Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Target Minnesota 

One last thought for the day, and then off to deal with the Littlest Scholar's tenth birthday:

I have been posing questions about the election in terms of the national economy, as we continue to use models that view presidential elections with incumbents running for re-election as referenda on the previous four years.  I thought it might be interesting to do this differently, since the election is really fifty elections.  So I built myself a little table to look at the following information:
Bush won thirty states in 2000, Gore twenty plus DC.  Between 2000 and 2003 PDI rose at a rate of 3.5% per year.  What I was looking for were states where the election was close in 2000 and how income grew in the state since then.  The list below has all the states with a margin of less than five percent in 2000 (positive numbers for states won by Bush, negative for Gore) and then PDI growth per year between 2000 and 2003.

AR 5.6 4.5%
TN 3.92 4.0%
NV 3.72 2.3%
OH 3.54 3.2%
MO 3.42 3.6%
NH 1.34 3.0%
FL 0 3.6%
WI -0.24 3.9%
IA -0.32 4.1%
OR -0.48 3.0%
NM -0.96 6.0%
MN -2.58 4.0%
PA -4.3 3.7%
MI -5.26 2.4%
ME -5.5 4.8%
WA -5.88 3.5%

You can see that there are a few states that have done worse than the national average that went to Bush in 2000, most noticeably New Hampshire.  The battleground poll from the Zogby shows Kerry up 4.6% in NH right now, while another poll has Kerry up 2.  Nevada's numbers look worse, but not so bad that anyone really expects that to tip to Kerry right now, just as the fact that Maine has grown much more than the national average probably won't move that state to Bush (but it might be closer than you think, given the large in-migration to the state over the last decade.) 

One might hope that New Mexico and Minnesota could more than offset that.  Using the Real Clear Politics state by state information, though, it looks like New Mexico is trending strongly against Bush.  This is why Minnesota appears to be such a target, and why the Republicans will need to put a bullseye on this state.  It needs perhaps to give its Republican legislators like Mark Kennedy and Gil Gutkenecht (and perhaps Norm Coleman, though he's not on the ballot) some victories to take home to the electorate if they want to win this state.  With NH going and Missouri perhaps more in play than it should by the numbers alone, you need this state.  And there will be spillover from here to Wisconsin and Iowa, two states that were closely contested but went to Gore in 2000, and where PDI was higher than the national average under Bush.

Come fall, don't be surprised to see many trips up here by both candidates, but Bush has access to the purse strings.  Some new money for roads may be just the ticket, a trick that dates back at least to FDR.