Sunday, September 12, 2004

Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3

Yogi Berra said, "In baseball, nobody knows nothin'."

He might as well have been talking about the Electoral College.

Three things, and a very nice article.

Thing 1: Why is Bush leading in Ohio? It doesn't make sense. Are the polls wrong? Or is Kerry?

Thing 2: Key states, as I've said before, that few others are talking about: Colorado and Nevada.

Thing 3: I don't see how Kerry can win in North Carolina. (FOLLOWUP: For a contrary view, see this. I still don't buy it, though. Repubs do 4-6 points better on election day than they did in the polls in NC. When K. Grease predicted Elizabeth Dole would win by 8-10 points in 2002, people scoffed, SCOFFED I tell you, because the polls showed it much closer as election day approached. But she won by 9%. For an explanation of why, you might check this "Republicans cheat" thread. Believing the other side cheats is much more comfortable than thinking that people might disagree with you.)

Current EC map. Kerry leading, but tenuous. Florida not awarded in this map, and Pennsylvania in the Kerry column.

Nice article: Today's WaPo. An excerpt....

The Massachusetts senator spent much of the summer trying to expand the number of battleground states with television advertising and campaign trips to places such as Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia. But in the past week, Kerry dramatically scaled back the number of states in which he is running ads. Democratic strategists privately acknowledge that only a significant change in the overall race will put some of the states Kerry sought to make competitive back into play. Democratic hopes for victory in Missouri have diminished sharply, as well.

Tad Devine, a senior Kerry-Edwards strategist, said the shift in advertising dollars marked a decision to ensure that Kerry can campaign fully in all of the truly competitive states in the final weeks. "We did not want to be in the situation that the Democratic nominee was in four years ago of having to choose between Ohio and Florida," he said. "That choice will not have to be made this time. We have the resources to compete in those states and many, many more."

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign, called the shift by Kerry an acknowledgement that the Democratic ticket's earlier goal of expanding the electoral map had failed. "They've basically decided they're competing in 14 states and sort of ceded, for all intents and purposes, states they were in at the beginning of the year and spent a lot of money in," he said.

For much of the year, the campaigns have described the presidential race as largely confined to 20 or 21 states, which is where Bush and Kerry were running television ads and campaigning personally. But since Labor Day, the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee have scaled back to 16 states total, with several considered long shots within Democratic circles.

"There's nothing particularly surprising in the provisional choices they've made," said Jim Jordan, a former Kerry campaign manager now working for America Coming Together, an independent Democratic group. "Some of these states, whatever all of our hopes were several months ago, are just hard for the Democrats at the presidential level."

An examination of state polls and interviews with strategists in the two campaigns and the parties suggests that, with less than two months before the election, the 10 most competitive states are, in order of electoral vote strength, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia and New Hampshire.

Eleven states are the remaining battlegrounds from earlier in the year. Of those, seven lean toward Bush: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia. Four tilt toward Kerry: Maine, Michigan, Oregon and Washington.


Bora Zivkovic said...

Kerry is leading by 12 points in Wake County. If he expands that to 15 points that is ENOUGH to win North Carolina with no movement at all in other parts of the state. Everything else going as expected, if Bush wins Ohio and Florida, but Kerry wins North Carolina, Kerry wins the election.

natedenny said...

The media (and everyone else) is only paying attention to the big media buys. The Kerry-Edwards campaign has NOT stopped spending money in North Carolina. They have just downsized the traditional media buy, and no one has looked beyond this fact. SurveyUSA is polling Kerry within the margin of error in North Carolina, which means that Kerry has caught up significantly SINCE the Republican National Convention. Things are close in the Old North State, whether Kerry's buying tv time or wisely saving it for later.

Jonathan Bigelow said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jonathan Bigelow said...

Enlightened readers:
I have two points as regards Professor Munger's Electoral-Jam.
1. In the above entry, Dr. Munger endorses as a seemingly authoritative amalgam of poll-projections. Ach, ein Problem! The site's policy regarding the use of poll-data depends on the what its webmaster calls "the most recent poll" for each state. Unfortunately, it seems that this leads to an inconsistent use of polls to generate the electoral projection map. For instance, on Sept 12 Iowa's data is from Zogby, September 3 (just post-RNC, mind you), while Missouri cites Survey USA on September 9 (one week later). Perhaps it would be preferable to analyze sources that offer a cross section in time of public opinion, rather than a choppy collage of numbers from different moments in the election The administrator of the site offers an explanation of his policy at Another source is a NYTimes interactive graphic at . But NYTimes only cites an internal analysis, so who knows how they compile their projections.

2. I have lived in North Carolina. Kerry has no chance here. I am a humanities major, and so I will not venture to weave a seemingly legit poll analysis. I have no real basis for this other than a feeling in my gut--similar to Edward G. Robinson's 'Little Man' in the film Double Indemnity--that filters reality and indicates to me that a pretty wealthy, pretty liberal legislator from Massachusetts will not carry Carolina when Clinton went 0-2. Sure, Kerry may woo the folks who work at Glaxo in the triangle, but the Bojangles crowd will go for Bush. Kerry-Edwards carries no real cache with this important contingent of predominantly white, middle-class, traditionally Protestant voters. For them, the substance of the race cannot be affected by "media buys," but is rather about personality and character intangibles. And while one might say that Kerry's personality is indeed intangible, his mannerisms and air turn alot of folks off in NC. Look beyond the triangle.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to ask Coturnix how it is that a 3-point swing for Kerry in Wake County, which contains about 8 percent of the state's population, could eliminate a statewide 4-point lead for Bush. And please don't say "margin of error." Thanks in advance for the math lesson.

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