Thanks to demographic changes, if John Kerry were to win the same states Al Gore did in 2000, Kerry would lose 278 to 260, instead of Gore’s 271-266 nailbiter. To win, Kerry needs to find ten EC votes somewhere. But where?
Let’s write off big parts of the map where Kerry – or probably even Jesus, if He ran as a Democrat – simply can’t win. There’s the South, short of Florida and perhaps Virginia. Everything between Kansas and Utah, and between the Rio Grande and the Canadian Border (minus New Mexico) is Bush Country, too. So what states can and should Kerry contest? It’s a short list:
Taking New Hampshire and Nevada (9 votes total) wouldn’t cut it. Ohio, Florida, Virginia, or Missouri by themselves, would. So how is Kerry doing in those states? Let’s see the latest numbers from Mason-Dixon, Rasmussen, Zogby, and others:
New Hampshire – Kerry up 6, to Bush up 9
Ohio – Bush up 3 to 8 points
Florida – a tie, up to Bush by 6
Nevada – Bush up 4
Virginia – Bush up 4
Missouri – Bush by anywhere from 2 to 14
OK, then – Florida is Kerry’s last, best, and maybe only hope. But that’s assuming an awful lot, given what’s going on in a few of Kerry’s base states.
Right now, Pennsylvania (21) and Iowa (7) are both up for grabs, Wisconsin (10) looks strong for Bush, and New Mexico (5), Minnesota (10), and Oregon (7) are all weak for Kerry. That’s 60 EC votes Kerry can no longer count on to win. Instead of fighting in Florida, he’s got to watch his back in six states he ought to have in the bag. Meanwhile, Bush’s only big worry is Florida.
Now that Kerry has exhausted the Vietnam issue both for himself (thanks to the Swift Boat Vets) and Bush (thanks to Dan Rather), he needs some fresh ammo. If what we’ve read the last couple days is any indication, Kerry thinks that Iraq is exactly the right caliber.
Brace yourselves, kids – Kerry is going to do some damage in the next week, hammering Bush on Iraq. Bush’s numbers will slip. But if Bush is vulnerable on Iraq, Kerry is even more so. He can hurt Bush, but thanks to Kerry’s history of taking every possible position on Iraq, he won’t be able to gain any traction from it.
In the meantime, Rathergate will continue to fester, and there’s not a damn thing Kerry can do to stop it – and there’s nothing Bush need do to encourage it. A hundred years from now, journalism schools will still be teaching about Dan’s Folly.
The more important question is, what about the Democrats’ Folly? In a field with Joe Lieberman (the “Let’s win the war without being total Republican bastards” candidate) and Howard Dean (the anti-war guy), the Democrats nominated a guy who is neither fish nor fowl.
Kerry voted against the Gulf War in 1991