BOSTON—Just after 10 p.m., Joe Lockhart updated the press at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel on the Kerry campaign’s view of the unfolding election. He appeared to list states in descending order, as related to the campaign’s confidence that Kerry would win them:
“Let me talk a little bit about where we think things are. We are in, I think, a remarkably strong position as we stand here tonight. We think—Let me try to do this in some semblance of order. The first state that will flip, we believe, is New Hampshire. We’ve had a very aggressive campaign out there, a very aggressive ground game, and we expect to win that state.
“Ohio was a state that stayed close throughout the campaign, but we are very bullish based on the turnout in the state. We had very positive turnout within, as I was saying earlier, the Democratic precincts particularly in African-American communities. We had our precincts, the Democratic precincts, performing at 115 percent of our expectations, and we had the Republican precincts reporting at 94.3 percent of expectations. … We had African-American precincts reporting in very high, at about 115 percent of what we expected, and Hispanic precincts were reporting at 150 percent of what we expected.
“I think if you look at the vote that’s coming in, what you have to keep in mind is there’s a series of Democratic counties that we only have very limited reporting in now. I give you those counties and with that [the] margin that Gore had in 2000: Cuyahoga, obviously Cleveland, strong Democratic area, Gore won by 160,000; Lucas County, Toledo area, Gore won by 35,000; Montgomery County, the Dayton area, Gore won by 5,000; Summit, which is Warren, which is where we had the rally over the weekend, Gore won by 25,000, and Mahoney County, which Gore won by 30,000. If you look at the numbers now, these are very underreported, and these are the ones that are coming in late.
“On Florida, we think we, as I said earlier today, we started with a very strong advantage based on the early voting, almost 30 percent of the state voted before today. And we’ve had absolutely outstanding turnout in the southern part of the state, in Miami-Dade, Broward, and West Palm. If you look at 2000, Gore won Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach by 350,000, and we think we’re going to do better than that. We have very limited reporting in those counties in Florida now. But we think that, based on the limited information, we have a 42,000-vote lead in Palm Beach County, with less than half the vote in. Broward County, we have a more than 200,000-vote lead, with still more than a quarter of the vote left to be counted, with still over a quarter left to be counted.
“I think in both of these states, Ohio and Florida, the turnout, the incredible turnout, an unprecedented turnout, I think you’ve seen in the long lines, in the fact that they’re still voting. We have reports from Columbus, Ohio, of a polling place that will be open until midnight based on the line when the polls closed. There’s still voting going on in Florida. So we feel very strongly about both of these states as states that will come into our column once the votes are counted.
“I’ll do two areas before we get to questions. The first is the Upper Midwest. We feel very strongly about, we’ll have a comfortable win in Minnesota. Wisconsin, based on the turnout that we’ve looked at and analyzed over this afternoon and this evening, we think we’ll also hold. I think, Iowa, with a late surge in the last four or five days, and with a very aggressive ground game, we think we’ll also be able to hold the state of Iowa.
“In the Southwest, New Mexico and Nevada, one red state, one blue state, we feel very strongly that we’ve done well there, we’ve done enough and that when the votes are counted there we’ll win those states. So, overall we feel like we’re in a strong position.”
Q: What’s surprised you tonight?
“We expected a very large turnout. I don’t know that we expected this, something this large. And I think we’ve always believed that turnout, and the size of it as it grew over by the millions and maybe even 10 million more than what we saw in 2000, that would advantage us, and I think that’s what we’re seeing.
“You know, I think the turnout in a number of Democratic communities has been strong. I think if you look at the data that’s out now, probably the biggest surprise is how the 18- to 25-year-olds, how many of them came out, and think how strongly they’ve come out for Kerry. I think if you’re looking for one thing to put your finger on right now that’s making a difference in this race after many cycles of there being hype about getting young people re-engaged and getting involved in voting again, this is the year that it actually happened.”