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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Ask Bobby #12
September 25, 2023

THIS IS IT: Election Down to the Wire

With less than a week to go until Election Day, Democratic candidate John F. Kerry and President George W. Bush are racing across the nation to lock down the votes necessary to install them into the White House.

Polls and predictions are rapidly shifting throughout these last remaining days. “It changes every minute,” says Paul Watanabe, political science professor at UMass Boston, who teaches the popular Presidential Elections course.

But some are sure of the outcome. “I’ve been predicting ever since last spring that Bush will win re-election,” says James Ward, political science professor. Kerry has made significant gains, Ward says, but polls are showing Bush is slightly ahead.

Watanabe notes that it will come down to a handful of states and turnout. “All you have to do is focus on the battleground states.”

The number of “battleground” states has slowly whittled down to eleven, among them Ohio, New Hampshire, and Florida. There may be others, too, as Bush told ABC News’s Charlie Gibson in a recent interview. “I wouldn’t discount Michigan,” Bush said. “I wouldn’t discount the influence of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and New Mexico. I think this race is a non-predictable race. I think people like to boil it down to one or two states.”

If the election is very close, there may be similar kinds of trouble as happened in Florida four years ago, says Ward. With that in mind, both campaigns are gearing up for legal challenges and are on the lookout out for legal irregularities, he says. “Both have legal teams primed and ready.”

A lot of efforts are being made in advance rather than after the election to alert people of any attempts at chicanery, says Watanabe, noting that the legal arena now joins the ranks of advertising and media. “It’s a new area that’s opened in presidential politics,” he said.

Even the youth vote, long absent from having any effect on outcomes, is entering the fray. College Republicans are protesting at MTV’s Rock the Vote headquarters in California, accusing the non-partisan and non-profit group of using scare tactics to influence the election with charges of Bush re-instating the draft.

GOP Chairman Ed Gillespie, calling a re-instatement of the draft an urban myth, wrote to Rock the Vote saying they were “promoting a false and misleading campaign designed to scare America’s youth into believing that they may be drafted to serve in the military.” Rock The Vote, which is hoping to get 20 million 18 to 24 year-olds to vote, took out advertisements in newspapers asking students to make a choice between getting their education and getting drafted, and sent out mock draft notices via e-mail.

In a response letter to Gillespie, Jehmu Greene, Rock the Vote President, wrote, “Nothing cuts closer to the core of the very reason Rock the Vote exists. We think young people deserve to know where the politicians stand on this issue and that a generation that could be called to service deserves more than the phony debate they are getting.”

Some are pointing to more youth participation as an indication of higher turnout. According to USA Today, the Republican National Committee claims it has over 115,000 college campus recruits for the upcoming election, while its Democratic counterpart claims it has almost 200,000. But despite gains in registering new young voters and apparent increased interest, some analysts say the youth vote will not have that great an impact.

“It will not decide the election,” Ward said. “It won’t affect the outcome.”