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romney.jpgAP Photo/Charles Dharapak

One of the storylines of the 2012 Presidential campaigns that will linger throughout history will be the Mitt Romney "47 Percent" video. Though Romney overcame the momentum that gave President Obama and made a tight contest of the race for a while, the video was one of several items that just gave Romney too high a mountain to overcome. And now it looks like the phrase "47 percent" may be forever etched next to Romney's name in an entirely different manner. As of earlier today, with vote reports - primarily absentee ballots - still trickling in, Romney stands at 47.84 percent of the popular vote. Some media outlets are still rounding up to 48 percent but as votes continue to trickle in and be tallied, there's a very good chance that Romney will remain in the 47 percent range and ensure that he will forever be linked to the phrase.

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By Andy Ihnatko

The software development community had never been entertained by its own equivalent of a "Fail" video before. And then, the Romney campaign commissioned ORCA, an ambitious software platform that was supposed to collect onsite voting information from tens of thousands of volunteers nationwide on election day, and send it to strategists at campaign HQ.

You know what I mean by a Fail video? I'm talking about those viral clips that usually begin with someone saying "Here, hold my beer and watch me do this" and ends with the camera rushing over to the spot on the side of the road where this guy is now rocking back and forth, clutching his groin in agony next to broken bits of his skateboard . . . as well as the railing that he apparently believed was made of a soft and spongy kind of iron.

These videos are entertaining because they document an absolutely unambiguous disaster that's being suffered by someone other than you. And they're genuinely fascinating, because . . . well, criminy, man! A higher lifeform wouldn't even consider making a jump from the bed of a moving flatbed truck onto a roadside trampoline. What the hell was this person even thinking?

There were so many fails about ORCA. The webapp was meant to connect tens of thousands of volunteers to a single central webserver This lone server was soon shut down by the campaign's ISP, because the sudden incoming flood of geographically-diverse hits appeared to be a denial-of-service attack. The server appeared to be inadequate for the flood of traffic anyway.

Romney campaign Digital Director Zac Moffatt talked to CNET about the traffic blast and amount of data being served:

"The primary issue was we beta-tested in a different environment than the Garden [Boston Garden, where the 800 campaign staffers were working]. There was so much data coming in -- 1200 records or more per minute -- it shut down the system for a time. Users were frustrated by lag, and some people dropped off and we experienced attrition as a result."

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Poor Mitt Romney. You'd think losing last week's election would have been enough of a kick in the teeth. But as the GOP tries to collectively sort out its troubles and figure out where it all went wrong, Mitt is suffering a new injustice: losing Facebook friends by the boatload. As in, several every minute. While he started out with so many, it looks like those who supported Romney in the election are choosing to "unlike" the candidate rather than to, say, just forget they ever liked him, kind of like all those stupid likes you make of businesses just so you can get a coupon. That is to say: people are actively clicking the "unlike" button on Romney's page.

One site has taken up the task to tracking this trend and God bless you, Disappearing Romney, for keeping the candidates honest.

Obama, Romney aged

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The above photo was created by Bloomberg Businessweek, in which the mag used a super-advanced space-age software program called "Photoshop" to create an image of what they think President Obama will look like four years. They're certainly counting on the second term to take its toll on him.

After the jump, the aged Mitt Romney cover that BB would have run had Romney won.

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The Electoral College breakdown map, courtesy of C-SPAN.
Click to embiggen


By Neil Steinberg

If you thought Tuesday you were voting for the presidential candidate of your choice, think again. Due to a historic quirk in the creation of the United States -- some old operating code, as it were -- American voters do not chose the president directly, but rather select electors to the Electoral College who do the actual selecting of the president.

It's a cumbersome system. Each state has the same number of electors as it has representatives in Congress --the House of Representatives and Senate combined. Illinois, for example, has 20 - down one after the last census. They can't be the elected officials themselves, however. In 48 of the states, whoever wins the popular vote also wins all the electors -- only Nebraska and Maine have a proportional system where electoral votes are divided up between the winner and loser.

The system is a relic of an age when travel was difficult and counting ballots even more problematic than it is today. The Founding Fathers wanted to make sure that numerous regional contenders didn't divide the nation.

Thus whoever wins 270 of the 538 available electoral votes will be inaugurated president on Jan. 20, 2013. But every four years there is talk of scrapping the Electoral College system, though it does have its defenders. Here are the main arguments, pro and con.

Reasons to get rid of it

  1. 1. A discrepancy between the number of voters and the number of electoral votes creates the possibility of losing the popular vote while winning the Electoral College. Three presidents have been elected on electoral votes while failing to win a majority of voters -- Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and George W. Bush in 2000 -- an outcome that undermines the faith Americans have in the legitimacy of the executive branch of government.
  2. 2. The Electoral College is inherently undemocratic, skewing significance toward smaller, more sparsely populated states. Delaware, with 900,000 residents, has three electoral votes, while Texas, with more than 25 million residents, has 34, which means from an electoral point of view, a vote in Delaware is more than twice as significant -- representing 1/300,000th of an electoral vote -- than a vote in Texas, representing 1/750,000 of an electoral vote.
  3. 3. By focusing on assembling 270 electoral votes, candidates ignore "safe" states such as Illinois, where there is no point in fighting for more votes once a majority is reached, since all the electoral votes are already assured. Thus the majority of states, nearly certain to fall one way or another, tend to get ignored in favor of a handful of "swing" states.
  4. 4. Even if the Electoral College works perfectly, it still introduces unnecessary delay into the system. Give the likelihood of immediate electronic voting in the foreseeable future, having to wait for some mysterious conclave to put its seal of approval on the will of the American people is unnecessary, not only wasting time, but wasting the money required to run the system.
  5. 5. There is the remote but real possibility of fraudulent electors -- members of the Electoral College who refuse to vote the way the results require that they vote. This has happened, and while it has never affected the outcome of a race, it could, and there is no reason to allow the possibility that one individual could perversely negate the will of hundreds of thousands of voters.

Reasons to keep it

  1. 1. America is change averse and would rather cling to an arcane system than switch to a new one, which might have flaws of its own. If we can't get rid of the penny, we can't scrap the Electoral College so why try? To do so, would involve a change in the constitution -- Article II, Section I lays out the details of the Electoral College -- and whatever benefit isn't worth the trouble of doing that.
  2. 2. Without the Electoral College, candidates would be encouraged to treat the country as a whole, and campaign through the national media, or in urban centers where the most people are concentrated. They would never spend time in a place like Ohio, where an evenly divided population means its electoral votes are up for grabs.
  3. 3. The Electoral College can soften the sting of tight races, which we often see. Thus a candidate who only wins by a tiny percentage of the popular vote can still have a considerable victory in the Electoral College, leading to a greater impression of consensus, which is good for subsequent governing.
  4. 4. The Electoral College helps direct power toward the states -- without it, authority would be even more centralized than it already is.
  5. 5. If the Electoral College wasn't scrapped after the debacle of the 2000 elections -- which saw one of those fraudulent electors -- it's never going to be.

CHICAGO--Mitt Romney flies to Cleveland and Pittsburgh on Tuesday for election day campaigning in battleground states before heading back to Boston--where his campaign is headquartered--for an election night appearance at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.

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Katy Perry performs in Las Vegas dressed as a pro-Obama ballot // AP Photo

President Obama is hitting Wisconsin hard in the next few days, including a planned Saturday concert Katy Perry and there's talk about a Bruce Springsteen appearance with Obama on Monday in Madison.

Springsteen famously held a concert in downtown Madison for John Kerry in 2004, drawing tens of thousands of people.

A recent Rasmussen poll showed the state's 10 electoral votes still a toss-up at 49 percent for each candidate.

Bill Clinton has been through the state this week as well as Joe Biden.

Mitt Romney, meanwhile, is planning a Friday visit and Paul Ryan has had a more consistent presence in his home state.

WASHINGTON--Are Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania really in play this close to the election? Is Mitt Romney expanding his path to 270 electoral votes? Obama senior adviser David Axelrod says no--and made a bet with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Wednesday that he would shave his moustache of 40 years if Obama failed to win those states.

After Scarborough contended the map is expanding for Romney on the Wednesday show, Axelrod disputed him saying, "here's what is true. In the era of super PACs, there's a lot of money out there and people can take flyers on states that they don't necessarily think they're going to win. I'm telling you Joe, with all due respect to the public polls that are out there, they are all over the map. I can only rely on the information that I have that I count on, that is solid research.

"I will come on "Morning Joe" and I will shave off my mustache of 40 years if we lose any of those three states."

Scarborough clarified, "So if you lose Minnesota, Michigan or Pennsylvania, you will shave off that mustache?"

Axelrod agreed to do the deed on the show and added a provision for Scarborough: "Yes, but what I should do is make a deal with you, is that you'll grow one if we win them."

Said Scarborough, "But I will grow a mustache if you guys win Florida or North Carolina. How's that? Is that a deal?

Axelrod clarified, "Florida and/or North Carolina?"

And the deal is made.

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Hurricane Sandy batters the East Coast and triggers a flurry of storm-relief events -- in swing states.

West Allis, Wisc. -- A campaign rally by Mitt Romney was canceled in the swing state of Wisconsin on Monday due to Hurricane Sandy.

But that won't keep the GOP ticket from hitting the state -- and other swing states -- in the final days before next week's election. Expect the same out of the Democrats with Bill Clinton expected to make a stop in Wisconsin sometime this week, possibly on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan will make two stops in Wisconsin while Romney will visit Ohio -- both candidates call the visits storm relief-related.

Ryan's travels through his home state includes stopping by the La Crosse Victory Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Hudson Victory Center in Hudson, Wisconsin, "where he will thank volunteers who are delivering or collecting items for storm relief efforts," according to the campaign.

President Obama canceled a visit planned for Green Bay on Tuesday. Clinton though will be in Minneapolis Tuesday morning, then head to Duluth, MN and then to Colorado.