THE REST OF THE STORY. As the last debate looms, the papers today are saying the candidates are in a "statistical dead heat". That is not the whole story, though. Remember that this is not about the popular vote only. The election is decided by the electoral college. The states you carry are important. So, how is the electoral vote shaping up.
President Bush has 21 states firmly in hand for 176 electoral votes. Senator Kerry has 10 for 153 votes. Its too bad it is not done by the number of states. But Kerry has California and New York which have a disportionate share of the vote. (This, by the way, is why we have the Electoral College: to protect the vote of the less populated states. If popular vote determined, New York City and Los Angeles would pick the President and God help us.)
President Bush leads in 8 contested states for an additional 88 electoral votes, 264 total.
Senator Kerry leads in 5 contested states for an additional 67 electoral votes and 221 total (counting D.C. also).
There are 6 toss up states with a total of 53 electoral votes.
So, if I count correctly, the President needs only 6 electoral votes from the toss up states to win, if he holds his lead in the others. If he wins Ohio and its 20 votes, he is home free.
Conventional wisdom has been for years that a Republican cannot win without Ohio. However, in this scenario, the President could lose Ohio and win New Mexico and New Hampshire and win the whole thing.
Senator Kerry has to win all the toss up states except New Hampshire to win.
Come on, Ohio!