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RINGLEADER
10-22-2004, 01:59 AM
LAS VEGAS When John Kerry arrives in Reno today for his sixth visit to Nevada this year, he will underscore a dramatic shift in the geography of the race for the White House.

Kerry, in a virtually unprecedented move for a Democrat, is relying more on the West than the South in his plan to reach the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.

Once the party of the "Solid South," Democrats this year are not actively contesting any state in the region except Florida in the presidential campaign.Instead, Kerry has shifted his attention west, mounting major efforts in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and, at one point, Arizona.

"In the 1980s and the 1990s, the Holy Grail was to make the Democratic Party competitive in the South again," said Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network, a political action committee that supports centrist party officials. "Now the Southwest is a vital, new part of the Democratic strategy."

This shift may reflect equal parts opportunity and weakness.

Democrats see opportunity across the Southwest in its growing Latino population and signs that the region's moderate suburbanites may be warming to the party's stances on social issues.

But Republicans see Kerry's emphasis on the Southwest particularly the GOP-leaning states of Colorado and Arizona as a measure of his limited options for reaching 270 electoral votes while writing off virtually every Southern state.

"They are focusing on it out of necessity," said Matthew Dowd, chief strategist for President Bush's reelection campaign. "Their map is shrinking."

The largest concentration of battlegrounds in the 2004 campaign as in most recent presidential races remains a group of states in the industrial heartland whose demographic diversity denies either side a decisive advantage.

But the next tier of contested states has conspicuously shifted from the South toward the Southwest. Kerry may be the first Democratic presidential nominee who hopes to win in November without seriously contesting any Southern state except Florida which politically has more in common with New Jersey than Georgia or Alabama.

"This has never happened before never," said Ralph Reed, the Georgia-based Southeastern chairman for Bush's campaign.

Democratic nominees have almost always targeted at least some Southern states. As recently as 2000, Gore demonstrated his commitment to competing in the South by buying television advertisements in October in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky and Louisiana as well as Florida, according to ad tracking conducted for The Times by TNSMI/Campaign Media Analysis Group.

Yet Gore, a Southern Baptist, still lost to Bush in all 11 states of the Old Confederacy, plus Oklahoma and Kentucky. Those 13 states provided Bush 60% of his 271 electoral votes.

To some Democrats, Gore's narrow electoral college defeat showed the difficulty of winning the White House without capturing any Southern ground; to others, it demonstrated that the party could reach a majority without the South if it made small gains elsewhere.

Kerry and his aides began the general election pledging to recapture some Southern states or at least contest them seriously. His campaign and the Democratic National Committee bought television time in North Carolina, Arkansas, Virginia and Louisiana. And Kerry's selection of Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina as his running mate seemed designed, in part, to broaden the ticket's appeal in the South.

But Kerry and the DNC have not been on the air with ads in North Carolina since July, Louisiana since August, and Arkansas and Virginia since early September, according to the ad tracking.

Tad Devine, a senior Kerry advisor, said the campaign is still considering a final push in either Arkansas or North Carolina. But for all practical purposes, analysts say, Kerry appears to have conceded 141 electoral college votes across the region to Bush, still contesting only the 27 in Florida.

"It's a replay of the 2000 election, where except for Florida the presidential contest wasn't really close in any of the Southern states," said Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta and the author of several books on Southern politics. As his fallback if he falls short in some of the Midwest's swing states, such as Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin, Kerry increasingly has looked to the Southwest.

In recent years, many top Democratic strategists have hoped that the growth of the Southwest's Latino population would gradually strengthen Democratic prospects in the region. But, like a baseball team forced to call up a promising young prospect more quickly than it expected, Democrats are banking on the area more than party leaders anticipated.

"The potential opportunities [in the Southwest] just looked better than some of the [Southern] states where we had previously advertised," Devine said.

Kerry hasn't been seen in the South in months, but after his visit to Reno, he has stops scheduled Saturday in Colorado and New Mexico.

Before pulling the plug, Democrats spent about $1.9 million on television ads in North Carolina and Virginia, and a little more than $1 million in Arkansas and Louisiana, according to TNSMI/CMAG.

By contrast, Kerry has already spent $7.8 million on ads in Nevada, $6.6 million in Colorado and $6 million in New Mexico and Arizona, TNSMI/CMAG found. Gore only advertised in Nevada and New Mexico, and at just a small fraction of Kerry's levels.

In New Mexico, which Gore carried by just 366 votes, the latest polls generally show Kerry clinging to a lead, albeit one within the margin of error.

In Nevada, Democrats have been encouraged by an intense voter registration drive that erased the traditional GOP lead on the rolls. But polls have generally shown Bush holding a narrow advantage there. Colorado has remained close, though Republicans maintain a clear edge in voter registration and the most recent public surveys consistently show Bush ahead.

The GOP also retains a significant lead in voter registration in Arizona, and the Democrats pulled their advertising from the state after polls indicated Kerry's chances looked increasingly slim.

Rosenberg's group, the New Democrat Network, has sought to improve his party's prospects in the Southwest by financing an unprecedented barrage of Spanish-language television ads.

Other analysts in both parties, though, note that the number of Latinos registering to vote still lags well behind their increase in population, blunting their impact on election day.

Another potential strength for Kerry in the Southwest, Rosenberg thinks, is that the religiously-infused social conservatism that has made Bush so formidable in the South is weakening him with Southwest voters who prefer limited government involvement in both the economy and their private lives.

"George Bush's breed of conservatism is playing very, very well among social conservatives, but among more libertarian conservatives this isn't playing that well," Rosenberg said.

But while Bush's social conservatism may draw a mixed response across the Southwest, his small-government, low-tax message generally strikes a responsive chord.

Former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, now co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Studies at the University of Denver, agrees with Rosenberg that the Southern-style social conservatism ascendant in the GOP could prove a boon for Democrats in the Southwest. But he doesn't believe the change will come fast enough to tilt Colorado this year.

The "Massachusetts liberal" tag Bush has applied to Kerry "still has some sting to it" in the Southwest, Lamm said. That, he said, makes it hard for him to see Kerry winning Colorado.

Similarly, Arizona-based Republican consultant Jay Heiler said the confidence that voters in the state have in Bush's national security credentials has made it an implausible target for Kerry. "The president is so much stronger than Kerry in the minds of the Arizona electorate on ... national security issues that Kerry has always had a big disadvantage here," Heiler said.

But even if Kerry falls short in the Southwest in November's vote, the senator has set the right direction for his party by intensifying its focus on the rapidly growing Southwest states, said Democratic pollster Paul Maslin. Many Democratic-leaning states, he noted, have lost electoral college votes in recent decades as population has increased more quickly elsewhere.

"It is the first time in a generation ... that Democrats are gaining strength in a growing part of the country," Maslin said.

BIG_DADDY
10-22-2004, 02:04 AM
Kerry will lose for one reason alone. People see him as a wishy washy metro with no leadership qualities. The end result will have nothing to do with the issues.

mlyonsd
10-22-2004, 07:19 AM
On Imus this morning even that fat left wing whiz bag Chris Matthews admitted Bush has the upper hand and unless something drastic happens in the next week Bush will win.

Matthews point of Kerry having to spend so much time in the usually Democratic stronghold of Pennsylvania is an indication that Kerry's story isn't selling.

Cochise
10-22-2004, 08:50 AM
...unless something drastic happens in the next week Bush will win.

Don't forget that they still have to spring their dirty trick. They have something they have been holding back until the end, like with both the previous two Bush elections. I'm looking for it probably later in the week next week.

KCN
10-22-2004, 09:04 AM
I just read the first few lines of this article, but what I got from it was, Kerry focuses his campaign on three states that have been very close in the polls (probably due to increasing Hispanic populations) instead of focusing on states that haven't shown a hint of going blue in years.

This is news?

So when Kerry campaigns in GOP-leaning states like Colorado it's because his chances are dwindling, but when Bush campaigns in states like New Jersey it's a sign of Kerry losing ground in solid blue states.

Okay....

mlyonsd
10-22-2004, 09:09 AM
Don't forget that they still have to spring their dirty trick. They have something they have been holding back until the end, like with both the previous two Bush elections. I'm looking for it probably later in the week next week.

Yea, I've wondered about that too. I guess that's why the Saudi's are holding back on dropping the price of oil and OBL hasn't been drug out in shackles during a Fox News exclusive yet, like some here have predicted.

I suppose both sides want to play the final card.

siberian khatru
10-22-2004, 09:12 AM
Don't forget that they still have to spring their dirty trick. They have something they have been holding back until the end, like with both the previous two Bush elections. I'm looking for it probably later in the week next week.

The Thursday or Friday before the election. I've been wondering what would be effective.

Proof that he paid for his g/f's abortion in the early 1970s? Might depress Christian conservative turnout.

Proof, finally, that he disobeyed orders in the NG? It would have to be bombshell, incontrovertible stuff to break thru the "old news/forgeries" mindset.

Rumors that he started drinking again after 9/11? Absent proof, I don't see how that sticks.

A Lawrence Walsh-type indictment of Scooter Libby for leaking Valerie Plame's name? I think the media cares about that more than the public.

It will definitely be fasten-your-seatbelts time.

Mr. Kotter
10-22-2004, 09:25 AM
Kerry will lose for one reason alone. People see him as a wishy washy metro with no leadership qualities. The end result will have nothing to do with the issues.

But he sure can DEBATE, man! ROFL

:p

RINGLEADER
10-22-2004, 10:12 AM
The Thursday or Friday before the election. I've been wondering what would be effective.

Proof that he paid for his g/f's abortion in the early 1970s? Might depress Christian conservative turnout.

Proof, finally, that he disobeyed orders in the NG? It would have to be bombshell, incontrovertible stuff to break thru the "old news/forgeries" mindset.

Rumors that he started drinking again after 9/11? Absent proof, I don't see how that sticks.

A Lawrence Walsh-type indictment of Scooter Libby for leaking Valerie Plame's name? I think the media cares about that more than the public.

It will definitely be fasten-your-seatbelts time.


I remember the last "surprise" well - I was actually with Bush as the story was breaking and remember Karen Hughes running around with this completely PO'd look on her face. That DUI story is the only reason the last election was close at all.

KCN
10-22-2004, 10:15 AM
I really don't think that DUI story had anything to do with it. No one cared about that, except those who were already voting for Gore.

Is it true that Bush paid for his girlfriend's abortion? I had never heard that.

RINGLEADER
10-22-2004, 10:17 AM
The only known "surprise" that the Dems have left in their quiver (after the Richard Clarke book, after the Joe Wilson book, after the Bob Woodward book, after Fahrenheit 9/11, after the 9/11 commission hearings, after the August 9th PDB, after the Kitty Kelly book, after the conventions, and after the debates) is the Valerie Plame case. If Fitzgerald brings an indictment before the election it could have the same impact that the earlier "surprises" mentioned above. I don't think Fitzgerald is that political, but it's the only KNOWN thing still out there.

Of course, if the Bush people have something on Kerry, that's another matter entirely...

Mr. Kotter
10-22-2004, 12:04 PM
...Of course, if the Bush people have something on Kerry, that's another matter entirely...

Revenge for 2000 would be sweet if they are holding somethin' to the end of next week. :)

Calcountry
10-22-2004, 12:20 PM
Don't forget that they still have to spring their dirty trick. They have something they have been holding back until the end, like with both the previous two Bush elections. I'm looking for it probably later in the week next week.
It won't play this time, because we have seen Bush in Action for 4 years. IOW, he is a known commodity. We know he was a drunk, we know about the National guard, we know that he stutters, and he still has a lead. What are they going to drag up?

Fuggin Kerry ought to be concerned about his flank. I wouldn't be surprised if the Republicans got a couple of torpedos to throw at the relatively, "unknown" to non politicos, John Kerry.

Bush does NOT want to govern his last 4 years with a perceived "divided" country. He and the country needs a solid if not landslide victory.

Calcountry
10-22-2004, 12:23 PM
The Thursday or Friday before the election. I've been wondering what would be effective.

Proof that he paid for his g/f's abortion in the early 1970s? Might depress Christian conservative turnout.

Proof, finally, that he disobeyed orders in the NG? It would have to be bombshell, incontrovertible stuff to break thru the "old news/forgeries" mindset.

Rumors that he started drinking again after 9/11? Absent proof, I don't see how that sticks.

A Lawrence Walsh-type indictment of Scooter Libby for leaking Valerie Plame's name? I think the media cares about that more than the public.

It will definitely be fasten-your-seatbelts time.
There has been more than once that I thought that he may have fell off the wagon. When he is stuttering and stammering. So they just keep him hidden until he can get it under control again.

It is an amazing thing, power. Even though he is a reformed drunk, if he fell off the wagon momentarily, the entire apparatus that is the White House staff, is committed to propping him up for the sake of their cause.

Just look at what the Democrats were willing to overlook in Clinton for the sake of their cause.