01 November 2004

Down to the Wire

Here we are, down to the wire in what all the predictors still indicate is an election too close to call, even though some events in the last few crucial days seem, somewhat incongruosly, to have aided Bush. Not least among these is the notorious Bin Laden tape. Logically, this should help Kerry or at least have little or no effect: it should remind voters that Bush's anti-terrorism "war" has been a miserable failure at capturing and destroying Al Quaida and its leaders, having been sidetracked by the catastrophic war in Iraq. But the psychology of war fever is not rational, and the net effect of this reminder that Bin Laden is still out there probably is to gain Bush a small slice of still undecided or wavering voters. I can only hope any such benefit to Bush is too small to determine the outcome in any critical races.

Analysts, including Republican pollsters, have concluded that some of the unrecorded, i.e. unpolled, vote, especially among minorities, will likely increase Kerry's overall vote in the 12 or so battleground states, possibly by more than one or two percent. Whether this, and the unprecedentedly vigorous get out the vote effort being mounted by the Democratic Party, will be enough to tip the balance in enough states to equal 270 electoral votes is just not predictable, no matter what anyone says at this point.

A colleague reports one piece of predictor analysis: The Packers won over the weekend, so that means, according to an arcane tradition about the winner, (please don't ask me why, I have no idea), that Kerry will win the election. As a total non-sportsfan, this is a straw I can scarcely grasp at, but I'll take any good news at this point, as we wait on pins and needles for the result of the most critical election in a generation.

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