The race is so close in this sense that either candidate moving decisively ahead in a few key "swing" states could turn the election. This is where all the "action" is at the moment, and why Bush and Kerry keep visiting these states (including my own Michigan; I have already attended a Bush rally). The Rasmussen state-by-state rundown of projected electoral votes gives a good idea of the state of the race at present.
This polling data (as of 10-11-04) gives Bush 240 projected electoral votes, compared to 194 for Kerry, leaving 104 (nine states) as "toss up" status (270 are needed to win). Remember, it is the electoral college which ultimately decides the election, not the popular vote. As most of you probably recall, Al Gore actually received more popular votes in 2000, but he lost in the electoral college (271-266), so he was defeated (after desperately trying to cheat in Florida).
I found it quite humorous then and now that if he had simply won his home state, Tennessee, he would have won, 277-260. But alas, he lost it by four percentage points. I was in an elevator at work the day after the election and heard two liberals bellyaching about how Gore couldn't win his home state. One said, "I was really surprised by that." I piped in (trying hard to conceal a triumphant smile), "it doesn't surprise me at all." The other one then looked at me (having figured out my wry humor), and said, "You're a Bush supporter, aren't you?" LOL I quipped, "the state that knows and loves Gore the best: Tennessee."
As I predicted (in a general way) in my September 10th post, 2004 Presidential Election Predictions, Bush is in control of every single one of the Southern states, and he also has leads in most of the western states, excepting those on the west coast, Hawaii, and New Mexico, Nevada, and Colorado (all toss-ups). Near-western Iowa is still up for grabs (7 electoral votes).
Kerry (again, quite predictably) controls all the northeastern states and (of course), Washington D.C., making this election almost able to be characterized (thus far, anyway) as "east and west coasts vs. the south and the rest of the west." He also is leading in Illinois (Chicago obviously being key there). What it comes down to, then, are the mostly midwestern states, particularly Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes), Ohio (20), Michigan (17), and Minnesota and Wisconsin (10 each). Of these nine "battleground" states, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio voted for Bush in 2000; the rest for Gore. If Bush takes the same three again, he would win, assuming he maintains the other 240 projected electoral votes. He is leading by a projected 46 votes already, so much more pressure is on Kerry (if Rasmussen is correct in its existing projections).
The Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Mexico votes were all close in 2000 (within two percentage points). Michigan and Pennsylvania were both five points in favor of Gore, while Ohio went five for Bush. Nevada and Colorado went four and nine points for Bush, respectively.
Here is how Rasmussen is polling each of the remaining "undecided" states:
Pennsylvania (21) 47%-47 (Oct. 2)
Ohio (20) Bush 48 Kerry 47 (Oct. 3)
Michigan (17) 46-46 (Sep. 30)
Wisconsin (10) Bush 49 Kerry 46 (Oct. 1)
Minnesota (10) 46-46 (Sep. 26)
Colorado (9) Bush 48 Kerry 44 (Oct. 2)
Iowa (7) Bush 48 Kerry 45 (Sep. 26)
Nevada (5) Bush 47 Kerry 45 (Sep. 24)
New Mexico (5) 46-46 (Aug. 18)
The good news is that Bush leads every time there is a lead. If we give Bush all the states where he leads, and Kerry all the tied states (assuming the others stay as they are projected), Bush handily wins, 291-247 (I predicted a month ago that Bush would win by 60; this is 44). Kerry (judging by Rasmussen projections) thus has an uphill battle, because this last assumption is letting him win Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Minnesota, and also New Mexico, and he still loses by 44 electoral votes. Even if he took Ohio, too, along with those states, he would still lose, 271-267. If he took all five of the states with 10 or more electoral votes (which isn't likely, by the odds), he would eke out a close win: 272-266. But with Bush leading in two of those, and a dead heat in the others, that isn't likely. Bush will likely take the remaining toss-up western states, leaving Kerry with the unenviable task of having to gain all five of the midwestern and northern states.
The Real Clear Politics website has an interesting compilation of various polls for the "battleground states." Here are their findings:
Penn. Kerry 49 Bush 45
Ohio Bush 49 Kerry 47
Mich. Kerry 49 Bush 46
Wisc. Bush 49 Kerry 44
Minn. 46 46
Colo. Bush 50 Kerry 45
Iowa Kerry 48 Bush 47
Nev. Bush 49 Kerry 45
N.M. 47 47
If we give Kerry all these states where he leads, and also the two where it is a dead heat, and add the existing Rasmussen projections, Bush still wins 284-254. So once again we see that, although it is close in these states, Kerry is the one who has the uphill struggle, not Bush.
As of October 8th, USA Today / CNN / Gallup polling for these states concludes as follows:
Wisc. Bush 49 Kerry 46
Colo. 49 49
N.M. Bush 50 Kerry 47
My own prediction (more specific now than my earlier one of a month ago) is that Bush will take all the battleground / swing / toss-up states where he leads in the Rasmussen polls, and also New Mexico and Minnesota. Kerry will take Michigan and Pennsylvania. By current Rasmussen projections, that means that Kerry loses 306-232, or by 74 electoral votes (again, my prediction a month ago was a Bush victory by 60 points). That would give Kerry 18 states and Bush 32: exactly what my prediction was on September 10th (but what I believed at least two months before that, in early July, as I noted in that post). We'll see how close my predictions are (I will do a post the day after the election examining that). So far, I seem to be uncannnily close to the mark in many ways.
Pray for a Bush victory. John Kerry in the White House would likely be a repeat of Clinton administration incompetence and anti-military cuts. Ultra-liberal Kerry as of late is repeating obscurantist rhetoric about terrorism not being the threat that it clearly is (consistent with his anti-military opinions and voting record ever since he left Vietnam). Clinton (busy with other more pressing matters such as; well, you know) passed up an offer by the Sudanese to turn over Osama Bin Laden (I remember hearing about him before 9-11, and wondering why no efforts were made to capture this evil man), as well as other opportunities (see: article 1 / article 2 / article 3 / article 4 / article 5 / article 6 / other articles).
Kerry and the Democrats are showing that they are as dense and ignorant about terrorism as they were concerning the Communist threat (post-McGovern). Reagan was the one who basically won the Cold War (with great help from the pope). The elder Bush won the Gulf War. Bush and subsequent Republican presidents will have to be the ones who win the War on Terror, given the usual, altogether predictable, Chamberlain-like Democratic leftist head-in-the-sand intransigence on the issue.