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The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Friday, August 06, 2004
The Old College Try

Robert Kuttner thinks that Kerry has trouble with the Electoral College:

Kerry could win the popular vote by piling up huge majorities in New York, California, and the rest of "blue" America, but still lose the Electoral College and the White House if he can't carry two out of three crucial swing states -- Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Florida.

Certainly that's a possibility, but the situation looks somewhat better than Kuttner allows for. A lot can change in 3 months, but the EC seems to presently lean to Kerry.

Starting from the red/blue split of 2000, the current EV total would go to Bush, 278 - 260. But the real question is how firm each side's votes are.

Kerry seems to have a good chance of winning everywhere that Gore won. The most comprehensive list of state by state polling I know of is here. It shows that in the two largest blue electoral prizes Bush had been hoping to take, PA and MI, Kerry seems to be safe - 13 polls in the past month and he leads in all of them, with the trends moving in his favor and recent polls showing leads of up to 11 or 12 points.

In fact, Kerry isn't in serious trouble in any blue state. The only poll in the past month showing him trailing in any blue state was a poll in Wisconsin, where the results have varied from a 53 - 44 lead to a 45 - 46 deficit. Bush's best shot at a pickup is Iowa, where one recent poll showed a tie; the other 7 all showed thin leads for Kerry. Polls in Minnesota have swung between a tie result and a decent 8 point Kerry lead. Kerry is the favorite in all of these states; he has a pretty good chance to run the table.

In the small red state of New Hampshire, Bush is in deep trouble, trailing in 7 straight polls, the most recent showing a 9 point deficit. And the trend seems to be moving against him: in the most recent polls by Zogby and ARG, he trails by more than in earlier polls by the same firms.

Bush also trails in one or more recent polls in all of the following red states: Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia - 89 total EV. In addition, Arkansas is extremely close, very winnable if the undecideds break for Kerry. Virginia, which Bush should be able to take for granted, is close in some polls. North Carolina is an upset possibility.

If Kerry is able to hold the blue states and NH, Bush probably has to sweep every contested red state to win. (He can afford to lose one, but only if it is NV or WV and, even then, only if he wins every district in Nebraska, where one vote is awarded to the winner of each congressional district.)

Looking at the electoral count, one other conclusion leaps out: Bush just can't win without Florida. Even if he somehow holds Hew Hampshire, wins all the other problem red states, and grabs both Iowa and Minnesota, losing Florida still sinks him. As others have pointed out repeatedly, Florida 2004 is shaping up with a lot of potential to repeat Florida 2000. What would the impact on the nation be of another stolen election? Democrats would likely not accept it as easily as we did 2000. Bush will consider any challenges to his legitimacy unpatriotic at best. One very possible outcome of this election is the worst national crisis since 1876.