Let's Talk Sense...


Monday, September 4, 2000 Volume 25, No. 24
Roswell, New Mexico

In this issue...
Bush's Big Mistake---Was it fatal?
The Electoral College, Associated Press
Narrowing the Focus--Only 12 States Undecided
Where Bush has to win
Say Goodbye---39 States You Can Bank--Now!
By September 11th, we'll know the outcome

Bush's Big Mistake: Fatal?
(We'll know in about a week)

One of the galling things about the 1996 race was the total absence of a Dole campaign from April through July. During that time the Clinton team took the opportunity to paint a picture of Dole so thoroughly, so repetitiously, so cleverly, as to leave an indelible imprint on the American psyche.

By the time the Republican Convention was held--in which Dole (and lady Dole) gave a good speech---it was too late for Dole to re-define himself. It was far too late to even begin to hope to gain the initiative in any way. Having the initiative, being on the offense, being able to define the issues---if not your opponent (which is also a good gig if you can get it)---these are all part of a winning campaign effort. We were steadily on the wrong side of those equations in 1996.

In April of 2000 I was in Washington, DC on a couple of occasions. I took the opportunity to inquire as to why we were not working on media to define the opposition. Two general themes were sounded by both RNC staff and those close to the Bush campaign. One, the struggle with McCain exhausted the resources of the campaign to an extreme degree. Two, they weren't that worried because Gore was having a bad spring (does anyone remember those days?) and he was having a tough time getting traction.

Well, while it is true the Bush campaign spent wildly during their efforts to stave off McCain, the fact is we now know they still had millions and still do maintain an edge in total funds on hand.

The lessons learned (well maybe they were just "taught" by Clinton '96, but not "learned" by the Bush team) in the spring of 1996 have not sunk in on everyone. When you have your opposition at a disadvantage, define him, define him, define him. As is the case in the last sentence, there is no such thing as too much repetition of message in politics. Now, Al Gore 8.0, as the current iteration is being
called, is catching on.

Funny, how in the spring everyone made fun of his "reinventions," but he just kept on until he got it right.
He was able to keep on because he was allowed to keep tinkering with his own message until the pieces fell into place. Had the Bush team followed the Clinton example and "Doled" him in May and June, his re-invention would never have caught hold.

In a military analogy, we allowed an inferior force to rebuild its railway/roadway infrastructure, re-supply, re-develop its logistical network and reinforce and re-deploy its array of forces. We allowed this while having air superiority--if not air supremacy---at all times. Now they are ready to fight again, and now they have air parity. The opportunity to destroy them is lost. We can still win, but it will be far more difficult than it would have been had other tactics been pursued.

It didn't have to be this way. We will know in about a week if the Bush team's complacence in the spring
turned out to be fatal in the fall.

The Electoral College
(Associated Press Article not too Bad)

It doesn't happen very often, but there it was in the Sunday, September 3rd issue of the Albuquerque Journal. It was a decent analysis of the way the electoral College is shaping up in this election. It was the first such analysis in the mass media I have seen this year.

Gone was all the nonsense. The writer did not seem to believe (as most in the mass media do) that all states with over 20 electoral votes are so-called "battleground" states. He did not carelessly refer to
Illinois as being a hotly contested state, or spout other silly notions such as California being in play, or New Jersey, or (the latest media craze) West Virginia! No, this was a seemingly very sober analysis by someone who appeared to know what he was talking about. At least what he wrote was very accurate.

The Associated Press article appeared under the byline of Ron Fournier, and it appeared on page A 4.

Going back to the LTS...August 23, we agree on all but a half dozen states or so. He lists Oregon, Washington, Delaware and Maine as being tossups, and I have them conceded to Gore. He has Iowa and Tennessee as "likely" for Gore, where I have them "leaning" to the vice president. Similarly,
he concedes Georgia to Bush, while I have the Peach State "leaning" to the Texas governor.

Narrowing the Focus: The Final
12 States that will decide the Election

Fusing our two views of the electoral map, however, shows the current scorecard like this:

Bush 179 Gore 208
(22 states) (16 states, plus DC)

So, over the next 60 days the 2000 presidential election will be decided in the following twelve states with a combined 151 electoral votes:

East 27 electoral votes

New Hampshire 4
Pennsylvania 23

Midwest 68 electoral votes

Iowa 7
Michigan 18
Missouri 11
Ohio 21
Wisconsin 11

South 51 electoral votes

Arkansas 6
Florida 25
Louisiana 9
Tennessee 11

West 5 electoral votes

New Mexico 5

Where Bush Has to Win

Bush has to put together a combination of 91 more votes before Gore can come up with some grouping equal to the additional 62 that would put him over the top before Bush.

Under this scenario, Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio are absolute musts for Bush. They equal 69, leaving him with a shortfall of 22.

If the AP is correct and Tennessee and Iowa are out of reach, and if Bush is trailing in Michigan and Wisconsin, then he needs to get 22 votes out of the remaining 35 represented by New Hampshire, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

Go with the assumption that Bush wins the big 3 above (Florida Pennsylvania and Ohio) and we have to assume it, otherwise he is dead meat. The best opportunity for him is to: 1) ride the values/morals/uprightness coattails of Senator John Ashcroft in Missouri, 2) play up his oil and gas connections (and the radical threat of Gore) in Louisiana, and 3) pick up a one-point win in New Mexico (my forecast last December was 1.3%, approximately a 6,500 vote margin). That would give him 25 additional votes and a grand total of 273, to Gore's 265.

Say Goodbye--39 States You Can Bank

Safe Bush Safe Gore
Likely Bush Lean Gore
Alabama 9 California 54
Alaska 3 Connecticut 8
Arizona 8 Delaware 3
Colo . 8 D. C. 3
Georgia 13 Hawaii 4
Idaho 4 Illinois 22
Indiana 12 Maine 4
Kansas 6 Maryland 10
Kentucky 8 Massachusetts 12
Mississippi 7 Minnesota 10
Montana 3 New Jersey 15
Nebraska 5 New York 33
Nevada 4 Oregon 7
N.C. 14 Rhode Island 4
N.D. 3 Vermont 3
Oklahoma 8 Washington 11
S. C. 8 West Virginia 5
S.D. 3
Texas 32
Utah 5
Virginia 13
Wyoming 3

In the next issue:

Who's going to win....
The Electoral College Winner
identified not later than September 11th
Senator Pete Domenici
The longest-serving senator in New Mexico history