Monday, September 20, 2004

Bush's slim chances in the Garden State 

Last week we posted on Bush's recent strong poll results in New Jersey. This morning, the Trenton Times has a story that heavily discounts these results. The article's underlying argument, as channeled through various students of New Jersey politics, is that New Jersey will break late for Kerry unless Bush is on his way to a national landslide. Because of this, the Kerry campaign is saying that it won't spend more time or money in New Jersey.
The Kerry campaign says it is unruffled by those numbers.

"Rather than giving you some spiel, watch what we do. That will tell you about our level of concern," said Joe Lockhart, who was President Clinton's press secretary and who joined the Kerry campaign late last month.

The Kerry campaign simply has faith in the New Jersey voter:
Ted Devine, a senior adviser to the Kerry campaign, said the polls indicate the difficulty in unseating an incumbent president. Devine, who worked on a number of U.S. Senate campaigns, said poll numbers in New Jersey typically move dramatically toward the Democratic candidate in the concluding weeks of the campaign.

"In order for the president to win a state like New Jersey or New York, he'd have to defy all of the historical trending and precedents we know," Devine said.

That's certainly true. The question is whether the proximity of the September 11 attacks and the raw sewage in the statehouse might not break "historical trending and precedents." Probably not, but Kerry has so much to lose in New Jersey that it may be a measure of his weakness elsewhere that he is not defending himself here.


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