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September 19, 2004
Swing-State Polling: Bush Holds Onto 2000 States

The Philadelphia Inquirer reviews the latest polling from the battleground states and determines that George Bush leads in all of the red states from 2000, making Kerry's chances at winning almost non-existent (via the revamped QandO):

President Bush has pulled ahead of John Kerry in six closely contested swing states that he carried in 2000, shifting the electoral landscape rightward and making it more difficult for challenger Kerry to win the White House, according to a new poll conducted by MSNBC and Knight Ridder, The Inquirer's parent company.

Bush leads in six of the seven battleground states that he won four years ago and that were considered among the most competitive this year. He leads Kerry in Arizona by 50 percent to 39 percent; in Missouri 48-41; in Nevada 50-45; in New Hampshire 49-40; in Ohio 49-42; and in West Virginia 45-44.

A seventh swing state from the Bush column, Florida, could not be surveyed accurately last week because of the disruption caused by three hurricanes.

Steven Thomma reports that both Republican and Democratic analysts consider these seven states to be the most vulnerable for Bush, and that Bush's strong showing puts Kerry in a tight spot. Bush already has gained seven electoral seats since 2000 due to reapportionment, and Kerry has to take states away from Bush in order to win.

Unfortunately, the only close race in these states is West Virginia at the moment, where the Inquirer reports that Bush has a one-point lead, making the state a dead heat. Real Clear Politics has two recent polls showing Bush leading by an average of 5 points, but one of them is the unreliable Zogby poll. West Virginia has a strong union tradition, and Kerry has a slight edge on the economy among voters there -- the only battleground state where that is true. But in the end, West Virginia represents 5 electoral votes, which doesn't even make up the reapportionment gain Bush has for this election.

The Inquirer takes a pass on assessing Florida because of the difficulties in analyzing poll results during the storm season. However, RCP does have poll results for Florida from seven separate surveys starting in mid-August. Bush led in five of the polls, tied one, and Kerry had a 0.3% lead in the other -- the Zogby poll. RCP averaging puts Bush slightly ahead in Florida.

These battleground states alone indicate that Kerry's campaign is running out of time, perhaps especially so in Ohio, which the Democrats thought they'd convert. Kerry now trails among Buckeyes well past the marging of error, in most polls by seven or more points. (One has Bush up by 12.) But the blue swing states show even more problems for Kerry, as he cannot afford to lose a single one if he wants to win.

Pennsylvania may be the biggest problem Kerry faces. Pennsylvania went for Gore in 2000, but three of four polls since August puts the state in Bush's camp, along with its 21 electoral votes. Wisconsin, with 10 electoral votes, barely went Gore in 2000 and now looks to be moving strongly towards Bush, with Gallup and Strategic Vision both putting him ahead beyond the margin of error. Even New Jersey (15 EV), a walkover for Gore in 2000, has gone to almost dead even, and one recent poll actually puts Bush ahead in this former Democratic stronghold.

These results show the Democrats the extent of the disaster that awauts them, and Kerry seems oblivious to the issues, literally and electorally. He and the Democrats promise more attacks on the President, when all indicators from national polling shows that voters want Kerry to indentify himself and the policies for which he stands. Kerry makes the mistake that all narcissists make when challenged -- they lash out with character attacks rather than maintain equilibrium and a proactive strategy.

Democrats like Terry McAuliffe and John Kerry have been calling Bush a deserter since February, and yet Bush maintains a professional and engaging strategy on the stump, challenging his opponent only on policy and his Senate record. As Kerry sinks further and further, he grasps at the reeds of personal attacks on Bush, hoping to pull himself up. That only works among the Bush-hating committed base. To everyone else, it reeks of panic and desperation, two qualities that no one likes in a Commander in Chief, especially during wartime. The battleground voters have discovered these problems in Kerry's character, and no amount of Guard bashing will reverse the trend.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 19, 2004 8:49 AM

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