Intentionally or not, the terror alert based on three year old information garnered impressive airtime all day yesterday and on the morning shows. Hey, it's all Bush has. His new motto should be: "I have nothing to fear, but the lack of fear."
If the American people aren't afraid, he has no chance.
So now we're getting polls out the wazoo. What do they mean? Not much. Here's an analysis of the electoral college from a newspaper in South Carolina.
"The Democrats are in a strong position to regain the White House in 2004. Take a glance at the Electoral College map. No matter how you slice it, the Democrats have the advantage.
"If you look at the states the Democrats carried in the last three presidential elections, that's 260 electoral votes," says Rice University political scientist Earl Black.
It takes 270 votes to win.
"The Democrats are in a much stronger position today than they were through the 1980s," Black says.
Their strength is in the Northeast, on the Pacific Coast and in the Great Lakes states of the industrial Midwest. Bill Clinton carried those three clusters in 1992 and 1996, and Al Gore won them in 2000.
"Basically, what Republicans need to do is to find a way to come back in the industrial Northeast," Black says. "That's where they have their greatest difficulty."
The GOP also needs to continue to hold onto its solid South, including Florida. In the 2000 election, Bush won 29 states with 271 electoral votes. Gore took 21 states, including the District of Columbia, with 267 votes. It was the closest presidential election in history.
To win a second term, Bush must keep everything he won in 2000. Right now, that's highly doubtful. Winning West Virginia again is problematic. So is New Hampshire. That's a loss of nine electoral votes for Bush, and he's also trailing in other states he carried in 2000.
Among them is Ohio, a critical state. If Bush loses Ohio, the party's over. The Democrats' standing in the Electoral College has been strengthened considerably by the emergence of California as a solid Democratic state.
Republicans last carried it in 1988. "When you look at the Northeast, it is probably the most solid region for any party, probably more solid for the Democrats than the South is for Republicans," Black says.
Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry is the candidate of the Northeast. The Bush challenge in 2004 is this: Win every Southern state, including Florida, carry the Rocky Mountain and Midwestern states, where Republicans have been very successful, and recapture those states in the upper Midwest that Gore won narrowly in 2000. Minnesota will be one target.
"Republicans do not have the advantage in the Electoral College they had through 1988," Black says. Democrats say they are not conceding any region to the Republicans, including the South.
"Our strategy has been to put as much pressure on President Bush as we can," says Steve Elmendorf, Kerry's deputy campaign manager. "It's hard to do that if we're not competitive in the South."
Chad Clanton, a senior adviser to Kerry, says the selection of U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina to be Kerry's running mate should put to rest questions about the campaign's commitment to the South.
Still, Black says, "It is hard for me to see Kerry winning Southern states based on his liberal votes."
Bush carried South Carolina in 2000 with 57 percent of the vote to Gore's 43 percent. And Bush is heavily favored to win the Palmetto State again.
Could Kerry win without the South? "Yes," Black says. "But he would need 70 percent of the Electoral College vote outside the South. It certainly can be done."
The big problem for Republicans is that even after they secure the South and carry the Rocky Mountain states, they still fall short of 270 votes.