Friday, October 22, 2004

11 Days Out

Austin, Texas 10/22/2004

So here we are. Eleven days left until the election. And the polls are as clear as mud.

The great Lawrence Peter Berra said, "In baseball, you don't know nothin'." And so it is in this year's presidential race. Well, that's not entirely accurate. There are a few things we know:
  • George W. Bush will get at least 40% of the national vote. Even the proverbial dead girl or live boy wouldn't get him much below 35%.
  • John Kerry will get at least 40% of the vote, similarly.
  • George W. Bush will win with huge majorities in several states.
  • John Kerry will win with huge majorities in several states.
  • In some states, the error rate inherent in whatever particular voting system they use will exceed the margin of victory.
  • No matter who has won by November 3rd -- if anyone -- a significant plurality of the American public will be angry. Really angry.
In fact, we probably know about as much about the outcome of the election as we know about what the weather will be like -- right there where you live -- on November 2nd. And, given the nature of this particular election, the two may be inextricably intertwined. If there's one thing that most people seem to agree upon this year, it's that turnout will be crucial. And it's not only turnout, but exactly who turns out.

Will many who had previously not voted (therefore not showing up as "likely voters" in most polls) turn out? If so, which ones? Traditionalist evangelicals? The "Sex in the City" vote? The slacker vote? The inner city vote (particularly in swing states)? Does anyone know? Can anyone know?

Even among the "likely voter" category, turnout is crucial. Whose kids will be sick? Whose car won't start? Whose bus will be late? Who will have an argument with a spouse/significant other? Who will get stuck in traffic?

And then there's the weather. If there are storms will they hit Miami or Pensacola? Cincinatti or Toledo? Madison or Eau Claire? It may well come down to the weather map.

Two disparate groups are making forecasts concerning November 2nd. One of them, the meteorologists, make no particular claim concerning their accuracy -- eleven days out.

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