Although we are two years away from the first ballot being cast in the 2008 presidential election and don't even know who the candidates will be, we already know a great deal about how the race will turn out. Historical trends tell us that the Republican candidate will be very tough to beat regardless of who he is.
To see why this is the case, let's first look at which states voted for George W. Bush in both 2000 and 2004, and those that went for both Al Gore and John Kerry. This will give us a good guide to each party's base.
Starting with Bush, we see that he carried all of these states twice: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. They have 274 electoral votes, with 270 needed to win.
Gore and Kerry carried all of these states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin. These have 248 electoral votes.
In 2000, Iowa and New Mexico went for Gore and switched to Bush in 2004. New Hampshire went for Bush in 2000, but went for Kerry in 2004. These three states are the only ones that changed party, and the vote shift was very small. In 2000, Gore won Iowa with 48.54 percent of the vote to 48.22 percent for Bush; in 2004, Bush won the state with 49.9 percent to Kerry's 49.23 percent.
A similar story is told in New Hampshire and New Mexico. Bush carried the Granite State with 48.07 percent of the vote to 46.8 percent for Gore in 2000; in 2004, Kerry got 50.24 percent to 48.87 percent for Bush. New Mexico gave Gore 47.91 percent of the vote in 2000 to Bush's 47.85 percent. In 2004, Bush took the Land of Enchantment with 49.84 percent to 49.05 percent for Kerry.
Looking at potential swing states, we see that Bush won the following states in 2000 with less than 50 percent of the vote: Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Ohio. Gore won these states with less than 50 percent: Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin. But in 2004, there were only three states that were won with less than 50 percent of the vote: Iowa and New Mexico went for Bush, and Wisconsin went for Kerry.
Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.
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