Tags: Post: | Kerry | Needs | Win | Only | Florida | Ohio

Post: Kerry Needs to Win Only Florida or Ohio

Sunday, 12 September 2004 12:00 AM

According to an anlysis in the Washington Post, the election has come down to this: two electoral-vote-rich states, Florida (27) and Ohio (20).

The paper says that Kerry needs to win only one of these to win the presidency.

Both campaigns already see these states as must-win battlegrounds – lose one of them and lose the election no matter what happens elsewhere.

Pennsylvania (21) also remains up for grabs.

In a state-by-state examination of which states lean toward Bush and which lean to Kerry, the Washington Post learned that both campaigns have concluded that states whose electoral votes were once thought to be available are no longer in play and that the size of the battleground has shrunk.

Both campaigns already have conceded between them a total of 30 states.

The consequences of facing reality involves decisions about where to concentrate campaign funds, manpower and other resources. In Florida, for example, recognizing that this is a must-win state, the Kerry forces have 20 offices located around the state where Al Gore had only 20 people. Both campaigns have a total of 200 people in the state, with more outside volunteers expected to arrive and swell their numbers.

The Post noted that Kerry spent much of the summer trying to expand the number of battleground states with television advertising and campaign trips to places such as Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana and Virginia. But in the past week, the Post reports, Kerry dramatically scaled back the number of states in which he is running ads.

Democratic strategists privately acknowledge that only a significant change in the overall race will put some of the states Kerry sought to make competitive back into play. Democratic hopes for victory in Missouri, for example, have diminished sharply.

Both sides thought the race was, for the most part, concentrated among 20 or 21 states, and Bush and Kerry ran television ads and campaigned personally in those states. Since Labor Day, however, the Kerry campaign and the Democratic National Committee have scaled back to 16 states, with several considered long shots within Democratic circles.

Tad Devine, a senior Kerry-Edwards strategist, told the Post that the shift in advertising dollars was a result of a decision to ensure that Kerry will be able to campaign fully in all of the truly competitive states in the final weeks:

"We did not want to be in the situation that the Democratic nominee was in four years ago of having to choose between Ohio and Florida," he said. "That choice will not have to be made this time. We have the resources to compete in those states and many, many more."

Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign, told the Post the shift by Kerry was an acknowledgement that his original goal of expanding the electoral map had failed:

"They've basically decided they're competing in 14 states and sort of ceded, for all intents and purposes, states they were in at the beginning of the year and spent a lot of money in," Dowd said.

In 2000, Bush won both Ohio and Florida. This year he appears to be ahead in Ohio, where he leads Kerry by 52 percent to 43 percent among likely voters. Among registered voters in Ohio, the race is a statistical tie, with Bush at 47 percent to Kerry's 46 percent, while in Florida the race is considered a dead heat.

Pennsylvania remains a battleground.

According to the Post, the fastest route to win the 270 electoral votes needed for victory in the race is to take Florida (27 electoral votes), Pennsylvania (21) and Ohio (20). Bush won Ohio and Florida in 2000 and both sides believe that whoever claims two of those three this year will win the election.

Kerry must pick off either Florida or Ohio or be faced with the need to capture virtually every other state still available. To do that, he must hold onto several states Al Gore won in 2000 that are now highly competitive. Pennsylvania is one of them.

With 270 electoral votes needed to win the election, four years ago Bush won 271 to Gore's 266. Now, as a result of reapportionment, the states Bush won in 2000 are worth 278 electoral votes, while Gore's are worth 260.

A Post examination of state polls and interviews with strategists in the two campaigns and the parties identified the 10 most competitive states. In order of electoral vote strength they are Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia and New Hampshire.

Of the remaining battlegrounds from earlier in the year, seven lean toward Bush: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Virginia – while four lean toward Kerry: Maine, Michigan, Oregon and Washington.

As the Post sees it, if Bush's base states are combined with the battlegrounds leaning toward him, he starts with 217 electoral votes. Kerry's base and leaners total 207. The challenge for both candidates is to find the best combination of the remaining states. The 10 states considered the most competitive account for 114 electoral votes. To win, Kerry would need 63 of them. His advisers told the Post that despite their problems, they like their chances.

But Kerry has troubles in states that Gore won. Pennsylvania appears more competitive than it was four years ago. Wisconsin, with 10 electoral votes, was one of the closest states in 2000 and remains a problem for Kerry. Democrats are worried about his soft support in the Milwaukee area and among Roman Catholics angered by Kerry's pro-abortion stance and his defiance of one of his church's most sacred doctrines concerning reception of the Eucharist.

Kerry strategists told the Post they believe they can take back New Hampshire (four electoral votes), but West Virginia, which Bush stunned the experts by winning in 2000, and Nevada (five electoral votes each) remain challenges to their campaign.

As NewsMax.com has reported, a new AP-Ipsos poll showed Bush leading Kerry just outside the margin of error, with the president's support at 49 percent, Kerry at 45 percent and independent candidate Ralph Nader at 3 percent. A month ago the Bush-Kerry matchup was tied when Nader had 6 percent.

With just two months to go, barring any big surprises, Bush appears to have a slight edge.

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According to an anlysis in the Washington Post, the election has come down to this: two electoral-vote-rich states, Florida (27) and Ohio (20). The paper says that Kerry needs to win only one of these to win the presidency. Both campaigns already see these states...
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Sunday, 12 September 2004 12:00 AM
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