10/25: President Bush continues to maintain a structural
edge in the Electoral College that has worked to his advantage
this entire campaign. However, the states that are producing
that advantage have shifted since the summer.
our initial electoral
analysis we suggested that the election would boil down
to Florida and Ohio, with Kerry having to win one of
those two states and President Bush simply needing to
carry them both to gain reelection. At the time we suggested
that one of the President 's advantages was the possibility
of offsetting a loss in Ohio or Florida by poaching some
of the Gore states (IA, WI, MN NM, and OR), giving the President
an alternate option of collecting an EC majority that Senator
Kerry really never had.
of today this alternate option, if necessary, for President
Bush is starting to look more and more like a very real
possibility. Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and New Mexico are
fully in play: eight days before the election Bush holds
leads in the RCP State Averages in all four of these states.
This is seriously complicating Kerry's strategy in getting
to 270 Electoral Votes. Conventional wisdom for months,
including RCP's, had been that whoever won two of the "big
three" Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida would almost
certainly become President.
While it may still be likely that whoever carries two out
of those three will win the election, it is not the cut
and dry proposition it was earlier. President Bush can offset
a loss in Ohio (and New Hampshire) by carrying Wisconsin
and either Iowa, New Mexico or Minnesota. He can offset
a loss in Florida (and New Hampshire), by winning three
of those four states. Winning Wisconsin, Iowa, Maine's 1
Electoral Vote and holding New Hampshire would also allow
President Bush to gain reelection while losing Florida.
the conventional wisdom completely on its head President
Bush could even lose all three of Ohio, Pennsylvania and
Florida and still win, as long as he was able to flip Michigan.
Granted, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where Kerry
would win Pennsylvania and Ohio yet lose Michigan, but with
a poll in Michigan showing the President ahead by five and
Mason-Dixon calling it a one point race, coupled with a
gay marriage initiative and Ralph Nader on the ballot (unlike
PA and OH), it's not totally impossible. In this scenario
Bush victories in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin could offset
the loss of Florida's 27 Electoral Votes and Michigan would
offset a loss in Ohio, leaving Kerry with a measly three
electoral vote pick up.
the Michigan option is a little far-fetched the other two
are not. The problem for Senator Kerry is he has no backup
plan to not winning in either Florida or Ohio. The problem
for President Bush is that Kerry is still very much alive
in both those states. All of Bush's backup Electoral scenarios
will be irrelevant if he loses FL and OH and Kerry hangs
on to PA and MI.
the race sits today, the President holds roughly a three
point lead in the national race. At the state level, using
the RCP state averages to allocate the Electoral College,
President Bush would win 306 - 232. However, the final movement
in the national polls will have an exaggerated effect on
that electoral tally. If Bush starts to pull away this week
and can close strong building back toward his 5-7 point
lead of September, that Electoral number could easily expand
to 352 - 186. A small tightening towards Kerry in the final
days from where we are today would indicate a dead heat
race, where many of those electoral scenarios mentioned
above could very well come into play. A strong break towards
Kerry and most of these states would flip his direction
leading to something like a 311 - 227 Kerry win.
an eye on the RCP National Average.
Eight days out it shows Bush ahead by roughly three points.
Where that number is a week from today will be the best
tell on how this race will turnout.
8th Analysis | Summer