September 14, 2004


Swing-state shakeout is starting (Bob Von Sternberg, September 12, 2004, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Months ago, when it became clear that the electorate appeared to be as deeply divided as it was in 2000, analysts and campaign strategists crunched poll numbers to develop a list of the most likely swing states.

Consensus settled on a core group of 17: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. [...]

But states have begun to be winnowed from several lists.

Political newsletter publisher Charlie Cook, who developed his list of 17 last winter, recently trimmed it to 10: Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. [...]

Then there are individual states that have dropped off the battleground list. Late last week, the Los Angeles Times -- which has one of the most comprehensive battleground compilations -- moved Arizona from undecided to pro-Bush after the 16-point poll was reported.

Similarly, a USA Today/CNN Gallup poll last week found that Bush had opened up statistically significant leads over Kerry in Ohio and Missouri. Although that poll showed Bush with a 14-point lead in Missouri and an eight-point lead in Ohio, both states are likely to continue to be treated as battlegrounds by both campaigns because of their long history as swing states.

Another strong indication of which states a campaign is targeting can be gleaned from where it spends its ad dollars.

Last week, the Kerry campaign announced it was limiting its TV advertising to 10 states, scaling back from a plan to spend $50 million worth of advertising time in 20 states through Election Day.

The only states on this list that Senator Kerry might carry are OR, WA, and one of the two congressional districts in ME. More importantly, by keeping things close in certain states, Democrats might preserve incumbent Senators in OR, WA, NV, AR & WI. That's where their efforts should be directed now, not towards imaginary presidential battlegrounds.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 14, 2004 12:09 PM
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