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Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2000 / 9 Mar-Cheshvan 5761

Morton Kondracke

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The Envelope, Please:
Bush Beats Gore, GOP Holds Hill -- IT'S NO GUTS, no glory time, so here goes: I bet that Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) beats Vice President Al Gore tomorrow, 50 to 45 percent in the popular vote, 309 to 229 in the Electoral College.

Not a landslide, but nowhere near as close as the cliffhanger most of us pundits had been predicting.

I also bet that the Senate and House stay Republican, with Democrats netting an additional seat in the Senate and two in the House.

I bet that first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) wins, as do strongly challenged Sens. Spence Abraham (R-Mich.), John Ashcroft (R-Mo.), Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Slade Gorton (R-Wash.).

However, these three incumbents will fall: Sens. Rod Grams (R-Minn.), Chuck Robb (D-Va.) and Bill Roth (R-Del.).

So, for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower's first term in the White House, we'll have an all-Republican government - at least for two years - and the new president's job will be as much to tame partisan passions among Republicans as to reach out to Democrats.

Here's my presidential election logic: Going into the pre-election weekend, seven national polls all show Bush leading. His margin varies from 1 to 7 points, but the average is 4, and Bush's lead seems to be widening rather than shrinking.

The Gore campaign was putting the word out that its tracking shows the Vice President up by 2 points nationally, but Bush aides say they've agreed with the national poll average all year and still do.

Bush poll trackers have been consistently touting the Battleground survey, which found Bush up by 7 on Friday, and the Rasmussen Portrait of America poll, which showed Bush leading by 5 points.

Among key voting groups, Battleground found Bush leading among independents by 12 points, white women by 11, married people by 15 points and seniors by 13 points.

Even though the race looked very close in some key-state polls - with Bush up by just 2 points in must-win Florida in a Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc. poll, for example - I predict that big states will lean toward the national average in the end.

Moreover, in Florida, elections expert Susan MacManus of University of South Florida said African-American get-out-the-vote efforts seem insufficient to produce a Gore victory and Cuban-Americans seem energized to help Bush.

She also thinks Gore's advertising blitz aimed at scaring seniors about Bush's Social Security plan may be working with over-65 voters, but is driving younger voters to Bush.

The Mason-Dixon poll found Gore leading by 11 points among Florida's over-65 voters, but Bush ahead by 5 with 50- to 64-year-olds and by 8 among 35- to 49-year-olds.

Bush aides claimed that their polls show Bush winning even among seniors in Florida and leading statewide by 5 points. Democrats contend Gore was leading in Florida by 4, but I think Bush will win there.

Among other crucial states necessary to reach 270 electoral votes, I think Bush will win Michigan, Missouri, Wisconsin, Washington and West Virginia, plus Delaware, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and New Mexico.

Besides California, Gore should win the contested states of Pennsylvania, Oregon and Minnesota. Bush aides claim that their man leads in Tennessee, but Gore ought to carry his home state and also President Clinton's Arkansas.

As to why Bush will win, the major factors seem to lie in personality and character. As the Pew Research Center poll showed last week, Bush is seen as more likable than Gore by 48 to 39 percent, as more honest and truthful by 43-32 and as better able to get things done by 43-39.

Gore was seen as more qualified to be president by a 45-38 margin and continued to hold an edge on issues such as Social Security and health care. But both the Pew and the Battleground surveys demonstrate that Gore voters are much less intense and enthusiastic about their candidate than Bush's are.

Although some Republicans insist this election will be a referendum on Clinton -- and the President may well regard it as such -- Battleground data dispute that.

Among the 25 percent of voters who approve of Clinton's job performance and his personal behavior, Gore leads by 65 percent. Among the 37 percent who disapprove of both the President's job performance and personality, Bush leads by 75 percent.

But among the 31 percent who approve of Clinton's job performance and disapprove of him personally, Gore has a 23-point edge.

In the Senate races, I'm predicting largely on the basis that incumbents tend to win unless some serious factor works against them - such as age in Delaware, scandal in Minnesota and the Republican tilt of Virginia.

Even though New Yorkers are polarized by Hillary Clinton, her star quality seems to be prevailing, and her GOP opponent, Rep. Rick Lazio, comes off as less than Senatorial.

In assessing the House, I confess I'm relying on the seat-by-seat judgment of experts whom I've promised not to name and on polling showing Democrats with just a slight edge on the generic question - enough to make gains, but not to wrest control from the GOP.

So, you ask, what exactly will I bet that I'm right? It may not seem like a lot to you, but it is to me: the necessity of confessing chagrin if I'm wrong.

And eating crow in my next column.

JWR contributor Morton Kondracke is executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


11/03/00: Parties appeal to two 'gospels'
11/01/00: Lurking in the shadows
10/26/00: What's Gore's Social Security plan?
10/18/00: While Bush, Gore debate surplus, Congress spends it
10/16/00: Two debates leave lots of questions
10/03/00: What questions should be debated?
09/28/00: Gore and Bush should prepare to lead
09/19/00: Bush let values issue slip away
08/25/00: Gore hands center to Bush
08/22/00: AlGore, look to future, not to Bubba
08/08/00: 2000 race could leave high road for low
08/03/00: Convention must point Bush to center
08/01/00: GOP Readies 'Debt Lockbox' As 2000 Strategy
07/27/00: Cheney adds heft to GOP ticket
07/25/00: Foreign, Defense Policy Deserves Full 2000 Debate
07/20/00: Truman Show: Gore Replays 1948, But Bush Isn't Dewey
07/18/00: Bush Must Fight Gore's Drug Plan As 'Bad Medicine'
07/13/00: Mexico's Election Supports U.S. Action On NAFTA, Bailout
07/10/00: Abortion is good for something --- just ask AlGore
07/06/00: Meet Steve Ricchetti, Bubba's secret weapon
06/30/00: AlGore is down, but is he out?
06/27/00: Social programs caught in election-year game of one-up
06/22/00: Congress Is Near Flunking a Test On School Reform
06/16/00: Doting on the grandparents
06/13/00: On Stem Cells, Bush Has Wrong Pro-Life Stance
06/08/00: Has Gore Caught Bush?
05/26/00: PNTR Vote Could Tell Which Party Fits 'New Economy'
05/23/00: The secret to winning the election: Economic programs
05/18/00: Gore should regroup
05/16/00: McCain's Support Is Tepid, But Lets Bush Focus on Gore
05/11/00: Voters need wonk training
05/09/00: Bush Could Score With Charge That Gore's Too Partisan
04/28/00: Reno's force aids Clinton, not Elian
04/25/00: Should Clinton be indicted?
04/24/00: Can Gore win on Bush tax cuts?
04/18/00: Levin's 'bridge' key to China trade?
04/11/00: Congress, U.S. Voters Still Aren't Ready For Campaign Reform
04/06/00: Bush, Gore Silent As Popular Culture Gets Ever Coarser
03/30/00: Is 2000 Like 1948, 1976 or 1960? Or Is This Unparalleled?
03/28/00: Will Bush, Gore Go for a Better Way To Pick Nominees?
03/23/00: Medicare cutbacks bleed hospitals
03/20/00: Chances Improve That China Trade Will Pass Congress
03/16/00: Lieberman as veep would help Gore
03/14/00: Can Bush, McCain Unite to Beat Gore?
03/09/00: Can GOP Forge Unity After Nasty McCain-Bush Race?
03/07/00: What accounts for McCain's excesses?
03/02/00: 'Debate' Proved Gore Is This Year's Best Gut-Fighter
02/29/00: Surprises! The 2000 GOP race is full of it
02/25/00: Voters want centrist in White House
02/23/00: Gore would hit McCain's record
02/15/00: Will negativity hurt McCain in S.C.?
02/10/00: How hard should Bush hit McCain?
02/08/00: Bush must retool his entire campaign
01/27/00: Could Gore beat Bush as Truman beat Dewey?
01/20/00: Big New Surplus Estimates Could Alter 2000 Politics
12/21/99: Bush improves, everyone panders
12/16/99: Prospects improve for campaign reform
12/14/99: Riots raise free trade as 2000 issue
12/10/99: Gore won GOP 'debate' in N.H.
12/07/99: Election pits Bush cuts vs. Medicare boost
12/03/99: Can race be a constructive issue in 2000?
11/19/99: White House race may be best in decades
11/16/99: Where is Bush on health care fight?
11/11/99: Will TV stop profiteering from politics?
11/09/99: Is GOP isolationist, or just partisan?
11/04/99: Gore, Bradley Run Opposite Races On Style, Substance
11/01/99: GOP, Clinton could reach deal swiftly
10/27/99: Bush to fight 'culture wars' -- positively
10/21/99: Porter, Mack: heroes on medical research
10/19/99: Gore scores among party big shots, but polls go South
10/14/99: Bush critiques could help GOP Congress
10/12/99: Congress can save health care from ruin
10/07/99: Will gun-control cause the GOP to shoot itself in the foot?
10/05/99: Gore moves: Desperate but necessary
10/01/99: Fox, Armstrong make case for NIH
09/28/99: Dems' race brightens Bush's chances
09/23/99: East Timor deflates `Clinton Doctrine'
09/21/99: Buchanan v. Bush? Yeah right
09/17/99: Candidates turn attention to poverty
09/15/99: Bush's education problem
09/09/99: Budget makes 2000 an `issues' election
09/07/99:Airport rage increases, with good reason
09/02/99: U.S. future up for grabs in 2000
08/31/99: U.S. Capitol needs visitor's center -- soon
08/24/99: Will 2000 be the year of the foreign crisis?
08/19/99: Neither party has upper hand for '99
08/17/99: Ford gets freedom medal one month early
08/12/99: There's time to catch Bush, say Gore aides
08/10/99: Rudy, Hillary try much-needed makeovers
08/09/99: GOP must launch new probe of Chinagate
08/02/99: Pols blow fiscal smoke on budget surplus
08/02/99: One campaign reform should pass: disclosure
07/27/99: Gore leads Bush in policy proposals

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