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Wednesday, September 15, 2004  

News: Polls predict close race for president

The oracle of our political future some folks around here are determined to promote is an AOL straw poll. It is embraced in the blogophere because of the results. According to it, John Kerry will garner only three electoral votes. Some people say, AOL, embarrassed by just how unreliable the thing must be, has removed it from the site or made it difficult to find. I won't be looking. The reason the Right is embracing the AOL straw poll is not because it is remotely scientific, even it wasn't 'fixed,' but because of wishful thinking. Much of the conservative blogosphere is so emotionally invested in George W. Bush remaining in the White House, it would believe tea leaves or animal entrails if they favored him.

Fortunately, there are pretty reliable polls. They are showing a close race with a slight advantage in Bush's favor. The Associated Pressreports.

WASHINGTON (AP) - An electoral battlefield map half its original size is prompting President Bush and challenger John Kerry to alter their campaign strategies and reallocate resources in the home stretch to the Nov. 2 election.

Both political parties now see as few as 10 states as truly competitive as Bush pulls ahead in places where the contest had been neck and neck, including Missouri, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Bush has opened a single-digit lead in national polls taken after the Republican convention, which also is reflected in the polling in some battleground states.

Both parties are focusing most of their attention and advertising dollars on 10 states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia and New Hampshire.

The Kerry campaign is trying to woo swing voters in four states carried by Gore in 2000 -- Michigan, Oregon, Maine and Minnesota. It also believes West Virginia can be won over.

The constituency the Democrats will be courting most is African-Americans. Kerry's campaign has not been as popular with that bedrock bloc of voters as he wished. Black Americans are not likely to support the Republicans. The party's history, including its Southern Strategy -- pandering to white voters who oppose progress in civil rights -- has alienated them. The fear is that African-Americans will not vote, not that they will support Bush. High turnout among black voters is crucial. Entreaties are being made.

Kerry advisers said Tuesday that his weaknesses in Wisconsin, Minnesota and other former Gore states seem to be partly a result of lower-than-expected support from blacks. Blacks overwhelmingly favor Kerry, but not by as much as he needs.

Aides said Kerry has stepped up his speeches to black groups, including to the Congressional Black Caucus last weekend.

So, two themes emerge when considering reputable polls. The race will be close. It will be decided by how many citizens vote and who they vote for in ten states. I am not about to go out on a limb and predict the outcome of this election. But, I suspect the AOL straw poll is the stuff of fantasy, not reality.

11:15 PM