Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Majority of voters see America on wrong track

See images of voting from around the country.
As voters left polling places Tuesday, a majority told exit poll interviewers they felt the country was “seriously off on the wrong track.” But the mood of the electorate was markedly more optimistic than it was four years ago, when a record three out of four voters said the country was on the wrong track.
In preliminary results from early voters in the national NBC News exit poll, 52 percent said America was on the wrong track while 46 percent said the nation was"generally going in the right direction."

Click below for real-time election results:
Preliminary results from exit polls also showed that most voters, 53 percent, thought the federal government is doing too much, a sharp contrast with four years ago, when the country was in the midst of a financial and economic crisis. At that time only 43 percent of voters said the government was doing too much and a majority, 51 percent, thought the government ought to do more to try to solve the nation’s problems.
Not surprisingly three out of five voters Tuesday said the economy was the most important issue facing the country, but poll respondents were divided as to what specific economic challenge loomed largest.
When asked, “Which one of these four is the biggest economic problem facing people like you?” 39 percent chose unemployment, nearly that many (36 percent) said rising prices, while 14 percent said taxes were the biggest problem and 7 percent said housing.
Voters in preliminary exit poll results were sharply divided in their views of the president’s signature first-term accomplishment, enactment of the Affordable Care Act, which aims to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system.
Twenty-five percent favored total repeal of the 2010 law, while another 23 percent wanted to see some of it repealed. Nineteen percent favored leaving the law as it is, and another 25 percent want expansion of the law.
Exit poll interviews will continue across the nation as voters cast their ballots Tuesday; some of the preliminary results may be modified later in the evening as more data becomes available.


  • Election 2012

Four more years: Obama wins a historic second term

President Barack Obama won a historic second term on Tuesday, defying predictions that a sluggish economy and an energized Republican party might overwhelm the supporters who propelled him to the presidency four years ago.
The president’s reelection ensures that his first term achievements – especially health care reform – will become woven into the American economy and social safety net over the next four years.
His victory came at an unexpectedly early hour, as Mitt Romney lost a series of states he had hoped to peel away from the president.
From Michigan, where Romney was born, to New Hampshire, where the Republican nominee owns a vacation home, the Obama campaign scored decisive victories. Wisconsin, the home state of the GOP’s vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, was out of Republican reach well before midnight.
Romney had hoped to steal away the Democratic-leaning battleground of Pennsylvania, making an unusual election day campaign stop in Pittsburgh. But the keystone state was another early call for President Obama.
On a dismal night for the GOP across the country, Republican senate candidates lost in states that were both blue and red. Scott Brown lost his seat in Massachusetts just two years after his surprise victory threatened to end Democratic control of the senate. His rival Elizabeth Warren was thought to have been too left-of-center to defeat a skilled incumbent.
The GOP defeat in Massachusetts was just one of the Republican Party’s missed opportunities. In Indiana and Missouri, Tea Party-backed candidates stumbled badly as they failed to pick off vulnerable Democratic opponents.
Despite being outspent by outside groups that were funded by super-wealthy and often anonymous donors, President Obama succeeded in setting his own terms for the 2012 election.
The Democratic firewall turned out not to be a state, but a majority of one set of voters: women.
According to exit polls, women handed President Obama and Democrats in general a wide margin of victory. They also voted in large numbers, outweighing Romney’s advantage among men.
President Obama won a 12-point margin of victory among women, who represented 54 per cent of the electorate. He won unmarried women by 38 points, suggesting that the debate over reproductive rights was a critical factor in shoring up support and turnout. A clear majority – 59 per cent – said abortion should be legal in most or all cases.
The Republican base of older, white men proved to be too small for the GOP nominee to build a winning margin over the president. In a country
The president’s overall victory defied the usual measures of economic performance, which was clearly the most important issue in the 2012 election.
Romney bested Obama by one point on the question of who could better handle the economy, and more than three-fourths of voters said the economy was either “not so good” or “poor”.
But the president scored far better than his rival on the priority of his policies: 44 per cent said Obama’s policies favored the middle class, while 54 per cent said Romney favored the rich. Also, by a margin of 13 points, voters said they blamed President Bush more than President Obama for the country’s current economic problems.
In the final days of the campaign, Republicans began to blame their impending defeat on President Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy, and his close embrace with Republican governor Chris Christie. While 64 per cent of voters said the president’s response was a factor in their vote, 54 per cent said it was not important in their final voting decision.
The president has a clear mandate to move ahead with his plan to raise taxes on the wealthy. More than half of voters said taxes should go up for either all income earners, or for those making more than $250,000 a year.
He has even broader support to push ahead with immigration reform. Almost two thirds said that illegal immigrants working in the US should be offered a chance to apply for legal status. Support from Latino voters was crucial to the president’s victory.
At 11:12 pm President Barack Obama was re-elected President for his 2nd term 274 - 203

Election Day across the Web

UPDATED 10:22 p.m. ET --  How do the states on the Rockefeller Center ice rink get filled in? Who's that guy voting in a Big Bird suit?  Who's voting for Hello Kitty for president? Want to see some really terrible political cakes?
We're rounding up a look at Election Day across the nation, from the last-minute calm of the presidential candidates to alcohol-buying restrictions in certain states to great photos of voters, polling places and parties. To tell us your story, include #NBCPolitics in your tweets and Instagram pictures.

Ohio: The state that could decide it all

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a campaign rally at Lima Senior High School November 2, 2012 in Lima, Ohio. (Photo by: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses a campaign rally at Lima Senior High School November 2, 2012 in Lima, Ohio. (Photo by: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla)
By now you’re sick of hearing it: As Ohio goes, so—almost certainly—goes the election.
The candidates’ schedules, among other things, tell the story: Mitt Romney changed his plans so he could be in the Buckeye State for one last get-out-the-vote event Tuesday, and President Obama—who has held a narrow but consistent lead in polls of the state—rallied his own supporters in Columbus Monday afternoon, joined by Bruce Springsteen and Jay-Z.
So if we’re going to be glued to Ohio throughout the day—and perhaps the night—what should we be watching for?
The Results
Ohio’s polls close at 7:30 p.m. EST (among swing states, only Virginia’s polls close earlier, at 7 p.m.), and soon afterward, vote totals from its 88 counties will start to trickle in. As they do, keep an eye on Hamilton County, which contains Democratic-heavy Cincinnati and its Republican-leaning suburbs. In 2008, President Obama won Hamilton by 52-47% over John McCain—close to the same margin by which Obama won the state as a whole. And in 2004, President Bush beat John Kerry by a similar spread, 53-47%. So if Obama appears to be repeating or bettering his 2008 margin in Hamilton, he’s likely in good shape.
In terms of turnout, the counties to watch are Cuyahoga, which contains Cleveland, and Franklin, which contains Columbus. Between them, the two counties accounted for 27% of Obama’s vote total in 2008. If Obama equals the 458,000 votes he got from Cuyahoga last time, and the 334,000 he got from Franklin, that’s bad news for Romney.
One final note: Even more than most other states, Ohio Democrats are clustered in a few very populous counties, while Republicans tend to dominate the more sparsely populated rural counties. That means the GOP-leaning counties are likely to report their results first, since counting the results takes less time. So if you see Romney leading by a large margin in Ohio, don’t assume it’s over. Until Cuyahoga, Franklin, and a few other populous Democratic-leaning counties (Summit and Trumbull, for instance) come in later in the night, you can’t draw too many conclusions.
And if you want to get really nerdy, keep this county-by-county breakdown of  Ohio’s 2008 results close at hand, and track how each county matches up this year.
The Voting
Despite GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted’s assurances that everything’s going smoothly, voting in Ohio has already gotten messy. After Husted and state Republicans reduced the number of early voting days, Ohioans in Democratic strongholds had to contend with long lines at polls over the weekend, a sight that one voting-rights advocate called “very disturbing.” Democrats say they expect equally long lines Tuesday.
The legal skirmishing is already underway, too. On Friday, Husted issued a last-minute directive on provisional ballots—over 200,000 of which are expected to be cast—that Democrats fear could cause many to be thrown out. They’re suing to reverse the order. Obama’s campaign also has lined up 2,500 lawyers to man the polls Tuesday, on the lookout for GOP efforts to challenge valid voters, to shut down polling places where voters are still in line, or otherwise to suppress votes.
“We have every reason to be concerned that they’re going to make it difficult for people when they’re voting,” Stuart Garson, the chair of the Cuyahoga County Democrats, told Monday.
And here’s the other thing: Husted has said provisional ballots won’t start being counted until November 17. So if the race is tight—and most observers expect it to be closer than the 263,000 votes by which Obama won in 2008—we could be waiting weeks to find out the winner.
The Issues
If President Obama does pull it out, he’ll very likely have one move to thank above all else: His decision to rescue the auto industry—to which one in eight Ohio jobs are linked—in the midst of the 2008-09 economic crisis. A recent poll found Ohio voters backed the move by a 50-37% margin. Of course, he’s been help by Romney’s incoherent stand on the issue. At different times, the GOP nominee has written an article called “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” claimed that he somehow deserves credit for the industry’s post-bailout success, and falsely suggested that it led to automakers shipping U.S. jobs overseas.
So eager has Romney been to tarnish Obama’s achievement that he’s lately been running ads in Ohio wrongly saying Chrysler is mulling moving U.S. jobs to China—a move that drew push-back from the firm’s CEO, and widespread condemnation from the press. In a sign of which way the wind is blowing on the issue, even Ohio’s GOP governor felt the need to acknowledgeMonday that Chrysler has in fact increased its total of U.S. jobs.
But it’s not only about the auto industry. Ohio has seen its economy as a whole rebound far more strongly than that of the rest of the country. Less than three years ago, the state’s jobless rate was 10.6%, above the already-high national rate. Today, it’s at 7%, below the 7.9% national rate. So when Ohioans go to the polls Tuesday, they’ll likely be feeling a little better about the economy than most Americans—and much better than they were feeling a few years ago.
The Ground Game
The turnout battle is shaping up as a contest between the Obama campaign’s army of field organized, backed by a robust labor union operation, and the GOP’s more diffuse effort.
Team Obama has opened 96 offices in Ohio, compared to Romney’s 36, and is said to be using technology of unprecedented sophistication to target its supporters and get them to the polls. Romney is getting a boost from outside groups, including Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, which focuses on evangelicals and says it’s putting more than one million voter guides in 5,300 Ohio churches.
So far, Obama appears to hold the upper hand on turnout. As of Monday, voters in counties won by Obama in 2008 had seen more than 903,000 votes cast, while those in counties won by McCain had seen just 482,000. An NBC poll Friday found Obama holding the early voting edge by 62-36%.

Massachusetts voters approve marijuana for medicinal purposes

By Allison Linn, NBC News

Voters in Massachusetts approved a law Tuesday allowing people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, NBC News projected.

It’s one of six states in which voters are being asked to decide on a wide array of laws around legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes.

In three of those states – Colorado, Oregon and Washington – voters were deciding whether to allow people over 21 to use marijuana for any purpose.

In addition to Massachusetts, voters in Arkansas also are being asked to approve the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. In Montana, they are being asked whether to revamp an existing law to make it more restrictive.

The laws legalizing marijuana for recreational or other purposes could face federal challenges, because marijuana possession is still a federal crime. But so far, the Justice Department has declined to discuss how it might react if the laws pass. The federal government’s response also will likely depend on whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney becomes president in 2013.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already have laws allowing for the medical use of marijuana, according to the National Council of Legislatures.

The laws under consideration in Washington, Oregon and Colorado would take things one step further, explicitly allowing people to smoke pot for more than just medicinal purposes.

Proponents say it’s about time pot was made legal and that it would create new avenues of tax revenue. But opponents say legalization would lead to more drug abuse and concerns about things like driving while impaired.

The idea of legalizing marijuana has gained acceptance in recent years. A Gallup poll released in October of 2011 found that 50 percent of Americans now favor legalizing pot. A decade ago, only around 34 percent were in favor. Liberals and adults under 29 are the most likely to approve of legalizing use of the drug.

Here’s a look at the states considering marijuana laws Tuesday.

Arkansas: Voters in Arkansas will consider whether to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

Colorado: Voters in Colorado are being asked to approve a bill that would allow people 21 and over to possess and use a small amount of marijuana for recreational purposes. A similar measure was defeated in 2006.

Massachusetts: Voters in Massachusetts are being asked to vote on whether it’s OK to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.

Montana: In 2004, voters in Montana approved a law allowing marijuana for medical purposes. Then, in 2011, the legislature approved replacing it with a new, more restrictive one. Voters on Tuesday will decide whether to allow those restrictions to be upheld.

Oregon: Voters in Oregon are being asked to decide whether to legalize marijuana use for people who are 21 years or older, and to tax and regulate it in the same way as alcohol.

Washington: The Washington bill would allow people over age 21 to possess a small amount of pot for personal use.

NBC's Lester Holt takes a look at some of the states where voters are weighing their options regarding marijuana.
President Obama FINAL Campaign Rally in Iowa Nov. 5, 2012


President Obama held his final rally of the 2012 presidential campaign in the East Village in Des Moines, Iowa. Bruce Springsteen performed, including a song he wrote for President Obama, and he introduced first lady Michelle Obama introduced the president.


Exit polls: Florida too close to call, but Obama leads Romney 50-49

By Marc Caputo and Scott Hiaasen
Posted on Tue, Nov. 06, 2012

Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File / AP Photo
In this Oct. 22, 2012 file photo, Mitt Romney and President Obama walk past each other on stage at the end of the last debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

With thousands of Floridians still lined up to vote, the presidential race in the nation’s largest battleground state is as close as can be, according to exit polls showing that President Obama might have an edge.The president leads Republican Mitt Romney 50 to 49 percent in Florida, according to Edison Research’s exit poll of 4,172 voters. The poll results are tentative and will be updated later in the evening.

Early vote returns for the state seesawed between Obama and Romney ever since the polls closed at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Obama’s strength: Liberal Southeast Florida, where early vote returns show the president nursing a double-digit lead, according to exit polls and early votes. For the first time ever, a Democratic presidential candidate won absentee ballots — typically a Republican strength — in Miami-Dade County, with Obama eking out a 382-vote margin.

But Obama’s position isn’t solid. His lead in the exit polls is well within the error margin of the poll. And precincts in the Panhandle, a heavily conservative area, closed at 8 p.m. EST, around the time the initial exit polls were released.

Also, the exit polls and the early returns indicate that Obama isn’t doing as well as he did in 2008 in Florida, which he won by fewer than 3 percentage points.

If Romney loses Florida, he likely loses his chance of unseating Obama.

Romney’s strength: The economy — the top issue for more than 60 percent of the Florida electorate, according to exit polling. Of these economy-first voters, Romney beats Obama by 10 percentage points.

Romney also persuaded some voters that, like Obama four years ago, he is the candidate who can bring about change.

“We need a better change,” said Samantha Gentile, a 20-year-old independent who voted Tuesday at St. Gregory’s Church in Boca Raton.

“We need an economic change,” Gentile said. “We need jobs.”

Gentile’s remarks stood out, in part, because of the T-shirt she wore that openly advertised her support of gay marriage — which Romney opposes. Gentile said she also favors abortion rights, while Romney is opposed.

The exit polls indicated that Gentile was in the minority for those in her age group. Obama carried young voters, while he lost older voters to Romney, the exit polls showed.

Obama draws strong support among Hispanic voters, beating Romney 60-39 percent, the poll showed. Romney, meanwhile, is ahead with non-Hispanic white voters.

It will take hours for a final winner to be clear — and it could even take days.

In Miami-Dade, voters will remain in line in some precincts until well past midnight.
A conversation with The Miami Herald's Sergio Bustos & Editorial Page Editor Myriam Marquez about the very long lines at several Miami-Dade polling stations, the #1 issue for Florida voters, and pets.
Read more here:

The close race could easily trigger a recount under Florida law, which automatically kicks in when any race is decided by a margin of one-half of one percent or less.

If 9 million people vote in Florida — a plausible figure, given reports of heavy turnout around the state — that means there could be a recount if the presidential vote is decided by 45,000 votes or less.

In a recount, all ballots are submitted again into the tabulating machines to recount the votes. If the recount yields a margin of one-quarter of one percent or less, the local canvassing boards must then perform a manual recount to examine so-called “undervotes” and “overvotes” — ballots that recorded no vote for president, or multiple votes for president.

Any recount must be completed within nine days from the day it is ordered by the Secretary of State. However, state law also says any recounts must be completed within 12 days of Election Day.

But, just as in the 2000 recount, there are tensions between the state and federal law: Elections officials still must collect absentee ballots cast overseas for some 10 days after Election Day. So overseas ballots could trickle in through Nov. 16, with a recount deadline of Nov. 18.

In 2008, more than 97,000 absentee ballots were cast by overseas Florida voters.

For those who have blotted it from their memories: The 2000 contest between George W. Bush and Al Gore was decided by just 537 votes in Florida.

Tuesday night, at the Stanley Axlrod UTD Towers, nearly 500 people stood in a line that snaked off the property, onto Brickell Avenue and back onto the property.

For some Brickell voters, it was deja vu all over again. The two precincts that vote there, 569 and 995, were among the last to close in Miami-Dade County in 2008.

Alex Trench, 27, waited nearly four hours to get his ballot. He arrived at the polling place at 6:45 a.m., only to find 200 people already in line.

“I’ve never been more excited to get to work,” said Trench, who works in construction, after casting his vote for Obama.

Obama’s campaign has also succeeded in bringing out new voters, like Diana Del Castillo, 31, a native of Colombia who recently became a U.S. citizen.

An independent, she said she voted for Obama not because of immigration but because of news reports about how Romney, years ago, strapped the family dog Seamus in his carrier to the roof of the family car on a vacation.

“If he doesn’t care about animals, will he care about people?” she asked.

Miami Herald staff writers Amy Sherman and Kathleen McGrory contributed to this story.