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The 2004 Battlefield Narrows
Sure, things could change. And sure the Red Sox and Cubs could meet in the World Series. But the weather forecast in Hell is continued sunny, and damn hot through all of November.
So, Where's the Money?
Ohio, in fact, may be out of reach already for Kerry. While he's even with Bush among registered voters, he trails significantly among actual, likely voters. Absent an earthshaking turnout for Kerry and a depressed turnout for Bush, Ohio will remain a red state in 2004. Kerry will continue to contest this state almost to Election Day – and I'll explain why in a second.
Florida is a total toss-up at this point – an argument can be made for either Bush or Kerry. The momentum belongs to Bush at the moment, and so it leans ever so slightly towards red; this can change at any point.
The shocker for Kerry is that Pennsylvania is still a total toss-up – despite that PA went for Gore in 2000, and despite that Mrs. Ketchup controls hundreds of millions of dollars in this state, Pennsylvania is still within Bush's grasp. Kerry will need to defend this state through at least mid-October: bad news for the Democrats. Kerry basically can't win this election without retaining Pennsylvania.
Bush can win by either retaining Florida, or taking Pennsylvania and some of the smaller states, or taking most of the smaller states and Pennsylvania while retaining Ohio (but still losing Florida).
As you can see, there are a whole heck of a lot more ways for Kerry to lose, than there are such opportunities for Bush.
First, he will attempt to reverse Bush's momentum. For this he's counting on two things: that Bush's convention bounce will recede, and that Kerry can score a victory in the first debate.
Second, Kerry is hoping he can put Pennsylvania out of Bush's reach well before Election Day – by mid-October at the latest.
Third, Kerry will concentrate on holding some key states that are slightly iffy: Michigan and Maine, for instance.
Fourth, Kerry will focus mightily on Florida.
And lastly, Kerry will consider whether Ohio is reachable, or if it's not, then he'll focus on New Mexico, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin to put him over the top in the Electoral College.
Of course, unless the momentum shifts soon, Kerry's plan will mostly consist of planning his autobiography and retirement from the Senate.
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