Jewish World Review Dec. 30, 2003 / 5 Teves, 5764
Dean is big on campus except in the one College that actually counts
Howard Dean has a strong following in just about every college in America...
except the Electoral College. This bodes ill for his hopes of becoming
president, should he be nominated by the Democrats.
Though the national popular vote in the last presidential election was the
closest in history, there were only 18 states where the victor won by 6
percentage points or less. Of these, Bush won 9 states, which will have 99
electoral votes in 2004, and Vice President Gore won 9, which will have 92
electoral votes this year.
Five states - Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Oregon - were decided
by less than a percentage point. Bush won Florida, which has 27 electoral
votes this year. Gore won the other four, with a combined total of 29
Bush is actually stronger than this analysis of the close states suggests,
because Dean cannot be expected to do as well as Gore did in Gore's home
state of Tennessee (Bush +4), or in Bill Clinton's home state of Arkansas
If Tennessee and Arkansas are removed from the list of swing states, then
Democrats in 2000 won a clear majority of the electoral vote in the states
most likely to change their votes (92- 82). They are most unlikely to do so
this year, especially if Dean is the Democratic nominee.
As a New Englander with pronounced left of center views, Dean would have had
trouble enough in the South under normal circumstances. But he has made an
uphill climb steeper by injudicious comments about Confederate flag bumper
stickers on pickup trucks, and about talking about his faith in Jesus Christ
only in the South.
Dean appears to believe Southerners are redneck morons who ought to be
patronized, and can be bamboozled. Southerners, understandably, resent this.
Dean has, in effect, written off the South.
This is not a good thing to do. The 11 states of the old Confederacy, minus
Florida (which no longer behaves like a Southern state) and including the
border states of West Virginia, Kentucky and Oklahoma, have among them 146
electoral votes. When added to these are the electoral votes of Indiana
(Bush +15) and the Western states Bush carried by 10 points or more in 2000,
Bush begins with a base of 192 electoral votes, 71 percent of the 270 needed
Dean's uncontested base, by contrast, consists of just 44 electoral votes.
The larger the uncontested base, the more time and resources a candidate can
devote to the swing states where the election will be won or lost. Gore did
better in Florida and the Midwest because he was so far ahead in California,
New York and New Jersey that he didn't need to make more than token efforts
Dean will not have that luxury. Though Dean likely will be able to carry
California, New York, New Jersey and Illinois, Bush will be strong enough to
make him fight for them, depriving Dean of time and money to spend in the
The election will be decided in eight states. Bush will fight to hold
Florida, Ohio and Missouri, and to take Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan
and Pennsylvania. Bush currently leads - mostly by comfortable margins - in
opinion polls in all of them.
The 2004 election will be fought on Dean's side of midfield, perhaps in his
Gore supporters blame the defeat of their man on votes siphoned off by Ralph
Nader. Dean supporters say an advantage their man will have is that if he is
the candidate, fewer leftists will stray.
It's true that Nader (who has said he will not be the Green Party's nominee
again, but hasn't ruled out a run as an independent) cost Gore the election.
But he affected the outcome in only two states. Nader got a trivial
proportion of the vote in Florida, but because the race was so close, it was
decisive. The only other state where the Nader vote gave Bush victory was
New Hampshire. Gore won in every other state where Nader got a significant
If Dean is relying on a united leftist vote to propel him to victory, he is relying on a phantom.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.