An Early Look At the Electoral College

With the Democratic convention behind us, I thought a quick analysis of the Electoral College was in order. Post-convention polling shows John Kerry leading by an average of 2 to 4 points in the national popular vote. But as we all know, it's the electoral vote that wins the presidency. The map below is where I see things at this point in the cycle, based on polling and a gut hunch.

Kerry/Edwards: 296
Bush/Cheney: 242

A few quick points:

Florida. Three polls have taken place since the end of the Kerry coronation. One has Kerry up 3, another one has him up by 7, and the third has Bush up by 1. These 27 electoral votes are going to fought for with a passion that will make 2000 look like childs play. I am painting it Kerry blue based on the average of the three recent polls.

Pennsylvania. The President has attempted to put this industrial state in play. Al Gore won here by 5 points last time and the Republicans seem to think they can take it in 2004. They don't have a prayer. With most "battleground" states polling within the margin of error, two polls released this week show Kerry leading in Pennsylvania by 8 and 12 points respectively.

Michigan. Another state the Bushies would love to turn red. The latest Survey USA poll done there shows Kerry up by 11.

Ohio. The Kerry campaign is trying desperately to put the Buckeye state back in the Democratic column. The state has lost 300,000 jobs since 2001, but social conservatives seem to be holding strong. Mr. Bush currently holds a 5 point lead over Sen. Kerry.

Tennessee. Two recent Zogby polls show a slight Kerry lead, but I don't believe it. Unless Kerry wins a Reagan like landslide, Tennessee will stay with Bush. (Hey...Al Gore couldn't win it!) But there is one southern state where Kerry has a chance...

Virginia. The state went for Bush comfortably in 2000, and hasn't gone Democratic in a presidential election since 1964 (not even for Carter in 1976), but has been trending toward the Democrats in recent elections. John Edwards could help Kerry here in November. Recent polls show Bush with an average 3-point lead. As such I am keeping it red on the map, but don't be at all surprised if Virginia turns out to be a major upset on Election Night.

More national and state-by-state polling can be found here. And another take on the electoral vote is here.

It is only early August, and the Republicans will hold their convention at the end of the month. The race is still mighty fluid and anything can happen between now and November.

But right now, the trend seems to be in Kerry's favor.

I will revisit this map after the Republicans meet in New York, and then will post semi-regular updates as the fall campaign progresses.



Rupert Sees Dead People

Rupert Murdoch's NY Post gets it dead wrong once again...quite literally! Over the weekend, the paper's Page Six gossip column reported that former NBC chief Brandon Tartikoff was seen dining at the Los Angeles restaurant Mr. Chow with his wife Lily Tartikoff and NBC-Universal chairman Bob Wright and his wife.

Umm...errr...one small, teeny-tiny problem there. Mr. Tartikoff died in 1997!

Quips NY Daily News columnist Lloyd Grove, "No word on whether Vice President Gephardt was at the next table." (Third item.)



The Real Bush

Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11" still has legs. It has grossed $100 million since its release and has spawned nearly the same amount of words by commentators of the left and the right.

Moore's documentary, in many ways, is just an extension of his latest book, "Dude, Where's My Country?" Coincidentally, the New York Times Book Review, on July 4, ran a full-page ad for an upcoming film, "The Manchurian Candidate," and a half-page ad for Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11": When the country's most influential book review runs movie ads, it's announcing the age of literacy is over. Moore certainly will reap more profit and impact from the movie than from his book.

Documentaries can either prompt memory or reaction. The portion of "Fahrenheit 9/11" devoted to the 2000 election was the most melancholy, given the importance of all that was lost when Al Gore was denied the presidency. Moore never shows the World Trade Center towers in flames or falling; he leaves the screen dark, the soundtrack playing the noise of the catastrophe.

In a video shot by a teacher, we see President Bush sitting in the grammar school classroom for seven minutes after he is told of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center. A sympathetic interpretation of Bush's actions, or lack of action, is that he is trying to collect himself for the tasks ahead, but there are many more unsympathetic explanations for why he continued to sit.

The GOP propagandist Grover Norquist, champion of the Republican right wing's destructive economic agenda, calls Moore a Democratic propagandist, but Moore is more a penitent, and his movie a penance, because he supported Ralph Nader in the 2000 election. What damage Moore did then, he is trying to undo this time around.

Moore's documentary is an anthology of images you don't get to see much on TV, in part because of censorship on the part of the corporate entities that own cable and network television and in part because it would take a point of view to make sense of the film shown. Fox News is happy to take a point of view, but it wouldn't be using Moore's footage. "Fahrenheit 9/11" is on MMN ("Michael Moore News").

"Fahrenheit 9/11" doesn't have any Abu Ghraib torture photos, but, even more illuminating, it has video of American soldiers making sexual jokes about a just-captured Iraqi and putting the by-now-familiar empty sandbag over the head of an already blindfolded prisoner, revealing exactly how widespread that sort of conduct was.

At his film's end, Moore quotes the early 20th century British writer George Orwell on the economic elite's need for "continuous war." Orwell is more eloquent than Moore in the same way Tony Blair is more eloquent than George W. Bush, but Moore's movie makes Orwell's point: There is no more continuous war than the war on terror, and, frighteningly, the Bush administration has achieved what Orwell had always feared.

That is one reason "Fahrenheit 9/11" is being attacked so vigorously by Bush operatives. Another secondary reason is that it reminds the world of what George W. Bush was before 9/11. And whatever Bush's problems are now (and they are huge and they are many), his past is even less attractive.

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