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ODDS-MAKERS: New York Times' psephologist Nate Silver is out with his latest detailed analysis of what the current polls tell us and, in short, things continue to look good for Team Obama. Of the past 19 candidates who led in the polls at this stage of the race, all but Thomas Dewey and Al Gore managed a win in the Electoral College.
Even if you weed out those who had double-digits leads, the late September leaders went on to win eight out of ten contests. Silver with more: "This a simple method—to the point of being crude. But it’s interesting, nevertheless, that the 80 percent figure corresponds quite well with the FiveThirtyEight forecast, which gave Mr. Obama a 78 percent chance of winning as of Sunday night, and with the odds on offer by bookmakers, many of whom list Mr. Obama as about a 4-to-1 favorite."
THE NUMBERS: The latest Real Clear Politics poll average has Obama with a 3.7-point lead over Romney, 48.6 percent to 44.9 percent. A new Politico/GWU poll meanwhile, has him up by three: "Obama leads 50 percent to 47 percent, which is within the margin of error. His 50 percent job approval rating puts him at a crucial threshold for an incumbent seeking reelection. It’s an uptick from the spring and summer, but 48 percent still disapprove."
A DISSENTING OPINION: Dave Weigel brings us the story of Dean Chambers, who has "re-weighted national polling data" to paint a world where Romney leads by 7.8 points. Of course if that were to prove true, it would be the largest victory for any presidential candidate since George H.W. Bush thrashed Michael Dukakis. Read Weigel's full post here.
NOT OVER YET: WSJ: "Here's a news flash from the campaign front: The election isn't over yet, and Mitt Romney still could win.This may seem like a statement of the obvious, and it won't come as a surprise to those inside the bunkers of either the Romney campaign or that of President Barack Obama. They know this remains a close race with six weeks—an eternity in modern politics—remaining. ... Most campaigns have periods like these, and they always present a good time to recall the assets that tend to get lost in the fog. In Mr. Romney's case, he retains three assets worth noting: Some highly motivated voters. ... Strong conservative support. ... [And] Grouchy undecided voters."
WHERE'S THE RYAN?: WaPo: "Conservatives had hoped that Mitt Romney’s choice of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate would make Romney act more like Ryan—bold, specific, confident. Instead, in the six weeks since Ryan became the GOP vice presidential nominee—and particularly in the three weeks since the Republican National Convention in Tampa—there has been mounting concern among Republicans that the pick has made Ryan look more like Romney—vague, cautious and limited to pre-set talking points."
E-FIGHT!: In case we needed any more proof of the rising tensions between the State Department and the press over this month's attack at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, BuzzFeed gave it to us this afternoon when they published a combative email exchange between one of its reporters and a State Department spokesman that included these gems: "Why don't you give answers that aren't bullshit for a change?" (reporter to spokesman) and "by good day, I mean Fuck Off" (from spokesman to reporter). Full story here.
WHAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT IS TALKING ABOUT: AP: "Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed Monday to Muslims to show 'dignity' and not resort to violence as they protest an anti-Islam film produced in the United States. Speaking ... before meeting the presidents of Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Pakistan on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly, Clinton said the United States would always champion the rights to peaceful protest and free expression even if it deplored the content of the speech. But, she said, 'dignity does not come from avenging insults.'"
A 'CATASTROPHIC' SETBACK: NYT: "The attack in Benghazi, Libya, ... has dealt the Central Intelligence Agency a major setback in its intelligence-gathering efforts at a time of increasing instability in the North African nation. Among the more than two dozen American personnel evacuated from the city after the assault on the American mission and a nearby annex were about a dozen C.I.A. operatives and contractors, who played a crucial role in conducting surveillance and collecting information on an array of armed militant groups in and around the city. 'It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,' said one American official...'"
CHECKING THE TRAPS—
Reuters: "Two Marines are facing criminal charges for urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, actions caught on a video that was widely circulated on the Internet, the Marine Corps said on Monday."
NYT: "In findings that are fundamentally reshaping the scientific understanding of breast cancer, researchers have identified four genetically distinct types of the cancer. And within those types, they found hallmark genetic changes that are driving many cancers."
AP: "As condolences poured in from around the world, National Zoo officials waited Monday for word on why a 6-day-old panda cub died and lamented a heartbreaking setback to their closely watched breeding program."
WSJ: "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad played down the prospects of an Israeli military strike on his country's nuclear installations, but made clear that Tehran would hold the U.S. responsible if such an attack occurred."
Bloomberg: "Apple Inc. reported debut weekend sales for the iPhone 5 that fell short of some analysts’ estimates after supply constraints delayed shipments. [Still, more] than 5 million iPhone 5s were sold in the first three days, surpassing a record set last year by the previous model.... Apple said demand for the new handset continued to exceed the initial supply, an issue the company cited last week as the cause of delivery delays for some early online orders.."
SLATE QUICK HITS—
MoneyBox: Mitt Romney’s Lame New Housing Policy
Medical Examiner: How Can We Stop Pedophiles?
We'll see you back here tomorrow. But, until then, tell your friends to subscribe here or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.