October 23, 2004


News poll: Bush leads in Michigan (Charlie Cain, and Mark Hornbeck, 10/23/04, Detroit News)

President Bush has moved ahead of Democratic challenger John Kerry in Michigan, according to a Detroit News poll, but hasn’t reached the critical 50 percent support plateau — suggesting the state remains in contention as the presidential race draws to a close.

In the initial installment of a poll that regularly will track voter sentiment in the final two weeks of the campaign, Bush held a 47 percent to 43 percent lead over the Massachusetts senator. The incumbent president’s lead is well within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. The statewide poll of 400 likely voters was taken Monday and Tuesday. [...]

The survey also shows state ballot Proposal 2 defining marriage as strictly between one man and one woman winning easily, with a 67 percent to 24 percent margin.

Is the Senator really going to run 30 points ahead of the ballot measure he opposes?

Kerry in the Lead, but Almost by Default (R. W. APPLE Jr., 10/21/04, NY Times)

It took John Kerry a long time to get rolling in Michigan, much longer than the handicappers in Washington had forecast. Not until the debates did his campaign finally get into gear in a state that had all along seemed likely to be his easiest target among all the Midwestern battlegrounds. [...]

Nevertheless, Mr. Kerry trailed in some polls late last month, and "his carrying the state was very much in doubt," said David W. Rohde, a professor of political science at Michigan State University.

If that is no longer the case - if "the probability of his carrying the state is now very high," as Professor Rohde said - it is not because the Democratic nominee has campaigned as hard here as he has in Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin. He has not visited the state since he spoke to the Detroit Economic Club on Sept. 15, and he is not expected back before Election Day.

In fact, Michigan does not feel all that much like a swing state, although its 17 electoral votes are an appealing target, the eighth-largest haul in the country.

The state's Republicans have mounted a big billboard campaign, with slogans like "Remember, It's Your Money," and "Boots, Not Flip-Flops." But Mr. Bush has not been here much lately, either, and the state lies far from the eye of the advertising storm that is engulfing Florida and Ohio. Only Grand Rapids makes the University of Wisconsin's authoritative list of 25 cities that have had the most television advertisements this fall, with a No. 9 ranking. (The city is third on the Bush campaign's advertising intensity list, however, and Republican officials concede that the president is not doing as well as expected in that conservative stronghold.) The second 25 includes Detroit, Flint, Lansing and Traverse City.

Michigan is more important to Mr. Kerry than to Mr. Bush, in the same sense that Ohio is more vital to the president. At least in "normal" political years, the Democrats carry Michigan; they have done so in the last three elections. No Republican has won the presidency without carrying Ohio.

"If Kerry ends up winning this state," said Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics, a widely read newsletter, "he'll do it without working very hard for it or, in a sense, deserving it."

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 23, 2004 11:46 AM

So many of these reports continue to refer to the President not yet reaching the "critical 50%" number. Watching the media spin the terrible news for the Kerry campaign is entertaining in itself. When Kerry gets a slight bump, it's a major turnaround and comeback. The President eliminates the blip and regains the momentum, and it doesn't mean anything just yet. Gotta love that.

Posted by: kevin whited at October 23, 2004 12:15 PM

RW Apple, in the three decades that I've been reading him in the NY Times, has yet to be right on an election prediction. He's an embarassment, but he went to an Ivy League school, dresses well and knows his way around a wine list, so he fits the Times perfectly.

Posted by: Bart at October 23, 2004 2:14 PM
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