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Electoral College Breakdown, Installment Eleven (The Battlegrounds)

Posted on 02/23/2004 3:38:08 AM PST by Dales

Edited on 02/23/2004 5:31:38 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]

Since I began the rundown of the states, California had a new poll released.

Electoral Votes: 55
2000 Result
Gore 53%
Bush 42%

Polling Data:

Date Polling Company Link Type MOE Republican Democrat
8/16/03 Field NA RV 4% Bush 42% Unnamed Democrat 47%
8/16/03 Public Policy Institute NA LV 3% Bush 40% Unnamed Democrat 45%
1/3/04 Public Policy Institute Link LV 3% Bush 45% Unnamed Democrat 45%
1/13/04 Field NA RV 3.4% Bush 46% Unnamed Democrat 47%
1/18/04 Rasmussen NA LV 4% Bush 41% Unnamed Democrat 46%
2/13/04 Knowledge Networks Link RV 4.1% Bush 38% Kerry 42%
2/16/04 Public Policy Institute Link 1,103 LV 3% Bush 37% Kerry 54%

Punditry: With this poll, I am downgrading California to Strong for the Democrats.

Summary Table
  Bush Democrat
  Safe Strong Lean Slight Tossup Slight Lean Strong Safe
  ND (3) CO (9) GA (15) NV (5) OR (7) NM (5) WI (10) NY (31) VT (3)
  AL (9) SC (8) NC (15) FL (27) WV (5) ME (4) - DE (3) MA (12)
  MT (3) KY (8) MO (11) NJ (15) - MI (17) - MD (10) DC (3)
  WY (3) KS (6) VA (13) NH (4) - PA (21) - WA (11) RI (4)
  UT (5) MS (6) OH (20) - - IA (7) - CT (7) HI (4)
  ID (4) SD (3) IN (11) - - MN (10) - IL (21) -
  AK (3) LA (9) AZ (10) - - - - CA (55) -
  NE (5) - AR (6) - - - - - -
  OK (7) - TN (11) - - - - - -
  TX (34) - - - - - - - -
76 49 112 51 12 64 10 138 26
237 127 174

Please, no comments on the colors regarding who is red and who is blue. The map was made for me by SC Swamp Fox using a tool online, and they chose the colors for him. I'll eventually be doing my own map. Also, please note that although I call some states as having a slight advantage one way or another, it would be a mistake to count them for either candidate. They are well within the margin of error, and should be considered anyone's game.

The battleground states will be those which make up the toss-ups and those with a slight advantage for either side. Over time as new polls come out, different states may move into or out of the battleground. The movement of states into, and out of, the battleground will be an important metric to trace, as it will indicate which side is successfully bringing the fight to the other at that point. If, for example, Ohio and Missouri become battleground states, then that is a sign that Kerry has been making progress while Bush has been regressing.

As of this moment, with the Democrat nomination almost sealed up, the general lay of the land favors the President, with 234 of the required 270 electoral votes leaning his way (or more). Kerry is going to have to continue to ride the wave of favorable coverage he is getting for longer to pull into an equitable position.

It is clear that at this point, President Bush has a much better standing as the incumbent than Gore had as the pseudo-incumbent in 2000. At this point in 2000, Gore was significantly behind in the national polls, while most polls have Bush and Kerry within the margin of error with each other nationwide. At the time of my first ECB (Electoral College Breakdown) in 2000, Gore had about 40 more electoral votes in his columns than Kerry has now. On the other hand, Bush is running about 9 electoral votes behind where he was. That first ECB was done about 6 weeks later, so it would only make sense that more electoral votes would be leaning one way or another by then.

Last year, the initial states designated as battleground states were Florida, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maine, Georgia, North Carolina, New Hampshire, West Virginia, and Washington. Florida, West Virginia, Iowa, New Hampshire, Maine repeat as initial battleground states this year. Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina have all moved towards Bush as leaners as the south has solidified. Wisconsin (lean) and Washington (strong) have moved towards the Democrats. New battleground states initially are Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.


In the first ECB of 2000, Florida was listed as a battleground with a slight advantage to Gore. This time around, it is starting with a slight advantage for Bush. Florida has 6 Democrat Representatives and 18 Republicans. Both chambers of the state legislature are controlled by the Republicans. Republicans control most of the executive branch. However, both Senate seats are held by Democrats. As of Dec. 1, 2003, the state registration was 41.9% Democrat and 38.6% Republican. Dales' Prediction: Florida will remain close, but not as close as 2000, and will remain in the Bush column.

West Virginia

In the first ECB of 2000, West Virginia was rated as a battleground state with a slight advantage to Bush. This time around, it is starting as a complete tossup. Two of West Virginia's three Representatives are Democrats. Democrats control everything else: both Senate seats, both chambers of the state legislature, and the top executive branch offices. It is easy to see why, when 60% of the registered voters are Democrats and just 29% Republican. Dales' Prediction: Bush holds West Virginia


Iowa rated a slight advantage to Bush in the first ECB of 2000. This time, it rates a slight advantage to the Democrats. Other positions in Iowa are mixed. The Republicans hold 4 of the 5 House seats, and the Senate seats are split. The Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, but the Democrats hold all major executive offices except for Auditor. Republicans hold a 32% to 29% advantage in registration. Dales' Prediction: While I've been told that Iowans love incumbents, they do not like war. I see the Democrats holding Iowa.

New Hampshire

Both last time and this time, New Hampshire started as a slight advantage for Bush. When looking at the other offices, it is hard to understand just why this is not more firmly in his control. The Republicans hold all the House seats, both Senate seats, control both chambers of the state legislature, and hold all major executive branch offices, while having a 37%-26% registration advantage. The consensus on these threads that I have seen is that Bush will have difficulty securing New Hampshire. I don't buy it for a second. Bush wins..


Maine is currently a slight advantage for Democrats, which is a change from ECB 2000 where it started as a slight Bush advantage. While the Republicans hold both Senate seats, everything else is in the hands of the Democrats, who enjoy a 31%-29% registration lead. Dales' Prediction: Bush plucks off one of the electoral votes here and the Democrats hold the rest.


Nevada was leaning Bush in the first 2000 ECB, and this year rates a slight advantage for Bush. Legislatively, the state is split. Two of the three Representatives are Republicans. The two Senate seats are split. The Democrats control the state Assembly while the Republicans control the state Senate. The Republicans hold most executive branch offices. The registration race is close, with Republicans holding a one point advantage (41%-40%). Dales' Prediction: Nevada will hold.

New Jersey

If New Jersey remains tight enough to stay in the battleground, it is a case of back to the future. ECB2000 started with it leaning Gore's way. The Democrats have 7 of 13 Representatives and both Senate seats, control both chambers of the state legislature, hold all of the important executive offices, and have a 25%-19% advantage in voter registration. Dales' Prediction: It would take a perfect storm for New Jersey to go for Bush. There will not be one.


In early 2000, Oregon was polling strongly for Bush. The left coast influence eventually took hold and turned it into a very even state, and it starts this year as a tossup. Democrats hold 4 out of 5 Representative seats, while the Senate seats are divided, just as control of the state legislative chambers is split. The Democrats hold most of the executive branch positions. Democrats hold a 3% lead in registration, 39%-36%. Dales' Prediction: as another state with an antiwar bias, the Democrats will win here.


Michigan has gone from leaning Bush to having a slight advantage for the Democrats. Republicans have 9 of 15 Representatives, Democrats hold both Senate seats, while Republicans hold both houses of the state legislature. The state executive is split; Democrats hold the Governor and Lt. Governor positions while Republicans have the Secretary of State and Attorney General slots. Dales' Prediction: I would love to see Bush carry Michigan, but I do not see it happening.


The slight advantage for the Democrats is a step up from the leaning Gore position at the start of ECB 2000. Minnesota's legislative seats are split right down the middle. Half of the Representatives, half of the Senate seats, and one of the state legislative chambers are held by each party. Most of the important executive branch offices are held by Republicans with the exception of Attorney General. Dales' Prediction: Minnesota is changing rapidly, and Bush will capture the state.


Pennsylvania started as leaning Bush last time, but has drifted to where it has a slight advantage for the Democrats. Republicans hold a 12-7 advantage in the numbers of Representatives, and hold both Senate seats. They also hold both chambers of the state legislature. The Democrats hold the major executive branch positions except for Attorney General, and have a significant registration advantage (48%-42%). Dales' Prediction: I fear the Rendell machine. I think the Democrats hold Pennsylvania

Add up all of the predictions and factor them into the already designated states, and my early prediction is for Bush to be re-elected with 289 electoral votes.

The battleground states last election were mainly in the south. Bush won them, and as such won the election. This time, the battleground states are predominantly in the midwest and the east coast. Kerry will need to control these states and make some advances into others in order to win. He may look to Florida, but Bob Graham's pitiful run at the Democrat nomination may have destroyed his chance of being on the ticket. Besides, his appeal would not extend to other battleground states in any meaningful manner. It is unlikely that Kerry will look to New England for a running mate either; look for his selection to come from the midwest. The most natural fit for him would be Evan Bayh of Indiana. He could make Indiana, a state Kerry will otherwise have little chance in, competitive, would probably move Ohio into play, and would have appeal to most of the other battleground states. His position on abortion issues might even allow Kerry to appear more moderate than he is. On the downside, it is not clear that the NOW gang would permit Bayh to be on the ticket, and a ticket with two sitting Senators on it would have an awful long vote trail on which to prey. Another option for Kerry would be Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. And should Kerry make peace with the Clintons, then we could very well see Ed Rendell. Rendell would play well in much of the rust belt, and his executive branch experience would work well as a balance to the Senatorial Kerry (who's executive experience was long ago, and under Mike Dukakis- hardly a selling point).

Given the current battleground, it is likely that Kerry will continue the populist, class warfare rhetoric adopted by Gore in 2000; it fits this battleground much more than it fit the 2000 one.

As for what Bush can do to firm up this region, the best he can do is to hope the economy gives him another selling point. A legitimate plan to counter outsourcing issues would be a big step in the right direction, especially in defusing the statement an aide made that outsourcing is good for the economy in the long term. Portions of this battleground have histories of being relatively antiwar, and as such the more Iraq calms down and the longer that goes between American casualties, the more likely it will be that the Bush message will resonate in the New England states, in Minnesota, in Nevada, and in Oregon. Despite the wishes of the Bush campaign for this election to be fought on national security, the battleground looks to be a referrendum on the economy and on Iraq.

Historical election data are located at Dave Leip's invaluable website.

Installment One
Installment Two
Installment Three
Installment Four
Installment Five
Installment Six
Installment Seven
Installment Eight
Installment Nine
Installment Ten

TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: Florida; US: Iowa; US: Maine; US: Michigan; US: Minnesota; US: Nevada; US: New Hampshire; US: New Jersey; US: New Mexico; US: Oregon; US: Pennsylvania; US: West Virginia
KEYWORDS: dales; ecb; electionpresident; electoralcollege; gwb2004
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To: Huck
New Jersey will go for ANY Democrat over Bush, the same as Illinois and Massachusetts.
21 posted on 02/23/2004 5:18:52 AM PST by ought-six
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To: Coop
That's a good point. Many of the victims in WTC on 9/11 were NJ residents and they probably still have a special affinity for Bush's performance in the immediate aftermath. Also, NJites are probably not as partisan as the leftists in NY. So, perhaps 2004 will be a special case in NJ where Bush has a chance. I'm not putting money on it, but it could happen.
22 posted on 02/23/2004 5:20:29 AM PST by Azzurri
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To: Brandon
23 posted on 02/23/2004 5:23:01 AM PST by Neets (Complainers change their complaints, but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining.~)
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To: ought-six
I was wondering why NJ is listed as a Rep slight?!?!?
24 posted on 02/23/2004 5:23:07 AM PST by Monty22
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To: Dales
Great, great work.

Demonstrates the political wisdom--for Kerry--to pick Rendell as running mate.

25 posted on 02/23/2004 5:26:57 AM PST by Remole
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To: Remole
Thanks for reminding me. I meant to add him, so now I have.
26 posted on 02/23/2004 5:28:40 AM PST by Dales
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To: Neets
please add me to your ping list
you all are doing some awesome work here
27 posted on 02/23/2004 5:29:58 AM PST by daybreakcoming
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To: Monty22
The reasoning was given in Installment Eight.

I doubt it will remain in the slight Bush column.

28 posted on 02/23/2004 5:34:06 AM PST by Dales
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To: Azzurri; Coop
I don't have an explanation for it. Coop's is probably the best I could come up with either. What I do know is that while in all of the Tri-state area, Bush had high ratings after 9/11. Then in Connecticut and New York, his support collapsed to where one would expect. But in New Jersey, as demonstrated by three polls by two polling companies with no history of Republican bias, his support has held.

So far.

29 posted on 02/23/2004 5:36:16 AM PST by Dales
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To: Dales
The battleground states last election were mainly in the south. Bush won them, and as such won the election. This time, the battleground states are predominantly in the midwest and the east coast

TO me this is the most tellng statement in your entire analysis. In 2000 the Battleground states were all states that BUsh won, now they are almost all safely Bush.

The states that are shaping up to be Battlegrounds states this election are all areas won by Gore. This is very important.

The Dems are not fighting to win Bush states, they are having to spend money and fight to keep states they won in 2000. This is very telling, and bodes very well for Bush.

Kerry cannot win unless he can take states from Bush, if his whole campaign is playing defense and protecting states Gore won -- then Bush has already won.

30 posted on 02/23/2004 5:39:53 AM PST by commish (Freedom Tastes Sweetest to Those Who Have Fought to Preserve It)
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To: Dales; Azzurri
Another possibility just popped into my head. Pure speculation, but I wonder if these NJ numbers reflect any leftover anger/disgust with the whole Torricelli/Lautenburg election law violation? I don't recall any polling that significantly reflected such a thing back then, but who knows?
31 posted on 02/23/2004 5:47:40 AM PST by Coop ("Hero" is the last four-letter word I'd use to describe John Kerry)
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To: commish
I see your point, but at this moment in the campaign the main domestic issue may well be the chronic loss of manufacturing jobs. And if Kerry chooses Rendell as running mate, that will be campaign issue # 1; and it will put these states won by Bush in 2000 in play: Ohio, WV, Kentucky, Tennessee, perhaps others. Plus it would solidify Penn, Mich, NJ, Missouri in the Dem camp, leaving them to spend money in (for them!) less secure states. Of all the potential VPs out there, Rendell is the one who offers the most benefit to a Kerry campaign.
32 posted on 02/23/2004 5:48:33 AM PST by Remole
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To: Dales
Your analysis of NV fails to account for the unpopularity of the Yucca Mountain project, which Bush favors (correctly so). The Rats will hammer him with it. The Republican Senator has been forced against his better judgment to throw in his lot with the anti-Yucks, or risk committing political hiri kiri. I think the Rats pick off NV on this issue alone.

The NE will be solidly blue from MD northward. Kerry and the Rats are just too strong in these traditionally Rat states, and even those that have been Republican in the past have been trending Rat lately (e.g., NJ).

OR and NM will be close again, but don't discount the last-minute appearance of ballot boxes that will push the states over to the Rats (remember NM in 2000).

OH and WV will be the real battleground states this year. The job losses issue again. I can tell you as an observer "on the ground" in OH that both Kerry and Edwards have made recent appearances here and they talked about that almost exclusively, hammering Bush and Republicans mercilessly with it. The Rats smell blood in the water on this issue, and their going to feed the frenzy like nothing you've seen before. Bush better come up with a way to blunt this issue, or he's toast. The first thing is to tell "statistics" Snow and "stock market" Chao and "put some ice on that" Mankiw to STFU!

Bush had better pick up MN and maybe IA or get the ranch ready back in Crawford to move back into.

33 posted on 02/23/2004 5:51:42 AM PST by chimera
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To: Remole
OH no doubt, there is a ong way to go and any number of things can slide the battle from Dem states to Bush states. (rendell/ jobs issue is a good example). i was just going by Dales analysis of the current snapshot.

I am not advocating that we are safe by any means. The Dems will try anything, and I mean anything, to turn the tide in thier favor. if they thought a terror incident would help them I wouldn't put it past MCAwful and company to gen something up.

This is going to be a long close battle, and we cannot waver or flinch, but at the moment we have the lead and the ball. Time to work on the clock and look for the play to extend the lead.

34 posted on 02/23/2004 5:54:16 AM PST by commish (Freedom Tastes Sweetest to Those Who Have Fought to Preserve It)
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To: Coop
Four years ago today the Nasdaq was at 4550. Clearly not everyone has recovered all their losses from the previous three or so years, which are real losses since a great number of them obviously sold.

It always annoys me when people toss out personal anecdotes on the economy as if they are representative of anything besides themselves, when there are perfectly good statistics available from which to draw conclusions of general applicability.

No offense.
35 posted on 02/23/2004 6:12:53 AM PST by AntiGuv (When the countdown hits zero, something's gonna happen..)
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To: chimera
Obviously, I do not agree with your analysis. But as I generally say, time will tell!
36 posted on 02/23/2004 6:20:25 AM PST by Dales
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To: Dales
It will that. There's time for Bush to try to dull the sharpness of the Rat attacks on the jobs issue if he starts speaking to it directly instead of through surrogates who shoot their feet off. People need to feel he's engaged on the issue, and not "disconnected" or "aloof", which was the knock the media and their Rat favorites put on Bush 41. I don't think there's time to turn the job situation around to the point of recovering everything that's been lost the last three years. That job creation estimate was just nonsense. But telling people to "put some ice on it" is not a winning political strategy.
37 posted on 02/23/2004 6:31:07 AM PST by chimera
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To: daybreakcoming
38 posted on 02/23/2004 6:31:52 AM PST by Neets (Complainers change their complaints, but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining.~)
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To: chimera
I don't think there's time to turn the job situation around to the point of recovering everything that's been lost the last three years.
Sure there is. I actually think it is likely that we will come very close to doing just that. However, it would not be smart politically for the Bush team to run around making the same prediction. It is smarter for them to just let things happen and take the credit when they do.
39 posted on 02/23/2004 6:33:36 AM PST by Dales
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To: Dales; chimera
I think Nevada will be near impossible for Bush unless he wins a national landslide anyhow.

First, there are new media reports starting just days ago that Yucca Mountain is unsafe, and the Democrats will harp on this nonstop between now and November. The threat of radioactive poisoning has a way of trumping all other political concerns on an election day..

Second, Harry Reid will probably glide to reelection having evaded any top-tier challengers, and it now appears likely that the NV-03 district will feature a vigorous campaign after all, with the Dems hammering on Bush in the district that the statewide vote swings on.

BTW, I think it will become swiftly apparent that West Virginia is a lost cause in 2004. The state is intensely Dem - occasional flukes notwithstanding - and the local Dem establishment will be galvanized to reclaim its EVs in 2004. It will not be ignored as a backwater like it was by Gore in 2000 and I expect the Dems to deliver their own.

40 posted on 02/23/2004 6:34:53 AM PST by AntiGuv (When the countdown hits zero, something's gonna happen..)
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