Friday, August 13, 2004

"You Know We're Going To Win, Right?"

So went an IM yesterday from a friend of mine who works on the Hill in Washington. I cringed for a moment, seeing my cautious optimism so blatantly displayed in blue boldface. Sure the poll numbers seem to be going Kerry's way, on paper he's doing great, but can we really take these single digit leads for granted? "Michigan and Pennsylvania aren't even swing states anymore and New Hampshire's a lock." But the convention is coming up, surely it will return to a horserace. "His acceptance speech is the Thursday before Labor Day. Everyone's on vacation." But...but...but... "He has to catch every break between now and November to win. Their attacks aren't working and undecideds traditionally break 2-1 for the challenger. Dude, we're gonna win."

As if to prove his point, he sent me his electoral vote predictions, using LA Times's nifty interactive Electoral Votes Tracker. Play along. First it fills in all the states that are foregone conclusions, including California and New York (Kerry) and Texas and Alabama (Bush.) This results in a base electoral vote count of 147 for Bush and 161 for Kerry with 230 (among an extremely conservative 23 states that they deem "swing") up for grabs. 270 are needed to win. You can then click on each state, once to make it red (for Bush) or twice to make it blue (for Kerry) and the electoral vote calculator will track the totals accordingly. His predictions give Kerry a huge win, 307-231, with Missouri, Florida and West Virginia all switching from Bush to Kerry in November. Right now, after filling in all the states that I feel confident predicting, such as Hawaii and Delware for Kerry and Colorado and North Carolina for Bush, I've come up with a Kerry lead of 264 (all Gore states + NH) to 206, with only 5 swing states outstanding (Missouri, Ohio, Florida, Nevada and West Virginia for a total of 83 EVs), all of which voted for Bush in 2000. What would give Kerry a win in this scenario? a. Kerry wins Ohio; b. Kerry wins Florida; c. Kerry wins Missouri; d. Kerry wins Nevada AND West Virginia; e. any combination of the above.

Indeed, most recent polls have Kerry up in Florida, Missouri, West Virginia and Ohio. As I said yesterday, I'm starting to feel pretty good about Florida, but that state crazy. We'll be talking more specifically about these 5 states and what it will take for Kerry to win them in future posts. And as always, we'll continue to release all swing state polls that come out.

So is this election John Kerry's to lose? In an audio blog aired on NPR today, Mickey Kaus of Slate says that that is indeed the conventional wisdom among the Washington press corps but offers up a couple of good tips to Kerry just in case.


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