I got this map from a website that monitors the ongoing polling about the presidential election -- and then translates the latest data into Electoral College results:
As per usual, the red states are Republican (Bush) and the blue states are Democratic (Kerry). The darker the shading, the more secure the state.
The site was updated May 26 -- yesterday.
Even though the author of the website ("The Blogging Caesar") is a Bush supporter (and has a prominent linked post called "Twenty-One Reasons Why Bush Will Win"), he (or she?) forecasts the race as Bush 201 Electoral Votes (45.3% of the popular vote) versus Kerry 337 Electoral Votes (52.9% of the popular vote).
I'd take that result.
Meanwhile, the University of Virginia's media-savvy pundit Larry J. Sabato plans to web-publish his next "Crystal Ball" on June 3. It will feature a "new interactive Presidential Electoral College Map with our current predictions for each state's leaning toward Bush or Kerry!"
I'll try to remember to check back there in a week or so.
Right now, Sabato is pointing out that the only incumbent with polling numbers like Bush's who actually won the election was Harry S. Truman (though Gerald Ford came close). Sabato says the 2004 election will be a referendum on Bush and right now the judgment is clearly "thumbs-down."
Truman's victory was virtually a miracle comeback, which appears to be what Bush will need. If I recall the history correctly, Truman was able to blast the "do-nothing" Congress (then, as now, controlled by Republicans)
It's very hard to imagine Karl Rove scripting the current situation for his candidate.
The conventional political science wisdom, as I've noted before, is that presidential elections turn on the economy -- and that perceptions about the economy are more important than the reality.
Sabato asserts that the Bush campaign has a "legitimate beef" with the media for failing to highlight a couple of months worth of good economic data, deciding instead to highlight higher gasoline and milk prices.
Since Bush is 40 months into his presidency, it seems perfectly reasonable to me to note the fact that Bush will be the first president since Herbert Hoover to oversee an economy with a net loss of jobs -- multiple millions of jobs, in fact. Plus, even the latest job growth is behind that needed just to keep up with population growth.