by Steven Ertelt
October 30, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — With the presidential election on Tuesday, just about everyone has an electoral college prediction. Most are skewed one direction or the other depending on the favorite candidate of the one making the prognostication.
I’ve attempted to provide a very fair and realistic assessment of the electoral college map. Whether you agree or disagree with the predictions, handicapping the presidential race is a tough job with so many states like Ohio a true tossup where the case can be made for either candidate to win.
The 50 states and District of Columbia can be neatly arranged into five categories — states Kerry will definitely win, states leaning toward Kerry, tossups, states leaning toward Bush and states Bush will definitely win.
Kerry will definitely win California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, DC. Together, this counts for 149 solid electoral votes in the Kerry column.
Kerry will likely win in Maine, carry New Jersey despite some polls showing Bush with a chance to pick it off, and capture Oregon and Washington. That’s 37 more electoral votes for Kerry.
There is no question that President Bush will carry Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. Those states give the president 166 electoral votes.
Bush will also likely win in Arizona, a state Kerry hoped to make competitive but never did. In North Carolina, Edwards tried but did not succeed in delivering the state for Kerry. Bill Clinton hoped to make Kerry the "comeback kid" in Arkansas but Bush will win the state as polls there have shown him leading since mid-August. Bush is putting away the race in Missouri, Nevada, and West Virginia. That’s 52 electoral votes from those states.
Now for the states that really matter.
Colorado: Every poll since March has shown Bush leading the Rocky Mountain state with the exception of a couple of statistical ties. However, a couple of recent polls show the race closer and the close Senate battle in the state is leaning towards the Democratic candidate. Still, Bush should pull off a victory here. Bush win, 9 EVs.
Florida: Overall, Bush has been favored in more Florida polls than Kerry. The best Kerry has managed to do is a two point lead while Bush has held leads outside the margin of error on numerous occasions over the last two months. Polls showing Bush doing better with Hispanics and blacks than he did last time around are good news for him. Senate candidate Mel Martinez should increase Cuban turnout, which helps Bush. Zogby has Kerry up by two points on Friday, but that comes after several days of tracking polls showing the president leading by two to three percent. The consistency of the polls favors the president. Bush will win — by a small margin but large enough to avoid another protracted legal battle. Bush win, 27 EVs.
Hawaii: This is a state where a Republican presidential candidate has not won in two decades, but two polls show Bush ahead by a one percent margin and Vice President Dick Cheney visits the island on Sunday. The polls have given Democrats a scare and their strong voter turnout operation will likely make the difference. Kerry win, 4 EVs.
Iowa: After losing the state by less than half a percent to Al Gore, Bush has been faring surprisingly well here and many observers are saying Bush will win. I agree. Bush win, 7 EVs.
Michigan: I wrote off the president’s prospects in Michigan weeks ago, but others have not. Bush has been down in every poll here since July except for two, one of which was a Zogby poll released yesterday showing him leading by two percent. His numerous visits to the state have erased a 10 point deficit. Part of Kerry’s decline here is a move of voters not from him to Bush but from him to the undecided column. I expect many will swing back to their first inclination. If Bush wins here, Kerry will need an invitation to the inauguration. Kerry win, 17 EVs.
Minnesota: The only state to go to Walter Mondale in President Reagan’s 1984 landslide could back Bush in 2004. Kerry led here early, but Bush has come back to post leads in most of the recent polls. Zogby’s tracking poll has been all over the map on this one during the last week, but in the end gives an advantage to Kerry. Bush hasn’t campaigned here as much as he has in nearby Michigan and Wisconsin and Ralph Nader won’t get the 5.2 percent he got in 2000. Kerry win, 10 EVs.
New Hampshire: One of the few Bush states in 2000 that could go for Kerry. Kerry benefits from serving in the Senate from neighboring Massachusetts. His appearances on Boston television over the years have made him well known to Granite State voters. Add that to a depressed economy and Kerry has perhaps his only pickup of a Bush state this time around. Kerry win, 4 EVs.
New Mexico: Al Gore won New Mexico by a slim 300+ vote margin in 2000. Had Florida not become ground zero for the post-election legal battle, New Mexico could have been as Bush supporters were pressing for a recount. Surprisingly, Bush appears to be leading in this traditionally Democratic state by a healthy margin. Bush leads in four out of the last five polls by an average of four percent. Bush win, 5 EVs.
Ohio: Since October 1, Bush and Kerry are 11-11 in the twenty-two polls conducted here. This is a tough race to handicap and I don’t think anyone can definitively say who will prevail. However with the last three polls favoring Bush, and a Senate race that isn’t motivating Democrats, I’ll pick the president. Bush win, 20 EVs.
Pennsylvania: Like Michigan, I haven’t thought much about Bush’s repeated efforts to win the Keystone State. In a place with so many pro-life Democrats, I expected Bush would have performed better here than he did in 2000 and than he has fared here so far. But the polls show Kerry lead after Kerry lead as Bush has been ahead just once since early October. A poll released Saturday shows Kerry up one, but leading by 9 points among Catholics. Bush has to do better than that to take it away. Kerry win, 21 EVs.
Wisconsin: Like Iowa and New Mexico, Wisconsin is a state Gore won in 2000 that Bush has a good shot of winning this time around. Just two weeks ago, Bush had consistently leads in the polls, but the last three have shown a tie and two leads for Kerry. Zogby is the only firm that has polled there this past week and it shows Bush losing his lead and down five points by Friday. Last weekend I would have easily give Wisconsin to Bush, but I think Kerry has come back sufficiently enough, as evidenced by an 80,000 person turnout at a rally in Madison. Kerry win, 10 EVs.
So Who Wins?
Adding the electoral vote totals, I’m projecting Bush to win by a 286 to 252 margin. My projections assume Bush will win Florida and Ohio, pick up New Mexico and Iowa from Kerry and lose New Hampshire.
There is a scenario where Bush could lose either Florida or Ohio and still win. That requires him to win in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania or Michigan. Also, if Bush loses Ohio and picks up any other tossup state I have projected for Kerry, he still wins.
The electoral college race definitely gives Bush an advantage. Kerry has too many tossup states that Bush has a chance of capturing as seven of the eleven are states Gore won. As I’ve indicated, Kerry can win Ohio and Pennsylvania and still lose the election.
Bush even has a chance to declare not just a victory but a strong mandate for a second term from the American people. In addition to his projected 286 electoral votes, a Bush win in Pennsylvania or Michigan or a combination of two other tossup states gives him more than 300 electoral votes.
With only days to go, much could change, admittedly. The effects of the Osama bin Ladin tape are unclear, though early analysis seems to indicate it will either have no effect or help the president slightly because so many voters give him higher ratings on combating terrorism.
In the end, Bush has the advantage and appears headed to a re-election victory.