TONIGHT, I AM GOING TO THREE ELECTION PARTIES and then probably watching the post-4 a.m. segments on my bedroom TV.
The first will be a soiree thrown by Gloria Dittus, the next will be with Martin Walker’s team at UPI, and the least will be with the hard-core Washington-based campaign staff of the Republican National Committee who are going to watch the returns, and drink, at the Reagan Building.
I won’t be doing live-blogging from the RNC party floor, but I will be scribbling reactions to what I see unfold there. Many of my friends are shocked I would go, but the fact is, that is where the news will be tonight — whether Bush wins, loses, or ties.
I ran into Andrew Sullivan last night outside my local gym and promised to call or “wing him” some good stuff from the RNC party. Josh Marshall will get anything good I find as well.
Josh Marshall and others are far more aware of the nuanced gossip and rumor-mongering going on, but I have small tidbits here and there.
One close friend of mine works inside the Rove machine and said that until the bin Laden video, things looked bleak from their perspective for President Bush. In the last several days, this person has said that there has been a reversal of fortunes, not that Bush is poised to definitively win, according to this person, but that the insiders thought Bush was going to definitively lose until bin Laden showed up. To preempt naysayers, the person to whom I have been speaking is not “feeding me spin,” doesn’t read this blog, and is not a poll junkie.
What interested me in this person’s comments is that they gave an indication of the temperature of people working hard inside the Bush team’s central core. The temperature there a few days was cold but is now warming up. That doesn’t mean they will win tonight.
All of this has led me to think more deeply about what a tie would mean, or at minimum, another drawn-out, contested presidential outcome.
One good friend stopped me on the streets of Dupont Circle (in Washington) last night and offered that if this race did go into the courts or was drawn out with controversial vote recounts, there would be enormous pressure on the incumbent to step down. Frankly, I had never heard this view before and would not normally find it compelling. However, according to this centrist, well-connected attorney, if the incumbent — with all the enormous powers that incumbency provides — does not clearly win, then a tie is really a victory for Kerry. He thinks that the powers that be among senior Republican circles will encourage Bush to yield in such a case.
I responded that I doubted Bush’s legal team would see it that way. I also made a mental note that I hadn’t seen the Bush team act so magnanimously at other times. These seem to be winner-takes-all types of folks.
Stuff to chew on as you wait for those polls to close down today. Hope you all voted.
Another friend who works closely with one of George Herbert Walker Bush’s closest aides sent me an interesting “2004 Election Guide” produced by Tom Gallagher and the consultancy firm, International Strategy & Investment.
The report seems to be coming out hourly today, reporting on various of the House, Senate, and Gubernatorial races. On the presidential race, the report I have has an interesting breakdown (just like the myriad of state by state breakdowns for Bush and Kerry on many contending reports).
Most analysts give Bush a solid, immovable 180 electoral votes that are his no matter what — and give Kerry 149 rock solid electoral votes.
Then, of course, it gets interesting.
In the “Likely Kerry” and “Leaning Kerry” races, Gallagher and his comrades give Kerry Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. These states plus Kerry’s rock solid core would give him 232 electoral votes.
In the “Likely Bush” and “Leaning Bush” contests, the report gives Bush Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Tennessee, and West Virginia. These states plus the rock solid core 254 electoral votes.
The toss-up states are Iowa, Minnesota, New Mexico, Ohio, and Wisconsin. 52 electoral votes are tied up in these states.
I thought that this might interest some, because I’ve seen many polls, and even Electoral-Vote.com, distributing the states differently, including Florida which many now have going to Kerry.
Still seems incredibly close at every level to me.
Tradesports.com, for the betting types, has the chances of Bush being elected at 54% vs. Kerry 46%.
More later.
— Steve Clemons