Friday, June 1, 2012

May job report.

  Disappointing, deflating, horrible, screaming and down.  Stocks fell on job report, and EU. Hopefully next month will be better.
Republicans can take part of the blame, passing no jobs bill.  And seems to only be squarely
focused with the War on Women.  Trying to pass a different strongly worded bill about abortion.   WHen are they going to get their heads out of their asses and do something for the American people and the country, and stop trying to fuck it up.

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Obama, Scott Walker follow the same script for survival


The political playbook isn't a new one for an incumbent, especially one who's facing a difficult contest.
Turn the race into a choice, not a referendum; argue that progress has been made, no matter how slowly or controversially; and link your opponent to your even more unpopular predecessor.
Of course, we're talking about President Obama's campaign playbook against Mitt Romney.
But we also could be talking about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) -- who has followed this exact same script in his recall battle against Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) that takes place on Tuesday.
While Walker couldn't be more different ideologically and stylistically from Obama, he and his allies in this recall have:
-- tried to disqualify Barrett as a suitable replacement (just like the Obama campaign has tried to do to Romney);
-- made the case that the economy has improved, even if it's been incremental (ditto Team Obama);
-- and argued that replacing Barrett with Walker would take voters back to the days of the unpopular Gov. Jim Doyle (D) administration (hello, George W. Bush).
"There's a polarized electorate for both, with the majority of people locked in. And the swing voters need to see a choice -- that benefits the incumbent," says one Democratic official who is watching both races.
"If they only see it as a referendum on performance, then the failure to change mood alone could be devastating. If they can make it about the other guy, they're OK."
Is that playbook working for Walker? A recent Marquette Law School poll finds Walker leading Barrett by seven percentage points among likely voters, 52%-45%. But Democrats point to their own internal polls showing a much closer race.

Three big differences between Walker and Obama

To be sure, there are some importance differences between Wisconsin's gubernatorial recall and November's presidential contest.
For one thing, the nature of a recall is much different than a presidential election. (That could very well explain why Obama leads Romney, 51%-43%, in that same Marquette poll -- some Democrats and pro-Obama voters, even if they don't approve of Walker's job, might not think he should be recalled from an office he won less than two years ago.)
In addition, Barrett has had very little time between winning his primary (on May 8) and this general election (June 5). By comparison, Romney has been the presumptive GOP nominee since April, giving him seven months to run a general-election race after his primary battle.
And then there's money. Walker and his allies have a sizable ad-spending advantage over Barrett and his allies, $23 million to $8.5 million, according to NBC/SMG Delta ad-buying numbers. While the Obama campaign has more money than the Romney camp, outside conservative groups will more than make up the difference.
Mike Schrimpf, communications director at the Republican Governors Association, points to another difference. "In the Walker scenarios, his advantages on the dominate issues -- taxes, spending, role of government -- all of those issues favor Gov. Walker's policies. He has taken an approach that's clearly different than President Obama."
Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski doesn't see a comparison between the Obama and Walker playbooks. "Walker is running a campaign based on his accomplishments and reforms, talking about the economy and jobs he's created, businesses that have moved into the state. Obama doesn't have a record to run on."

Choice vs. referendum

Despite the differences, the similarities in campaign strategy are striking.
Just look at the pro-Walker TV ad campaign, which has tried to paint Barrett as an unacceptable alternative. One Walker ad portrays Barrett for being soft on crime:
This two year old spent six days in intensive care after being severely beaten, but Tom Barrett’s police department didn’t consider it a violent crime. Tom Barrett claims, “Violent crime is down 15.5 percent.” But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel found that hundreds of beatings, stabbings, and child abuse cases were never even counted. Violent crime in Milwaukee is up, and Tom Barrett isn’t telling the truth.
Another one hits him for being a big spender:
Tom Barrett wants to spend more than 100 million dollars on a trolley for Milwaukee.  Now that’s the kind of reckless spending that left Wisconsin with more than a 3 billion dollar deficit.
"Things are getting better"

Walker and his allies also have pointed to signs of an improving economy -- just like Obama and his supporters have.
Consider this Walker ad, in which he looks to the camera:
I've got some bad news for Tom Barrett, but good news for Wisconsin. The government just released the new jobs numbers. And as it turns out, Wisconsin actually gained -- yes, gained -- more than 20,000 new jobs during my first year in office. Add the jobs created this office, the total goes to over 30,000.
The Republican Governors Association has aired this ad:
Since Scott Walker became governor, Wisconsin has gained over 30,000 jobs. Fact. 
But Democrats have disputed those figures. And Politifact Wisconsin says, "To reach the number, he combined two data sets - one that involves unofficial (but generally more accurate) numbers that could change in the weeks after the election; the other is volatile, but still official monthly numbers. From an accounting standpoint this would be flagged as a mistake. From a political standpoint, he is mixing and matching to present the best possible view."

Tying your opponent to the old regime

And Walker and his supporters have tried to link Barrett to the previous governor, Jim Doyle (D) -- just like the Obama campaign has stressed that Romney's policies are no different than George W. Bush's.
Take this RGA ad, for example:
Where would you go if you could travel in a time machine? How about back to 2010 to Gov. Doyle’s administration? I didn’t think so. Under Jim Doyle, unemployment in Wisconsin went up 37%. Taxes went up $1.6 billion. That’s exactly what would happen if we made Tom Barrett governor.
There are additional similarities, too: Both Walker and Obama have passionate bases, and they have well-financed campaign machines.
If Walker prevails on Tuesday -- and Democrats are quick to point out  that this race is far from over -- then he'll have this playbook to thank.
But then the question becomes: Will it work for Obama in November? And who is paying more attention to it? The Obama campaign or the Romney campaign?
NBC's Katherine Faulders contributed to this story.

May weather was astounding.

Two sub tropical storms be4 the beginning of hurricane season.  And already one hurricane on the west coast of Mexico.
Torrential rain, tornado's, lightening, hail, drought, fires, lots of fires.
Sweltering, hot, sticky, muggy, unbearable and nauseating heat , in spots where it normally is not that hot.  Records broken all over the lower 48.

'First Amendment rights can be terminated': When cops, cameras don't mix

Video from March 2012 shows Chicago police taking members of the media into custody.

The video is chilling, but it's also a sign of the times.

"Your First Amendment rights can be terminated," yells the Chicago police officer, caught on video right before arresting two journalists outside a Chicago hospital.  One, an NBC News photographer, was led away in handcuffs essentially for taking pictures in a public place.  He was released only minutes later, but the damage was done. Chicago cops suffered an embarrassing "caught on tape" moment, and civil rights experts who say cops are unfairly cracking down on citizens with cameras had their iconic moment.

Tales of reporters, protestors and citizen journalists being threatened or arrested for filming law enforcement officials during disputes are on the rise, critics say, with Occupy Wall Street protests a lightning rod for these incidents. The National Press Photographers Association claims it has documented 70 such arrests since September and, in May, called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to focus attention on the issue.

"The First Amendment has come under assault on the streets of America," the photography association said in a letter to Holder that was also signed by several other interest groups. "Police have arrested dozens of journalists and activists simply for attempting to document political protests in public spaces.”

Such allegations are ironic, given the sharp rise in police surveillance technology, which gives cops vast capabilities to film citizens, said Catherine Crump, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney.

"It is true that Americans are photographed more and more today as they walk around in public spaces," Crump said. "And it is ironic that law enforcement agencies are objecting when the same activity is being used to film their activities. But it's not surprising because there's often a double-standard in this space."

There's always been a tense relationship between cops and cameras, but that relationship is being pushed to the brink now that half of U.S. adults carry smartphones, nearly all of them capable of filming and sharing visuals instantly with the whole world via the Internet.  Cops at Occupy Wall Street protests -- such as those at Zucotti Park in New York City -- routinely deal with dozens of amateur photographers shoving cameras in their faces, many of them aggressive.  It's not hard to see how the cameras can escalate an already tense situation.

But First Amendment law is clear: Citizens in public spaces have a right to film things they see in plain sight. Courts have repeatedly upheld that right in high-profile cases.  Court rulings sometimes have no bearing during intense situations, however.

"It wouldn't really matter with some police officers if you had an original copy of Bill of Rights with you," said Mickey Osterreicher, a lawyer for the press photographers association. He said he deals with new cases nearly every day involving photographers who he believes have been wrongly arrested.

"The sign on my desk that reads, 'Bang head here,' is getting worn out," he said.
In April, Connecticut's State Senate passed a law that clearly defined citizens' right to film, but the state's lower house failed to act on the measure. The proposal was introduced by Sen. Majority Leader Martin M. Looney , D-New Haven, after a series of incidents involving cops in that state's capital city. In one, a police officer is caught on camera saying “You don’t take pictures of us,” before making an arrest. In another incident, 26-year-old Luis Luna was arrested for filming an arrest, and video files on his iPhone were deleted.

"In the past several years, police officers have wrongly arrested members of public for using video cameras or cell phone cameras," said Adam Joseph, a spokesman for Looney.  "In the opinion of a number of senators, there were far too many instances, and that demonstrated the right to videotape needed to be codified and is unfortunately necessary."

The proliferation of devices that can film and share has made this conflict almost inevitable, but there are other causes, too.

“So many mainstream journalists have been laid off and are freelancing,” said Osterreicher, the press association lawyer. ”Then you have people who consider themselves citizen journalists. They have ‘pro-sumer’ devices capable of taking video and still images with the same quality as pro equipment, and can share them with the world, without mainstream media. That’s something we've never seen, until recently.”

'Threatening act'

As a result, civil liberties lawyers have beaten a path to courthouses around the country, said Crump.

"We do hear about these more frequently now because everyone walks around with cell phone cameras,” she said. “Law enforcement officers sometimes react badly to this, and view it as a threatening act.”

The most celebrated case involves Simon Glik, who in 2007 filmed police arresting a homeless man near Boston Commons. Glick was arrested and charged with violating the state's wiretapping law.  His case was dismissed, but he then brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city. In August 2011, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled unanimously in his favor.

"That decision is 24 pages of pure gold," Osterreicher said.  "The judges talked about the right to record in public. They said the First Amendment right is self-evident. They took judicial notice of the fact that news is as likely to come from someone with a cellphone as anyone. And they talked about the fact that police officers … should expect to be recorded when out in public."

In March of this year, Boston paid Glik $170,000 to settle the suit.  Osterreicher said.

"It's really not up to police officers to decide what is and isn't newsworthy,It's a shame Boston had to learn an expensive lesson." 

Other rulings have offered a similarly strong endorsement of the right to film, Crump said.
"The First Amendment is strongly protective of right to video and record in public spaces. There’s obviously a good reason for that. Sunlight is the best disinfectant," she said.  She said court rulings have been so consistent, she’s not worried about any weakening of the First Amendment –  but she is worried about the more practical side of the problem.  Glik's settlement -- most of which paid for his legal fees -- took five years to arrive.  In most real-life situations, police officers have wide discretion, and few observers have the time, money or wherewithal to see a First Amendment case through to completion.

Osterreicher, both a former journalist and a reserve police officer, prefers far more practical methods.  He travels the country training police officers in First Amendment law. Invited by Chicago police brass, he offered such training in advance of recent NATO meetings in Chicago, which attracted sizable protests.  He thinks it worked: To his knowledge, only one photographer was arrested during those protests.

He also offers suggestions tips to would-be cop video-graphers.

"The First Amendment is not absolute," he said. "It is subject to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. But the key word is ‘reasonable.’ Is it reasonable when covering a protest to ask someone to stand back or get on a sidewalk? Absolutely. Is it reasonable to expect the press to go away when there is an order to disperse? No."

One rule that is fairly absolute, he said: While there are situations when police can seize cameras and cellphones, they have no right to destroy data, such as pictures or videos, without consent from the owner.  In fact, doing so could be considered destruction of evidence.

The ACLU hosts an information page******* some of the information is below, check the web site for more help*******designed to help amateur photographers understand their rights on its website.  But Crump offered a thumbnail sketch of the law that draws an important distinction between public and private property.

"Generally, when you are in a public space where you have the right to be, you have right to photograph anything in plain view, and that includes police who are executing their duties,” she said. “But if you are on private property, the property owner gets to set the rules.” But Osterreicher said any advice photographers receive should come with a warning:  "It's complicated."

"I can't give you an answer that covers all situations. You’re going to have to make an assessment,” he said “Is this officer nonchalantly asking you to move? Or is he getting real cranky? A lot of situations can be defused with conversation. … You want it to end well.”

Know Your Rights: Photographers  

American Civil Liberties Union


Know Your Rights: Photographers
Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply. Learn more
Know Your Rights: See more essential resources from the ACLU
Your rights as a photographer:
  • When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.
  • When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).
  • Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant. If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them).
  • Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.
  • Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.
  • Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.
 Using the ACLU’s “Know Your Rights: Photographers” resource, HitRecord – a collaborative artist production company – produced an animated video about the right to photograph in public, featuring music by the Gregory Brothers and directed by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Please note that by playing this clip You Tube and Google will place a long-term cookie on your computer. Please see You Tube's privacy statement on their website and Google's privacy statement on theirs to learn more. To view the ACLU's privacy statement, click here.
If you are stopped or detained for taking photographs:
  • Always remain polite and never physically resist a police officer.
  • If stopped for photography, the right question to ask is, "am I free to go?" If the officer says no, then you are being detained, something that under the law an officer cannot do without reasonable suspicion that you have or are about to commit a crime or are in the process of doing so. Until you ask to leave, your being stopped is considered voluntary under the law and is legal.
  • If you are detained, politely ask what crime you are suspected of committing, and remind the officer that taking photographs is your right under the First Amendment and does not constitute reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.
Special considerations when videotaping:
With regards to videotaping, there is an important legal distinction between a visual photographic record (fully protected) and the audio portion of a videotape, which some states have tried to regulate under state wiretapping laws.
  • Such laws are generally intended to accomplish the important privacy-protecting goal of prohibiting audio "bugging" of private conversations. However, in nearly all cases audio recording the police is legal.
  • In states that allow recording with the consent of just one party to the conversation, you can tape your own interactions with officers without violating wiretap statutes (since you are one of the parties).
  • In situations where you are an observer but not a part of the conversation, or in states where all parties to a conversation must consent to taping, the legality of taping will depend on whether the state's prohibition on taping applies only when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. But that is the case in nearly all states, and no state court has held that police officers performing their job in public have a reasonable expectation. The state of Illinois makes the recording illegal regardless of whether there is an expectation of privacy, but the ACLU of Illinois is challenging that statute in court as a violation of the First Amendment.
  • The ACLU believes that laws that ban the taping of public officials' public statements without their consent violate the First Amendment. A summary of state wiretapping laws can be found here.
Photography at the airport
Photography has also served as an importAmerican Civil Liberties Unionant check on government power in the airline security context.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) acknowledges that photography is permitted in and around airline security checkpoints as long as you're not interfering with the screening process. The TSA does ask that its security monitors not be photographed, though it is not clear whether they have any legal basis for such a restriction when the monitors are plainly viewable by the traveling public.
The TSA also warns that local or airport regulations may impose restrictions that the TSA does not. It is difficult to determine if any localities or airport authorities actually have such rules. If you are told you cannot take photographs in an airport you should ask what the legal authority for that rule is.
The ACLU does not believe that restrictions on photography in the public areas of publicly operated airports are constitutional.

If you think your rights have been violated at an airport, let us know >>

We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for June 1, 2012

Fri Jun. 1, 2012 7:46 AM PDT

A US soldier stays low in the grass after dismounting a Stryker armored vehicle during a blank live fire exercise at the Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany, May 24, 2012. US Army photo by Gertrud Zach.

Judge revokes bail for George Zimmerman in Trayvon Martin case

I asked this question about his finances, when his bail was set so low. And he had been getting donations on that web site.  I was wary of him then, and now that a second passport has turned up.  Whether or not he planned on using it, he got it, supposedly while out on bond. So I am very pleased that the judge made the decision to revoke his bail.  And him back in jail, and then answer some prime questions. Lets see where it goes from here.

A Florida judge on Friday revoked the bail for George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case, saying he had misled the court about his finances, and ordered him to present himself to the court within 48 hours.

Prosecutors alleged that Zimmerman, 28, hid from the court the fact that he had raised $135,000 on a website he set up before he was granted $150,000 bail on April 20. Zimmerman is facing second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of Martin, 17, in February.

In a hearing in Sanford, Fla., that Zimmerman did not attend, Judge Kenneth Lester said Zimmerman engaged in a "material falsehood" about his finances.

Assistant State Attorney Bernie de la Rionda  said Zimmerman's wife, Shellie, led the court to believe they were penniless, which he called a “blatant lie."

De la Rionda said the Zimmermans spoke in "code" about moving finances around during telephone calls while George Zimmerman was in custody.

The state also alleged Zimmerman held a second passport after surrendering one to the court
 when bail was granted. In revoking bail, Lestersaid he was not swayed by arguments about the second passport, often routinely obtained by people who lose their passports.

Gary W. Green / Pool via AFP - Getty Images file
George Zimmerman is seen entering the courtroom at an April hearing.
After learning that jailhouse conversations were held between George Zimmerman and his wife, concerning an effort to misrepresent the amount of money available to them, the court revokes Zimmerman's bond.

O'Mara said if witnesses are identified publicly they will be subject to requests for information from the media and may change their stories, complicating things in court.
He concurred with the state's request for a court review of witness No. 9, who made an anonymous call to Sanford police days after the shooting and leveled accusations that Zimmerman was racist.

George Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, reacts to Judge Kenneth Lester's decision to revoke his client's bond.
Regarding Zimmerman’s statements to police, O'Mara did not outright say he would like them sealed.  He said he has had those statements for a week and a half and would like more time to review them.

O'Mara reiterated a request for 30 days’ delay before any evidence is released. He said a delay is "not unreasonable."

“I would suggest that this case is months and months and months away from a trial date," he said, adding, "We're six months out from finishing discovery."

George Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, reacts to Judge Kenneth Lester's decision to revoke his client's bond.

Zimmerman is accused of killing Martin as he walked through a gated residential community in Sanford, Fla., near Orlando, on Feb. 26.

Police initially declined to arrest Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense, but a special prosecutor who was subsequently appointed charged Zimmerman with second-degree murder.

Memorial Day 2012

President Barack Obama is reflected in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall as he delivers remarks during the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War commemoration ceremony in Washington, D.C., May 28, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


President Obama Commemorates Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery

May 28, 2012 | 10:45 | Public Domain

President Obama honors the men and women who gave their lives in service of our nation.


President Obama Commemorates the Vietnam War

May 28, 2012 | 24:08 | Public Domain
President Obama speaks at a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Unveiling the Official President Bush Portrait

May 31, 2012 | 22:58 | Public Domain

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host former President George W. Bush and Former First Lady Laura Bush for the unveiling of their official portraits.

President Obama hosts a ceremony to unveil the official portraits of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush (May 31, 2012)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a ceremony on the occasion of the unveiling of the official portraits of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush, in the East Room of the White House, May 31, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
Today marked a rare moment in White House history -- three different Presidents came together to unveil the official portraits of President George W. Bush and Laura Bush.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted the event. President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush were in attendance.

And as Presidents 44 and 43 spoke, each had warm words for the other.
"George, I will always remember the gathering you hosted for all the living former Presidents before I took office, your kind words of encouragement," President Obama said. "Plus, you also left me a really good TV sports package."

When it was President Bush's turn to speak, he also had a thought for his successor.
"I am also pleased, Mr. President, that when you are wandering these halls as you wrestle with tough decisions, you will now be able to gaze at this portrait and ask, what would George do?" he said.

By tradition, the paintings are commissioned by the White House Historical Association, which in turn presents the portraits to the White House. Each President chooses the artists tasked with painting his likeness.

 President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk with former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush in the Cross Hall towards the East Room of the White House, May 31, 2012. The President and First Lady hosted a ceremony presenting the Bush's official portraits, which will be displayed in the White House. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Five things to watch in the 2012 presidential campaign


Nobody can predict with any confidence what will happen during the next several months leading to this year’s presidential election, but keep an eye on at least these five things.

Posted on Wednesday, 05.30.12

Tampa Bay Times Political Editor

President Barack Obama phoned Mitt Romney on Wednesday to congratulate him on clinching the Republican nomination. For awhile during the volatile primary season, it looked iffy whether the former Massachusetts governor would win the necessary 1,144 delegates before the convention in Tampa, but he did with an overwhelming victory Tuesday in the Texas primary.
Now we have a presidential race that could go either way. Obama leads Romney by just 2 percentage points in the average of recent national polls compiled by RealClearPolitics. Republicans eager to unseat Obama are coalescing behind their nominee and in stark contrast to four years ago, it’s likely Romney and other GOP groups will wind up outspending Democrats.
Nobody can predict with any confidence what will happen in 160 days, but here are five things we’ll be watching:

1. A choice or a referendum?
The Romney campaign is determined to make this election a referendum on the incumbent, while the Obama campaign is determined to make it about Romney as president — a choice between two visions for America.
The next three months will be critical in determining whether the president can define Romney as an unacceptable alternative — a vulture capitalist with a weak record as governor, sure to embrace the most extreme Republican policies — and whether Romney can mount an are-you-better-off campaign.
"What do we have to show for 3½ years of President Obama?" Romney asked recently in New Hampshire. "Is it easier to make ends meet? Is it easier to sell your home or buy a new one? Have you saved what you needed for retirement? Are you making more in your job? Do you have a better chance to get a better job? Do you pay less at the pump?"
Obama has spent $25 million on a positive TV campaign touting his record pulling the country back from economic catastrophe but expect much more effort to be spent tearing down Romney. It’s a conventional strategy, but it carries significant risk for the incumbent.
Among Obama’s greatest assets is his likability. Polls consistently show voters trust his values and like him personally, even while opposing his policies or disapproving of his job performance. A nasty campaign from the candidate who promised to be different, to aim higher, could damage the president’s image as much as Romney’s.
"He’s going so negative so early, he’s destroying the brand that he cultivated," said Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. "Hope and change has given way to fear and smear."

2. The electoral map.
The national polls are fascinating, but what really matters is what’s happening in the critical battleground states: Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa and Colorado.
Look at that map, and current polling, and it’s clear Obama has far more room for error than Romney.
How so? Obama could lose both mega-battleground states of Florida and Ohio (combined 47 electoral votes) and still have multiple paths to the 270 electoral votes needed to win. And if Romney loses Florida, where polls currently show a dead heat, it’s all over.
Romney, meanwhile, needs to win back three states that Obama won in 2008 and George W. Bush won in 2004: Indiana (which looks safe for Romney), North Carolina (a dead heat) and Virginia (Obama leading slightly). On top of that, he would have to pick off a state in the industrial belt, say Ohio or Pennsylvania. Even then Romney needs to win another state won by Obama four years ago — perhaps New Hampshire or Colorado.
The battleground map is sure to change. But as things stand, the map strongly favors Obama.

3. Don’t assume it will be close.
Polls show a razor-thin race at the moment, and after Florida decided the winner in 2000 and Ohio decided it in 2004, it’s natural to assume this will be another squeaker. History suggests otherwise.
Presidential re-election campaigns are rarely close, as the electorate typically swings strongly one way or the other. Bush narrowly beat John Kerry in 2004, but that was the first close re-election race since 1916 when Woodrow Wilson narrowly won a second term against Republican Charles Fairbanks.
Based on historical precedent, come October the contest could well shift dramatically for or against Obama’s re-election.

4. Expect the unexpected.
Even the most meticulously organized campaigns inevitably face developments outside their control. A spike in gas prices? A natural disaster? An Israeli strike on Iran?
How each candidate reacts could be a decisive factor in what happens in November.

5. The economy.
Nothing worries Obama strategists more than the prospect of the economy starting to head south again.
The economic news in recent months has been a mixed bag, with strong jobs reports, followed by weaker reports. Polls show most voters still pessimistic about the country’s direction. Whether the public perceives the economy turning around or getting worse may ultimately be more important than the hundreds of millions in campaign spending and anything the candidates say or do.