A Cook's Silly Wild Assed Guess
Today’s the day! If you are reading this and have not yet voted, put down this darn paper and get thee to the polls! Do not pass Go! Hurry!
There is an old maxim in the restaurant business that basically goes as follows: Since everybody eats, everybody thinks they are qualified to be a food critic. It is maddening when a guest complains that a beautiful Mornay Sauce “doesn’t taste right” because they are used to eating a melted lump of Velveeta on top of mushy, overcooked broccoli. However, our business is making people happy, so sometimes melted cheese-food must suffice.
The same thing holds for politics in my mind. We are not all political wizards and master policy analysts, let alone politicians, but the fact is most of us can vote. Hence, when I hear those who make politics their business condescend that “we” do not know what we are talking about, I must feel a little like my father who caught grief from me for years for putting salt and pepper on his watermelon. My gut reaction is to say, “Shut the heck up!”
It is Election Day and while I may slice, dice and sauté for a living, today we, the common folk, are in charge of the political realm. Tim Russert and Rush Limbaugh can go stick it in their ears. It is our voices that are heard, if only for a day. If you think about it, though, the reverberations can last for a generation.
That said, at the risk of ending up like those who bet on the Yankees, I will play prognosticator. Since I am a rank amateur at the crafts of writing and punditry, hopefully my predictions will not be held over my head. (Although I fully expect a co-worker or two to give me a little grief if I am too far off.)
In my humble opinion, for either Presidential Candidate to win decisively, they must win by a margin larger than the largest battle ground state, Florida and its 27 electoral votes. Most of the polls indicate that neither John Kerry nor President Bush will accumulate 297 electors (270 to win, plus 27 from Florida). I disagree.
My evidence? The 2000 election and this year’s Democratic Primaries. The weekend before election Tuesday 2000, polls showed Governor Bush with a very solid lead in most of the tightest states. Almost all the pundits who dared voice an opinion were predicting that Bush would win the popular vote handily. Hah. We all know what actually happened.
The discrepancies between the polls and the ballots cast seemed to be easily explained by the under sampling of Democrats. People did not change their minds in the last few days. Their likelihood of voting was simply miscalculated..
So, did the pollsters increase the percentage of Democrats that they consider “likely voters”? Not by much. Gallup’s methodology seems to predict that Democratic ballot casters will vote in smaller proportions than four years ago. That is ludicrous on its face.
This year, the Democratic primaries turned out more motivated and mobilized voters than any previous Primary battle the party’s history. These voters are the core of Kerry’s support. They are not staying home today.
If you combine these facts with the incredibly close polls in the key states of Florida, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, I have a sneaking suspicion that Kerry will win every last one of them. Call me naïve, but a Federal Court just ruled the GOP voter challenge plan in Ohio’s minority dominated precincts to be unconstitutional. This will likely carry over to Wisconsin as well. The breaks are going the Democrat’s way.
If Kerry sweeps the Midwest and Florida, he will end up with 302 Electoral College votes. That would require the Bush Campaign to challenge the results and win in at least two states.
Regardless of which candidate wins, I hope and pray that the margin of victory is decisive and clear. The prospect that the Supreme Court or Tom Delay and the House of Representatives could choose our next President is possibly the strongest argument I can think of to eliminate the Electoral College altogether. ….well, that and my predictions.
For publication in the NAT on 11/02/04