For a few weeks I’ve been saying George Bush will be the first Republican to lose Ohio and win the White House. That is still a possibility, if things break his way. But I believe enough things have broken against this unpopular wartime president to elect Kerry on Tuesday. A few factors:
– The terrorism factor. For months, Bush has held a huge lead on the question of “who do you trust on the war on terror?” That lead got gut-punched after a week of al QaaQaa and Osama. Look at Gallup. Two weeks ago, Bush lead on that question 61-36. One week ago, he led 59-37. Now he leads 54-43, and among registered voters, he only leads 52-43. Since even Bush will tell you 9/11 and terror are his best issues, that spells doom.
– Loss of confidence. In 2002, post-Afghan war, Bush’s approval hung around 65 percent and he had a monolithic amount of trust on national security, and he campaigned to win a 53-47 percent GOP victory. But the swing voters who trusted him in 2002 have lost faith. They’re not willing to give the benefit of the doubt any more.
– Swing state economics. Voters in the rust belt have staggered more in this economy than voters in the safe Bush states. They’ve lost manufacturing jobs and they’re shelling out a lot of money for gas. Bush is underperforming in all of these states compared to his 2000 polls, except for Wisconsin.
– Democratic motivation. Republicans will have their best GOTV campaign in modern history. Democrats will still do it better. There are simply less Americans weeping at “Ashley’s Story” ads and waving giant golden W’s than there are 2000 and 2002 burn-outs who have become incensed by the Iraq war and the sluggish jobs situation. Do voters like to vote FOR candidates instead of AGAINST them? If that was 100% true, Bush wouldn’t have run such a vicious campaign against Kerry. His support among nominal Republicans is overrated, whereas Kerry and Edwards’ support is the most motivated since Truman’s in 1948.
Here’s what I see. All times are ET.
7:00 – Polls close in Indiana, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, Vermont, New Hampshire and Virginia. Instant calls are made in the first 5 states, and Bush has the traditional Republican lead of 42-3. New Hampshire goes for Kerry soon thereafter, and it’s 42-7.
7:30 – Virginia is called next for Bush, and it’s 55-7. Then North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio close. The first two states go to Bush, giving him 75-7. Ohio is too close to call, but Bush is underperforming compared to 2000.
8:00 – The East Coast starts closing, and Kerry reverses his lopsided numbers. Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Michigan all go Kerry. Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee all go Bush. New Jersey and Pennsylvania go Kerry soon thereafter. Now it’s 125 Bush, 103 Kerry. Florida is too close to call.
8:30 – Arkansas closes and, after 10 minutes, goes to Bush. 131-103.
9:00 – New York goes to Kerry, Texas goes to Bush. Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming go to Bush, while Michigan, Minnesota and Rhode Island go for Kerry. New Mexico flips to Bush, giving him the first steal of the race so far. Colorado, Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida are all too close. Now it’s 200 Bush, 165 Kerry.
9:00-something – Ohio is called for Kerry. The flip from 2000 makes it Bush 200, Kerry 185.
10:00 – Montana, and Utah go to Bush for 208 votes total. Nevada and Iowa are too close to call.
11:00 – Big movement for Kerry. Washington, Oregon, and California fall to him easily. Hawaii is called surprisingly early. North Dakota and Idaho go to Bush. Now it’s 262 Kerry, 215 Bush.
11:00-something – Iowa and Florida go to Kerry, and he wins the presidency.
12:00-something – Alaska, Nevada and Wisconsin go to Bush, Colorado goes to Kerry. Final result – Kerry 305, Bush 233.