Mining The Electoral College 2004

Aquarian Weekly 10/20/04 REALITY CHECK

Campaign 2004 NO REST FOR THE DESPERATE The Final Statistical Push for the White House

Karl RoveBy the time these words hit the streets there will be less than two weeks for Senator John Kerry to convince the American electorate of his legitimacy as a presidential candidate and why the current chief must go. George W. Bush has a similar time frame to argue otherwise. The national polls (any one you choose to believe) are all over the map. Some have Bush ahead by 5%, others show Kerry leading by as much. Some have it a dead heat. No change from 2000, which ended in one of the closest, most hotly contested and controversial presidential elections in the history of the United States. There is no indication this will time will be any different.

John Kerry, as is his wont, has reconstructed another faltering campaign. He’s done it before, as recently as Iowa earlier this year against a surging Howard Dean. Mere weeks ago he was on the ropes against the tide of effective attacks from the formidable Karl Rove team and a bungling strategy of white noise. If not for the debates, a significant Achilles heel for a president hardly used to confrontational verbal interaction or even explaining himself, it is this observer’s opinion that Kerry was toast.

But the debates proved clearly that a president sitting on 80-year and record economic lows and a questionably philosophical war with no end in sight has problems standing in front of a national audience at a podium defending them. Kerry was good. Bush was worse. I’m sure if we were choosing sides for a debate team the president would not be cracking the short list.

Questions remain. Is Kerry’s rally too late for the all-important electoral state count that will decide this contest? Can Kerry, who just this summer had several swing states and southern states in his column, survive the body blow his campaign took in early autumn? Was the president exposed enough in the debates to sink his otherwise sheltered aura? Has Bush rallied his base enough to withstand a potential loss in the final glut of independent voters?

November 2 is calling.

By taking an average snapshot of various state polls currently available to the press and public, the Reality Check News & Information Desk crew, tired of working with little money and no direction for lo these past months, has rendered an interesting verdict on the 538 potential Electoral College votes in 50 states. With most of the union going in one strong direction or the other, the 270 votes needed to become president comes down to a few precious states, which is why both campaigns have been rolling out the television ads and traveling through said states with desperate repetition and verve.

So all this jive about a Kerry comeback and how Bush held his own in the debates and who has more money left really comes down to how much these polls can be trusted and what the candidates can do to budge them in the crucial final hours of this campaign.

They remain: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Wisconsin, with the most intriguing being Colorado. Fully in the Bush column in 2000, Colorado has a state vote on whether to split the nine electoral votes by district, instead of handing all nine to the winner as 48 other states do. This could compromise four or five key votes if this puppy is as tight as advertised. Therefore, Colorado, looking like a Bush state by as much 10%, is now a possible swing state.

Of course there are precarious leads for each candidate in certain non-swing states, but judging from past election leanings and the slight movement of the percentages for almost six months, those states will be given to the current leader. Clear evidence to support these assumptions is that the trailing candidates have pulled their ad campaigns in these states as late as this week, all-but a concession from those who think the money is better spent elsewhere. Thus, if the election would be held today (an awful sports query that never seems to pan out) the tally of Electoral College votes without the aforementioned swing states is Bush 198 and Kerry 179.

Considering that the swing states do have leaders, albeit ones with a less than 5% lead, for the sake of argument and to frame the mission of what the candidates who are trailing must do to win, we will award the current leaders the votes from those states. If so, the president has very shaky leads in the laughably insane Florida (27), Ohio (20), West Virginia (5), Missouri (11), Nevada (5), and the normally Democrat stronghold of Wisconsin (10). Kerry is barely leading in the highly volatile Pennsylvania (21), Iowa (7), Oregon (7), and the must win Michigan (17) and Minnesota (10).

By that count George W. Bush will be re-elected with 276 electoral votes. Kerry comes in with 241.

Three states are a statistical dead heat: New Mexico (5), Maine (4), and the only other state besides Michigan that has never tipped its hand when it comes to presidential elections, New Hampshire (4). These ties are amazing when considering some seven or eight different polls have been used for this exercise. The above states, and their 13 electoral votes, are literally up for grabs. But Bush has the luxury of letting them go if he carries his states.

So all this jive about a Kerry comeback and how Bush held his own in the debates and who has more money left really comes down to how much these polls can be trusted and what the candidates can do to budge them in the crucial final hours of this campaign.

In a close election, as it was in 2000, two intangible factors can benefit either candidate. Firstly, military absentee ballots normally go to a Republican candidate, or the incumbent (its current commander), of which Bush is firmly planted in both categories. That is unless all this blather lately about disgruntled soldiers in Iraq is true. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

The second wild card is the youth vote. Historically young people don’t vote. They didn’t vote when the adjusted age was made 18 back in ’72, and for the most part they never have since. This fact killed Howard Dean, and it will ruin John Kerry. You see, most 18-24 year-olds live at home or don’t have a stationary land phone. They are not polled. They float in the air. Therefore they are a crapshoot. Kerry needs them, or he cannot win.

It is also getting pretty clear that if Kerry cannot snatch Florida and/or Ohio from the Bush column, or if he loses Wisconsin, or worse, Pennsylvania, a distinct possibility, George W. Bush will be re-elected. Period. Terry Mac and the Democrat boys knew that going in. They are now, with only days remaining, the four key battleground states of this election. Digesting all of our data and research, it may be Kerry’s only hope. Take half, or all of the dead-heat states, hang onto his stash and steal Ohio or Florida, the latter being a more likely scenario, or go home.

For Bush, it is stay the course, hammer home the constituency, and blanket Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida until the last poll closes on 11/2. If he splits those states he remains president. If not, pack those bags and head back to Texas.

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