Where We're Going, We Do Need Roads

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The last full month of the campaign is on, which made me want to double check where the candidates were on this day in the last few close races. Electoral-vote.com has the numbers for this day in 2004: Bush 276, Kerry 221. For the rest of the snapshots I went into Lexis-Nexis to check contemporarily electoral scorecards.

On October 1, 2000, the candidates were prepping for their first debate and Gore was in the lead.

Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia are leaning the vice president's way or solidly in his column, putting him at 226 electoral votes—44 short of the 270 needed to claim the presidency, and 25 votes closer to his goal than a month ago.

Another 21 states with 175 electoral votes would go to Republican George W. Bush. That leaves 13 toss-up states with 137 electoral votes.

On October 1, 1988, Mike Dukakis was campaigning in Texas (where he was down 10 points) and George H.W. Bush was in Massachusetts (where he was down 8). An AP analysis gave the edge to Bush, with reservations.

Despite steady late-summer advances by Bush—and Democratic talk of a Dukakis rebound—neither man has been able to seize an advantage in a string of states where the election will be decided. The list includes Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, Connecticut, California and others, totaling over 150 electoral votes.

There was no state-by-state electoral analysis in 1980, when Carter and Reagan were basically tied, but Carter pollster Pat Caddell gave a briefing to reporters that now reads like doom.

He said Carter's "lead is expanding very steadily" in New York but is "a litle lagging" in Ohio. He said the president appears to have improved his position in Pennsylvania and such southern states as Mississippi, South Carolina and Louisiana. Texas is close but "still tough" for Carter, while "we have a real shot at Oregon and Washington," Caddell said.

On election day, Carter won… none of those states.  So it's not unheard of for a Democrat to be leading in the polls as October starts and then suffer a monthlong melt. The differences this year: an economic crisis, worries about the Republican's running mate (comparable to 1988), cash parity (and maybe an advantage) for the Democrats, and, of course, a black candidate leading the Democratic ticket.

UPDATE: If I had to pick one reason for why Obama's outperforming Kerry, it's in this Pew poll. At this point in 2004 Kerry had a net positive favorability of 12 points (53-41) to Bush's 17 points. Obama has a net favorability of 35 points (66-31) to McCain's 25 points. Do Republicans expect, say, a Jeremiah Wright ad to knock 23 points off Obama's favorability?

NEXT: The Eternal Recurrence of the Bailout Bill

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  1. Pollster.com has the national race graphic dark blue. It went from tossup to leans Dem to solid Dem in a week.

    Pollster.com is probably the most conservative – in terms of being cautious about assigning races to one candidate or the other – of all of the aggregators.

  2. The race has always been McCain’s to lose.
    His problem is that is what he is doing.

  3. It went from tossup to leans Dem to solid Dem in a week.

    Yep. McCain screwed the pooch on the bailout. Probably cost him the election.

    If he had come out against it in broad terms, said some platitudes about the free market and making sure taxpayers were protected in any government intervention and then ignored the shameful legislative antics this past week, I suspect he would be winning now.

  4. I have always that this theory that the more affable, likeable candidate wins, regardless of party. It has been correct for my entire lifetime, anyway. The non-ideological, uncommitted voter (who always decides these things) tends to go with a gut feeling on the more likeable candidate.

    Therefore, it has always been Obama’s to lose.

  5. Dumb question:

    The Intrade price of a wager that Dems will gain the presidency and both houses in November has gone up quite a bit over the past three days. The next highest priced wager in the president-plus-congress category is Rep president + Dem Senate + Dem House, and it’s been going down in price.

    So — does that mean that people are thinking a Dem sweep is becoming more likely?

  6. Back to the Future II! Yeah!

  7. McCain has been running a campaign that has some how managed to combine the worst of Mondale and Dole–a “MonDole” campaign, if you will.

  8. The differences this year: an economic crisis

    Congress passed something and it got signed into law already?

    Or are you talkin about this fake ‘crisis’ that is in all the papers that we need to “do something” about?

  9. I have always that this theory that the more affable, likable candidate wins, regardless of party.

    It also helps if he’s tall.

  10. I’m resigned to McCain losing the thing now. His ineptitude (politically, at least) on the bailout has been simply astonishing. At least this will finish him off politically so the Repubs might actually be a small government party again (PFFT).

    Obama has done pretty much nothing with it and handled it better. Will be this passive as a president – the president who does, well, nothing?

  11. Obama has done pretty much nothing with it and handled it better. Will be this passive as a president – the president who does, well, nothing?

    I hope he changes into that guy.

  12. All you guys are gonna be laughing out of the other side of your mouths after Palin ices Biden tomorrow night. Red Tide! Red Victory!

  13. Will be this passive as a president – the president who does, well, nothing?

    I sure hope so, it would be a welcome change from the president who does nothing well.

  14. It’s all in the shoes, baby.

    A year ago I would have beleived any Dem prez candidate would casually sweep the election. I didn’t realize that the race would need to be kept so close in the early episodes such that more people watch the finale in November. I hate reality tv.

  15. RC Dean,

    Yep. McCain screwed the pooch on the bailout.

    It’s almost certain that his shennanigans regarding the bailout have hurt him, but the trend actually began a little before Lehman expired. The Monday after Palin’s “Bush Doctrine” interview and the Tina Fey SNL sketch is when McCain’s numbers began to nosedive.

  16. His ineptitude (politically, at least) on the bailout has been simply astonishing.

    McCain’s little “I got the deal passed, and Barack Obama didn’t” speech a few hours before it was voted down was one of the dumbest flubs I’ve ever seen. This guy is a professioanl politician?

    It’s like he spiked the football on the five yard line, then stood there taunting the defensive back while a linebacker ran it back to mid-field.

  17. Checking the state-by-state polls on Real Clear Politics, it looks like Obama is gaining significant ground in just about every state that was close.
    New polls over the past few days give the edge to Obama in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida. If McCain doesn’t seriously make a move, this could be a landslide

  18. It’s almost certain that his shennanigans regarding the bailout have hurt him, but the trend actually began a little before Lehman expired.

    I’m sure that’s right, but the bailout trainwreck presented him with an absolutely golden opportunity to get on the right side of the voters, play to his mavericky persona, run against a hideously unpopular and glaringly inept Congress, put some space between himself and Bush, etc. It was tailor-made for him to take the initiative (again), and he just completely blew it.

  19. Guy Montag says the fundamentals of our economy are strong.

  20. Is McCain still running? Palin is the only one I hear about anymore.

  21. Let me guess, Guy–that link is about how ACORN will “steal” the election?

  22. BDB,

    No, it is not, but a simple click will reveal the ‘latest’ nonsense that has been going on since the campaign began. Also sheds some light on those under $200 contributions too.

  23. Let me guess, Guy–that link is about how ACORN will “steal” the election?

    No, this time Guy is pimping the FEC, that ol’ free-speech crushing organization, “which ought to do their jobs!!!” because [gasp!] Obama is raising money and not everyone who donated to him is on a list for government perusal!

    Could it be that Obama is raising oodles of cash in small (under the $200 limit) donations because his campaign has mastered the online soft sell? No, it’s because he *must* getting money from foreigners (they took ‘r jobs!) and Hollywood elites (they like people who took ‘r jobs!).

    It’s hilarious when libertarians abandon their (free speech) principles to pimp a republican in a national election. No, hilarious is not the word. Tragic. That’s the word.

  24. Thanks for sparing me the trouble of clicking.

    Is this a World Net Daily article?

  25. I have always that this theory that the more affable, likeable candidate wins, regardless of party.

    Don’t try to retrofit your theory past 1976.

  26. I think the worst thing about the election coverage is that sad, searching longing that comes over McCain’s face when liberals don’t laugh at his jokes like when he was their pet Republican.

  27. R C Dean nails it.

    My theory is the candidate who wants to win more……wins.

    McCain isn’t acting like that anymore.

  28. My theory is the candidate who wants to win more……wins.

    Hillary

  29. I think the worst thing about the election coverage is that sad, searching longing that comes over McCain’s face when liberals don’t laugh at his jokes like when he was their pet Republican.

    All he has to do is lose, NutraSweet. Then’s he’s back, baby! Maverick, bitches! Yee haw!

  30. Maybe that’s why he’s fucking it up so badly. Deep down, he just can’t be hated.

  31. At least this will finish him off politically so the Repubs might actually be a small government party again (PFFT).

    Like the last time McCain lost? I wouldn’t hold your breath.

    It’s like he spiked the football on the five yard line, then stood there taunting the defensive back while a linebacker ran it back to mid-field.

    John McCain is Deshawn Jackson? He may win Pennsylvania yet.

  32. Good point JPB

    but I’m only saying that for the general election. Party primaries are different animals.

  33. John McCain is Deshawn Jackson?

    Considering his age and the way he’s running things, Al Davis might be a better analogy.

  34. Let me guess, Guy–that link is about how ACORN will “steal” the election?

    No, no, furrners.

    Seriously.

  35. Is this a World Net Daily article?

    NO, Mr. Smart Guy. It’s…er…a blog entry ABOUT a World Net Daily article.

    One that’s TOO HOT for Teh MSM!

  36. I’m voting for Barr, damn it all to hell, but I have to say this. I think McCain is going to win. I don’t want him to win anymore than I want Obama to win, but that’s my judgment.

    I firmly believe that either candidate will make a god-awful president. I can’t decide which will be worse, though. If McCain were more conservative and likely to be at odds with a Democratic Congress, I’d say Obama for sure. But McCain doesn’t play that way.

    I’d like to call on the voters of America to do this one thing for me. If you’re voting for Obama, please vote for GOP for Congress. If you’re voting for McCain, vote for the Democrats for Congress. It’s our only hope. If you’re voting LP for POTUS, vote Bull Moose for Congress.

  37. My theory is the candidate who wants to win more……wins.

    Gore.

  38. OMG, joe! Do you mean TheBrownMenace?

    “When you eat a taco, you are saying ‘I Hate America’ with every crunchy, delicious bite.”

  39. I think McCain is going to win. I don’t want him to win anymore than I want Obama to win, but that’s my judgment.

    I have already staked out this position. Get your own long call! If he wins, I had the brilliant foresight, not you. No sharing!

  40. No, no, furrners.

    I’ve poked into that article a little and boy howdy is it flawed. For starters, this part.

    More than 520 listed their “state” as “IR,” often an abbreviation for Iran.

    It’s the abbreviation for “Ireland.”

  41. RCP has another telling electoral map . . . without tossups, Obama leads 348-190. I think that’s pretty much where it will end up. McCain loses Florida, Ohio, Michigan and PA in this scenario. I think that Obama will win 3 of those 4.

  42. C’mon guys, this is a serious issue – Obama might be secretly getting money from foreigners, and some of those foreigners might also be secret muslims, too!

    Do I have to spell it out – It’s a Secret foreigner secret muslim secret!

  43. RC Dean,

    The bailout was only a golden opportunity for McCain if he could offer something better as a replacement. Even if that something was simply to articulate convincingly the do-nothing option, he could have benefitted from this, but it had to be something, because the public actually is worried about the economy tanking.

    He didn’t do that, because he can’t. John McCain doesn’t know enough about the economy to articulate much of anything, so he is incapable of providing the kind of leadership on the issue that might have helped him.

  44. McCain loses Florida, Ohio, Michigan and PA in this scenario. I think that Obama will win 3 of those 4.

    Give Obama the Kerry states plus Iowa and New Mexico, where he leads comfortably. If McCain loses Florida but wins Michigan, Ohio, and New Hampshire, he loses 270-268.

    And at this point I’d expect North Carolina to go Obama before Michigan goes Mac.

  45. DW,

    More than 520 listed their “state” as “IR,” often an abbreviation for Iran.

    It’s the abbreviation for “Ireland.”

    You capitalized that as if it were a real country. Well, you did put it in quotes . . .

  46. D Weigel . . . I fully expect that Obama will win both Michigan and NC. Michigan … an economic nightmare, even when compared with the rest of the country. Bad juju for McCain. NC … large minority population will push Oboma over the top. The writing’s been on the wall with that one for some time now.

  47. I don’t think Obama would be any worse than McCain vis a vis the economy (duh), and I don’t think he would be the terrorist enabler than the righties are fearing – I think he’s likely to be just as interventionist as Clinton was, and if a really serious situation comes up with Iran or something, he’d be likely to take military action so as not to look weak.

    But I’m very worried about the first and second amendments under President Obama. Yes, really. And anyone who has been paying attention to the thugs behind him – both those in his official campaign and others who just support him – will know why. Threats of criminal prosecution for “libel,” threats of regulatory action against media outlets running anti-Obama ads – Obama supporters make Chavez look like a defender of independent media. Pelosi has been salivating to regulate Internet content for a long time. And then of course there’s the Fairness Doctrine, AKA the We Can’t Get Anyone to Listen to Left Wing Radio, So We’re Not Going to Let Anyone Listen to Right Wing Radio Either Doctrine.

    And as for the media being of any use in reporting on an Obama administration – please. The media will have helped get him elected – as someone else said, political reporters are now basically sports writers, and they’re all rooting for Team Obama – so the chances of us knowing what’s going on will be vanishingly small.

    Will dissent be patriotic under an Obama administration? No, it won’t.

    On the other hand, I predict an Obama administration will lead to a Republican majority in both houses in 2010. Yes, really.

  48. Great post. I had been wondering where past races were at this point in the campaign; thanks for the history lesson.

  49. The real issue is not how well Obama or McCain might do state-by-state, but that we shouldn’t have battleground states and spectator states in the first place. Every vote in every state should be politically relevant in a presidential election. And, every vote should be equal. We should have a national popular vote for President in which the White House goes to the candidate who gets the most popular votes in all 50 states.

    The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC). The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    Because of state-by-state enacted rules for winner-take-all awarding of their electoral votes, recent candidates with limited funds have concentrated their attention on a handful of closely divided “battleground” states. In 2004 two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states. Two-thirds of the states and people have been merely spectators to the presidential election.

    Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

    The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes– 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

    See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

  50. Thanks for the PSA, susan.

    I lukewarmly agree with a national popular vote idea. But, damn it, I hate the masses!

  51. Another shortcoming of the current system is that a candidate can win the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide.

    I still think this is more of a feature than a bug.

    In 2004 two-thirds of the visits and money were focused in just six states; 88% on 9 states, and 99% of the money went to just 16 states.

    A national popular vote will probably result in continued concentration on limited audiences, only with the focus being on urban/major media markets rather than battleground states.

  52. The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral vote — that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

    As described, this sounds like a violation of one-man/one-vote. It dilutes the votes of people living in the states who participate in this scheme by pooling them with the national vote to award electors, and will certainly result in some states awarding their electors to candidates who lost the vote in their state. Meanwhile, people living in states not participating get to have their vote count toward their own electors and electors from the NPV states.

  53. Damned if you do . . . not to too closely echo the statements above, but I am only mildly interested in the idea of a pure popular vote. In an ideal world, sure. However, we live in a dizzingly complex world of competing and overlapping interest groups that settle and and then mix and transmute in various places across the country (hey! maybe that’s not too far from ideal!)
    At least this much can be said for the electoral system: A state like New hampshire can be relevant.

  54. National popular vote blows. who wants to have Florida 2000 on the national level?

    Also, I figure that you would need a Constitutional Amendment because the states have the power to choose electors “as they direct”, or whatever.

    Maybe someone can explain this “pooling” thing to me in more clear terms than susan’s spam post did.

  55. On second thought, never mind. the idea of NPV.com is just dumb on its face and WAY too complicated for most people to understand. Also, I want my state to vote for whom my state wants, not contractually obligate itself to give its EVs to whomever the urban centers of the U.S. choose.

    Bah.

  56. National popular vote blows. who wants to have Florida 2000 on the national level?

    Couldn’t happen. The national voting pool is just too large for the outcome to be that close. 0.1% of the national vote is over 100,000 people.

  57. Also, I figure that you would need a Constitutional Amendment because the states have the power to choose electors “as they direct”, or whatever.

    Why do you need an amendment? If the states choose to direct them to the person with the most popular votes, then that’s how they choose.

    not contractually obligate itself to give its EVs to whomever the urban centers of the U.S. choose.

    The urban centers chose Kerry and he didn’t win. I’m pretty sure the urban centers chose Dukakis and he didn’t win. You can’t win without rural votes. Personally, I don’t think that the presidency should be obliged to whoever Floridians or Ohioans decide to vote for.

    As described, this sounds like a violation of one-man/one-vote. It dilutes the votes of people living in the states who participate in this scheme by pooling them with the national vote to award electors, and will certainly result in some states awarding their electors to candidates who lost the vote in their state.

    How is the current system fair? A vote from a person in Wyoming or Alaska is far more valuable than one in California, New York or Texas. We don’t have a one man, one vote system. If anything, NPV is far closer to one man, one vote than the electoral system.

    I’m not necessarily certain that NPV is the way to go (maybe use the Nebraska system nationwide). However, I think there’s something wrong with the current system because under it, the three most populous states, representing almost 80 million people (over 25%), are completely ignored during presidential elections. At the same time, 3 million ethanol welfare queens* get their asses kissed every 4 years.

    * Thank God my Iowan girlfriend doesn’t come to this site.

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