Last week I predicted a clear Kerry victory in the popular vote. I’m sticking to it, but I’m ratcheting down the margin to 5%. This isn’t because anything has changed – it’s because I understand one of the dynamics better now.
Let’s divide the electorate into groups, some of which overlap:
- Bush’s 2000 voters: mostly will support Bush again.
- Gore’s 2000 voters: mostly will support Kerry.
- Evangelicals who didn’t vote in 2000: supposedly there are 4 million of them, and Bush is counting on their support this time (the trouble for Bush is, they’re not concentrated in swing states).
- The newly registered: these numbers are huge, and they favor Kerry – e.g. 250,000 newly registered Democrats in Ohio vs. 25,000 new Republicans. The big question is what their turnout rate will be. The Democrats are making a massive effort – they have 250,000 volunteers working on get-out-the-vote efforts – so I think their turnout will be high.
- The “fear” voters: rather than a FDR like message of “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”, the Bush adminsitration has been campaigning on a theme of “be afraid – be very afraid.” It’s been successful at playing to the anxieties of many.
I argued in my previous post that Bush would get almost none of Gore’s 2000 supporters. Missing from my analysis was the “fear” voters: regardless of their political leanings, they believe we shouldn’t change Presidents during a war (and Bush has been very successful at playing to that). I think 1. this gives Bush a chunk of the electorate that would otherwise turn out for Kerry, and 2. this chunk is almost as big as the disaffected Republicans who will vote Kerry. So my overall prediction still stands – a big turnout will give Kerry a margin of victory that’s not showing up in the polls – but I’ve knocked down the size of the margin by a few percent.
My earlier post focused on the problems with the polls – here’s the latest on what’s wrong with Gallup.
These are my predictions for the battleground states:
- Arkansas: most don’t consider this a battleground state, and I do think it will go to Bush as expected. I’m including it here because I think there’s a chance of a Kerry upset. This is the only state in the south that the Republicans don’t yet dominate. Clinton was stumping in Little Rock yesterday, so Kerry hasn’t given up on it.
- Colorado: will go to Bush. The Democrats are hoping for a big Hispanic turnout, but there’s a huge military presence that will go for Bush. The Kerry campaign has mostly pulled its people and advertising from Colorado, which indicates they’ve all but ceded it to Bush.
- Florida: Kerry, and it won’t be close. The mantra in the Bush campaign is that their supporters are more dedicated than Kerry’s supporters. But the lines for early voting have been long – in some it’s taken an average of 5 hours for folks to get into the polling station. What’s important is that 1. the folks in line are staying in line, and 2. Kerry’s got a big lead in the votes tallied so far (51%-43%).
- Hawaii: this shouldn’t even be on the list. It is because a recent poll but Bush 1 point ahead of Kerry. There was one poll in Hawaii in September, and two in October, so there aren’t a lot of data points putting it in Bush’s column. Bush lost to Gore in Hawaii by 38%-56%, and I don’t see anything that would point to a massive shift to Bush this time around.
- Iowa: like Florida, Iowa has early voting – a quarter of Iowa’s adults have already voted, and Kerry is ahead 52%-41%. That gap will shrink, but not enough for Bush to win it.
- Michigan: traditionally this has been a Democratic state, but it’s trending Republican (the population of Detroit is shrinking, and the Republican northern and southwestern areas are growing). But Kerry will hold it.
- Minnesota: hasn’t voted for a Republican Presidential candidate since 1972 (it was the only state Mondale won in 1984), and it’s not about to start now (actually, the long-term prospects for Republicans are good here, but the state isn’t ripe for them yet).
- Nevada: has experienced massive demographic change in the past 10 years, bringing a lot of Democratic voters to what was previously a Republican stronghold. But I don’t think it’s enough to give the state to Kerry.
- New Hampshire: the Red Sox halo effect will give the state to Kerry Actually, New England Republicans tend to be conservative on economic issues and more liberal on social issues. I think the extreme social conservatism of the Bush administration will push New Hampshire into the Kerry column.
- New Mexico: this is probably the hardest state to read, but I’m giving it to Bush. I think the Hispanic and Democratic urban voters are outweighed by the rural regions and the southeastern “Little Texas” area of the state.
- Ohio: like Florida, I think the newly registered will turn out for Kerry in big numbers and give him a comfortable victory in Ohio.
- Pennsylvania: also a Kerry victory, but a close one. Outside of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the state is mostly Bush country. The battle for votes is being fought in the suburbs, but it’s (again) high turnout in the urban areas that will give the state to Kerry.
- Wisconsin: will be close, but will go to Kerry. Like Minnesota and Michigan, it’s trending Republican, and won’t be a safe bet for Democrats in the future.
That makes the final electoral vote count 306 Kerry, 232 Bush.