Sabatos Crystal Ball

Kerry with Narrow Lead in June

The Electoral College goes to summer school

Larry J. Sabato, Director, U.Va. Center for Politics June 17th, 2004


With less than five months to go until Nov. 2, the candidates will travel many thousands of miles in their quest to finally park the campaign bus at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. The path to the White House is a meandering one, which will take both Bush and Kerry through teetering swing states scattered across the country in order to top off their tanks with enough high-octane electoral votes to propel them to the highest elected office in the land. How will they get there? The terrain will surely shift between now and Election Day, but the Crystal Ball is happy to provide you with a method to plot each candidate’s course. Here now is “Sabato’s Electoral Road Map,” which looks at each state individually and predicts its CURRENT electoral leaning. As the days and miles fly by and the candidates trade paint, we’ll keep you posted on changes in the standings. It’s sure to get intense as we get closer to November, but remember that the campaign trail is just like the speedway — rubbin’ is racin’.

All 50 states are clickable, and in addition to our unique analysis, information is provided to give you, the reader, a basic idea of what is going on in the state. Included is the Bush-Gore margin from the 2000 election, the number of electoral votes each state possessed in 2000, the number each state will have in this year’s election, the members of the Congressional delegation, the breakdown by party, and their margin of victory in their last race.

So what does it show? If the election were held in June 2004, Kerry would narrowly defeat President Bush by 274 to 264 electoral votes. However, it’s ESSENTIAL to note the following:

  1. This is CLOSE. Anyone who believes that the election could not go either way is too partisan to be helped.
  2. A June map is NOT predictive of the November results. The world will turn over several times between now and Election Day (137 times, to be exact).
  3. While the electoral total is a squeaker today, we caution that the November results may not be nearly as tight. This election could break clearly in one direction come fall, or even (as in 1980) during the last week of the campaign because of late-unfolding events.
  4. Notice how many big, important states are balanced on the fencepost. These include: Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
  5. Since every electoral vote might matter, please also note that there are more than a dozen smaller states which are reasonably competitive and could flip allegiances from the 2000 vote.
  6. At least at the starting gate for the general election, the 2000 results have proven to be amazingly durable in drawing up today’s likely Electoral College picture.
  7. AS OF JUNE, three small states carried by George Bush four years ago appear to be leaning ever so slightly to John Kerry: Nevada, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. There is no Gore state from 2000 currently leaning to Bush, though Wisconsin seems to be the President’s best bet. Bush is also unmistakably in the hunt for prizes such as Pennsylvania, and maybe Michigan.

The Crystal Ball will update the map at regular intervals–and more frequently with the onset of Labor Day. REMEMBER ABOVE ALL: Where we begin does not predict where we will end. Buckle your seat belts and prepare yourselves for a ride so wild that no amusement park could insure it.