Electoral Math

Matthew Yglesias looks at the current state-by-state numbers and concludes that Kerry is in exceedingly good shape.

The general dynamic, I think, is that Bush needs to defend many fronts — Nevada, Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, New Hampshire (82 electoral votes) — while Kerry really only needs to play defense in Iowa and Wisonsin (17 electoral votes). What could change this dynamic is if the Nader campaign picks up steam and re-produces the artificially close results we saw last time in Maine and the Pacific Northwest.

The current numbers:

According to my handy-dandy calculator, this means 289 Kerry, 232 Bush, and 17 undecided right now. The “barely” states are all within the margin of polling error, so rather dubious to include into the calculation, but there’s no really good way to do it otherwise at the moment.

Like Matt, I’m rather confident that Tennessee’s 11 EV’s will ultimately go to Bush, notwithstanding the fact that they’re currently in the “barely Kerry” column. That would switch the decideds to 278-243. Arizona’s 10, Missouri’s 11, and West Virginia’s 5 will almost certainly go to Bush, shifting it to 252-269. Since 270 is the magic number, Bush is in decent shape, considering his convention is yet to come while Kerry’s has come and gone without a measurable “bounce.”

Still, I agree with Matt: the math favors Kerry. Ohio’s 20 and Florida’s 27 EVs are in the “weak Bush” category. Bush won both states in 2000, Ohio closely and Florida by a whisker. He needs to hold both–or pick off Pennsylvania–to stave off Kerry. If Bush takes all three states, which is not out of the realm of possibility, he’ll win easily. But just a little bad news at the wrong time, or a poor performance in the debates, could just as easily cause him to lose all three.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. bryan says:

    Bush’s biggest problem: being popular in very unpopulated states. That map is just astonishing. If Kerry wins, it’ll be the coasts that give it to him.




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  2. Jim Henley says:

    Kerry had such a minimal convention bounce I give the edge to Bush now. That may be 20th Century thinking, though. And maybe the Repub convention will be as big a turnoff as the Dem convention was, and Bush’s own bounce will be minimal. But you’d think the challenger needs to be up by a lot more while the incumbent’s powder is still dry.




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  3. Lee says:

    This kind of math is like saying two plus two approaches five for large values of two. There will be a poll November 2nd to bring clarity and enlightenment to all,




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  4. C.J. says:

    I’m not sure you can easily put Arizona in the Bush column. They did elect a Democrat as governor. And I think it’s very difficult for Bush to win Pennsylvania. Even though the western part is conservative, they’ve suffered a ton of job losses recently which might make them stay home or vote Dem. Since I don’t think Bush won Floriday in 2000, I doubt that he’ll win it in 2004 if the votes are counted.

    Regardless of the horse race, does anyone else have a problem with the fact that one vote does not mean one vote? Why should someone in Idaho’s opinion count more than mine simply because I always choose to live in major metropolitan areas???




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  5. FetchDawg says:

    C.J. is on it. This is good news, and it’s going to get better. It’s really inconceivable that the neo-cons and Rovites expect a bounce from the convention. We ex-Reagan Democrats are sitting back and waiting. But you know the more Bush is seen, the more he’s exposed. He’s weak on jobs, education and he botched the war on terror, as these politically motivated alerts demonstrate. After both conventions are done, and if Bush risks a debate with Kerry, the independents and the undecideds will step back, access the last four years and they’ll go Kerry-Edwards.




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  6. shark says:

    Why should someone in Idaho’s opinion count more than mine simply because I always choose to live in major metropolitan areas???

    That’s what the House of Reps. is for. At any rate, my vote is meaningless because I live in a major metropolitan area and vote Republican. It all balances out in the end




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  7. Attila Girl says:

    He botched the war on terror, as these politically motivated alerts demonstrate.

    Um. Excuse me? They were politically motivated to help Kerry?




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ELECTORAL MATH

PoliBlogger takes a crack at handicapping the 2004 presidential contest. He notes that, were the 2000 election to repeat itself exactly, Bush would gain 7 electoral votes simply by virtue of reapportionment (the fact that several states, mainly in the Democrat dominated northeast lost population which mainly shifted to the Republican dominated Sun Belt). He also speculates the very close states from last go-around would all likely go to Bush, given his popularity and incumbency. All of this would give Bush a comfortable win.

Of course, as he notes, the election isn’t going to be held today and a lot could happen. If Bob Graham were to somehow win the nomination, he would have to be the favorite in Florida; otherwise, it should be Bush’s to lose.

The really interesting question to me is California. There was a time, not so long ago, when that state routinely voted Republican for president. Indeed, that fact and the party’s strong showing in the South and Mountain West were thought to give the GOP an “Electoral College lock.” Clinton picked that lock in 1992, repeated in 1996, and Gore won in 2000. What changed? The end of the Cold War. Now that national security is back in play as a key issue, arguably the key issue, it is not out of the question that Bush could win the Golden State next year, especially if the economy gets back into gear.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Lemon says:

    Hmmm… I’m not sure I buy the foreign policy logic in your analysis there. The West Coast has a strong libertarian streak that may have explained some GOP victories in the past. The Democrats framing of cultural issues (e.g., gay marriage, abortion) as libertarian issues have helped to capture some of this constituency. Add to this, though, the rise of the green lobby which resonates with the “outdoorsy lifestyle” out here and you get a Democratic victories. My evidence for this assertion, anectdotal admittedly, is Silicon Valley and Microsoft. I will blog more on this later. Why use my good material in a comment box? Visit John Lemon’s Barrel of Fish for plenty of nude Kiran Chentry!




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  2. James Joyner says:

    Heh. I provide brilliant analysis in people’s comment boxes on a regular basis. They *really* good stuff gets cross-posted here. 😉

    And you could be right on California. Clearly, there are multiple issues. But my broad thesis is that the rise of Clinton (two double entendres, totally unintentional, and I haven’t finished the sentence; damn that Clinton) was made possible by the end of the Cold War. I think Bush would have carried California, and the country, were people still worried about commies.




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