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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

How Do YOU Rank the Swing States?

Posted by DavidNYC

It's a debate I have often, both with myself and with others: Which states are the bona-fide top-tier swing states, the real battlegrounds, the swingiest of the swing? I suppose there are a few ways you could define this category: True "toss-up" states which you think are really 50-50 to go either way; states which could flip from 2000 without any other states flipping; states where the most time/money/effort is being spent by the campaigns; close states with the most EVs at stake. But all these ideas get at essentially the same thing.

Put another way, how would you rank the the swing states, from "most swingy" to "least swingy?" At the top of my list, I'd put Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, West Virginia and maybe Nevada & Oregon and then maybe Minnesota. Some states are definitely at the bottom of the list. For example, I can't imagine us winning Arizona but not winning New Mexico. And I can't imagine us losing Washington but winning Oregon.

So how do you rank the swing states?

Posted at 08:30 PM in General | Technorati


My most important swing states are Florida, Ohio, and Missouri. After that it's Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Here's why. Kerry must and should hold the latter three. If he doesn't then this thing will probably not be very close and Bush will win (likewise, but even more so, for OR, WA and NM). So, if those states go right, then the whole thing comes down to FL, OH, and MO. Kerry needs to win one of the 3 to be President. I believe that either this scenario plays out or the election will swing our way and Kerry will pick up some unexpected states like Nevada, Arizona, Virginia, Tennessee, or Arkansas

Posted by: Randy at August 11, 2004 09:05 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Didn't Gore win New Mexico & Wisconsin? Or are you including states that could lean the other way too?

Anyway, I'd put New Hampshire at the TOP! I'd also put Colorado near the top. Their economy has been in the tank, and their demographics have been shifting in the DEMs' direction (I think). Also New Hampshire.

Posted by: Jason at August 11, 2004 09:09 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

You know, I guess I should have included NH, but I feel as though it's already flipped. In other words, I think it's already a Kerry state, and is as likely to flip back to Bush as Arizona is to flip our way.

Posted by: DavidNYC at August 11, 2004 09:16 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It still comes down to Florida. Bush can't win without Florida. Kerry could--he would have to carry two small states, two out of three of NH, W Virginia, and Nevada, or carry all three and carry all of the states that Gore carried in '00.

Posted by: flatblade at August 11, 2004 09:37 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I actually had to consider this very seriously the other day. I'm a lawyer (my sympathies re: early interviews, David, by the end of all of them you'll feel like you're running for office, too, but I'm sure you'll get an offer) and have volunteered to make sure that registered voters are (1) permitted to vote, and (2) that all votes are accurately counted (which is primarily a Democratic concern). Seeing as I have to take off and pay my way down there, these were the states I volunteered for, in order:

(1) Florida (still too many unresolved voter access issues, Kerry is trending well there)
(2) Missouri (Kerry is pretty much even there right now)
(3) Ohio (I would be willing to bet that Ohio stays in Bush's column, but not by much)
(4) Nevada (quite possibly a Democratic pickup, especially CD 3)

Then working defense:

(5) New Mexico (2000 was close)
(6) Iowa
(7) Wisconsin

The last two are definitely Bush's best chances for a pickup. (WV will, I think, break for Bush and NH will break for Kerry). Remember - even Clinton won and lost different states the second time around. In my opinion, it's possible that Kerry picks up Florida and Missouri and loses Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin. It's not a bad trade. Better if we can keep Iowa and Wisconsin in our column, though.

Posted by: Jack at August 11, 2004 10:07 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hey David,

I love your site, and check at least a few times daily - Thanks! I live in Hoboken by the way, your neighbor to the west (although I think you said you were moving to DC).

Anyhow, the "swingiest" states in my view, for this election thus far, are the following - from most to least swingy:

West Virginia
Iowa (although Kerry has maintained a slight lead for a long time)
Florida (although leaning more towards Kerry daily)

States once swingy now becoming solid Kerry - Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Maine

States still somewhat swingy but leaning more towards Kerry - New Hampshire, Wisconsin, New Mexico

States once swingy now becoming solid Bush - NONE - YEEHA!! (ok, well maybe Louisiana)

States still somewhat swingy but leaning towards Bush - Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina, Virginia

Posted by: Peter at August 11, 2004 10:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

FL by a mile. If Kerry wins FL he can lose both of his most vulnerables (WI and IA) and still win the election. OH would allow the loss of either WI or IA (but not both), but I don't think OH is realistic (at least as the first state to go).

NH is certainly a possible Kerry pickup, but it is frustratingly unhelpful in electoral math.. combine it with WV or NV and it still only adds up to a 269-269 tie (which is a Bush win at the end of the day). WV and NV as a combo has some promise though.

Posted by: Patrick McManus at August 11, 2004 10:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Hmm, fun topic:

Already blue, and not changing back, no way, no how

Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington

True blue: it'd take a disaster to change these red

Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin

Swinging blue this year -- and welcome home!

New Hampshire, Nevada, West Virginia

The true battleground -- states that are winnable but not yet won (roughly in order of winnability...)

Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas

Longshots, but hope is on the way!

Arizona, Colorado, Ohio


Louisiana, North Carolina

Penalty box


My prediction

Kerry, 274-286 electoral votes, depending on Missouri.

Posted by: osterizer at August 11, 2004 11:00 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

N��mero UNO: Missouri--They always seem to pick the candidate who wins the White House, and I think it could truly go either way this year. Flip a quarter, and let's hope it lands BLUE! This state may very well be the one that decides the final outcome.

N��mero DOS: Florida--It will be another nail-biter, and I wouldn't be surprised if it's not one of the last states to have a winner declared. I give Bush a slight edge because of his brother, who certainly helped him to win/steal Florida the last time around.

N��mero TRES: Ohio--No Republican has ever become president without winning the Buckeye State. On the other hand, Ohio has never voted for a Democrat from New England. Ohio is more Southern than Midwestern (except for the NE corner) and my gut feeling is Ohio will stay put in the red column, but it will be VERY CLOSE. Should Kerry carry Ohio, this will be the nail in Bush's coffin.

N��mero CUATRO: Iowa--This is the Gore state that perhaps Kerry has the greatest threat of losing. It'll be close, but I think he will hold on to it for the Democrats.

N��mero CINCO: Wisconsin--Another state that I think will stay in the blue column, but not without making us all very nervous. It will be a long night if Kerry loses both Iowa and Wisconsin.

N��mero SEIS: New Mexico--It ended in a virtual tie last time around, but I think The Land of Enchantment is trending more towards the Democrats. That said, it would be a minor upset should Kerry lose it.

N��mero SIETE: Oregon--I honestly think Kerry will prevail here, but this is the most vulnerable previously blue state by far on the West Coast. It would be a moderate upset to find Oregon in the red column.

N��mero OCHO: Minnesota--I think it will be close, but for Bush to win it, it will be a moderate upset.

N��mero NUEVE: West Virginia--I think in the end this very conservative state will vote for Bush, though it's not out of Kerry's grasp. A moderate upset should it find itself in the blue column.

N��mero DIEZ: Nevada--Hey, it has Las Vegas, so it's a swingin' state! If I had to bet half my salary, I'd say it once again votes for Bush--but not by much.

I think all of the above states will have us pretty worked up on election night. The following states never were swingers or were swingers but no longer are: For Bush--NC, ARK, TN, LA, VA, AZ, CO; for Kerry--NH, WA, PA, MI and ME. I would place this bunch in the "solid" Bush and Kerry columns. Should any of them flip, I would regard it a major upset.

Posted by: Pepe at August 11, 2004 11:08 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

For what it's worth, recent polls can be used calculate the current probability of a win.

>95% for Bush: AR, OH (though note volatility here).

>95% for Kerry: IA/MI/MN/NH/NM/OR/PA/WA/WI.

In the middle are seven states, in all of which 2% of voters changing their minds could change the outcome. Ranking from Democratic-leaning to Republican-leaning, we have


Of these, only AZ leans strongly R. The obvious heavyweights are FL and MO.

I am not making statements about where things are headed, just where things are now. There are more calculations here.

Posted by: Sam Wang at August 11, 2004 11:26 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

To follow up -- maybe I'm overly optimistic and I hope I'm not jinxing things -- but I honestly think that the swingiest states (in terms of CLOSEST margin) will end up being Colorado, Arizona and Virignia. IF this ends up being the case (even if they all go to Bush), Bush should be delivering his concession speech by midnight EST.

Posted by: Jason at August 11, 2004 11:50 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

One last follow-up. I'm surprised to see people predicting Ohio going to Bush. Ohio has lost more than 250,000 jobs since the end of 2000 and it shows no sign of turning around! That's a 5% drop, compared to 1% nationally (and a 3% INCREASE in Florida). Don't underestimate the extent to which people vote with their wallets / pocketbooks. I could easily see Ohio going to Kerry and Florida going to Bush.

Posted by: Jason at August 12, 2004 12:04 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Echoing what Jason said, I'm surprised to see more than one person think that MO is more likely that OH. I definitely feel OH is more likely than MO, just based on polling and general voting trends. Great thread so far.

Posted by: DavidNYC at August 12, 2004 12:58 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This is my analysis
Washington - Kerry
Oregon - Kerry
Nevada - EHEHHHH i gotta give Kerry edge - FOR NOW
Arizona - Probably Bush
New Mexico - Kerry
Colorado - Bush
Louisiana - Bush
Arkansas- Clinton factor may apply um i say it goes BLUE
Tennessee - Stays Bush
Missouri - Too close to call but slanting Bush
Iowa - Kerry barely
Wisconsin - See Iowa
Minnesota - Kerry
Michigan - Kerry
Ohio - Too close to call but gut says red
Pennsylvania - KERRY KERRY
West Virginia - I say it goes to its roots
North Carolina - Unfortunatly Bush
Virginia - stays Bush but closer than you think
New Hampshire - Definately flips goes Kerry
Maine Stays Kerry but not by much
now your wondering what about FLORIDA
MY GUT SAYS KERRY CAUSE IF BUSH WINS IT MAY LOOK TAINTED GWB abandons Jeb soon if it keeps up this way


THE WHITE HOUSE GOES TOO.................

Posted by: Cary Wolovick at August 12, 2004 01:10 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I know I'm crazy but in all the elections I've ever witnessed, voter opinion never remained completely stable. The last three months of the election cycle always shifts. (think Gore v Bush, Dukakis v Bush). I still think it's going to be a blowout.

What are the fundamentals at work? Bush is running a very expensive negative campaign that has flopped. His approval numbers are tanking. His post 9/11 patriotic luster is wearing thin and the real Bush/Cheney is showing itself as quite unattractive. The notion that we "need" Bush to protect us from bad guys is sounding increasingly silly. Their policies (pro-rich, pro-pollution, pro-war presidency) are innately unpopular. Bush's on-stage abilities tend to crumble when he loses his message (compare his debate with Ann Richards v his last press conference). Expect anti-American displays at the Olympics and a flat RNC. The Republicans have lost their fabled unity. They are a little panicky.

Democrats are now more unified than at any time since FDR. The degree of passion is something I have not seen in 30 years. Kerry/Edwards are very aggressive in both campaign defense and campaign offense. Their message resonates; Kerry's approval rating is always higher with voters who have actually heard him. The desire for change is fierce. The last time I witnessed this intensity for change was in 1980, only then, the liberals had exhausted themselves and RR seemed like a new beginning to the vox populi. In 1980, JC & RR were neck and neck until the last few days when the final trend switched big for change.

My definition of a swing state is any state that Bush won by less than 20%. All the Gore states are safe Kerry states. That assumes an unusually low Republican turnout, an unusually high Democratic turnout, nearly all Naderites switching when it counts, and the independents mostly voting for change. It takes a little switching in popular vote to turn into a big electoral landslide.

Since Gore actually won Florida, Florida is on my "safe" column. The only exceptions to my rule is 1) New Hampshire: a safe Kerry state (New England loyalty). 2) South Dakota: a swing state riding on Tom Dashle's coattails as the South Dakotans come to his hometown defense against the national Republican onslaught.

The swing states in order of pro-Kerry are: West Virginia, Nevada, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Colorado, South Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, Mississippi and South Dakota. The rest of the Bush states are solid.

The worst case scenario is Kerry 291-247, a squeaker. The best case is the blowout, Kerry 465-73. Bush would only win Texas and the rustic West.

My prediction: 465-73.

Posted by: jogabr at August 12, 2004 01:46 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

So how do you rank the swing states?

An excellent question. I'm going to post my ranking and then look at what others have posted and see how they compare.

From Most Swingerific to Most Solid:

FL / MO / OH / WV / NV / TN / AR / WI / MN / NH / ME // IA / CO / AZ / PA / OR / NM / VA / MI / NC / WA / LA

The double line indicates where I think the borderline currently is (it's also the half-point in this 22-state list). It's not that I think the states below the line aren't worth trying for, but I think that the law of diminishing returns might say to let them go.

That count puts 5 Kerry and 6 Bush states on the more solid side of the line, and 4 Kerry, 4 Bush and 3 toss-ups on the swing side. (Assignments according to my current e.c. status estimation.)

Now, let me see what others said.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at August 12, 2004 02:01 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Interesting. Am I missing some sign of commonality here, because I don't particularly see a cumulative wisdom ranking emerging from these comments, except perhaps that Florida, Missouri and Ohio are keys?

(In any event, that's certainly been said before here by a number of people, although the last time I said something like it myself, it was FL, OH & *PA*. PA's now pretty solidly Kerry's, so shifting to MO makes sense.)

BTW,, I miscounted the states in my own list. In the more solid half of the list, six are Kerry's (IA,PA,OR,NM,MI,WA) and five are Bush's (CO,AZ,VA,NC,LA).

My own list of 22 "swing" states that I'm tracking is probably one of the more inclusive I've seen -- and it was 21 before I added NC when Edwards was picked, but that doesn't seem to be a happening thing. Still, right now I'd advise everyone keeping a close watch on South Carolina, which could turn out to be swingier than NC.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at August 12, 2004 02:15 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


You didn't include Missouri on your list in the main entry. ?

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at August 12, 2004 02:16 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I love all this state-by-state analysis, and if the things stays pretty close, it will be exciting. But I think the more likely scenario is that events in the next couple months (hard to foresee) will turn the national tide one way or another [the economy, Iraq and social extremism make it more likely to go to Kerry].

But the MAIN reason I'm so convinced that Kerry will win big is simply that Bush has ceded the center (politically) and Kerry has adroitly picked it up. That's the mistake that Goldwater made in 1964 & McGovern in 1972; the only time I can think of an INCUMBENT doing this is Bush Sr. in 1992. You could say that Reagan ceded the center to Carter in 1980 but still won (that's the only exception I can think of). Reagan also did so in 1984, but Mondale certainly did not pick it up.

Posted by: Jason at August 12, 2004 03:30 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

However NH goes, so goes Ohio. I say NH and Ohio -- Kerry. Tennessee, Arkansas, and W. Va. -- Kerry

Posted by: Shar at August 12, 2004 03:37 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

However NH goes, so goes Ohio.

Shar, what are you basing that on? I don't see any correlation between NH and Ohio.

Great thread, and based on the opinions so far, it's looking like Ohio, Missouri and Florida are the kings of swing!

Posted by: Pepe at August 12, 2004 08:46 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment



Posted by: BO at August 12, 2004 11:11 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In the simulations I run for my own electoral college predictor (http://www.schak.com/270/), I keep track of the statistical correlations between the result of the national race and the result of each state separately. The swingiest states seem to be ones that are big (and thus can influence the election strongly) and whose poll numbers are somewhat near the national poll numbers, so that they could swing the nation if the nation were more evenly divided nationally (right now Kerry is clearly ahead in the popular vote). Notable omissions from this list: WA, LA, NJ, DE, and ME(2nd), which are at .028, .0079, 0, .085, and .045 respectively.

WI .70
WV .68
OH .67
FL .56
PA .51
IA .42
MN .40
MO .38
AR .368
MI .366
VA .32
NH .25
NV .22
CO .18
AZ .16
NM .14
OR .13
TN .11
NC .10

Posted by: Ben Schak at August 12, 2004 11:35 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Interesting analysis, Ben. The omitted states make perfect sense - they are either only marginally swingy or are non-swing altogether (NJ, DE).

Posted by: DavidNYC at August 12, 2004 11:45 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Even though I crunch economic numbers for a living, I have no time to analyze elections quantitatively - I rely on you and your wonderful readers to do that. I base my qualitative analysis on the information that I absorb daily from all sources. For what it's worth, here goes.

FL - I'll believe that FL goes blue when I see it. What I would like to know before taking that leap of faith is more about the Senate race to replace Bob Graham. Do the Dems have a good candidate or one who will hurt the top of the ticket?

NC - Can Bowles help K/E? Can Edwards help Bowles?

NH is blue.

WV should be but who knows how high coal prices sound to miners.

OH goes blue only because my 76-year old Taft Republican Korean vet lifelong Republican is leaning towards K/E because of the deficit issue. OH Republicans are fiscal conservatives and they feel let down by Bush on that front. Coupled with job losses and health care costs, Kerry should pound away there until the last minute. (Don't let Donna Brazile tell you otherwise.)

IA & WI have Democratic governors. I feel more confident about Vilsack than about Doyle but believe that both states will stay blue.

NV - East CA should become a solid blue state. The tourists may be Republicans, but the voters are low paid workers who serve them and the retirees. They have different issues.

NM has to be blue with Richardson's leadership.

AZ stays red unless McCain bails out on Bush - not likely.

I consider all southern states to be fantasies for Dems unless the country turns decisively against Bush so MY NUMBER ONE SWING STATE IS ...


I would like to believe that the good people of the Show Me State have seen enough of Bush but recent voting patterns - Republican Governor and Senators - suggest otherwise. Maybe Edwards can move to Branson for the last two weeks of October.

Posted by: Profmsf at August 12, 2004 12:02 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

It seems that most of you think Minnesota is going to lean Kerry, or is already in the bag. This is a mistake. This is a state that has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee ten of the last eleven elections (Nixon in '72 being our lone mistake in that span), but it is a state that has trended Republican in the last 4 years.

Rasmussen shows a 49-42 percent lead for Kerry in Minnesota, but a more recent St. Paul Pioneer Press/Minnesota Public Radio poll showed the race at a statistical dead heat, at 45-44 for Kerry. Also, the Democratic Mayor of St. Paul, Randy Kelly, just endorsed Bush. This does not mean that Bush will win any St. Paul precincts. But it does mean that he will lose them by less than he would have before. And that could mean everything.

Nothing is decided in Minnesota, and while it's certainly less pivotal than Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Florida, don't count our 10 electoral votes before they hatch.

Posted by: Chris at August 12, 2004 12:47 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment


I have already posted my swing states above. I was wondering however if anyone could email me the list of states that will have at least some electronic voting for the presidential election. I am very concerned about e-voting and would like to know which states will have it. I know Florida and Ohio will have some precincts e-voting - could someone please email me the rest? My email address is phbunnell@aol.com

Posted by: Peter at August 12, 2004 01:18 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Minnesota is trending Republican? I had no clue about this disturbing trend, Chris. What do you attribute the Republican gains to? I have always felt that Minnesota was one of the most Democratic strongholds west of the Mississippi.

Posted by: Pepe at August 12, 2004 01:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

NC - Can Bowles help K/E? Can Edwards help Bowles?

Edwards can help Erskine Bowles more than Bowles can help the Edwards ticket. It is shaping up to be a close contest between Erskine Bowles and Richard Burr here in North Carolina.

Posted by: Pepe at August 12, 2004 01:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Regarding Minnesota:

I always had Minnesota pegged as a state where Nader made things much closer than they really were. Nader got something like 120K votes out of 2.2 million or so? that's a little over 5% of the vote. I don't know how many of those people will vote for Nader a second time around, especially now that Minnesota is a "swing state".

Posted by: Nate at August 12, 2004 01:52 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

In the event of national tie--I envision that Kerry's best odds of winning are to take New Hampshire and Florida, and possibly lose Wisconsin and Iowa for a 272-268 win.

Closest Kerry states in a national popular vote tie scenario.

1. Florida
2. New Mexico
3. Minnesota
4. New Hampshire
5. Pennsylvania
6. Michigan
7. Oregon

Closest Bush states under same scenario

1. Iowa
2. Wisconsin
3. Nevada
4. Ohio
5. Missouri
6. West Virginia
7. Arkansas

a three or four (i,e 51.5-48.5 or 52-48 of 2 party vote) point victory by Kerry moves the swing line between Missouri and West Virginia or thereabouts.

Posted by: Keith Brekhus at August 12, 2004 03:45 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I too love all this focus on polling...feel a bit silly because as everyone does the requisite hand-wringing about only following the "horse-race" and not the "policy" debates, I think: "Hey, but that's my favorite part!"

OK, here goes:

*Missouri: Gut says it stays red
*Florida: I think that Kerry just might pull this out, though remember, it's an awfully shady state
*West Virginia: Kerry is doing his darndest here, but it's become in just one election cycle a tough place for Dems...still JayRock and Byrd are really going to try to make this state work
*Arkansas: I think it becomes a Kerry state by a squeaker -- and also because Kerry lets Clinton campaign for him there
*Iowa: Also a squeaker for Kerry...but very nervous about this one...lot of growth in fundamentalist circles here, a bit like...
*Minnesota: Though I think that Kerry will win this one a bit easier
*Wisconsin: On the other hand, this could be scary close...in the end a Kerry squeaker
*Nevada: More of a wish here...though I think it probably stays red
*Ohio: I tend to be a pessimist about Ohio...whenever you think it's going to do the "right thing" (left in this case, ), it never ceases to disappoint...I fear it's Red...big GOTV machine from the GOP here

And then of course, the signs that things are breaking well for Mr. Kerry: if Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and even Georgia shift to blue.

Now, the great fears: 1) a lot of key swing states with anti-Gay marriage amendments that could drive up turnout by the conservative Christian base; 2) some awful, unspeakable Al Qaeda event that could rally support around this awful President again...

...barring this, however, the great hope I have is that Dems are so angry and so unified this year that most polls are underestimating Kerry's strength because turnout could be really, really high...and Kerry wins 302-236.

Great site, David...keep up the good work!

Posted by: Paul from Philly at August 12, 2004 06:21 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I had detailed analysis of all the swing states but got disconnected when I was two-thirds finished typing. I'm not gonna write it all again, but will still rank the states from swingiest to least swingy....or at least how I see them falling come November 2....

1. Ohio
2. Nevada
3. Wisconsin
4. Minnesota (my home state)
5. Oregon
6. Florida (I'm guessing it goes Bush unless Kerry has a five-point-or-better lead in the polls the weekend before the election)
7. Iowa (can't imagine how this could go Bush)
8. New Mexico
9. New Hampshire (likely Kerry, but probably by less than what many of us are hoping for)
10. Maine (we've been cocky about this one....perhaps irrationally, particularly since the electoral vote could easily end up divided here)
11. Arizona (high number of undecideds make it anyone's ballgame here)
12. Pennsylvania (this will be less of a landslide for Kerry than what polls currently suggest)
13. Arkansas (Kerry's best chance in the South, but the gay marriage amendment on the ballot is likely to be the nail in his coffin)
14. Washington (likely Kerry, but let's not get too cocky)
15. Virginia (DC suburbs likely to make things marginally interesting..but Bush will prevail comfortably)
16. Michigan (Kerry's safest "swing state")
17. West Virginia (not even close...a booming coal economy and God, guns, gays and glory will help Bush win WV by an even bigger margin than last time)
18. Louisiana (Bush won't do as well here as what recent polls suggest, but he's still a lock).
19. Colorado (bad news from Iraq in the month before the election will help Kerry peel off some suburban Denver women...otherwise Bush in a walk)
20. Tennessee (I'm not buying recent polls here, but even if they're true, Bush won't have to work to hard to remind Southern "swing voters" who their daddy is)
21. North Carolina (Not even close to being a swing state...Bush by double-digits after the debates and heavy media coverage in the final weeks of the campaign)

Posted by: Mark at August 12, 2004 07:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Chris (re: Minnesota)

The margin was close in 2000, but Nader took 5.2% of the Minnesota vote, and without his significant presence, I think that'll help Kerry. This is a state that went for Mondale, Dukakis, and Carter twice. (And yes, I know Mondale was a native son, but as we saw in 2000, that's no guarantee.)

My gut feeling is that any state that could elect Jesse "The Body" Ventura has a healthy skepticism for major-party rhetoric -- and has a real distaste for Bush's lies.

Not that I'm considering it in the bag, but I think Minnesota is very likely to stay blue.

Posted by: osterizer at August 12, 2004 07:39 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I forget to rate Missouri in my swing state averages. I think it'll be pretty safe for Bush at the end of the day given that Bush will effortlessly sell his social conservative platform to the all of the Southern and border states (except possibly Florida). Let's put it between Arkansas and Washington.

As for Minnesota, I live here and can tell you it is a vastly different place than it was a decade ago. The state is being completely overwhelmed by affluent suburbs and exurbs of Minneapolis-St. Paul. It's not even close to being the same place where Mondale and Dukakis won in the 80's, or even the same place where Paul Wellstone won two Senate terms for that matter. We're well on our way to being a long-term red state if current trends continue, as all evidence suggests it will. Every passing year fills Minnesota's suburban fringe with tens of thousands of new yuppies that have absolutely no respect for the populist tradition of Old Minnesota. If Kerry pulls Minnesota out this time, it's likely to be the end of the Democratic Presidential era here.

Posted by: Mark at August 12, 2004 08:34 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Woman's intuition, plus the fact that in the last national election cycles, Ohio and NH went exactly the same way with similar percentages. Ohio and NH went for Clinton in '92, '96, then for Bush narrowly in 2000.

I still say OH and NH -- Kerry in 2004.

Posted by: Shar at August 12, 2004 10:11 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Well, I'm not going to argue against women's intuition! Hope you're intuition is right, Shar! :-)

Posted by: Pepe at August 12, 2004 10:59 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

This is an interesting discussion, but one question keeps popping up in my mind that I consider most important now. At this time Kerry is in a nice position, with a respectable lead in the electoral college vote. The question that keeps popping up is "Should Kerry now narrow down the number of states in which he's campaigning or continue looking to add more swing states in the fold, such as Virginia and North Carolina?" The answers to this question would involve two different strategies.

The first one would involve narrowing down the number of states in which he's campaigning by removing states such as Virginia, North Carolina, and probably several others that he might win, in order to concentrate funds and energy on strengthening his position in states that would guarantee him the election with a Kerry victory. The question is how much can he expect to improve his position in key states, when voters are already so strongly aligned to their candidate of choice? In this strategy, Bush would have to continue campaigning hard in states that Kerry drops from his list, since they would still be up in the air. Thus, Kerry could, presumably, spend more effort than Bush in states that are considered keys to his victory.

The second strategy would be to basically continue what's been working and that's to broaden the swing state map by adding more red states; therefore putting more states in play, while giving Kerry a greater chance of picking up an extra state or two, in addition to the Gore states of 2000. This strategy has worked great thus far, but so many states remain close enough that an "October Surprise" might have a devestating effect by tipping the scales enough to favor Bush in too many swing states for a Kerry victory.

Thus, it comes down to either strengthening his position in key states, at the risk of possibly losing the election if just one state is lost, or strengthening, or maintaining, the current number of swing states, at the risk of losing the election if the scales are slightly tipped by an "October Surprise" or some other swing in Bush's favor. I'm not sure I've presented this very well, but I'm curious what others think? Should Kerry drop some of his target states? And if so, when should he do it and which states should be key states?

Posted by: rob at August 13, 2004 12:26 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I want to add that if Kerry strengthens his position in selected key states, under the first strategy, that, if he were successful, those states would presumably be less vulnerable to an "October Surprise" or other similar events. That is my reasoning for why this plan may be a good idea, since it might make him less vulnerable to an "October Surprise", a terrorist attack, or any event that could help Bush.

Posted by: rob at August 13, 2004 12:36 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Florida! Missouri! Ohio! Florida! Missouri! Ohio! Kerry should focus on those three state, head and shoulders above all others. If Bush carries all three yet again, it's very likely Bush will have another four years in the White House.

Kerry should definitely forget about states like NC and VA--that's wishful thinking. Sure, he might make it more interesting, but it won't be enough to get them to flip. You might think that it will at least force Bush to spend $$ to defend them, but I can tell you that's certainly not the case here in NC. Bush hasn't advertised here at all. For awhile, Kerry was blitzing the airwaves here--the Bush campaign knows they don't have to waste money in NC, because in the end, it will remain red, whether it's by 10% or a 5% margin.

States like Nevada are tempting as second-tier swingers, but I think Kerry would be better off trying to make sure Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota stay blue rather than worrying about Nevada's 4 electoral votes.

Posted by: Pepe at August 13, 2004 12:47 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

God forbid, Rob, if there is an "October surprise," as that will almost certainly favor Bush--no matter what Kerry does today or tomorrow. Something like that, depending on the nature and the location, could even bring states like Michigan and Pennsylvania into play. The latest news about a possible terrorist attack in Charlotte, NC has sent shockwaves through the entire state. Just the threat of such an attack here has probably been more benefical to Bush than all the heaps of $$$ the Kerry campaign has spent here on TV ads.

Posted by: Pepe at August 13, 2004 12:53 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Rasmussen shows a 49-42 percent lead for Kerry in Minnesota, but a more recent St. Paul Pioneer Press/Minnesota Public Radio poll showed the race at a statistical dead heat, at 45-44 for Kerry.

I thought that Nader was not on the ballot in Minnesota, and not like to get access. If that's the case, then the numbers to look at are the head-to-head numbers without Nader, and the St. Paul Pioneer press poll had Kerry 48- Bush 45. Still a statistical dead heat (moe +/-4) but a little better.

Otherwise, the last two months of polling in Minnesota looks pretty good:

- Zogby 7/12 K49.3-B44.1-N2 moe4.1 (K+5.2in)
- HHHInst 7/12 K49.0-B45.8 or K46.5-B44.2-N4.6 moe4
- MasonDixonStPaulPioneerPressMPR 7/14 K48-B45 or K45-B44-N2 moe4
- Zogby 7/23 K50.6-B44.2-N1.7 moe3.9 (K+6.4in)
- StrategicVisions(GOP) 7/24 K47-B47-N2 moe3
- Zogby 7/30 K51.8-B43.7-N1.2 moe3.8 (K+8.1OUT)
- Rasmussen 7/31 (month) K49-B42 moe5
- StrategicVisions(GOP) 8/3 K/E49-B/C45 or K/E47-B/C45-N/C3 moe3

The latest Zogby is outside the margin of error, but otherwise all the leads are inside, so we're technically talking about all statistical dead heats, but Kerry still leads in all except one where he's tied.

I wouldn't say that those are particularly discouraging results.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at August 13, 2004 01:18 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

There's obviously no reason for Kerry to spend money in states that are impossible for him to take, but Virginia and North Carolina hardly fall into that category, at least not yet. By continuing to campaign there, Kerry *puts* them at issue, and forces Bush to spend resources there. If he backs off to concentrate on a few states, Bush can do the same thing, and if it becomes strictly a matter of money vs. money, Bush wins that battle every time (even with the 527s).

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at August 13, 2004 01:33 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Pepe - Something like that, depending on the nature and the location, could even bring states like Michigan and Pennsylvania into play.

This is true, but the idea is that Kerry will have a better chance if he can improve his standing in these states. I fully expect some big event to occur, although not neccessarily a terrorist attack and maybe not an "October Surprise." The Bush Campaign plays dirty and I suspect they have some devious plan up their sleeves to swing a few states overnight. At this point, I think the election will completely depend upon how well Kerry defends himself against this devious plan and how well he performs in the debates.

Ed - You're right also, but if Kerry does it at the right time, then Bush will either have to spend money winning some tossup states or ignore them and hope he gets lucky, all while Kerry fully concentrates on states that will guarantee him a victory. There are several Kerry leaning states that Bush can't afford to lose, but that Kerry can.

But as I've stated, what really worries me is some big event, planned or not, that would swing several Kerry leaners to Bush, and the election along with them. This might be avoided if Kerry strengthens his lead in some select states.

Posted by: rob at August 13, 2004 02:26 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

One other reason for Kerry to continue to campaign in 'less-swingy' states like Missouri and North Carolina where his chances are less likely, is to extend his coattails. He will be a more successful president if he has at least one house of Congress on his side. Getting Democrats out to the polls on Election Day in these states will help not only his own race, but that of the Democratic candidates for Senate and House in that state.

Posted by: osterizer at August 13, 2004 07:37 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Saw Pepe's comment about the recent "terrorist" arrest in Charlotte. So far, they have been unable to find any terrorist links to this guy. It's beginning to look like they either nabbed a lone wolf or a tourist. They haven't figured out which yet. I can't say what is being said in your part of the state, but Charlotte has pretty much ignored it. Charlotte's terrorism potential has been overly hyped by local media since 9/11. I think the only people surprised were people like me who thought Middle Eastern populations were like Americans and were incapable of finding Charlotte.

I still believe it can't hurt to try to pull NC (and for that matter VA). Do I believe it should be at the expense of places like IA, WV, MO or OH. Absolutely not. But if we are showing double digit leads in rather blue states, perhaps it might be time to swing some of those resources our way.

Elections are funny things and any number of things could happen on a local level to cause a state to vote the other way. Even the weather can have an effect. I don't think it is wise to solely rely on the obvious battlegrounds especially when a push can be made in areas that your not suppose to be competitive in. You don't know what will happen on 11/2. If Pittsburg or Philadelpia get socked in with snow or rain, Voters might stay home. Especially Elderly voters! Since these are Blue areas, that hurts us. Rural PA is very conservative and thus gives GW a chance. We shouldn't throw any window of opportunity away.

I'd at least keep an eye on NC. Kerry is suppose to come to Charlotte next week. I understand he is polling much better with people who have seen him in person than those who haven't. If Charlotte has a big crowd and Kerry brings his best game, I'd be intersted to see how NC polls.

Posted by: Jason-Charlotte at August 13, 2004 09:05 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I apologize, this is off topic but it was mentioned earlier. The Charlotte Observer reported in today's paper that Bowles is ahead of Burr by 9.5% The GOP is upset with Burr for running a reactionary campaign. Gov Easley (D) is also up for relection. His challenger's website shows Easley ahead by 22 points in a mid July poll.

Posted by: Jason-Charlotte at August 13, 2004 09:19 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Jason, I'm over in the Triangle, and we never heard much of anything about NC being even on the terrorist radar. These was news to us, and it has scared some of my elderly friends, who are now more inclined to vote for Bush. Personally, I don't know why people feel "safer" with Bush--I guess it's feeling more comfortable with what you already know, but what I know about Bush does not make me feel comfortable at all!

Getting back to where should Kerry spend his $$$, I would agree with you about NC if it forced Bush to spend money here to defend his turf. So far, however, there have been no Bush ads in response to the Kerry blitz. The Kerry campaign has spent a fortune here vis-a-vis Bush's completely ignoring NC and still leading in all the polls. Even with the barrage of Kerry ads, NC is not in play--I don't think anyone here would be willing to bet a year's salary that NC flips for Kerry in November.

Since it's not working (i.e., Bush isn't taking the bait to spend money here instead of in the true swing states), I say "let it go" and spend the money in those states where it could truly make a difference in either the outcome of the election in that state or in forcing Bush to divert time, energy and $$$ there. That's not the case in NC.

Posted by: Pepe at August 13, 2004 09:53 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Kerry needs to keep his target zone broad. He can't afford to write off the Southern swing states even if he perceives little chance at winning them in the weeks leading up to the election. The chances of John Kerry winning North Carolina are virtually non-existent, but Erskine Bowles needs as much momentum as he can get to hold that Senate seat. If the Southern states perceive a snub by the Democratic Party as they did in 2000 when Gore didn't spend much time there, the party is sending a message of abandonment of a region it cannot afford to simply write off. The Dems cannot cruise through election after election without a Southern strategy on the premise that "we need to fight to protect the real battleground" since that real battleground is shrinking in electoral stature. The Dems have to start running as nationwide candidates if they're to have a future.

Posted by: Mark at August 13, 2004 11:38 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

The Dems have to start running as nationwide candidates if they're to have a future.

Mark, at last, someone here has made the light bulb go off in my head--thank you! Your above comment does indeed justify Kerry spending $$$ in NC and other Southern states. You're absolutely right about the Dems having to show they are truly a national party , and one that is not willing to write of our beloved South. I see the light!!!

Posted by: Pepe at August 13, 2004 11:58 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think FL is the "swingiest" state -- there are a couple of other states that, recently, look like they will be tighter races, but FL is so very likely to determine the election that it's difficult to look any further. If Kerry wins FL, he can lose MO, OH, NV, NH, IA, and WI, and still win with the tightest states he otherwise has to hold being ME, OR, NM, PA, and MN, all of which have gone Democratic the last three Presidential elections and all of which are polling favorably for Kerry right now.

It's very hard for Bush to win without FL, but if Bush does take it, then a second tier of swing states come into play, chief among them OH. OH and several combinations of close, smaller states can win the election for Kerry without FL; without FL or OH, MO and WI become critical, but these start to require an improbably high batting average among smaller states, including each other.

Posted by: Marsden at August 13, 2004 02:15 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Just a reminder, too, that after-analysis of the 2000 election seems to indicate that Gore shouldn't have pulled out of as many states as he did -- so this is not a mistake that I expect Kerry will want to make.

Posted by: Ed Fitzgerald (unfutz) at August 14, 2004 12:12 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Here's my prediction:

Arizona - Barely Bush
Arkansas - Barely Bush
Florida - Probable Kerry (if Jeb doesn't steal it)
Iowa - Barely Kerry
Maine - Barely Kerry
Michigan - Probable Kerry
Minnesota - Barely Kerry
Missouri - Toss-Up
Nevada - Barely Bush
New Hampshire - Probable Kerry
New Mexico - Probable Kerry
Ohio - Toss-Up
Oregon - Probable Kerry
Pennsylvania - Probable Kerry
Washington - Probable Kerry
West Virginia - Toss-Up
Wisconsin - Barely Kerry

THAT MEANS: Kerry 94, Bush 21, Toss-Up 36. I'm fairly sure that Kerry will capture the West Coast and the entire Northeast (including NH and ME). While I'm fairly nervous about IA, MN and WI, I am confident in MI, and of course IL. It seems more probable that history will rule, so that IA, MN and WI agree with MI and IL, not IN, making the Northern Midwest a Kerry sweep except for IN. I believe we'll get FL if they don't succeed in stealing it again, since most polls now have him ahead there. AZ, AR, and NV will likely go Bush, in my opinion, though I think it will be tight. As far as OH, MO, and WV, the data is so mixed, I'm very afraid to be optimistic...


Posted by: Nathaniel at August 15, 2004 02:20 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

My predictions:

N. Carolina - Kerry (it has to go Kerry with Edwards
Ohio - Kerry (unless it's rigged)
NH - Kerry
Virginia - Kerry
Tennessee - Kerry
Florida - Kerry (unless it's rigged)
Pa. - Kerry
Michigan - Kerry
N. Mexico - Kerry
Colorado - Kerry
Arizona - Kerry
Maine - Kerry
Minnesota - Kerry
W. Va. - Kerry
Nevada - Kerry

S. Carolina could be a squeaker for Bush.

This being predicted, I hope Kerry/Edwards invest a lot of campaigning in N.CAROLINA, Arizona, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, and very importantly, OHIO.

Thank you, Pepe, as a woman's intuition should never be underestimated! ;)

Although this looks to me like a landslide for Kerry, I'd invest in a lot of states that are less likely to be rigged, just in case. Kerry/Edwards must absolutely make this a national campaign.

Posted by: Shar at August 15, 2004 05:29 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

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Posted by: juego at November 3, 2004 01:13 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment