Without further ado, here’s my prediction for the Electoral College in 2004:
This results in Bush 310/Kerry 228, and a resounding Bush win.
Read on for the method behind the madness.
“It’s The War, Stupid”
The first and most important factor here is simple: *It’s the war, stupid*. Bush has an advantage in the double digits in national security. National security is key to this election. Ergo, Bush has the advantage. It’s as simple as that. For all the doubts people have, they don’t trust John Kerry to be Commander in Chief. For instance, looking at the data from the ABC/WaPo tracking poll we see Bush with a 12-point lead on handling terrorism. We see a strong lead on Iraq.
The American people do not trust Senator Kerry to lead this country in war. They may agree with him on the economy, they may dislike Bush on social issues, and if this weren’t a wartime election, Bush would be toast right now. But for many voters, they simply do not trust a man like Senator Kerry to lead on the most crucial issue of our times.
Victory Is Spelled G-O-P G-O-T-V
Add to that analysis the GOP getting their vote out like never before. 2002 saw the first time that the GOP had a top-notch voter identification drive. This year they’re ready to do one better. The GOP has never been this organized or this effective. States like Wisconsin and Iowa that used to be safely Democratic are now swing states. States like Pennsylvania and New Jersey are even much closer than they were. Much of this is due to the Republicans doing what it takes to get voters to the polls. This massive voter drive will propel the GOP to have the highest numbers they’ve ever had.
Contrast this to the Democrats, who have outsourced their efforts to poorly-trained 527 organizations. Most of these 527s are trying to get registrations for cash, and they don’t care if the voters show up or even exist at all. Groups like ACORN, America Coming Together, and others are nothing more than electoral mercenaries for the Kerry camp. Thanks to 2000, voter fraud is harder than it was, and the Democrats are going to try to steal this election, but they won’t succeed. Like the Dean machine early this year, the Democrat’s GOTV is more smoke and mirrors than real substance. While Bush volunteers are motivated, well-trained, and providing personal contact between voters and the campaign, the Democrats are using 527s to get out their vote, and I have a feeling that will cause a backlash in key states like Ohio.
Finally, the upper Midwest usually votes as a bloc. As Iowa and Wisconsin go, Minnesota will go too. I’ve little expectation that Bush will carry Michigan, but it’s within the realm of possibility. The Minnesota Republican Party is one of the best organized in the country now, and 2002 proved that the Republicans have what it takes to get their candidates into office. Don’t be surprised if Minnesota turns into a red state, even if the margin is slim. Based on the polls, I’d say that Iowa and Wisconsin also have a strong chance at going red.
Kerry Is Playing Defense
If Bush wins Ohio and Florida, it’s over. Bush has only lost one red state from 2000: New Hampshire (which may be closer than I’m predicting). Bush has to defend Ohio and Florida, with Florida likely being safe for him. Kerry has more than likely lost New Mexico (Bush is ahead by an average of 4 points), and he’s playing defense in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Hawaii. All Bush needs is 11 electoral votes from the base of state’s he’s already picked up. Kerry has a much longer uphill battle to fight.
I’m much more confident of a Bush win than I was a while ago. Right now Bush has most of the advantage, and I have a feeling that the combination of Bush’s advantage on terrorism, better GOP GOTV, and Kerry’s inability to close the sale will lead Bush to victory. There will be a lot of 9/11 Democrats who will vote for Bush solely on the war, and they’ll probably have to take a shower afterwards. They’ll vote on the war, and only on the war. I have a feeling that there are a lot of people who are closet Bush supporters who will tilt the balance on Election Day. It doesn’t even have to be many of them – a few percent here and there are enough to tip the balance.
If the evidence that undecideds are breaking 60/40 for Bush is true, and the CBS poll is right that early voters are for Bush 51-43, it’s looking like a strong finish for the President.
At the end of the day, this race comes down to one question: who will keep America safe? In no wartime election has the more dovish candidate won in this country. I do not believe that this election will be any different.
(As a point of comparison, you can see what other pundits and bloggers are predicting here, thanks to Les Jones.)