Who really has the power here? Consider that of the key 99 electoral votes from those eight states, 68 come from Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The winner of two of those three states is almost assured of winning the White House.
Break it down. It takes 270 of 538 electoral votes to win the presidential election. According to an analysis by the Associated Press, 26 states, with 222 electoral votes are solidly backing Bush, while 16 states and the District of Columbia should deliver Kerry 217 electoral votes.
That leaves Bush needing to win at least 48 of the 99 electoral votes from Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Mexico to clinch a second term, while Kerry needs 53 to turn the White House over to the Democrats.
Can anybody here forget 2000, when Al Gore won the nationwide popular vote with 50,999,897 votes to George W. Bush's 50,456,002 votes, but lost the presidency to Bush after 36 days of Florida recounts, protests and hanging chads? Bush's 271 electoral votes -- one more than needed to win -- came from wins in 30 states. Since 2000, those 30 states have grown and will offer 278 electoral votes in 2004.
Should Kerry win all the states won by Al Gore in 2000, he would end up only 260 electoral votes -- ten too few.
Here is a breakdown of how the eight tossup states went in 2000:
State - 2004 Electoral Votes - Winner in 2000
Ohio - 20 - Bush
Pennsylvania - 21 - Gore
Wisconsin - 10 - Gore
Iowa - 7 - Gore
Nevada - 5 - Bush
New Hampshire - 4 - Bush
New Mexico - 5 - Gore
Florida - 27 - Bush
In the four tossup states he won, Gore carried Iowa by 4, 144 votes, Wisconsin by 5,708 and New Mexico by only 366 votes.
Clearly, the states where Kerry needs to score upsets are Ohio (20 votes) and Florida (27 votes), both won by Bush in 2000.
Bottom line? What will determine the outcome of the 2004 presidential election? Turnout. Who votes and who does not. If the 2000 election proved one thing, it was that every vote -- especially your vote -- counts.