Bush Gaining in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

Kerry lead fades in two battleground states (Susan Page, USA TODAY)

President Bush has eroded John Kerry’s lead in two big battleground states that voted Democratic four years ago, complicating the Massachusetts senator’s electoral landscape. USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup polls show Bush narrowly ahead in Wisconsin and the candidates even in Pennsylvania, a state that is crucial to Democratic hopes of winning in November.

As the Republican convention opens today, the president’s prospects seem to be brightening in some states that could determine the outcome Nov. 2. “This is historically a challenger’s strongest time,†before the incumbent’s convention, says Ken Mehlman, Bush’s campaign manager. “For John Kerry to have not gained ground and perhaps even be losing ground has to be very troubling to their campaign.â€

USA TODAY surveyed three states last week that voted for Al Gore in 2000 and are close this time:

̢ۢIn Pennsylvania, Bush and Kerry each had 47% of likely voters; independent Ralph Nader was at 2%. Among battleground states, Pennsylvania is second only to Florida in number of electoral votes, with 21. Gore carried the state by 5 percentage points.

̢ۢIn Wisconsin, Bush led Kerry among likely voters, 48%-45%. Nader had 4%. Gore won the Badger State. It has 10 electoral votes.

̢ۢIn Iowa, Kerry led Bush among likely voters, 51%-45%. Nader was at 2%. Gore narrowly carried the state. It has seven electoral votes.

Kerry fared better among the larger pool of registered voters. He leads in Pennsylvania by 49%-43%, in Wisconsin by 47%-45% and in Iowa by 50%-44%.

Kerry’s camp said those encouraging results were more accurate. “I have consistently argued that at this stage of the game, the registered-voter (sample) is a much more valid indicator than the Gallup likely-voter sample,†says Mark Mellman, Kerry’s pollster.

Nonsense. “Registered voter” polls are meaningless and almost always inflate the numbers for Democratic candidates, since their support is artificially padded with young and poorly educated voters, who are much less likely to turn out. If Bush can carry Pennsylvania and retain Florida, he’ll almost certainly win re-election.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Eric Akawie says:

    I think we may see unusual participation numbers from traditional non-voters this year, given the passion of the ABB crowd, and the kind of get-out-the-vote drives Soros is likely to fund among, for example, college students.

  2. BigFire says:

    Kerry proclaiming his love for the Lambert Field while in Green Bay didn’t help the matter. It’s almost as good as being a Buckeye in Michigan.

  3. McGehee says:

    Eric, I disagree. There was a lot of passion from the ABC crowd in ’96, but in the end Dole never gave a positive reason why he should be elected.

    I know that a lot of partisans claim Bush is at risk because of all the ABB passion they claim is there, but these are the same people who insisted — up until very recently — that their Bush-hatred is nothing like the hatred of the Right-Wing Clinton-Haters™ back in the ’90s.

    I think this election will not turn so much on how the undecideds and independents break, but on whether the ABB voters show up at all. And I can very easily imagine the next couple of months leaving them thoroughly demoralized and looking ahead to 2008 before 2004 has run its course.

  4. Attila Girl says:

    What McGehee said.

  5. James Naison says:

    If Kerry is losing in Wisconsin and tied in Pennsylvania, two states in which he should be ahead by 10 points, Kerry is in far deeper trouble than even I thought possible.