October 16, 2004


8 States May Decide Election (RON FOURNIER, 10/16/04, AP)

Eight states worth just 99 electoral votes are up for grabs in the closely fought presidential race, with the White House going to whoever conquers this shrinking battlefield.

While another dozen states could come into play if either candidate breaks open the race, President Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry entered the campaign homestretch assuming that wouldn't happen. Their strategies focused heavily — but not exclusively — on essentially tied races in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico.

National polls suggest the race is tight, but a vast majority of the states are overwhelmingly supporting one candidate over the other — leaving a handful to determine who wins the White House.

Taken together, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania account for 68 of the 99 votes from these tossup states. They form a triangle of influence unmatched on the political map.

Polls in some of these places are all over the place, but the President has maintained decent leads in NV and WI.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 16, 2004 7:25 PM

Jim Geraghty on NRO's Kerry Spot is now posting daily updates of the travel schedules for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. Watch them; they will provide definitive clues as to which states are at issue. Kerry has the more difficult task as he has to protect all his "blue" states while peeling away one or more of Bush's "red" states. Bush only needs to hold on to what he got in '00, and he's in.

Posted by: Joe at October 16, 2004 10:17 PM

I have not seen a commentator or pollster mention the fact that if Bush draws much better in the "blue" states than he did last time, even though he loses them, he will win the popular vote by a wide margin (say, 53-46-1). This is one reason why NJ, NY, and MI are important.

And it is another reason why the Republicans should not ignore CA, even if they are not going to win. Losing by 400,000 votes is a lot better than losing by 1,000,000.

Is there any "red" state where Bush's margin will be smaller than in 2000? It doesn't look that way.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 16, 2004 10:44 PM


Looks like OJ realizes this'll be a close one after all.

Posted by: JAB at October 16, 2004 11:03 PM

The polls are indeed a mess this year, but one tends to doubt that Kerry and the Dems would still be flogging the draft issue if their internal polls looked good these days.

I was called recently and asked to take a political poll, and told them to call back later, since I had neither the time nor the inclination to talk to them. In the future, if I do decide to answer, I'll say I'm a Democrat and for the Republican candidates, just to screw them up. It seems likely that enough people would be willing to do the same and so the days of polls being able to quote their statistical error (and ignore systematic errors) as meaningful are gone.

Posted by: brian at October 17, 2004 12:34 AM

Pollsters, in their best Maginot impression, always fight the last election. In this case, this means that they are understating the importance of two groups of voters, Religious Christians and young males. Religious Christians turned out in lousy numbers in 2000 because they saw Bush as the return of his father who was notoriously hostile to them. Young males saw little to choose from between Bush and Gore, seeing the election as essentially 'Seinfeldian' an election about nothing.

Today things are different. Four years of unrelenting attacks on Bush from virtually everyone the religious conservatives see as Luciferian along with Bush's attempts to place Bible-believing Christians on the bench have shown those religious people that electing Bush will have some tangible effect in moving the nation where they want it to go. The war on terror has activated the potential young male base, which is extremely patriotic(Who is it chanting 'USA' at all those sporting events?) and is distinctly uncomfortable with Kerry's metrosexual persona and harridan wife. Ask yourself how anyone who voted for Ventura could possibly vote for Kerry.

If anything the polling data understates the Bush lead.

Posted by: Bart at October 17, 2004 2:50 AM

This time, they're not even fighting the last election (2002) but the second-to-last election. Of course, in 2002, they were also using the template of 2000, and completely missed the move to the Republicans because they could not believe what their polls were telling them about the increase in self-identification as Republican.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 17, 2004 12:28 PM

2004 can't possibly be as bad for the Dems as 2002, when they threw most of their campaign funds away trying to unseat Jeb Bush ("revenge"!)

I agree with jim hamlen above that the popular vote could turn out better for Bush than most people expect, even if it won't be an outright landslide in the electoral college.

Posted by: Eugene S. at October 17, 2004 2:46 PM