Maintaining Optimism in the Face of Reality. Occasional observations on the state of the world, society, business and politics. Usually anchored by facts, always augmented by opinion.

And What New Jersey Might Be Saying to Kerry (don't call the movers yet)  | e-mail post

In my last post I hypothesized that New Jersey's tilt away from Kerry could signal to others that the country really might be safer under Bush, and with as tight as some states are, this could possible move some toss-ups into the Bush camp. But that's really only the start of the problem for Kerry.

The even bigger issue for Kerry is that these are 15 electoral votes he thought he had sewn up. When you start doing the math on what happens if NJ goes for Bush, it means Kerry needs to pretty much run the table with the current swing states, and some estimates would say even if Kerry can pull that rabbit out of the hat, he's still going to have plenty of time to work on his windsurfing without the distraction of the Secret Service while George Bush works through his second term.

But surely New Jersey's not going to reverse themselves and elect the guy they voted against by a 16% margin in 2000, are they? Well, when I started looking at the numbers, I started seeing just how vulnerable they are.

Now, unfortunately, with no statewide elections and everybody assuming early on that NJ was lock-in for Kerry, the top-tier polling firms like Mason-Dixon haven't really been covering NJ. However, take a look at the trend lines for the polls that have been run in NJ. Looks like they nearly converge on election day. But that's pretty superficial.

If you dig into what is probably the best most recent poll, from the Quinnipiac University (in CT) Polling Institute, things start looking really grim for Kerry, especially in light of the potential weakness in the GOTV. Bush beats Kerry among voters 35-64 years of age (and only trails 40-43 among 65+) and Bush is also leading for every annual income category over $30,000. These are great numbers for a Republican. Combine that with 12% of Kerry supporters saying they could change their mind compared to only 7% of Bush supporters, and things are looking good for Bush/Cheney in NJ.

And then if you layer in the fact that New Jersey is slightly more than 40% Catholic and, as the NYT is reporting today, Catholic Bishops are categorically opposing Kerry due to his abortion stance, including Archbishop Myers of Newark, it's another indicator that Kerry might sleep with the fish in New Jersey. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Of course, how many people will follow Myers' guidance is tough to say, but given that it will likely work to erode pro-Kerry constituencies (the Catholic/Democrat connection is still strong, and older Catholics are typically more likely to be swayed by church guidance), it doesn't need to move too many people to flip New Jersey completely. [Some other thoughts on the Catholic vote.]

Of course Dems are downplaying the risk. NJ state Senator (and McGreevey's new employer) Ray Lesniak told the Post, "Anybody who believes these polls [showing a close race] is a political neophyte or an idiot."

Hmm. Let's see...Lesniak's never run in an election for anything bigger than the NJ state senate, which is perfectly respectable, but Dick Cheney was Ford's Chief of Staff around the time Lesniak graduated from law school; not quite a neophyte. And no matter how much somebody doesn't like Cheney, I've never heard him called an idiot.

Also, one historical note that is food for thought: if the 1980 Carter-Reagan race is any indication, New Jesey really doesn't like getting pushed around by the Mideast. While NY went for Reagan in 1980 by a weak 47-44 , NJ came in 52-39 for Reagan.

e-mail post | Link Cosmos | [Permalink]  |  | Tuesday, October 12, 2004
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