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March 15, 2004


Electoral Politics and Probability

Some good analysis and back-to-reality perspective over on ABC News' excellent quasi-blog "The Note" today:
If, for the purposes of this exercise, you remove the 17 battleground states and add up the electoral votes from the states considered safe for each party, Republicans have a 190 to 168 advantage over the Democrats and begin the battle for the battlegrounds only 80 electoral votes shy of the promised land...

...And although the Kerry camp is quite confident in their ability to raise and spend $80 million by the time the convention rolls around, the president's $200 (approximately) million war chest will likely allow voters to come in contact with the Bush-Cheney message of "steady leadership" more often than with John Kerry's call for change.

As history demonstrates, the power of incumbency is impressive. Twenty-eight presidents have run for reelection with the trappings of the office surrounding them. By a ratio of nearly 2-to-1, the American people have given those presidents the opportunity to continue their service (18 to 10).

The one factor The Note doesn't mention is that Bush's greatest strength -- his incumbency -- is also his greatest weakness. Kerry doesn't need to spend a dime of that $80 million to ensure that the media will continue to report on the struggling economy, the morass in Iraq, and the questionable aspects of the war on terror. As long as Bush remains vulnerable on these points, Kerry's job is made easier. It's going to be awfully hard for Kerry to find leverage if the economy starts picking up and Osama gets caught. One thing to think about, especially in light of recent events in Spain: will another terrorist attack on American soil encourage people to vote for or against Bush? Until recently, I would think it would trigger support for him, but now that so many questions have been raised about his strategy, perhaps not.

categories: Politics
posted by adm at 3:20 PM | #