Saturday, October 30, 2004
10 states that could swing it
And, if you haven't heard, Ohio's one of them
By Chuck Raasch
Gannett News Service
In an election that could be decided by late events in close states, 10 states stand out as potentially the tightest as the 2004 presidential campaign entered its final days:
Arkansas: Many Democrats think Al Gore lost this state in 2000 because he didn't ask then-President Clinton to stump in his home state. Sen. John Kerry is taking no chances: Clinton will stump for him Sunday. But Republicans have difficulty believing a Massachusetts senator could win here, and some view Clinton as a New Yorker.
Colorado: One of the big surprises of '04, the state that gave President Bush a solid 9-point win in 2000, is in play, late October polls say. A constitutional amendment on the ballot could split the state's nine electoral votes based on the percentage of the popular vote, although polls show it losing.
Florida: Both sides have massive get-out-the-vote operations. Republicans claim they have 500 paid staffers and more than 80,000 volunteers. The Democratic turnout effort is being augmented heavily by the issue group America Coming Together, run by former labor and Democratic Party officials.
Iowa: Rarely have seven electoral votes had this much attention, so pardon Iowans who are weary of it all by now. Bush barely lost the state in 2000 and vowed to reverse that in '04. Democrats claim a better ground game will deliver the Hawkeye State, including hundreds of college students working in rural areas in late October.
Minnesota: Given the state's Democratic history, you'd think it would be firmly in Kerry's camp, but the Democrat has had trouble closing the deal and Bush has capitalized. Ralph Nader could be a factor here more than in other states, according to a new Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs poll.
New Hampshire: It's Kerry's next-door status vs. the state's Republican heritage (although it has trended Democrat in the urban sprawl from Massachusetts). Bush has never been as popular here as his father was - he lost badly to John McCain in the 2000 GOP primary. Kerry, meanwhile, won handily in this year's Democratic primary.
New Mexico: Many people forget the actual vote margin here in 2000 was closer than Florida. The state looked like it was trending toward Bush, but polls have shown Kerry closing. This will be a test of who wins the Hispanic vote. New Mexico has a higher percentage of eligible Hispanic voters than any other state.
Ohio: The mother of undecideds, Ohio has seemed to alternately revel in and repel at the heavy attention Kerry and Bush have paid. The candidates have both been there so much that some joke they could vote as Ohioans.
The pilgrimages continue to the end: Bush is slated to be in Cincinnati Sunday night, while Kerry is in Cleveland Monday night.
Pennsylvania: Republicans are surprised and encouraged it's this close and think they can win with a late push. Kerry signaled the importance of winning the state by scheduling Clinton into Philadelphia eight days before the election, in the former president's first campaign appearance since open-heart surgery.
Wisconsin: Kerry is holding his own in a state Gore barely won in 2000. Kerry and Bush have campaigned heavily in the state's northern tier, where the fall usually means hunting and the Green Bay Packers. This year, fall has brought repeated tours by two presidential candidates who could win or lose it all in Cheeseland.
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