Bush Camp Convinced It Has Won Election; Kerry Not Ready To Concede Ohio
In an outcome reminiscent of the 2000 race, this year's presidential race hangs on a single state: Ohio. There, with all precincts reporting, President Bush leads Sen. Kerry by just over 136,000 votes. Bush's apparent win in the Buckeye state, together with his resounding victory in Florida (with a margin of over 357,000 votes) puts the President at 269 electoral votes. Meanwhile, Bush leads in Nevada, New Mexico and Iowa. Were his wins there to be confirmed, they would place him beyond the 270-electoral vote threshold.
While NBC and Fox News have called Ohio for Bush, no network has yet to declare that Bush has achieved 270 electoral votes to win a second term. NBC and Fox News have Bush at 269, with Kerry at 238 and 242, respectively. ABC and CBS both have Bush leading Kerry 254-242, and CNN has the tightest spread, with Bush leading 254-252. If Bush ends up with 269 electoral votes, then he and Kerry will have tied and the GOP-dominated House of Representatives will decide the election.
However Sen. Kerry, who trails Bush by more than 3.6 million votes nationally, is hoping untallied provisional ballots in Ohio will turn it toward the Democratic ticket, allowing him to win the election. On several networks last night Ohio's Republican Secretary of State, J. Kenneth Blackwell, said there are no more than 175,000 provisional ballots statewide, some of them almost certainly invalid, which means Kerry would need a massive showing to carry the state. As the AP reports, Ohio has become "this year's Florida," and Kerry's options are "dwindling."
At 2:30 a.m. EST, Sen. John Edwards made a brief appearance in Boston to announce Kerry would not concede. Edwards added, "John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election, every vote would count and every vote would be counted. Tonight, we are keeping our word."
Bush-Cheney spokeswoman Nicolle Devenish reacted to Edwards' statement saying, "There's no mathematical path to victory for Kerry in Ohio," according to the AP, and Bush adviser Dan Bartlett said, "We will not base our decision on a concession." While the networks reported Bush planned to appear before supporters in downtown Washington, possibly to claim victory, the Republicans instead dispatched White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who, in a live statement broadcast on many networks at 5:45 a.m. EST, said the campaign is "convinced President Bush has won reelection with at least 286 Electoral College votes" but that the President "decided to give Sen. Kerry the respect of more time to reflect on the results of this election." Card added that "the President will be making a statement later today."