October 22, 2004


Kerry lagging in 'blue' states won by Gore: A poll of battleground states showed John Kerry trails in must-win states. But undecideds could break in his favor. (STEVEN THOMMA, 10/22/04, Knight Ridder)

Sen. John Kerry has not yet locked up his base of swing states that voted Democratic four years ago, a new Knight Ridder-MSNBC poll showed Thursday.

Less than two weeks before Election Day, Kerry held a statistically insignificant 1 percentage-point lead in three of the key battleground states carried by Democrat Al Gore in 2000, was tied in a fourth and trailed President Bush in three others. All were within the poll's margin of error and remained toss-ups.

The detailed look at the political battleground underscores the challenge Kerry faces as he enters the campaign's final days. He likely has to win all of the ''blue'' states -- color coded on election maps for states that voted Democratic in 2000 -- and pick up at least some electoral votes from ''red'' states carried by Bush four years ago. That's because the blue states weren't enough for an Electoral College victory in 2000, and those states have seven fewer electoral votes after post-2000 redistricting to reflect population shifts to the South and Southwest.

If Kerry doesn't hold all of the blue states, he has to win away even more red states. That also is a challenge, as a second set of polls of seven red swing states this week showed Bush solidly ahead in one, Nevada, and leading in the rest -- Missouri, West Virginia, Colorado, Florida, New Hampshire and Ohio, though those six were so close they remained statistical toss-ups.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2004 9:18 AM

Well, these polls must be wrong. No one who voted for Gore would ever vote for Bush. Nothing has happened since 2000 that would change the hate Democrats feel for the man who stole the election out from under the rightful winner, Al Gore.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 22, 2004 9:43 AM

And hey -- undecideds could break for Kerry. I mean, I guess they really could, in droves.

Posted by: Twn at October 22, 2004 9:50 AM

It appears this race is at the point the 2000 race was the weekend before the election - Bush looking at approx. a 4pt win. The momentum seems to be on Bush's side so this win could increase. The only things that would stop this would be another DUI type event or massive voter fraud that shifts close states.

Posted by: AWW at October 22, 2004 9:54 AM

There is this conventional wisdom that undecideds vote for the challenger. I saw a breakdown from the 1936 election onwards and that was true in only two or three elections (and those were elections in which the challenger got blown out - one was Clinton-Dole). For the most part, they break for the incumbent or it is an even split. Kerry could win but I wouldn't bet the farm on the silver bullet of "undecideds break for the challenger" theory. This is similar to Republicans thinking they can win the election solely by either: 1. Blacks are not going to vote in droves for Kerry or 2. Bush will get a larger percentage of black votes and this win singlehandedly push it over the top. Theses two might happen but if I wouldn't have this as a necessary element in winning.

I personally don't think there are too many undecided voters.

Posted by: pchuck at October 22, 2004 10:01 AM

pchuck--do you have a link to that breakdown? I'd love to see it.

Posted by: Timothy at October 22, 2004 12:33 PM

AP is running an article indicating that Hawaii is a swing state now. If Kerry can't win Hawaii, he may be stuck with Massachusetts only.

Posted by: Bart at October 22, 2004 4:06 PM

Say _what_? Hawaii is as blue a state as you can find anywhere. Next thing I know, somebody will be reporting that Bush is surging in the District of Columbia.

Posted by: Joe at October 22, 2004 4:29 PM

>AP is running an article indicating that Hawaii
>is a swing state now. If Kerry can't win
>Hawaii, he may be stuck with Massachusetts only.

That's why that memo last week alerted all Loyal Party Cadres with instructions on how to pre-empt election results with prepared lawsuits a la Florida 2000.

And why 10,000 lawyers are on retainer.

And why Pennsylvania's governor appointed the Dems' biggest fundraiser in the state as his special "election overwatch" director with a staff of hand-picked activist attorneys.

The fix is in.

Posted by: Ken at October 22, 2004 7:04 PM

Another analysis that shows undecideds don't break decisively for challengers in presidental races. Some of the comments try to argue against the conclusions (including one that seems to be from Kos, based on reading his argument against this post), but I think it pretty much demolishes the idea that Kerry will get a significant boost from undecided voters.

Posted by: Chris B at October 22, 2004 8:26 PM