It's that time: here's my prediction of the electoral map to which we'll awaken on Wednesday morning. For the record, I don't think the fears of a drawn-out electoral mess will be validated. Yes, Florida will be a colossal mess, but because Bush will lose the election with or without that state, Kerry won't have to send in hired goons to figure out why the machines didn't work and black citizens couldn't vote.
It won't matter because Kerry will win 284-254 without Florida, or so believe Brad and me. He'll do so by winning every state north of Maryland, including Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. Indeed, he'll carry every state awarded to Gore in 2000 and pick up two: N.H. and Ohio. I know the race has been tight in Wisconsin, Iowa, and New Mexico; of the three, I'd bet on N.M. as the one to fall away, though Bill Richardson and Bill Clinton are doing their best to hang on. But even that won't stop Kerry's march to victory if he can win Ohio, as now appears likely, and hold onto the rest of the Gore states.
Potential surprises, in declining order of expectation:
- Early voters in heavily-Democratic counties provide the votes needed to give Kerry a clear win in Florida, beyond the Jeb margin of disrupting.
- GOTV efforts, a strong final weekend radio ad and appearance from Bill Clinton, and robocalls featuring the former governor and president tilt Arkansas into the Kerry column and unexpectedly break up the solid South.
- Colorado, West Virginia, and Nevada--in that order--ride a wave of support for Kerry and last-minute pondering of what four more years would mean for the nation and deliver a clear mandate to the Senator from Massachusetts.
- North Carolina remembers that John Edwards is its Senator and delivers a bitch-slap to carpetbaggers everywhere by failing to help BC'04 chair Elizabeth Dole's standing within her party. (I don't think this is very likely, by the way, but it's fun to imagine.)