washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Analysis of the Big Four

By Alan Abramowitz
Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan are the four most important battleground states in the 2004 presidential election. Together they hold 85 electoral votes. In the 2000 election, Al Gore carried Michigan and Pennsylvania while George Bush carried Florida (barely) and Ohio. An analysis of independent polls that have been conducted in these four states since October 15th reveals that John Kerry is now leading in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio and trailing only slightly in Florida. This analysis includes only independent media and academic polls. It excludes partisan polls and robo-dial polls such as those done by Rasmussen and Surveyusa and the Zogby tracking polls. However, including the robo-dial and tracking polls would not change the overall results appreciably in any of these states. Results here are for likely voters. In most cases, John Kerry does slightly better among all registered voters than among likely voters.
In Florida (27 electoral votes) there have been 9 polls since October 15th. George Bush led in 5 polls, John Kerry led in 3 polls, and 1 poll was tied. The average of the 9 polls was Bush 47.8, Kerry 45.7, Nader 1.2.
In Pennsylvania (21 electoral votes) there have been 8 polls since October 15th. Bush led in 1 poll, Kerry led in 6 polls, and 1 poll was tied. The average of the 8 polls was Bush 46.5, Kerry 48.8. Ralph Nader is not on the ballot in Pennsylvania.
In Ohio (20 electoral votes) there have been 8 polls since October 15th. Bush led in 2 polls, Kerry led in 6 polls. The average of the 8 polls was Bush 46.5, Kerry 48.0. Ralph Nader is not on the ballot in Ohio. Remember, no Republican has ever won a presidential election without carrying Ohio.
In Michigan (17 electoral votes) there have been 4 polls since October 15th. Kerry led in all 4. The average of the 4 polls was Bush 43.8, Kerry 48.0, Nader 1.0.
Based on the most recent independent polls conducted in these 4 key states, John Kerry appears to be poised to carry Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. In addition, George Bush’s lead in Florida is far from secure. If undecided voters in Florida break toward Kerry, as most analysts expect, John Kerry could sweep these four states next Tuesday.
Source for all polling data is pollingreport.com.

12 comments on “Analysis of the Big Four

  1. Tom on

    I live in Milwaukee–and have for the better part of 50 years. Sen. Russ Feingold (“McCain-Feingold”) is running for a third term against an opponent that is far right (to give you an idea how far: no abortion for ANY reason, period) and will win a relatively easy victory. I cannot imagine there will many “Bush-Feingold” ballots. The 4th Cong. District that is essentially the City of Milwaukee has an African-American woman as the Dem. nominee. Of course, this will spur voter turnout in the Milwaukee inner-city.
    As far as zeitgeist is concerned, yesterday Kerry had the biggest political rally in state history in Madison, and the Milwaukee Journal (the state’s largest newspaper) endorsed Kerry in a long editorial. There is much more. But, Wisconsin is a state that I know well, geographically and politically. Kerry doesn’t get a free ride, he has to earn his votes. But, I just don’t see it happening for Bush. If, despite everything, Bush somehow wins Wisconsin, then simply color this state “red” for future elections. There is NO reason to believe this is the case.

  2. Ron on

    My only fear is that Most of the states in play seem to be traditional Democratic ones. If Kerry takes the four then great (he could even lose Hawaii and one of the Maine districts and still hit 270 on the nose). But just losing one of FLOHPA makes the matah really tough. I’m not saying he can’t/won’t win, it’s just the battle seems to be uphill. Trying to keep my chin up though.

  3. Dumbo on

    Wisconsin is turning out to be key.
    Bush’s strategy is to take Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin, figuring they will probably lose in Ohio and Penn.
    The Wisconsin polls look slightly better for Bush right now, although I don’t think slightly better is good enough to carry it for him in a big turnout election. The point is, it’s a very strategic battleground state.

  4. Matthew Shugart on

    Back to national polls for a moment. For my course (I am a political scientist) I compiled data on the national horse-race going back to April. While trying to pick trends out of this polling data is risky, given how much the polls diverge from one another, something interesting seems to be happening.
    If you graph over time the share of the two-party preference (i.e. throwing out undecideds and third-party supporters) that Bush is getting in the RV polls, the two candidates are getting closer to parity in the last week.
    But if you go by the incumbent’s share of all RV respondents (i.e. including undecideds and others in the denominator), Bush is getting closer to 50%.
    In other words, if these are real trends–a big if–the chances that Bush could win the popular vote are increasing. But, paradoxically, the race is simultaneously tightening, meaning a split of the popular and electoral vote could be getting more likely. All the more so given Kerry’s lead in state polls of several key battleground states that we have seen posted here.
    The graphs I refer to are at http://irpshome.ucsd.edu/faculty/mshugart/pmp/links.html, at the link entitled “2004 polls update.”

  5. Jordan on

    While all this information looks good in favor of Kerry, we have to remember that there are even flaws as of now with Florida. Lets cross our fingers they can get it right this time

  6. JJF on

    Any new numbers about the north central states, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa? I think Kerry can be still have the edge without Iowa, but the other two have me nervous.
    This late news from Hawaii is troubling too. What’s up with that?
    No one’s panicking here, just curious.

  7. Anderson on

    Wisconsin? What about Wisconsin?
    Kerry can take OH, PA, MI, and still lose without Wisconsin.
    (And the Dems are spending $250,000 this weekend in … Arkansas.)
    Hope you’re right about Florida .. and that Dems’ votes get counted there this year!

  8. Craig on

    I noted the source for all data here is pollingreport.com. The LA Times web site has an interactive map based on pollingreport.com data. (I think, but may be wrong, that gives non-members access to their members only state-by-state polling data.) The map is a lot of fun because you can color it in based on most recents polls in each state or based on your obsessive desire to see this destructive, arrogant, insular administration bounced out of the White House. When John Kerry gets to 270 it plays “Hail To The Chief.” It is at least as much fun as “How Can Gallup….”

  9. eric garber on

    Can one of you smart stat-heads put this talk about Hawaii to rest? …. Gore won by 20 or so points in 2000 … I simply do NOT believe that W is ahead…. I’m sure there is some kind of major flaw in this polling…. Any details?

  10. david s on

    are the average of the polls weighted for sample size?
    would it not make sense to add all the samplings together for a state and then determine percentages?
    [or are all samples exactly the same size?]
    would it make a difference?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.