If you want a real fix on where this election is going to be decided, pay attention to where House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is spending her time next week: Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Except for New Mexico, where Al Gore won by a whopping 366 votes in 2000, these are the new battlegrounds, where past may not be prologue. Suddenly, red states like Nevada and Colorado are up for grabs. Pelosi, who has been on a tireless crusade to return Democrats to power in the House of Representatives, knows where the openings might present themselves.
A few months ago I got on an elevator in the Dirksen Senate Office Building with retiring GOP Senator Peter Fitzgerald of Illinois, the man whose decision not to seek re-election set off what has been one of the weirdest election contests in recent memory. Lamenting the lack of diversity in his party, and what that portends for its future success, Fitzgerald summed up his concerns this way: "You know what the problem is with the Republican Party? Not enough white people."
The next urgent issue facing the Kerry campaign is how to survive August, because it ain't gonna be no walk on the beach. This is traditionally a quiet time in presidential campaigns, but the Bush camp, still looking for an effective way to disqualify the Democratic nominee in the eyes of voters, will open up its big guns in an effort to take Kerry out.
After five months of trying, the Bush operation has yet to convince voters that Kerry is an unacceptable replacement for Bus. The flip-flopper thing worked some, but not well enough. And the “Massachusetts liberal” slur may not carry the sting it once did. Add to that the fact that the Kerry Democrats conducted their Boston love-in in a way that made them seem not only happy, but competent, too.
BOSTON -- At the corner of Summer and Washington streets, a block away from the Boston Common, which by Saturday was already teeming with the Democratic hordes, I saw a man wearing a blue Nader baseball cap, with a blue Nader button to match. Except for the obvious recklessness of the act, the man seemed otherwise normal, but I could not help thinking, “Something is going to happen to this guy.”
The political bigheads all over the country are sifting through the available evidence, trying to determine if this election is one that will turn on swing voters and swing states or on which side can better turn out its base. It may come as a surprise to some that it can't be both. But that's what the punditry is for, to keep you apprised of the overtones and undercurrents not obvious to the ordinary eye. So consider yourself informed: The debate is starting to rage -- turnout or swing, base or persuadables?