Monday, November 01, 2004


Kerry will win the Florida vote

I voted twice. Well, not really. But I have been to the polls twice.

On Wednesday I went to vote early. I also brought along someone who at 40+ had never before voted. He had intended to cast his ballot on Tuesday, but I urged him to come along with me. I warned that the lines could be huge on election day, that he would have to find his polling place (which he didn't know), and that he might be drunk that day and forget. He saw the wisdom of this.

He had registered a couple of years ago when he renewed his driver's license. He was nervous. He didn't know what they would ask him. He didn't know about the actual mechanics of voting—do you mark a box or make X's or touch a screen? He didn't know about the candidates for circuit judge. He didn't understand most of the propositions on the ballot.

Our new voter had heard that a raise of the Florida minimum wage was on the ballot. He wanted to vote for that. But that's not why he was voting. He was voting to throw George Bush out of office. He said that was all he wanted to vote for. He was concerned whether he could just mark his ballot for Kerry and the minimum-wage hike and still have it count. I reassured him.

Since I knew that the seat of his U.S. Representative was unassailable, I didn't confuse him with the small stuff. I got right to the Senate race. I said, "If you want Kerry to win this one, you also need to vote for the Senate candidate who'll help him out." I tried to explain about Supreme Court appointments and the role of the Senate. He said he understood and would vote for Betty Castor.

It took us about 45 minutes from the time we got in line out on the street until we were walking away from the building.

On Thursday I ran into another neophyte voter. He had only voted once before—in the 2002 election—and I know this for sure because I drove him to his polling place. Since he didn't have to be at work till the afternoon, I suggested that he let me take him down to vote early. He agreed.

We got there at midmorning, about the same time as the day before. They had had to move the location of the line. It was now about the length of a football field. I could see his spirits sagging. I said, "Just think—it may be worse on Tuesday" and stood with him in the line. In one day the waiting time had doubled.

There were so many young people. And minorities. These are not your "likely voters." The two people I took to the polls are not your "likely voters." This is why the polls are so wrong. And believe me—they are wrong.

George Bush has no "sleeper" voters. What you see as his poll numbers are the best numbers he can hope for. And I promise you that many of those voters are going to stay home. The sleeper voters are the "No more George Bush" voters. They don't know much about Kerry. Don't want to know. Don't need to know. They know enough—No More Bush!

Because of distortions in the polls, you should be adding from 1 to 3 percent in the Kerry column. This is true even when the polls show Kerry as favored. Every calculation the pollsters make (including "margin of error") is predicated upon past voter behavior. Forget it!

But the Palm Beach Post was reporting some amazing numbers yesterday, especially on the question of whether Bush should be re-elected.

President Bush started last week with Florida voters evenly split about whether he should be reelected: 48 percent supported him and 48 percent wanted someone new.

He ended the week with 52 percent saying they are ready for a change, compared with 45 percent favoring reelection.

The shift in response to a question that did not mention Sen. John Kerry by name — documented in an ongoing Palm Beach Post poll of 600 likely voters in 10 battleground states — suggests movement is afoot in the too-close-to-call presidential race.

For the second day in a row Saturday, Kerry was holding onto a narrow 49-47 percent lead in Florida over the president, according to The Palm Beach Post/Reuters/Zogby International poll.

And in other good news,

In the state's U.S. Senate race, Democrat Betty Castor not only kept her lead over Republican Mel Martinez for a second consecutive day but slightly expanded it Saturday.

Of course, Al Gore really did win Florida in 2000, and not just by a few hundred votes. But the early turnout indicates that even Fox News is not going to be able to spin this into a win for Bush come election night.

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