPR's audience and staff.
Now that Missouri Republican Todd Akin is not dropping out of the Senate race against incumbent Claire McCaskill, the GOP is rethinking how distant it wants to remain from him. Akin became toxic for remarks about "legitimate rape" — but the GOP Senate map nationwide is looking increasingly grim.
Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 11:26 am
A slew of new presidential polls released this week not only confirm a long-established gender gap among voters, but also suggest that the male-female preference divide in this year's presidential contest could hit historic levels.
It may surprise that that divide appears not driven by social issues and arguments over reproductive care or choices, analysts say, but largely by the national conversation over the size of government.
Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 8:52 am
With voters in the swing state of Iowa today joining those in two-dozen other states who can already cast their vote for president, the surge in early voting is necessitating a change in campaign strategy, says Paul Gronke, director of the Early Voting Information Center.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's swing through Ohio took him from the suburbs of Columbus through parched cornfields and pumpkin patches to industrial corridors near Cleveland and Toledo. Romney says his policies will make things better for struggling Americans.
Originally published on Thu September 27, 2012 4:22 am
Those who have made up their minds, both Democrats and Republicans, take advantage of early voting. Paul Gronke, a Political Science professor at Reed College, talks to David Greene about who votes early, and how early voting has changed the way people go to the polls. Gronke is Director of the Early Voting Information Center.
The first sign that getting a new ID isn't going to be easy for Beverly Mitchell and Kathleen Herbert comes before the pair have even left their downtown Philadelphia senior center. As they wait for a ride to a nearby Department of Motor Vehicles office, they get the news: The van that was supposed to take them is broken.