Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2000 / 9 Mar-Cheshvan 5761
Bush Beats Gore, GOP Holds Hill
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 Voter.com 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
11/03/00: Parties appeal to two 'gospels'