Monday, September 13, 2004

President Bush leads John Kerry in enough states in the South, West and Midwest to put him within striking distance of the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term, a state-by-state analysis by The Washington Times suggests.

Helped by a bounce from the Republican National Convention, his polling numbers have moved outside the margin of error in Florida, Ohio and West Virginia. Mr. Bush appears to be challenging Mr. Kerry as well in several large states in the East and Midwest. Democrats won those states in 2000.

“Bush is in the ascendency as we speak, both nationally and in several big battleground states,” says independent pollster John Zogby. “While I might quibble with some of the margins, I have no doubts that Bush leads in those states.”

Seven weeks before Election Day, the state-by-state review of how the electoral contest shapes up shows Mr. Bush leading across the South, the Western and Plains states and in several major Midwestern states, including Ohio and Missouri. If he actually wins these states, he would have 269 electoral votes, one vote shy of victory.

Mr. Kerry, on the other hand, leads the president in most of the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic states, the big Midwestern states of Illinois and Michigan, the Pacific Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington, and Hawaii, which would give him 211 electoral votes.

At least six states — Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and New Mexico — are regarded as tossups. Democrats won five of them four years ago. West Virginia gave Mr. Bush a margin of 41,000 votes four years ago.

In Pennsylvania, a swing state with 21 electoral votes crucial to Mr. Kerry’s prospects, a Gallup Poll shows the race nearly even, with Mr. Bush holding a one-point edge, 48 percent to 47 percent, among likely voters.

The president is thought to be running slightly ahead in Wisconsin, with 10 electoral votes that Mr. Gore won by fewer than 6,000 votes. A recent USA Today-CNN-Gallup Poll shows Mr. Bush leading by 48 percent to 45 percent.

Mr. Bush appears to be narrowing the race in Minnesota, where a Newsweek poll shows 47 percent for Mr. Kerry and 46 percent for Mr. Bush. In Iowa, which Al Gore won by 4,000 votes, the polls show the race tied at 47 percent each.

Mr. Kerry has led the president in Ohio polls for much of this year, but last week Gallup found Mr. Bush eight points ahead, 52 percent to 44 percent.

Nevertheless, Ohio Democratic officials say they are not discouraged. “I would say Bush got a bounce here, not that Kerry has slipped,” says Ohio Democratic state Chairman Denny White. “There is still a lot of time between now and Election Day. Kerry has to stay focused. It’s all about the economy.”

In New Mexico, which Mr. Bush lost by 366 votes in 2000, there are signs of Kerry slippage. A Research and Polling Inc. survey of 908 registered voters completed Sept. 1 for the Albuquerque Journal found Mr. Bush leading 45 percent to 42 percent, with 1 percent for independent Ralph Nader.

In Missouri, where Democrats have had high hopes this year, a Gallup Poll shows Mr. Bush leading 55 percent to 41 percent.

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