Respected pollster John Zogby sees…

Respected pollster John Zogby sees 2004 election as 50/50

From a Zogby interview

Q. What are Governor Dean’s chances to beat President Bush? Will he be able to carry some southern states?

John Zogby: I think that any Democrat starts the campaign with 45 percent of the vote. It is sort of like the SAT exams where you get 200 just for showing up on Saturday morning. Now obviously there will be a campaign and things that can not be foreseen – issues of temperament, events not previously foreseen – but I think this is a 50/50 president in a 50/50 nation.

I think that both parties in the fall will wage a highly partisan red-meat campaign appealing to their core voters. That could leave genuine centrist independents out in the cold. However for those who are determined to vote, I think it is on an even keel between George Bush and let’s say Howard Dean. Dean will be able to appeal on the basis of the war and the economy and on the basis of being a moderate, NRA, balance the budget governor. Equally the president will be able to point to his compassionate conservatism. I think it will be a highly partisan campaign, but I don’t give either candidate an edge on centrist voters.

Q. How does the defection of Green Party voters back to the Dems figure in your polls?

John Zogby: Anything that moves voters by a few hundred or a few thousand in key states could change the election. Make the blue states even bluer. Will they be energized is the issue.

Q. Does your polling indicate that Bush has a chance in California or is it going to stay in the Democrats column?

John Zogby: I don’t see any potential for Bush in California. None. That was a unique local issue — the recall. Schwarzenegger ran as a Democrat.