19 days until Election Day
Neither George W. Bush nor John F. Kerry has ever run for governor of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, or New Hampshire.
But for the next 19 days, they are going to know what it is like to do just that.
The only differences: they have to run for all 10 simultaneously, and they will have budgets and armies that dwarf even Al Checchi's 1998 spending. (Those of you who don't understand that reference, click here. Note to Bob Shrum: nice to see the scarf in the spin room, and you know just what we mean with our Checchi reference.)
Here are the instant polls about the debate (all with differing methodology that we won't list here, but go to the links for that):
ABC : Kerry: 42% to 41% LINK
Gallup : 52% to 38% LINK
CBS: Kerry, 39% to 25% LINK
There will be candidate, spouse, sibling, offspring, and surrogate visits galore to the 7 to 10 states that will stay in play until the end. We can't imagine that anything that happened last night will expand the Electoral College playing field for either side.
On the ground, here are the known national players (beyond the campaigns and state and national parties — and yes, we know that some of these groups just do training; others work regularly with both sides of the Hill; some try to maintain scrupulously non-partisan veneers; some have non-partisan tax statuses; and others have endorsed candidates from the opposite side of the aisle... but we weren't born yesterday):
For Bush: National Rife Association, BIPAC, College Republican National Committee, Focus on the Family, Leadership Institute, GOPAC, National Right to Life, Christian Coalition, Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Concerned Women for America, NFIB, Chamber of Commerce, Gun Owners of America, NAM, NAR, NFRW, property rights groups, business groups, and many more...
For Kerry: AFL-CIO (AFSCME, SEIU, others), NEA, ACT, America Votes Coalition (includes ACORN, MoveOn, and many others, including some which follow), Grassroots Democrats, 21st Century Democrats, NARAL PCA, Democracy for America, League of Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, organizations affiliated with the NAACP, US Action, Moving America Forward, Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, NOW, Human Rights Campaign, NGLTF, and many more...
In the paid media, here are the known players:
For Bush: America's PAC, Progress for America Voter Fund, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, November Fund, Move America Forward, Citizens United, Club for Growth, Americans for Job Security (they don't get involved in the presidential race, but...), and many more...
For Kerry: The Media Fund, MoveOn.org Voter Fund, New Democrat Network, Texans for Truth; Fight Back Campaign; RealVoices.org, and many more...
And believe us: we know there are "secret" players who will flood into those states below the radar now, to try to tip the balance.
Not to mention citizens from the other 40 states and DC who won't want to sit idly by and just watch. (Think of a certain accented actor-politician with ties to Ohio...)
With all three debates behind them, President Bush and Sen. Kerry begin an intense 19-day sprint to the finish line. (Hats off to us — we made it this far into The Note without a glaring cliché!!!!)