Election Results: The Day After

The verdict is in: I’m a genius. My election prediction came true. I correctly called both Florida and Ohio for President Bush, predicting those two would push him to victory. And so they did.

I was a bit off on the popular vote, thinking Kerry would do better. My rationale was that the hard core blue states of New York and California — which have a combined 56 million residents, nearly 1/5 of the total U.S. population — would land strongly in Senator Kerry’s column and thereby impact the national popular vote total. However, the President did comparatively well in both states.

California presidental vote breakdown by countyIn California, Bush received 4.3 million votes, a 44% share. Kerry came away with 55% and 5.3 million votes. I was expecting the split to be more along the lines of 70/30 in Kerry’s favor. But in looking at CNN’s county-by-county breakdown, the Republican party is strong in most parts of the state. It’s the coastal areas, specifically San Francisco and the Los Angeles basin, that hold they keys to Democratic strength in the state. Most of the rest of California goes Republican. The eastern two thirds of the state are pure red.

New York is about the same. Any way you slice it, President Bush did pretty well.

There were a few surprises. For example, my former home state of Alaska has re-elected Lisa Murkowski to the Senate in a race I expected challenger Tony Knowles to win. Her appointment to the Senate by her father — while no worse than Jean Carnahan taking over Mel Carnahan’s seat after his death — was widely expected to result in a backlash from voters in the 49th state.

As of now, it looks like the GOP managed to:

  • retain the presidency
  • gain four seats in the Senate
  • gain at least four seats in the House
  • gain one governorship (Washington)
  • defeat the highest ranking Democrat in the Senate

Not bad for a day’s work. Well ok, it was more like a couple of years worth of work. But it represents the largest shift away from the Democratic party since 1980.

The defeat of South Dakota’s Sen. Tom Daschle was especially significant, because it represents the first time a Senate party leader has lost re-election in 52 years. It’s easy to understand why. A powerful senator can route tremendous Federal resources to his state, and an electorate is loathe to exchange that for a freshman who’ll be lucky to land on a fisheries subcommittee. I’m a bit sad to see old Tom go, because he’s an avid pilot and strong supporter of general aviation. He’s opposed user fees, ATC privatization, and other cockamamie things.

Though it has been a big night for the GOP, it’s not all flowers and sunshine. This election will consolidate power, making the GOP a larger (and more legitmate) target for both the opposition and the voters in ’06 if Republicans don’t deliver the goods. Of course, this would only happen on a case by case basis. My impression of Congressional elections is that the electorate never looks at them as national referendums. Those races are won or lost on local issues. Few people vote for a representative based on how he or she will affect the partisan balance of the House.

I’m glad the presidential popular vote margin was large. Whoever won, I was hoping it would be by a sizeable margin. Bush won by more than 3.5 million votes, which means the lawyers have less opportunity to stage an encore of their Y2K performance in court.

As the 2004 election’s loose ends are tied up, it’s time to turn our attention toward healing, coming together, and moving forward. The problem is, I’m not sure how we do that. Is the GOP suppsed to abandon the platform it ran on in order to accomodate those whose candidates were rejected by the voters?

It’s been sad to see the way some Democrats are stuck on the “what’s wrong with 50% of the country?” mantra. There is nothing wrong with 50% of the country. If you really think 150 million Americans are crazy, then perhaps moving to Canada is not such a bad idea.

When the GOP wins election after election and claims ever larger majorities in House, Senate, and governorship seats, perhaps the proper question to ask would be, “Why don’t more voters pick our candidates?”. The country hasn’t changed, it’s the Democratic party that’s different. Maybe Zell Miller, Ron Silver, Ed Koch are on to something. Perhaps Sen. Richard Shelby, Sen. Ben Campbell, Sen. Bob Smith, and others who switched to the Republican party did so for a valid reason.

The President and the GOP are far from perfect. But until the Democrats reinvent themselves and the way they play the game, this red state trend will not change. I’m hopeful this election will inspire the Dems to do that soul searching, because a well balanced two party system keeps everyone on the up and up.

  9 comments for “Election Results: The Day After

  1. Kevin
    November 3, 2004 at 8:57 am

    Congratulations to Mr. Bush and his party for their victory. I agree with Ron that a sizable margin of victory makes his election this time a little easier to swallow than 2000. I didn’t vote for the George Bush, based on personal reasons, but I respect those that did vote for him. If you think that George Bush and the Republican policies will help you and your family, you should vote for him. Do I think 51% of the population is crazy for their votes. Not at all. I don’t live their lives and they don’t live mine. Everyone has different priorities in their lives and I respect those that vote as a reflection of those priorities, even if they differ from mine.

    My only point of contention is when people attack my vote against George Bush or anything Republican as some sort of Anti-American protest. I am not hopeful that the Republican Party, with current leadership, is capable of bringing the country together unless they stop this practice of labeling dissension to their Party’s platform as Anti-American. The suggestion that people who disagree with them hate America and should move to Canada is ludicrous. (Ron-this is a personal vent and not a response to your post about Canada above) By the same logic, I don’t believe that everyone who is against Democratic Party platforms deserve to be lableled “racists” or “Christian Jihadists” because of their beliefs.

    Our country is great because of our differences – not in spite of them.

    Can’t we all just get along…

  2. Ron
    November 3, 2004 at 1:48 pm

    I agree with your comments, Kev.

    Re: “The suggestion that people who disagree with them hate America and should move to Canada is ludicrous. (Ron-this is a personal vent and not a response to your post about Canada above)”. I probably should have clarified that I was referring to some fellow writers and friends who’ve commented (mostly out of frustration) that they would seek political asylum in another country if Bush was re-elected. I wasn’t suggesting that Democrats leave. And I know you know that. 🙂

    On the contrary, they should stay. If they love the U.S. and want to change it, work to toward that end. Even if I disagree with what they want the country to look like, I’ll always respect principled debate and political activism.

    The Kerry supporters who leave the 2004 campaing spitting poison are doing a long term disservice to their cause. The pendulum can easily swing their way one day. But the conspiracy theorists are only delaying that eventuality. The youth vote could have swung this election toward Sen. Kerry, but they did not materialize at the polls and I theorize that this is one of the causes.

    Anyway, I think we definitely can get along. Sen. Kerry gave a gracious concession speech and still has a Senate seat from which to work. And I believe the majority of those who cast their vote for John Kerry are like you: disappointed this morning, but not vitriolic or resentful.

  3. Jon
    November 3, 2004 at 3:21 pm

    Andrei H. from our alma mater was none too happy.

  4. Ron
    November 3, 2004 at 3:49 pm

    Well I can understand his being unhappy about the result, but the talk of secession is crazy. Andrei is a smart guy, how can he think that is an option?

    Secession is what the Civil War was fought over. It wasn’t slavery, it wasn’t states rights vs. federal authority. The war was fought because southern states attempted to break up the nation. They thought any state could leave the union. The United States said no, and 700,000 Americans died in battle to decide the issue.

    There were only 31 million people in the United States during the Civil War. That means that one out of every 44 people who lived in America — 2.26 percent of the total population — died fighting that war.

    To bring that into modern context, there are 280 million people in the United States today. That’s nine times as many as in 1860.

    So the bottom line is that if the Civil War took place today, the proportional death toll would be approximately 6,322,580.

    Surely he doesn’t want a repeat of that era in U.S. history.

  5. Rich
    November 3, 2004 at 9:44 pm

    You left out Reagan on your list of Dems who switched sides.

    As I said on my website, the Democrats biggest issue is that they do not know how to run a media savvy campaign that’s centered around the candidate’s charisma. Only Clinton’s been able to do that successfully since 1968. You put anybody else up against Carter other than Ford-remember, he was not elected as neither a President nor a Vice President-and Carter goes down in defeat. Until the Dems follow Clinton’s blueprint, they will not win the Presidency unless the Republicans gift wrap it like they did in 1976.

  6. Rich
    November 3, 2004 at 9:45 pm

    Dang, my tag didn’t close. Sorry about that.

    Try to shamlessly plug my website, and look what happens…

  7. Jon
    November 3, 2004 at 10:57 pm

    You’re a dangling tagger. Probably better than a tangling dagger.

    I wrote to Andrei and received a nice reply back. He acknowledged that article was written while he was still pretty emotional about the whole thing. You’re right, he is a smart guy and at the end of the day when he’s had some time to rest up, I’m sure he wouldn’t seriously pursue a call for secession.

  8. Ron
    November 4, 2004 at 1:49 am

    Rich–

    No problem on the open tag. I have the power. I can rebuild it. Better, faster, stronger. It’s been reborn as the Six Million Dollar Tag.

    Re: “You left out Reagan on your list of Dems who switched parties” I left him out on purpose, actually. I only listed prominent Democrats I could think of off the top of my head that had either a) switched parties relatively recently, or b) were still Democrats but campaigned actively for President Bush in the 2004 election. There are many others.

    There are also Republicans who threw their support behind Sen. Kerry and/or have changed parties, but they are far fewer in number and prominence. Sen. Chafee, for example, has threatened to leave the GOP for the Democratic Party, but has yet to follow through.

    Regarding the charisma, neither party has done well in that department. The GOP had Reagan, and the Democrats had Clinton. Other than that, there have been few seriously charismatic people to inhabit the White House in recent memory.

    I could be blowing smoke here, but I’m not sure the Democrats’ problem is a lack of charisma. I’d say the problem is more of a core lack of faith in the electorate.

    I seem to be virtually alone in the blogosphere in my unwaivering faith in the American people. Many feel they are stupid or will only fall in line en mass behind a charismatic leader or talented speaker. My opinion is that Americans are highly intelligent, can easily see through the smoke screen, and vote based on far more substantive criteria than either side is willing to give them credit for.

    The thing is, you don’t see these people on TV. You see the people who appear on The Tonight Show’s ‘Jay Walking’ segments. Those are atypical voters. The average voter is like you. Or me. Or Jon. Or Lesley. Or Heather (Manning, Manning or Schulz — your pick).

    When I look around at this country, its history, its success and wealth, and the many ways in which it has enriched the world over the past 228 years, I see a place that cannot possibly be inhabited by people with an aggregate gullibility factor that high.

    Even though there are morons out there, they are not the ones that make a difference in the political process. The much vaunted “youth vote” that failed the Democrats on election day is a good example. Those who cannot name the President or his challenger are unlikely to be registered at all, let alone actually get out there and vote.

    I have great faith in the wisdom of the American people. No election result could shake that faith. That’s why I wasn’t worried about a potential Kerry administration. Well, that and the fact that the more I learn about the executive branch, the more I realize that the president’s power is limited and the White House is as much of a political cage as it is a castle.

  9. Ron
    November 4, 2004 at 1:58 am

    Jon,
    I’m glad Andre has reconsidered the secession thing. I think that kind of talk is dangerous. Words have meanings, and that one is attached to 700,000 American graves. I have always taken great comfort in the portion of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address where he said, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

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