Thursday, November 02, 2000

Bush-Gore much too close to call

By Chuck Raasch
Gannett News Service

        WASHINGTON — The most important places in America Tuesday will be medium-sized cities like Scranton, Pa., Orlando, Fla., and Green Bay, Wis. They are swing places in swing states, in what might turn out to be the closest presidential election in 40 years.

        Whether it actually will be that tight Tuesday is not clear because of the vagaries of polls; voters still making up their minds or lukewarm about their candidate; and that uniquely American institution, the Electoral College.

        The last time national polls showed it this close the weekend before an election was 1980. A Gallup poll released the Sunday before the 1980 election had Ronald Reagan with 46 percent and incumbent Jimmy Carter with 43 percent. Those numbers are almost exactly the tight margins existing between Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

        But Mr. Reagan pulled away in the final hours, won a 10-point victory in the popular vote and swept the Electoral College in a landslide, 489 to 49.

        Entering the 2000 campaign's final weekend, the Electoral College map still has too many tossup states to give Mr. Bush or Mr. Gore a decided advantage.

        A state-by-state projection and their respective electoral votes:

        • Alabama (9): Solid Bush. Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat to win here, in 1976.

        • Alaska: (3) Solid Bush. Has voted only once for a Democrat (Lyndon Johnson in '64) since statehood.

        • Arizona: (8) Leaning Bush. Bill Clinton broke a 44-year Republican deadlock on this state four years ago, but Republicans are bullish about their chances on John McCain's home turf.

        • Arkansas: (6) Tossup. Mr. Bush is running surprisingly well in Clinton country.

        • California: (54) Leaning Gore. Mr. Bush has campaigned hard and often here.

        • Colorado: (8) Leaning Bush. Has voted once for a Democrat (Mr. Clinton in 1992) since 1964.

        • Connecticut: (8). Solid Gore. Joe Lieberman should win twice here, as a vice presidential candidate and as senator.

        • Delaware (3): Tossup. A tight Senate race has overshadowed the presidential contest in a state that has leaned Democratic in recent presidential elections.

        • District of Columbia (3): Sol id Gore.

        • Florida (25): Tossup. Concerns about Social Security; the choice of Mr. Lieberman (who appeals to Jewish voters); and baggage carried by Gov. Jeb Bush, the GOP nominee's brother, have made it tougher for Mr. Bush than the slam-dunk Republicans expected.

        • Georgia: (13) Leaning Bush. Former Democrat Gov. Zell Miller should win his temporary Senate seat handily, but Mr. Bush is running strong here.

        • Hawaii: (4) Solid Gore.

        • Idaho: (4). Solid Bush.

        • Illinois: (22) Leaning Gore. If the vice president loses here, it's a Bush landslide.

        • Indiana (12): Solid Bush.

        • Iowa: (7). Tossup. Gore and Democrats may have a better turnout machine, but Mr. Bush has hung tight in polls.

        • Kansas: (6) Solid Bush.

        • Kentucky: (8) Solid Bush.

        • Louisiana: (9) Leaning Bush. Not so solid Republican as many of its southern neighbors, it went twice for Mr. Clinton.

        • Maine: (4) Tossup. As Maine goes? Contrarian state — Ross Perot finished second, ahead of former President Bush, in 1992.

        • Maryland: (10) Solid Gore. Mr. Bush's father did win here in 1988, which could make it closer than some expect.

        • Massachusetts: (12) Solid Gore. Reliably Democratic, to the point that only the Bay State and the District of Columbia selected George McGovern in '72.

        • Michigan: (18) Tossup. Arguably the nation's top bellwether this year, it could boil down to how many union voters choose Mr. Bush on issues like abortion or gun control.

        • Minnesota: (10) Tossup. Surprisingly, Mr. Bush has hung tough in a state that has voted Democratic in presidential races since 1976, the longest consecutive Democratic streak of any state.

        • Mississippi: (7) Solid Bush.

        • Missouri: (11) Tossup. Gov. Mel Carnahan's death in a plane crash last month, plus the fact he still is on the ballot as a Senate candidate, makes this one of the truest wild cards of all time. His widow, Jean, who is not on the ballot, could beat incumbent Republican John Ashcroft.

        • Montana: (3) Solid Bush. Bill Clinton nearly beat Bob Dole here four years ago, but Mr. Gore's chances aren't as good this time.

        • Nebraska: (5) Solid Bush.

        • Nevada: (4). Tossup. Fast-growing state has been leaning Democrat lately.

        • New Hampshire: (4) Tossup. Has enjoyed uncharacteristic attention in the general election; rejected Mr. Bush for John McCain in February primary, but is giving Mr. Bush a second look.

        • New Jersey: (15) Leaning Gore. Mr. Bush's father won here in 1988, but not in 1992, and America's most densely populated state is at least as daunting now for the GOP.

        • New Mexico: (5) Tossup. Green Party nominee Ralph Nader has built some interest here, and it's a Bush neighbor; both these could neutralize recent Democratic leanings.

        • New York: (33) Solid Gore. It's Mr. Gore's best big-state anchor; presidential race overshadowed by Rick Lazio-Hillary Clinton Senate race.

        • North Carolina: (14) Leaning Bush. Rejected Clinton-Gore both in 1992 and 1996.

        • North Dakota: (3) Solid Bush. Strong anti-Clinton sentiments would hurt any Democrat presidential candidate this year.

        • Ohio: (21) Leaning Bush. A September tossup, it trended Republican as the campaign moved along.

        • Oklahoma: (8) Solid Bush. Surprisingly, Michael Dukakis won it in 1988, but he is the only Democrat to win here since LBJ.

        • Oregon: (7) Tossup. Another state where Mr. Nader is making a difference, and Mr. Bush has campaigned hard.

        • Pennsylvania: (23) Tossup. Its Republican governor, Tom Ridge, was on vice presidential short list; went for Mr. Clinton twice in the '90s.

        • Rhode Island: (4). Solid Gore. Votes Republicans for the White House only in GOP landslides.

        • South Carolina: (8) Solid Bush. The state that helped right Mr. Bush's primary campaign is traditionally Republican.

        • South Dakota: (3) Solid Bush. So Republican it did not even vote for favorite son McGovern in '72.

        • Tennessee: (11) Tossup. That Mr. Gore felt he had to run October biographical ads in his home state, after representing it in Congress for 16 years, may forecast an embarrassment here.

        • Texas: (32) Solid Bush. As solid as a state can be for a two-term governor.

        • Utah: (5) Solid Bush. Has voted for one Democrat since Harry Truman.

        • Vermont: (3) Leaning Gore. Cultural conservatives are stirred up over new civil union law, and state went for Republicans six straight elections before Clinton-Gore came along.

        • Virginia: (13) Solid Bush. Mr. Gore has not even competed here.

        • Washington: (11) Leaning Gore. Mr. Nader potentially a drag on Mr. Gore here, too, but Mr. Gore still slightly favored.

        • West Virginia: (5) Tossup. In a state that has trended Democrat, Mr. Gore is challenged on issues ranging from coal to gun control.

        • Wisconsin: (11) Tossup. Another swing Midwest state whose Republican governor, Tommy Thompson, is being asked to deliver for Mr. Bush. Mr. Gore hanging tough with unions, liberals.

        • Wyoming: (3) Solid Bush. About to make it nine straight presidential elections for the GOP.


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