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Washington Matters

Close November Election on Tap

Close primary results, record voter turnout and divided bases in both parties foreshadow a very close general election this fall. A few key battleground states will probably decide it, same as with Bush-Kerry in 2004 and in the epic close election in 2000 between Bush and Gore.

A landslide is highly unlikely. That seems clear even this far in advance of the party nominating conventions and the fall campaign blitz.

 

High voter turnout and split decisions in the primaries show broad, even intense, interest in the election. Note the razor-thin races on one or both sides in Missouri, New Mexico, Georgia and Oklahoma. More very tight races are also likely, especially on the Democatic side in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia. Several of these states could be toss-ups in November, especially with undecideds, independents and moderates showing an opennes this year to new choices.

The eventual nominees -- McCain for the GOP; Clinton or Obama for Democrats -- will be at the top of emotionally split parties at first. It means both will need to work full time at uniting their party base, healing wounds and rewarding rivals and winning over big-name endorsements they didn't win earlier. Anything it takes to shore up support for the fall from voters, lobbies, business groups and labor, etc. Ultimately, some voters will lose interest in the fall election because their favorite choice lost the nomination. That alone could be enough to ensure another very close fall election come November.