In this front page NYTimes.com story, the paper argues that Democrats are pummelling Republicans in registering new voters in swing states, specifically, Florida and Ohio. Looking at the headline, one might conclude that Kerry is gaining momentum. If you read more, then do a little independent work, you're likely to reach a different conclusion.
Okay, so the Democrats are better at getting people to register. No doubt. In St. Louis, Missouri, the Democrat machine is canvassing cemetaries all weekend. I'm sure the same thing's going on across the country. That's old news, unworthy of a NYTimes front page story. Kind of like, More Unions Support Democrats, or Republicans Polling Well With Self-Described Christian Right.
Inside the NYT story, we find an Electoral vote map. Bush has 257 electoral votes sown up according to the Times. Kerry has 180. The total needed for victory is 270, meaning Bush is only 13 away. The states still in play, according to the Times, are Maine, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Oregon. If the rest of their numbers hold, Bush would need only Florida, New Jersey, or Pennsyvlania by themselves. Or Oregon and New Mexico. Or Minnesota and any other state. Or several other combinations.
To win, though, Kerry would have to win all but two of the smallest. He must have Florida AND Pennsylvania AND New Jersey AND Minnesota, Iowa, Oregon, and New Mexico. Were he to wrap up these 7, he could give Maine and New Hampshire to Bush and still win with 2 electoral votes to spare.
No matter how you slice it, that map is really bad news for Kerry.
What's worse is the new voter drive. The two groups of registered voters who are least likely to vote are the young (18-24 year olds are less than half as likely as 40 year olds to vote) and the newly registered, who frequently fail to show up on election day. According to a political science professor, Donald Green, interviewed by the Times, new voters are very unpredictable. "Do you get 30 percent, or do you get 70 percent?" Professor Green said. "