Meanwhile here's a simple-minded way to think about the election. There must be something wrong with it, but I can't see what it is.
The last election was a statistical tie electorally, and Gore's on the popular vote by a substantial margin. Many key states were very close.
Today's electorate can be divided into three groups:
1. People who voted for Gore in 2000.
2. People who voted for Bush in 2000.
3. People who didn't vote in 2000.
Unless they are dead, all of Gore's voters will vote for Kerry. The counter-argument would be that some marginal Gore voters will 'rally round the flag' and 'vote for the Commander in Chief'. An alternate version says that “security moms” (aka soccer moms worried about terror) will vote for Bush because it makes them feel safer. I don't buy either of these arguments.
I think it's also clear that Bush has held most but by no means all of his vote.
Zogby's latest suggests that new (young) voters are breaking for Kerry. (“among young voters – 18-29 year olds – a group Al Gore only won by 2 points in 2000, Kerry is winning in a landslide, 53% to 33%.”)
Of course turnout and regional factors matter. Some pervious voters in the first two groups may stay home. But is it credible to think that the GOP will manage turnout sufficiently well to overcome what seems a real deficit? Won't more Republicans than Democrats stay home if they are unenthused with their party's candidate?
So, barring the October Surprise, it's Kerry by a landslide.
Like I say, it can't be that simple, can it?