Sabato's Electoral Road Map
November 1, 2004 Update:
We don't really believe the tie, but if ever there is a year that will produce an Electoral College tie--given 10 tied polls at the end--it is 2004. We really think that if turnout hovers around 115 million to 117 million Bush has the edge, but if turnout truly skyrockets, most of those new voters will not be coming out to say, "Good job Mr. President," and Kerry will pull the upset. Here is how we guess the Electoral College will break down, state by state:
October 26, 2004 Update:
The electoral map has become as close as the overall election. We have given it to Bush by a tiny electoral majority, but there are so many significant toss-up states that this is an estimate, rather than reality. We want to mention that it is also very possible that the winning candidate will end up capturing the lion's share of those states, and that the Electoral College will do what it did well in 1960 when John F. Kennedy won the narrowest of popular vote majorities--112,827 votes--yet topped 300 in the Electoral College by winning many toss-up states by very slim margins.
Even though we have called these states tentatively, Florida, New Mexico, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, and New Hampshire appear too close to call, or, at best, states with a tiny lead to their current frontrunner. We will try again in our last update on Nov. 1 to call each and every one of the states.
The following states are closer than expected: Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, Arkansas, and, of course, all of the states listed above.
George Bush has a 50-50 chance of capturing one electoral vote in the second congressional district of Maine. He will lose Maine overall to Kerry, but Maine is one of two states--Nebraska being the other--that split their electoral votes by congressional district, with the two senatorial votes going to the statewide winner. Bush is doing relatively well in Maine's second congressional district, which is the more northern part of the state.
October 19, 2004 Update:
Now that the three presidential and one vice-presidential debates are through, it is clear that the debates in many ways served to elevate Kerry. In an ironic twist of fate, the rules that the president's campaign thought would help George W. Bush strike a convincing blow against the Democrat only kept John Kerry on message and within the allotted time. With national polls showing the president anywhere from a point to many points ahead of the Democrat, it will come down to just a few states in the Electoral College. The Crystal Ball has moved Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Louisiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia to solid Red states. That leaves--as we see it--11 states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin for a total of 125 electoral votes. Of course, some states are much, much closer than others.
October 4, 2004 Update:
It seems like an eternity since the first presidential debate, and that may be because conventional wisdom has changed almost 180 degrees. National commentators were ready to write Kerry off and give the election to Bush if he had solidly defeated Kerry in the debate, which was focused on Bush's strongest subject: foreign policy. So much for conventional wisdom. Now Kerry has taken the lead, thanks to a clear win over Bush in the debate (To Repeat: Debates Matter). It is difficult to know whether that lead is ephemeral or a stable reality, nor do we know what the specific effect is in various states. But this is where your Crystal Ball has an advantage over other political rating services: we do not jump with each new poll, but try to give an overall assessment based on all the information and factors at our disposal. We still believe Bush has a narrow lead in the Electoral College, yet we believe equally that Kerry will move ahead in the College if he sweeps the debates. As always, stay tuned.
September 21, 2004 Update:
Some of the Bush bounce has evaporated, as bounces usually do, but Bush has retained some crucial percentage points. Despite polls that range widely--from an exact tie to a 14-point Bush lead--we believe the Bush-Kerry contest is about plus-five percent in Bush's direction. This is not to be sneezed at, but it is also worth noting that given the right combination of events in Iraq, with the jobs report, and debate developments, the lead could change hands overnight. For now, we are basically holding firm on our electoral road map, though we note that Colorado is closer than expected in the Kerry direction and Pennsylvania is closer than expected in the Bush direction. Much of this will change with the debates and other domestic and foreign circumstances. We will update it again as events warrant.
September 7, 2004 Update:
Bush got a bounce, though the exact size of it is still in dispute. Nonetheless, we are ready to move several states into his column, at least temporarily. While the list may expand over the next few weeks, at the moment we see Nevada (5), West Virginia (5), and Wisconsin (10) being shaded as leaning for Bush. That brings Bush up to 284 electoral votes, 14 more than he needs for election. Kerry is at 254--still very close to victory and well within his ability to pull off on Nov. 2. We remind our readers again that this map is a work in progress, and it will change in one or both directions with some frequency between now and Election Day.
August 16, 2004 Update:
We have decided to keep the Electoral Calculus just where it is, Kerry 274 to Bush 264. We intend to update the map after whatever bounce Bush gets from the Republican convention subsides. It is clear that Florida is currently leaning to Kerry, which would be a fatal blow to Bush should it hold. We are not yet convinced that it will. On the other hand, Nevada may now be tipping slightly to Bush. But we want to see more evidence before shifting it again. West Virginia is in dispute, with the Bush campaign insisting that their private polls show Bush ahead, despite public polls showing that Kerry is narrowly out front. On the whole, we believe our map has held up well since June, but we also know that changes are coming in mid-to-late September.
With less than five months to go until Nov. 2, the candidates will travel many thousands of miles in their quest to finally park the campaign bus at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The path to the White House is a meandering one, which will take both Bush and Kerry through teetering swing states scattered across the country in order to top off their tanks with enough high-octane electoral votes to propel them to the highest elected office in the land. How will they get there? The terrain will surely shift between now and Election Day, but the Crystal Ball is happy to provide you with a method to plot each candidate's course. Here now is "Sabato's Electoral Road Map," which looks at each state individually and predicts its CURRENT electoral leaning. As the days and miles fly by and the candidates trade paint, we'll keep you posted on changes in the standings. It's sure to get intense as we get closer to November, but remember that the campaign trail is just like the speedway--rubbin' is racin'.
All 50 states are clickable, and in addition to our unique analysis, information is provided to give you, the reader, a basic idea of what is going on in the state. Included is the Bush-Gore margin from the 2000 election, the number of electoral votes each state possessed in 2000, the number each state will have in this year's election, the members of the Congressional delegation, the breakdown by party, and their margin of victory in their last race.
So what does it show? If the election were held in June 2004, Kerry would narrowly defeat President Bush by 274 to 264 electoral votes.
However, it's ESSENTIAL to note the following:
The Crystal Ball will update the map at regular intervals--and more frequently with the onset of Labor Day.
REMEMBER ABOVE ALL: Where we begin does not predict where we will end. Buckle your seat belts and prepare yourselves for a ride so wild that no amusement park could insure it.