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March 08, 2004

Electoral Math Looks Good

By Andrew Dobbs

Barron's commissioned John Zogby to poll all 50 states (and the District of Columbia) to measure the shaping up of electors for 2004. Its conclusion is a perhaps predictable yet still exciting one: Bush is in serious trouble:

Barron's Online asked noted pollster John Zogby, president and chief executive officer of Zogby International, to lay out the electoral map as he sees it, based on various polls conducted throughout the country, including his own.

The table below spells it out: Senator Kerry is ahead in 18 of the so-called Blue states (including the District of Columbia), representing some 226 electoral votes.

President Bush leads in 21 of the Red states, with 176 electoral votes. A dozen more states, with 136 electoral votes, are considered "in play."

But if Zogby's current estimate holds, all the Massachusetts senator will need to do is take Ohio and Florida to pass the 270-vote threshold and win the presidency.

President Bush, despite his incumbency, would seem to have an uphill battle here, if things continue as they are now.

Why? Because only four of the states that we list as "in play" (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington) were Blue states in 2000, when they delivered a majority for Vice-President Al Gore.

The other eight states that are "in play" now (including Florida, Ohio, Arizona and Missouri), with a treasure trove of 98 electoral votes, were part of Bush Country in 2000.

That suggests the Democratic presidential candidate is holding his base of support better than the president is, allowing Senator Kerry to peel off a couple of the paler Red states from the president's column.

"National poll numbers are irrelevant," Zogby says. "What is relevant is how the president plays in the Red states, and how the Democrats play in the Blue states."

The whole "rush to the middle" strategy that has defined presidential politics since time immemorial (or at least since 1992) might come to an end thanks to George "Uniter Not Divider" Bush. Why? Because we are as divided as ever today. Culturally liberal voters on the coasts and the industrial Midwest won't vote for Bush. Culturally conservative voters in the Sun Belt, South and Mountain West won't vote for Kerry. Bada bing, we are at 226-176 and all Kerry has to do is remind Ohio about how many jobs have been lost thanks to GWB and he's at 246, wisely pick a running mate (like New Mexico's Bill Richardson) who will play well in Arizona (256 now), and maybe even in increasingly Hispanic Colorado (265) and focus on holding onto Minnesota (275) and he's President. Plus, contentious Senate races in Colorado, Florida and Missouri might bring out enough Democratic voters to swing those states Kerry's way, adding FL and MO to the total makes it 318- a solid victory.

The great thing is that with such a small number of true swing states, we can focus our money and Bush's $200 million might not be that big a deal after all. I suppose he could run ads in some of the less sure Blue states such as Maine, New Mexico or Iowa, but Kerry will be able to point to his radical social agenda in Maine, his easily decried (from both Left and Right) immigration plans in New Mexico (which will be solid if my dreamboat running mate is chosen) and his horrific policy on jobs and trade in Iowa. The election is going to be tough.

Of course, the usual caveat that anything can happen in 8 months applies here. 8 months ago Howard Dean looked like the likely Dem candidate, Bush looked absolutely unbeatable and the idea that we might have a shot at either the House or the Senate seemed laughable at best. Now we could potentially have Dem control of the federal government. An Osama bin Laden capture would give a good boost to Bush, dropping Cheney and picking a more likable running mate (Owens of CO or Tom Ridge would both be very good for Bush) or several months of just bang up job creation would turn the corner for Bush. Still, the way I look at it, in 2000 Bush was 500,000 votes down from the Democrats, about 3 million down if you add in Nader voters. Has he really made that many friends in the past 4 years? Sizeable numbers of Democrats voted for him, 50% of Hispanics voted for him and moderates saw him as a more personable version of his father- level headed and middle of the road. He's lost all the Democrats, he's lost most of his Hispanic support and moderates are a dying breed in this divided country. I don't see him making it out alive, but we'll see come November.

Kerry/Richardson 2004!

Posted by Andrew Dobbs at March 8, 2004 01:47 AM | TrackBack


I guess you missed this : New Mexico's Richardson Says No to Kerry's VP Job

Posted by: Jason Young at March 8, 2004 09:17 AM

One thing to remember is that leading up to november 2000, most of the state by state polls had bush winning the popular vote, but a chance for gore to win by winning enough states to win the electoral college. I remember working that night and keeping an electoral map with me waiting for the final states to come in so I could confirm who won with the most electoral cotes.

As enamored as you are with Bill Richardson, there is still a good chance Bob Grahm of Florida would be picked so that Florida would be seriously in the D column. Ohio seems like an easy win if they keep using the jobs creation issue on bush.

As you can see by the conservative commercials, they are trying to frame Kerry as a rich liberal from MA. Its not gonna work when its obvious all of bush's money is coming from rich business men .

The 4 blue states you mentioned are definately full of enough bush hatred after these four years to push it over the top. Maine will be an easy win. And although Nader wants to be on the radar. I see him not getting on half the states ballots. FLorida will be a slam dunk with any of the top 3 VP choice(Edwards, Richardson, Graham) and if dems can hold onto the states they won in 2000 and pick up ohio, florida, or missouri, it will be a happy first wednesday of november.

Posted by: Chocotaku at March 8, 2004 11:28 AM

Actually, new polls showed that a Graham VP bid would have 0 effect on Kerry's chances in FL. Plus, that's only one state- his performance during his presidential run showed him to be an atrocious campaigner and I really think that his OCD tendencies would get a lot more play- he could be Eagleton all over again, only worse b/c at least Eagleton was good on the surface. Graham would be a useless running mate and I really think that Kerry knows that.

I still love Richardson but if he doesn't take it (as he says he does not want it), Mark Warner, Phil Bredesen or Mary Landrieu would be great too.

Posted by: Andrew D at March 8, 2004 12:08 PM

I'm not a WSJ subscriber... How did the poll for TX look?

Posted by: Jason Young at March 8, 2004 01:16 PM

Oh I totally agree on Bob Graham being a horrible choice. But hell, the state has voted him into statewide positions 5 times so you can't knock him completely. I mean its not like that state is the most stable state(i.e. Elian anyone?).

As for the florida polls, I believe Kerry is ahead in that state, with Nader taking a few percentage points of spite. What really cheese's me off is that newspapers are reminding people not to vote if they want to help get nader on the ballot. I never saw a single little comment like that in any paper 4 years ago. Oh well. No one reads the statesman anyways, and Austin is where most people sign on for Nader. Thats at least a comfort.

Posted by: chokotaku at March 8, 2004 09:04 PM

I live in Austin and I don't know anybody who's going to vote for Nader.

Austin is about the only major city in Texas that will go fir a Democrat nominee. Houston and Dallas will vote overwhelmingly for President Bush.

Posted by: SlickWilly at April 10, 2004 01:06 AM

I live in Austin and there are very few peiple I know who are going to vote for Nader. People either are going to vote for the wishy-washy one or the president, but not Nader.

Austin is about the only major city in Texas that will vote in any large numbers for a Democrat nominee. Houston and Dallas will vote overwhelmingly for President Bush.

Texas is a solidly Republican state. Every single statewide elected official is Republican, the legislature is solidly Republican, and Texas will contribute more Republicans to the U. S. House of Representatives next year, thanks to Tom Delay's forceful leadership to pay the Democrats back for what they've been doing to Republicans for 150 years.

Posted by: SlickWilly at April 10, 2004 01:13 AM
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