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Today’s Headlines – Nov. 5, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports about the final round of polls, forecasts regarding which party will control the House and Senate and analysis of how campaign-trail messages have been playing during the election season’s final hours.

The Wall Street Journal: Obama And Romney Deadlocked, Polls Show
The dueling assertions of success came as a new national Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of likely voters found the two men caught in a dead heat. Mr. Obama led his rival by a whisker, 48% to 47%—a difference of seven voters among a pool of 1,475 surveyed. The poll has a margin of error is plus or minus 2.55 percentage points. Polls in many battleground states, from Virginia and Ohio to New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and even Michigan, also portrayed a race that is tightening down the home stretch (King and Meckler, 11/5).

USA Today: Final Swing States Poll: Fired-Up Voters Split, 48% to 48%
Voters in the nation’s key battlegrounds have become as enthusiastic and engaged in the 2012 presidential election as they were in the historic contest four years ago, and they finally have made up their minds about President Obama and Mitt Romney (Page, 11/5).

For more headlines …

Politico: Seniors Still Out Of Obama’s Reach
Democrats hoped President Barack Obama would make inroads with seniors this year. … for the most part, they just don’t seem willing to give Obama a chance — despite their distrust of Ryan’s budget and Medicare reforms. … the president’s health care reforms have made things even more difficult, pollsters say. There’s an inherent distrust of any changes to the existing system, and continuing resistance to the underlying idea of universal health care, which many seniors fear will cut into their benefits (Tau, 11/4).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Romney Pledges Bipartisanship In Final Push – And To Repeal Democrats’ Priorities
In campaign stops in Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Romney reminded voters that on Day One, he would begin to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. He also wants to weaken labor unions and overturn Democrat-backed legislation that overhauled the nation’s financial system. But the polarizing priorities are not his focus at swelling rallies in the presidential contest’s final hours (11/4).

The Wall Street Journal: In Its Final Lap, The President’s Team Turns Nostalgic
Over the weekend, Mr. Obama sounded some of his successful themes from 2008, saying he would work with anybody from any party who is willing to move the nation forward. But he made clear there were lines he wouldn’t cross, such as deep cuts to student aid and Medicaid. Along for the ride in the home stretch are many of Mr. Obama’s senior advisers and closest friends, the people who helped engineer his rapid rise from state senator to president. His original speechwriting team, traveling with him aboard Air Force One, has employed a dose of superstition by vowing to not shave their beards until Election Day (Meckler, 11/4).

The New York Times’ The Caucus: Ryan Says Obama Policies Threaten ‘Judeo-Christian’ Values
Representative Paul D. Ryan on Sunday accused President Obama of taking the country down a path that compromises Judeo-Christian values and the traditions of Western civilization. Mr. Ryan has previously criticized the Affordable Care Act for requiring church-run charities and institutions to include contraception in insurance plans for employees, a criticism widely echoed by conservatives. But this was the first time Mr. Ryan had used such strong language on the issue (Gabriel, 11/5).

The New York Times: Ryan, Quiet for Now, Is Said To Be Planning For An Active Role
Representative Paul D. Ryan may have largely disappeared from the national spotlight down the campaign homestretch, ceding attention to Mitt Romney. But if the Republican ticket prevails, Mr. Ryan plans to come back roaring, establishing an activist vice presidency that he said would look like Dick Cheney’s under President George W. Bush.  Mr. Ryan would dedicate most evenings to dinners with senators and House members of both parties, aides said, as he steps into the role Mr. Romney promised: architect of a Romney administration’s drive to enact a budget that shrinks the government and overhauls programs like Medicare (Gabriel, 11/3).

Los Angeles Times: Abortion Issue Galvanizes Voters In Battleground Ohio
[I]t’s nearly impossible to spend time in Ohio this election year without noticing a surge of activity from Mitt Romney supporters and canvassers who say that values and abortion issues are paramount. … Voters seem especially enraged about Obama’s past positions on abortion and about a part of the Obama healthcare law that required Catholic-affiliated employers to pay for contraception coverage. … Such excitement could energize voters in this crucial swing state, which is 21% Catholic and 24% evangelical Protestant, according to the Pew Forum (Semuels, 11/4).

NPR: Why Abortion Has Become Such A Prominent Campaign Issue
Abortion isn’t usually a major issue in presidential campaigns. But this year is different. Both President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are putting the issue front and center, including official campaign-produced ads (Rovner, 11/5).

The Associated Press: GOP Likely To Hold House After $1B Campaign
In districts from one ocean to the other, Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to gut Medicare, the popular health insurance program for the elderly, and slice domestic programs like education while seeking tax cuts for the rich. They’ve also accused them of attacking women’s rights with measures to curb abortion and cut funds for Planned Parenthood. … The GOP has lambasted Democrats for supporting President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul and other big spending programs like Obama’s economic stimulus package. Democrats also are accused of cutting Medicare themselves and boosting taxes on the middle class (Fram, 11/3).

Los Angeles Times: Democrats’ Hope Of Retaking House Fades In Polarized Campaign
Democratic hopes for a takeover have faded as races tightened in the final weeks. Underlying this election is a polarized political climate, as well as newly drawn congressional boundaries. The redrawn districts shored up Republican-held seats and largely ceded cities to Democrats, which has put the party on track to have the most diverse caucus ever, the first without a white-male majority (Mascaro, 11/4).

Politico: Dems’ Drive To Retake House Falters
Nancy Pelosi has spent much of the past two years proclaiming that Democrats had a great shot at reclaiming the House and returning the speaker’s gavel to her hands. But her drive to regain the majority for Democrats is on the verge of a complete collapse. Democrats are expected to pick up five seats at best — a fraction of the 25 they need. On the eve of the election, some party officials are privately worried that Democrats might even lose ground and drop one or two seats to the Republican majority (Isenstadt, 11/4).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Control Of Senate Could Come Down To Maine’s King, An Independent Who Won’t Declare Preference
Add this to your set of Election Day unknowns: Control of the United States Senate could conceivably come down to an independent candidate from Maine who has resolutely refused to say which party he’d side with if voters send him to Washington. While it’s commonly accepted that Angus King, a former Democrat who supports President Barack Obama, would align with Democrats, he has refused to say. That’s generated suspense and, in theory, could translate to power for King if the Senate ends up close to a 50/50 split. If one party wins a decisive majority, King could find himself with less leverage than he hoped (11/5).

Politico: Senate Appears Destined To Remain In Democratic Hands
Coming out of the final weekend of the campaign, the GOP is still widely expected to fall short Tuesday night. The three- or four-seat gain it needs to make Harry Reid minority leader no longer looks to be in the cards (Catanese, 11/4).

Politico: Claire McCaskill On Brink Of Unlikely Comeback
This wasn’t how Claire McCaskill planned to spend the final weekend of a long and grueling Senate campaign: Laying to rest her 84-year-old mother, Betty Anne, who had blazed a path for her in politics and been by her side since her first run for the statehouse three decades ago. It was the latest show of resilience by a Democratic senator who three months ago had the look of a surefire loser — before she helped engineer a self-destructing Republican opponent and allowed for the most improbable comeback of the Senate election cycle (Wong, 11/4).

USA Today: Control Of Legislatures Up For Grabs In 44 States
One of Tuesday’s biggest election-night mysteries is whether Republicans can hold on to historic gains they made in state legislatures in 2010. Two years ago, Republicans won 700 extra seats nationwide and now have more state legislators than any time since 1928. The Republican tidal wave played a key role in conservative efforts to overhaul schools, limit union power, control spending and slow down the new federal health care law (Cauchon, 11/5).

The Wall Street Journal: Health-Care Law Spurs A Shift To Part-Time Workers
Some low-wage employers are moving toward hiring part-time workers instead of full-time ones to mitigate the health-care overhaul’s requirement that large companies provide health insurance for full-time workers or pay a fee (Jargon, Radnofsky and Berzon, 11/4).

Politico: Post-Election Flood Of ‘Obamacare’ Rules Expected
The bottled-up rules to set up President Barack Obama’s health care reform law are going to start flowing quickly right after Election Day. But how long will that last? That depends on who wins the presidency (Haberkorn, 11/5).