Sabato's Crystal Ball

The Final Predictions

Larry J. Sabato, Director, U.Va. Center for Politics November 1st, 2004

As we conclude this amazing election campaign, we have just one question for our readers: When has an incumbent candidate ever won when he is tied with his challenger on election eve? The answer is never–at least in the age of polling that began in the 1930s. So George W. Bush needs to beat history, and the polls, to win the election tomorrow. It is possible that the vagaries of the Electoral College will enable Bush to eke out a victory, and it is also possible that the Republican Party’s get out the vote effort will equal or exceed the Democrats’ GOTV efforts. But if the Democrats are even half-right about the potential of their GOTV in producing additional new voters, then Kerry will win, perhaps more comfortably than anyone now suspects.

In just the last 48 hours, we have watched the following polls come in absolutely dead even: CNN/USA Today/Gallup, The Gallup Poll, ABC News/Washington Post, Fox News, and Reuters/Zogby. Add to this, these national surveys which have a statistical tie: CBS News/New York Times, NBC/Wall Street Journal, Pew Research, and Rasmussen. What impressed us the most is that the distinguished Gallup poll, which began its service to the nation in 1936, has for the first time ever issued its final prediction, with all undecided voters allocated, with an unprecedented total tie: 49 percent Bush, 49 percent Kerry, 1 percent Nader, 1 percent others.

We have told people in recent weeks that this is the closest presidential election we have ever followed, excepting only 1960 and 2000, which were comparably close. Not surprisingly, in 1960 and 2000 we had a virtual tie. We shall see whether it happens a third time on Nov. 2, or whether all of the accumulated polling and political analysis in the country is wrong. (Why is it that we suspect the latter?) For now, your Crystal Ball can only give you what we know, with a twist to whet your appetite for the intriguing possibility for tomorrow evening. We see Kerry surging a bit in Florida, where we just visited, and so we have given it to him. But we see Bush doing reasonably well in New Mexico, Wisconsin, and Iowa. We also think Bush is doing better in Ohio, though still behind Kerry, but for our purposes here we are letting Bush retain those 20 electoral votes. This comes out to 269-269. Unless an elector from one side can be convinced to switch to the other and give one candidate the one extra electoral needed to capture a total of 270 electoral votes by the mid-December deadline, this will mean that the election will go to the House. A switch by an elector could easily result in Kerry’s victory, since a West Virginia elector has already suggested that he will not vote for Bush (though he has also said that he will cast a blank ballot). If it does go to the House, we feel confident that the Republicans will have at least the minimum 26 state votes to elect Bush, and possibly several additional votes. We have no doubt that the Bush campaign would gladly take this option, and this map, if they could do so today.

Let us also note that if Bush holds Ohio and squeaks out Florida, as he did in 2000, then the electoral vote will not be particularly close, with Bush winning handily. Of course, Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico might not end up in the Republican column, and there could be upsets in other states as well. We have also given New Hampshire, which voted narrowly for Bush in 2000, to Kerry this time, adding four electoral votes to the Democratic column. It is important to mention that Kerry is not doing as well in Pennsylvania as he should be, but Bush appears to be gaining there. A Bush upset in Pennsylvania would totally scramble the map. Look to the Keystone State rather than some others mentioned–such as New Jersey and Hawaii–for a potential Bush breakthrough.

Dear friends and readers, this is an election that we will always remember–all of us, together. Let us hope we find a way to stay together once the divisive results are known, whichever man eventually wins. Along with you, we hope that one candidate fools the pollsters and analysts, and wins by 3 percent on the scheduled election night, so we can get back to our lives and the nation can begin to bind its electoral wounds. So pray we all.


President

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:

State Outlook (Confidence) 2000 Result Crystal Ball Says
Alaska Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Alabama Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Arkansas Republican (Low) Bush >>> Read More
Arizona Republican (Medium) Bush >>> Read More
California Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Colorado Republican (Low) Bush >>> Read More
Connecticut Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
District of Columbia Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Delaware Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Florida Democratic (Low) Bush >>> Read More
Georgia Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Hawaii Democratic (Low) Gore >>> Read More
Iowa Republican (Low) Gore >>> Read More
Idaho Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Illinois Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Indiana Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Kansas Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Kentucky Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Louisiana Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Massachusetts Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Maryland Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Maine Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Michigan Democratic (Low) Gore >>> Read More
Minnesota Democratic (Low) Gore >>> Read More
Missouri Republican (Medium) Bush >>> Read More
Mississippi Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Montana Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
North Carolina Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
North Dakota Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Nebraska Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
New Hampshire Democratic (Low) Bush >>> Read More
New Jersey Democratic (Low) Gore >>> Read More
New Mexico Republican (Low) Gore >>> Read More
Nevada Republican (Low) Bush >>> Read More
New York Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Ohio Republican (Low) Bush >>> Read More
Oklahoma Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Oregon Democratic (Low) Gore >>> Read More
Pennsylvania Democratic (Low) Gore >>> Read More
Rhode Island Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
South Carolina Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
South Dakota Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Tennessee Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Texas Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Utah Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Virginia Republican (Medium) Bush >>> Read More
Vermont Democratic (High) Gore >>> Read More
Washington Democratic (Medium) Gore >>> Read More
Wisconsin Republican (Low) Gore >>> Read More
West Virginia Republican (Low) Bush >>> Read More
Wyoming Republican (High) Bush >>> Read More
Bush: 269 Electoral Votes / Kerry: 269 Electoral Votes


Senate

Republicans hold the Senate and add to their treasure trove of seats. We project 53-46, with only the Louisiana seat probably headed for a December run-off. If we are surpsised on Tuesday it will be because Republican David Vitter has crossed the 50-percent mark giving the GOP 54 seats in the upper chamber.

State Outlook (Confidence) Current Party Crystal Ball Says
Alaska Democratic (Low) Republican Only Bush can elect Murkowski; she cannot do it on her own given the power of the nepotism anger. We give a thin edge to Democrat Tony Knowles, but Bush may pull Murkowski to victory. >>> Read More
Arkansas Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Arizona Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
California Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Colorado Democratic (Low) Republican Salazar has just enough to overcome the Coors name, or so we think. >>> Read More
Connecticut Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Florida Republican (Low) Democratic Martinez in a squeaker. >>> Read More
Georgia Republican (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Hawaii Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Iowa Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
Idaho Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
Illinois Democratic (High) Republican Our only remaining question: Will Obama cross the 70 percent mark? We think so. >>> Read More
Indiana Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Kansas Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
Kentucky Republican (Low) Republican If Kentucky were not voting so heavily for Bush, this could easily be an upset in the Senate. As it is, we think Bunning will barely pull it out. >>> Read More
Louisiana Republican (Low) Democratic This contest probably won’t be decided until December, but we lean it to Republican David Vitter, but for now we will leave this Senate race undecided. >>> Read More
Maryland Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Missouri Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
North Carolina Republican (Low) Democratic Republican Richard Burr apparently has moved ahead of Democrat Erskine Bowles, but we could be fooled on this one. We give it to Burr very tentatively. >>> Read More
North Dakota Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
New Hampshire Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
Nevada Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
New York Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Ohio Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
Oklahoma Republican (Low) Republican The Bush margin here will pull Republican Tom Coburn across the finish line, but a great race by Democrat Brad Carson. >>> Read More
Oregon Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Pennsylvania Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
South Carolina Republican (Medium) Democratic If this were an off-year race, we could imagine Tenenbaum winning, but it isn’t and we think the Bush margin will elect Republican Jim DeMint by an unimpressive margin. >>> Read More
South Dakota Republican (Low) Democratic We are giving this to Republican John Thune. We have no great confidence in the prediction, and believe it will be very close, but our sources in South Dakota tell us that there could be a Republican wave building there. >>> Read More
Utah Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
Vermont Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Washington Democratic (Medium) Democratic >>> Read More
Wisconsin Democratic (High) Democratic >>> Read More
Republicans: 53 / Democrats: 46 (including Independents) / December Run-off: 1 (LA)


House

Not much change one way or the other. Republicans could add a few seats (+3), as we predict, or drop a few seats, but they are going to be in charge unless turnout is enormous, producing upsets from coast to the coast in the few available competitive races.

State (District) Outlook Current Party Crystal Ball Says
Arizona (1) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Colorado (3) Democratic Republican >>> Read More
Colorado (7) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Georgia (3) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Georgia (12) Democratic Republican >>> Read More
Illinois (8) Democratic Republican >>> Read More
Indiana (8) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Indiana (9) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Kansas (3) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Kentucky (3) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Kentucky (4) Republican Democratic >>> Read More
Louisiana (3) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Louisiana (7) Republican Democratic >>> Read More
Nebraska (1) Republican Republican >>> Read More
New York (1) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
New York (27) Democratic Republican >>> Read More
Oregon (1) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Pennsylvania (6) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Pennsylvania (13) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Pennsylvania (15) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Pennsylvania (17) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
South Dakota (At-large) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Texas (1) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Texas (2) Republican >>> Read More
Texas (17) Democratic >>> Read More
Texas (19) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Texas (32) Republican >>> Read More
Utah (2) Democratic Democratic >>> Read More
Washington (5) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Washington (8) Republican Republican >>> Read More
Democrats: 203 (including Independents) / Republicans: 232


Governor

Not much change here with Republicans picking up one to two seats.

State Outlook (Confidence) Current Party Crystal Ball Says
Delaware Democratic (Medium) Democratic >>> Read More
Indiana Republican (Medium) Democratic >>> Read More
Missouri Republican (Low) Democratic This race still plagues us, and we are genuinely unsure, but after a lengthy Democratic control of the state house, we are guessing that Republican Matt Blunt will very narrowly edge out Democrat Claire McCaskill. >>> Read More
Montana Democratic (Low) Republican Montana is heavily Republican, but we still believe Democrat Brian Schweitzer will succeed Republican Bob Brown. >>> Read More
North Carolina Democratic (Medium) Democratic Governor Mike Easley should win a second term, though the Republican margins in this state should worry Easley a bit. >>> Read More
North Dakota Republican (High) Republican >>> Read More
New Hampshire Republican (Low) Republican We give the tinniest edge to Republican Governor Craig Benson, but would not be at all surprised to see Democrat John Lynch pull the upset. >>> Read More
Utah Republican (Low) Republican >>> Read More
Vermont Republican (Medium) Republican You can never rule out an upset of a Republican governor in this very liberal Democratic state, but we pick Governor Jim Douglas for a second term. >>> Read More
Washington Republican (Low) Democratic Like Missouri, we have gone back and forth on this one. We are going to go against the polls, which suggest that Democrat Christine Gregoire will win. The polls are probably right, but we have a suspicion in the back of our political minds that after 20 years of Democrats, Washington will elect a Republican governor in Dino Rossi. >>> Read More
West Virginia Democratic (High) Democratic Democrat Joe Manchin in a walk. >>> Read More
Republicans: 28 / Democrats: 22