By Alan Abramowitz
The exit polls missed the mark very badly last night (before they were reweighted to correspond to the actual results). The national exit poll consistently showed Kerry leading by 3 points–just the reverse of the actual vote. The Ohio exit poll had Kerry up by 4 and the Florida exit poll had it tied.
What happened? Some combination of bad precinct samples, resopnse bias, or failing to accurately account for early and absentee votes must have been at work. Whatever it was, it was a major problem. In 2000, the national exit poll also overestimated Gore’s vote, but not by nearly as big a margin.
Why did Kerry lose the popular vote? Basically this was a rerun of 2000. Almost every state, and every big state, went the same way it did in 2000. It looks like the only switches were New Hampshire for Kerry and probably Iowa and New Mexico for Bush, although those are not certain (and, in fact, New Hampshire is also extremely close). But Kerry got killed in the South and that appears to have also dragged down several Democratic Senate candidates.
I think that Democrats need to think very hard about the lessons of this election, regardless of what happens in Ohio with the provisional ballots. We lost the popular vote and probably the election to a Republican incumbent with a horrible record. It is going to be very difficult to win a presidential election unless the Democratic candidate can do significantly better in the southern and border states. More thoughts to come later.
Exit Polls and Other Woes
By Alan Abramowitz
I have got to say something about conspiracy theories and the way the term is used to discredit. Think about the two words and there seperate meanings. If a crime is commited by more than 2 people it very well could be a conspiracy and whenever someone trys to find out what happened they no doubt would form theories. Right? so therefore wouldn’t it be fair to say that most crimes with2 or more involved in order to be solved requires conspriacy theories? Just makes sense to me but hell I am a democrat think about the 9-11 attacks and the opfficial story 19 highjackers suppossedly conspired to attack us. That makes the government conspiracy theorist doesn’t it. Though I think they are more conspirators than theorists.
Come on – they found 70,000 new votes in Broward County after it looked like a casino referendum was going to fail? And 94% of them were in favor of the casinos. Gee, what are the odds?
What the hell do you THINK is going on? They stole it – again. We can strategize out our asses, but it won’t mean a damned thing as long as we have electronic voting.
And paper trails aren’t the answer, either. It’s easy to make the receipt say one thing, and the actual vote say another.
Paper ballots, anyone?
Figures don’t lie only liars figure. When are you going to get it. THIS ELECTION WAS STOLEN BY THUGS.
Amazing how everyone is quick to blame the exit polls as being flawed.
we know exactly how the exit polls where performed. what is in the shadow is how the electronic voting was carried out.
I believe the republicans are guilty of old fashioned ballot stuffing with modern electroncs.
Ohio democrats need to challange Repuplican voters POST election with a simple question: DID YOU VOTE.
i bet you a large number of elderly and young registered republicans never actually voted in ohio’s election but were insteaded mark as having voted republican.
Everyone has been trying to determine where the democrats went wrong., lets just face this fact, we didn’t go wrong, the election results went wrong, there are facts all over the internet. Let’s stop whinning about why we did not win and direct our attention topushing for an investigation of this election. The machine used for voting were mostly from Diebold, do not have paper trail, and diebold’s owner is a huge republican contributor. Google or search for Diebold scandal and you will find tons of info regarding this. Machines are not certified but are used by states, purchsed by Secretaries of State. 34 states have these machines. If you want more proof check out the voter hot lines map on msntv site. It shows the most calls came from Florida, Ohio and Pa. Following closely behind that was California and Texas. We have to do something about this. Rise up. Votes don’t count and are not counted.
Is the discrepancy between exit polls and (fraudulent?) vote totals the reason the networks **withheld** (astonishingly) the exit polls for reasons that sounded pious but fishy?
Or is that a silly question, on a par with asking why it’s always the Democratic contenders, future leaders, etc. who die in airplane accidents?
Palast thinks Kerry Won but spoilage in heavily Democratic areas gave it to Bush. He seems to imply much of Ohio was voting on punch cards again. Don’t know what to make of his argument, but it’s at least initially plausible.
It’s a mystery to me why Kerry didn’t insist on counting all the votes.
I do not believe this election was stolen. The reason. The GOP did not need to steal this election. They were the majority party this time and they new it. It was the Dem leadership which underestimated GOP GOTV and which had its collective heads in the sand about the fact that the Democratic Party went from 33 percent registered voters to 31 percent registered voters while the GOP went from 27 percent registered voters to 30 percent registered voters. This was a net loss of five percentage points which the Democratic party pretty much ignored in this election.
In 2000 the Democratic party was the GOTV party and Gore won the popular vote while having the electoral college stolen from him in Florida. In 2004 the GOP was the GOTV party in spite of a great turnout effort by Dems and this was because they got their people to vote in record numbers and were even with Dems in voter turnout and had greater party loyalty.
If the Democratic Party wants to win in 2008 it must once again take the lead with registered voters by a signifigant margin. From this point forward the GOP will match our GOTV efforts as they have learned the value of turning out their voters in the 2002 and 2004 elections. If we plan to win we must once again be the majority party in America. Nothing else will do.
On a side note. 120 million Amercans did vote. There were five million absentee votes which must be added to totals of the the 115 million people who voted on election day. There are no missing 5 million votes!
I do not believe in participating in a Democratic firing squad (that’s the one where we all stand in a circle and start firing), but for those of us who read your and Alan Abramowitz’ analyses with great interest and found ourselves convinced that Kerry was going to win, we need some clear explanation of what went wrong. Why didn’t the “incumbent rule” work this time? Why didn’t RV OR LV polls reveal a big surge toward Bush? Why was the final Harris poll so far off? Why did approval numbers of Bush, and his low raw score (i.e. never reaching 50) mislead all of us? So that we can do this better in 2 years, you both need to give your readers as clear an explanation as possible.
I have always felt that Kerry was an easy win President unless the vote was rigged! With DieBold machines being owned by a Republican there is NO DOUBT that this election was rigged. NO BOUBT. If ATM machines can give out a transaction record to millions of users everyday so could DieBold. The REAL question here is why didn’t the Democratic party put ALL their efforts into exposing this and figting for it these past four years?
No need for recriminations over what we needed to do. Kerry was an excellent candidate, (certainly compared to Bush anyway) and I truely believe both Gore and Kerry won. Isn’t it curious how EVERY Republican won (except Coors in Colorado) even when the Democratic contender was shown to be ahead on the polls.
We all thought the polls were too close. I believe they were beeing held artifucially close by Gallop because of the owers ties to the Republican party for the possibility that when Bush “won” noone would question it and suggest fraud. Anyone else which these thoughts?
I am hoping that when the dust clears people who are passionate and interested will look into statistics and probabilities of the exit poll numbers and the discrepencies of the actual results. These need to be analized at and compared over the years to give a true prosepective. From what I am getting, it has only been these past two elections, 2000 & 2004 that they have diagreed. The fraud will come out, first the rumors then the expose.
The media won’t touch it of course lest they tell their views the truth, but the Internet will. Remember Bushes wire that never got exposed? Plus we are watching the TRUMAN SHOW…we are not seeing reality and they are not what they portray (this can be applied to Reps and Dems).
I am a conservative but socially reasonably liberal (maybe because of my European background), and I think that this will take years (10-15) to rebuild the Democratic side into a powerhouse again.
What the Rebublicans have done is EXACTLY what Hitler and his coalitions did to take COMPLETE power in Germany. Hitler worked for over twenty years to get his small party (mainly discruntled ex WW1 military who were essentially thugs) into power. Even after one serious defeat in the election (they got only 29%) when many would have given up (he was even put in prison) he emerged from prison (where he wrote Mein Kaumpf-spelling!!) still focused and in control. In fact, prison gave him “hero” status. Six years later and despite NEVER receiving more than 34% in any election he found himself in the powerful position of negotiating with a weak Aristocratic Ruler/Government who needed to make a pact with another party to keep power for themselves. Hitler negotiated until he got a cabinet position (The Governments thinking was that he could be “contained” and essentiall ignored!) . What happened next was stunning and it set the tone for the rest of his life. He had hundreds of his opponents killed in a two day period, he grabbed power immediately and relentlessly without ANY concern for diplomacy or restraint. All Hitler needed was a foot in the door. Three years later he was in total control and the first item on his cabinets adgenda was the invasion of Checoslovakia, ( to retake the land “taken from Germany” after WW1, (which he had been fighting for, for over twenty years). The parralles are fighteningly close; they were racist and had a “religious” ferver for national unity (a pure arian race).
One of the reasons for the discrepancy was that 38% of the voters voted on touch screen machines that did not provided a verifiable paper trail. Over 1100 complaints were lodged about machines not allowing a citizen to vote for their choice, missing raceson the ballots, machine breeakdowns, etc. And Kerry couldn’t wait for investigations and final counting of ballots or demand any recounts. How very sad for our country. Whatever shinanigans the GOP pulled off, there will be no significant , or public addressing the issues.
Oh…and one last thing. Not meaning to be crude.
That is the kind of head in our ass, not seeing the forest for the trees, navel contemplating BS that has led us to where we are.
The GOP plays to WIN. They don’t worry about public opinion. They FORM it.
We need to RESET THE AGENDA.
US Conservatives will win as long as they do not have to make hard choices. But, they will loose when they do have to make these choices. At the Federal level, there is no requirement to balance the budget and hence the conservatives run up the deficit and give out goodies. At the state level they have to balance the budget and make unpopular cuts in program in tough economics times. Hence they end up loosing. They lost the Colorado legislature where both houses swung sharply to the Democrats, and they tied the House in Minnesota because the GOP was forced to make painful budget cuts as deficit spending is not allowed. Defeating the federal conservatives will be difficult as long as they do not have to make any budget cuts.
As far as winning states, the more important question that needs to be asked is why in the bluest of blue states, VT, MA, RI, NY and CT, they have GOP governors and what the Dems are going to do in 2006 to unseat all of them? Why does MN have a redneck governor and how did they end up electing Coleman? Why did no one try to run credible candidates against Ridge and Engler in 1998 which could have affected redistricting in PA and MI in favor of the Dems? The Dems need to answer these questions and start building up from the grassroots.
You know it wasn’t just the exit polls. It was all the pre-election polls, too. What happened? Did the undecideds break for the incumbent? Or was there a surge of Republican voters? If there was a surge, why were the long lines in the Democratic precincts, and why was the overall turnout not as high as predicted?
Yup. So only 114 million ballots were cast? That doesn’t seem to match what was observed at the polls.
Countywide tabulating systems are also highly vulnerable.
Think of it this way, if the head IT guy at a casino had his info security thoroughly reviewed by expert consultants and the security was found in the state the tabulating and touch-screen systems are in, he would be fired.
I was pointed to this site from a news article. Never posted here before and never will again.
To win the nomination in the Democratic party a candidate must be pro-abortion to the point that any child can be killed short of emerging from the womb.
Kerry lost all non-black voters who attend church on a regular basis (say 4 times a month) by a huge margin. Exit polls suggest 85%-14%-1%.
Much of the country views the extraordinarily radical pro-abortion position of the dems to be simply evil. Let me put it this way. Do you believe in a soul? When does a soul inhabit the human body? Can an unborn child be anything but innocent? Is killing an unborn child for convenience alone anything other than evil?
Almost all abortions are done for pure convenience. There is no violence involved in the conception. There is no physical health risk to the mother. Check the Allen Guttmeyer institute sources for statistics behind abortions if you disbelieve me on the basic demography of abortions and the reasons behind them.
If you are religious, a “kill them all and its ok” decision by the primary voters selecting the candidate of the democratic party is simply wrong.
Remember, the only thing that repealing Roe v. Wade does is put the state abortion laws back to where they were in December of 1971. Let the states and the voters decide issues like abortion and the democrats can win the presidency.
Several years ago, while in graduate school, my sociology prof, a classic intellectual marxist, made a simple, yet true observation about US presidential politics. In the last forty years, every elected president has come out of the south or the sunbelt (including California). I think us Dems have to consider this in ’08. We can not cede the entire south, plains, and Rocky Mountain west to the GOP and expect to win, black boxes or not. I really think we need a populist, buzzsaw type from the heartland that can challenge the right in a language that ‘everyone can easily understand.’ I don’t know who this person is, but I hope to God they emerge quickly. Although I respect her politics, Hillary won’t cut it in ’08. She will only galvanize the right, and we will lose again.
With this said, I have the utmost respect for John Kerry. However, the right easily branded him as an east coast liberal out of touch with middle America. He almost bucked the above trend I mentioned above, because of his patriotism and the ABB sentiment, but in the end, the trend won out.
The other point that needs to be made is that the GOP has a helluva machine at work. The Dems need to focus in on regaining city, municipal and county level positions in the red states. Will we sweep the south in four years? No. But can we begin to slowly pick off some of the border states such as Arkansas, Missouri, Virginia, and Kentucky. Yes, I believe we can if we get good candidates.
Finally, I think by ’08, we will be ready to capatilize on a political climate that will be burned out on radical neoconservatism. (Think a couple thousand more casulties in Iraq). If Bush maintains his current posture, the country will be cycling out of this period looking for a Dem to embrace. I also agree that it will be hard for the GOP to run anyone that can rival Bush’s capacity to link the billionaire set with the fundies.
Remember all the criticism made at this site of the Gallup polls showing a big Bush lead and our negative comments about their samples including too many Repubs?
Looks like Gallup was right. He came up with a large Republican sample because Rove’s strategy was not to appeal to independents but to organically grow the GOP base. Kerry, I understand, rec’d more indie votes than Bush; a first for a winning incumbent.
Rove simply kept going after the Bush base and fed it with Gay marriage, God and of course, guns. Evangelical churches operated as marketing units in getting the word out. I worked as a Dem challenger in one of the most conservative and Christain counties in the nation. It was a tsunami of voters; about an 80% turnout that dwarfed the really good GOTV job we did.
If we can’t win with what we had going for us this time, it tells me that we never will until we reorganize the DNC into a well oiled machine with stronger ties to state committees, bring people of faith into politics who can appeal to border state voters for offices at all levels and nominate a candidate who projects spiritual values and infuses his/her policy outlooks with a moral overlay.
Until we do that or until the white Christian evangelical movement dries up or morphs into an apolitical movement, we’re not going to make it back into the whitehouse for many years to come.
Don’t have anything particularly novel to offer.
1. Country still polarized. This year’s map even more shocking than the 2000 map.
2. Hard to persuade a country convinced it is at “war” to change leaders. I wonder if the undecideds didn’t break for the incumbent this time.
3. 51% is better than 48% plus five Supreme Court justices, but it’s not much of a mandate.
4. Wedge issues killed us. Eleven states just voted to outlaw gay marriage. In Ohio, where I worked, think the gay marriage ban received 63% support.
5. We need to find something equivalent to the wedge issues the GOP uses so well.
6. We’re all too well educated. Glancing at exit polls, it seems people with graduate degrees supported Kerry; high school dropouts supported Bush. I don’t say that to sneer. We need to connect with people whose politics are driven by economic anger and resentment that is stoked by the Roves of the world around cultural side shows.
7. Bush has won a legitimate election, even if we don’t like the result. Foreign affairs, the economy, domestic comity — all on his shoulders now. He dug himself and the country into a big hole in the first four years. We should all hope he doesn’t make things worse in the second four.
As I stated last winter during the primaries when John Kerry got the nod, this was a recipe for disaster. That Northeastern liberal patrician formula DOESN’T work ANYMORE ! The last three Democrats that have been elected have been from the South and were able to capture Southern votes. Like Clinton, you have to be able to talk to the Bubba and the Brother ! As much as I admire her, Hillary Clinton will suffer a worst loss than last night. This is the “Vanishing Democratic Minority”, the party is on the verge of extinction. A new party should be formed consisting of disaffected moderate Republicans and Centrist Democrats that will appeal to the working middle class that FDR used to build his base during the Thirties. The Democratic hierarchy never seems to learn it lesson.
Glad to find this blog where I can mourn this devastating loss with the rest of you. I really thought we would win this time — up until about 10:30 last night.
I have never in my voting lifetime (first in 1976) seen the Democrats so organized and united. At my very Republican polling place last night, for the first time I saw two Democratic volunteers holding Kerry-Edwards signs. What a thrill!
Regarding voting values — the conservative Bible thumpers aren’t the only ones who do that. We vote our values too. But our values are starkly different from theirs. In 2004, with Kerry-Edwards, we voted for what we value: Equality for all, privacy in personal matters, the ability to make personal decisions without governmental intervention, honoring the environment, acting with honesty, integrity, and intelligence. They value “life,” they say. But they want to own assault weapons and they support capital punishment and they enter meaningless wars. Is life important only for the “unborn”?
Sigh. At least in 2000 we could blame the clownish Katherine Harris and chubby brother Jeb for stealing the peoples’ will. This time we’re forced to ponder the idiocy of the peoples’ will. I too considered Canada.But I’m a native Floridian and know nothing of cold. Besides, this is MY COUNTRY TOO!
On the other hand, Iraq and W’s other ludicrous boondoggles and screwups will be tough to fix. Perhaps it’s best that they clean up their own messes. They won’t be able to.
One of the best things about the last two years has been regularly getting to hear the voices of people who think as I do — people like you — in intelligent discourse on television and radio and newspapers and on the “internets.” I congratulate Kerry-Edwards and all of us on our united front. Let’s not give that up.
The Democratic party must resolve that it can no longer afford the impression that it disdains religion and religious voters. We can no longer cede this ground to the Republicans. Religious Democrats should not be expected to emphasize the same doctrinal principles as the Republican religious base, but there clearly needs to be a religious cohort in our party, acknowledged as such and capable of dissipating the toxic force of the ‘values’ wedge issues (while attracting a certain percentage of churchgoers and fellow travelers who now vote Republican by default). I say this as a religious Democrat – one among more than a few – who is dismayed at the results of this election and at the growing fusion of the Republican party with a sizable swath of the Christian church. This fusion is dangerous for church and state. Ending it would be a strategic, civic and moral victory.
I’m not a registered Repub, but I voted for Bush twice. Anecdotal, I know, but I don’t go to church, own a gun or like NASCAR. I’ve dated black and asian women, have gay friends and have used a wheelchiar for 18 years.
The point is you’re not very ‘liberal’ the way you label all voters for Bush in such a manner. I think that’s why this site / theory behind it is ultimately flawed. It’s prejudiced to assume that people will vote a vertain way based on any characteristic. We are all different and arrive at decisions in our manner.
Just because you think a certain way does not entitle you to power.
PS Don’t forget the fact that Repubs made a big gain in the Senate and a few more seats in the house. This is a continuing trend this thread has basically ignored.
The Democratic party right now stands for nothing. That’s the problem. Trying to say “We’re not liberals…but we’re not as conservative as the conservatives” is a terrible strategy.
To the DNC: Embrace liberalism. Be what you are. When framed properly, people like liberalism. That’s how social progress is created. And most of all…stop playing nice. Attack the GOP with the same fervor as they attack you.
Moreover, God and Christianity are not the sole domain of the GOP. Remember Martin Luther King?
Barick Obama in 2008!
For the past several months I have been coming here to get information on the politcal scene. I am involved with Democratic local politics here in Missouri. ( BTW… we got our clocks cleaned this election locally and in state.) I usually share the information I get here with the people I work with. I do have some questions:
1. What hapened to the 50% rule?
2. What happened to the large turnout that was supposed to help Democrats?
3. What happened to Zogby?
4. What happened to all the other predictions that were way off mark?
5. Where was the “angry” vote?
6. In general, what happened to all the rosey senarios?
I enjoy this site, but I wonder if there was alot of wishful thinking going on. Were our hope built up too high? What is left is a mess. To be honest, I don’t know if the Democratic can even survive without some whole sale changes.
For what it is worth, I felt the Democrats when through the motions on Abortion, Gay Marriage and the onther “moral” issues. The Republicans (especially GWB) hit these issues with zeal. The term Pro-choice has lost its meaning and it does not stand up to Pro-live as an image. If there still is legal Abortion in 2008, we need to rebuild the mesage from the ground up.
My “Christian” friends here at work are for all the “moral” issues 100% until I ask them if they trust the Government to get involved, then they are much more willing to grant citizens the right to choose on these issues.
Many people, including me, believe in the “Pottery Barn” law, you break it, you own it. It seemed just to let Bush fix Iraq, he broke it.
The Rebublicans have changed the dynamic of elections. It isn’t a debate, it is a salesroom.
Having the first convention is a dissadvantage only if we feel compelled to rebut every attack. Bush never did, he just stepped aside and hit his points.
random thoughts from a random mind – Jim
I couldn’t disagree more with those that say we should be a party where southern rural voters feel at home. I’m sorry for those folks, but they’re beyond help, and that’s not what we’re about. We’re the party that looks forward to a more hopeful, better future where people can relate to each other regardless of race, religion (or lack thereof), and sexual orientation, where the promise of the American dream remains open to everyone, where we care for the environment, and we invest in our collective future through public education and scientific research. Those are OUR VALUES, and they’re shared by an increasing number of people in urban and suburban areas, enough to give us a majority for years to come. That we came a little short this time because some of the suburban folks were too scared by the “war on terror” rhetoric from the right and thus not very open to facts and reason is sad, but there’s no reason to despair, because sooner or later they’ll realize that they have been misled, will wonder if there is a better way, and we’ll be there for them. The politics of fear can only go so far and once the threat of terrorism recedes from sight, either because people have gotten used to it or it has been reduced to the level of a nuisance (Kerry was right, but was wrong to say it that way at that time), and the demographic trends that favor us are further along their course, we’ll see that we no longer have to spend much effort to win in places like Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and can shift the battle to places like Missouri, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and maybe even Texas when there’s no Bush on the ticket. No need to have everyone on board, just a majority, and we’re not that far from reaching it. We just need to be sure what we’re about, keep on building the institutions (think tanks, radio and tv networks, grassroots organizations) to get our message across, and keep on fighting!
I was just thinking, if something like gay marriage is going to be a “wedge issue,” why not come up with something that counters that?
I know this might be anathema to Democrats, but why not occupy the high ground with a call for a Constitutional amendment banning Flag Burning? This would be a radical change, but we have to find someway to reclaim the high ground. Moral voters should be on our side, it is up to us to convince them of this.
David G. Mills’ post hit the nail on the head– I’m a northerner and my folks’ ancestory fought in the Civil War, and thus, I have suggested to my parents repeatedly, as a response to their supporting Bush, “Why don’t you just hang a confederate flag outside? You have nothing even culturally in common with the South which is Bush’s base.”
My folks are Rockefeller/Eisenhower Republicans, and pro-choice, pro-environment and support governmental Social Security and Medicare even though they don’t need it. So why are they voting for the Republican South, or why are Republicans taking the North? The two-fold answer lies in the language of simplicity, Southern style, to explain a vastly changing world.
The “Georgespeak” of Bush is the like the fundamentalist evangelical theology of pre-packaged Christianity– there is an answer to every question and its found in authority exclusiviely; the answer being “yes” or “no” and never a maybe or possibly. Those interpreting the authority have complete control over the information given, and any objections are countered by referring to the authority cited by the informer.
As to the vastly changing world, my parents walk in fear of terrorism because its an unknown threat that has never been thoroughly explained nor analyzed seriously. They believe the authority, George Bush, is the only one who has a handle on this creature and will deal with it appropriately, even if the US has to engage in war or kill thousands because no alternative has ever been presented.
Let’s face it– the war on terrorism is being fought like the war on drugs in that the entire plan is reactionary. Thus, being like the Red States is not the answer; rather, presenting a bold vision by thinking alternatively, like the successful campaigns of the Northern Senator Russ Feingold or the newly elected Barack Obama, and grounded in a philosophy of values (i.e.- working towards the common good), are quite attractive, at least, in the industrial upper Midwest.
When I was going through the exit data on cnn.com last evening as states closed, I was encouraged. However, I also found it curious in many states that women comprised a strong majority of the sample…sometimes 55%. In almost every state, there was a noticeable gender gap with Kerry running ahead among women. Do we have reason to believe that women are that large a portion of the electorate or did the exit polls have some sampling error that led to oversampling of women?
You know it wasn’t just the exit polls. It was all the pre-election polls, too. What happened? Did the undecideds break for the incumbent? Or was there a surge of Republican voters? If there was a surge, why were the long lines in the Democratic precincts, and why was the overall turnout not as high as predicted?
I think the long lines fooled us. You see in the 25 or so podunk counties, a high turnout is 6k vs 4k. That’s easily doable and won’t decrease turnout a bit. In the cities, 600k vs 400k creates long lines. It fooled us into thinking we turned out and they didn’t. Indeed the long lines, sometimes 7-8 or even 12 hours DEPRESSED OUR TURNOUT. and didn’t depress theirs IT’S ALL IN THEIR STRATEGY OF SUPRESS THE VOTE. How do we combat this? We need to take control of the local election establishments in the Big cities. Run for anything you can. Even Dogcatcher if you have to. But especially county clerk, etc. Instead several of our big counties for votes are under Rthug control. IS IT ANY WONDER WE WERE SHORT EQUIPMENT THERE?
“I think that Democrats need to think very hard about the lessons of this election”. Really, you think? Democrats can start by not nominating another Northeastern liberal. That’s lesson #1.
Perhaps we should nominate another Clinton who’s actions more so than anything else while in office killed the morality tag for us?
As far as making peace with the south. NO WAY. We aren’t winning a state down there anytime soon. But that being said, we need to compete in the south. That is, go up, make our speaches, excite our base. Wonder why blacks deserted? WE HAD NOTHING TO KEEP EM. they had the gay issues. Imagine if Kerry had gone to a black church or two in Bama and talked about civil rights. Perhaps more would have stayed with us in Ohio. Perhaps Kerry should have made a trip to Texas, stack the audience and rip up Bush in his own backyard. Not to win texas but symbolism is powerful. We should divise a divide and conquer strategy for the south and border states. Go after the old man river states. Go after Virginia which is trending to us. Go after Co, NM, NV.
Remember, we came just 569 votes short, and about 100k votes short. And the state the bushies coveted most in PA, with 40+ visits from Bush, went pretty handily for Kerry.
But lets not be naive about why we’re losing the deep south. LBJ hit it on the head. We can’t get that wingnut vote no matter how much we move toward them. There is no compromise with them. Instead, we need to devise a strategy to carve off the border vote and drive it right through them.
The moral value issue is not going away. If Democrats want to win, they must work to address the concern of voters that society is unraveling and not just because government is not doing enough. This does not require failing to support individual rights. It does require being willing to say that that certain moral standards exist. A poll of Democratic convention delegates said:
…more than seven in 10 say the government should not favor one set of values over another.
Unfair or not, the public sees that as approving a lack of values. Shrugging off Clinton’s lying under oath and having bumperstickers about no one dying in Monicagate will not cut it.
Folks, they’ll label us conspiracy nuts and sore losers (the same way they labeled us crazy when we said Bush was wired during the elections) but the stench of election fraud is in the air! No paper trails in the voting process, discrepency in the exit polls, particularly in Ohio and Florida. Do you think it’s beneath these characters to steal an election? NOT! Don’t automatically buy into the mainstream media notion that we “lost”. Continue to prod and question. That’s what makes us who we are. There is a mounting movement in the blogworld about what happened during the election in 04. Check it out, and if the charges sound like they may have merit (and they do to me), fight back!
Of course the Bushies stole it in Ohio and Florida. They insisted on these new voting systems, and they insisted on no paper trail. Game, set, match once that is fixed.
The exit polls indicated the vote would be 120 million, not 115 million.
The Bushies stole 5 million Kerry votes, ditched them, and did it in Ohio and Florida.
If we don’t get a paper trail, the Fourth Reich has begun.
And the main reason why Bush won is becuase the ultra right wing evangelical christians came out in full force this year, and voted on moral values above everything else. They had the largest turn out, and thereofre Bush won. It was 4 million of them, and they did NOT vote in 2000. They did this time, and hence, Bush won. So now we have a very dangerous time ahead for us with these people in power. Going to be a very scary 4 years.
If the democrats EVER want to win another election, the FIRST thing they must do is STOP LETTING THEMSELVES BE INFLUENCED BY THE REPUBLICANS. It happened last year with Howard Dean. Dead would have been a fantastic candidate, becuase from the get go, he was taking it to Bush with gloves off. So what did the republicans say? He’s too angry. Too loony. So of course democrats fell right into the trap, and ruined him. They democrats CONTINUE to pick dullards for candidates who are interesting. Dead was interesting, he was enegertic, and emotional. Exactly what we needed now. Not to mention HALF the attacks they used on Kerry would not be usable against Dean. No flip flops, no swift boats. He would have given Bush a real run for his money. But the democrats wussed out and let themselves get influenced, so Kerry got it.
Then at the DNC, they let themselves get influenced AGAIN, by saying they wouldnt go negative. The DNC ended up being a useless fluff piece. Then the RNC comes along and its 4 days of vile and hatred, and it WORKED. That was the beginning of the end. IF the democrats wanna win, they MUST stop listening to what republicans say, and BE MORE AGRRESSIVE. I hope they learned thier lesson this time. They better have, cuase if not, they will never win another election again.
“the idea that the Dems are in dire, 1984-like straits is absurd on its face.”
Demtom again nails it. People complainingnthat the Democrats are on the verge of falling apart are Chicken Littles who are ignoring one very basic fact: Bush’s popular and electoral margins are respectably close. This is hardly a Republican blowout.
Dave Mills is also correct. The future of the Democrats is in the Northeast combined with the Great Lakes states and the west coast. We can also pick off a few urbanized western states (don’t write off NM< CO, and AZ just yet, they’ve only recently begun to become competitive after all). Apart from FL (which is culturally and developmentally not representative of most of the south) Dixie is basically out of reach.
One final thought: We fought the good fight, but we were up against a juggernaut that, flawed as he was, had the incumbency advantages and a huge cash pool behind him. Given all the dirt they flung at Kerry, he could have become another Dukakis. But 252 EVs can hardly be called a shameful defeat. We’ll rebound from this, mark my words.
He’s also right that Bush’s negatives aren’t percieved as high in the nation at large as they are in Democrat cicles. I also loathe the man, but I will admit that fact.
Some of the above posts screaming about not running NE liberals are missing the point. I agree a Southern candidate starts the party off from a better position in the race (although I can’t think of a better candidate or more moral and intelligent leader than Kerry is), but several points:
First of all, this seems to be the South finally winning the Civil War. It’s always been an issue, they now get to determine the fate of the union……
Foremost, the party needs to get close to its base issues of economic equity, civil rights, and national security advocacy with a populist progressive point of view that de-emphasizes peripheral social issues for the moment, and does not demonize the other party, tempting though that is………
and last, a strong southern candidate (think yellow dog democrat like Lyndon Johnson without the burden of bad choices on Vietnam) who can advocate for working men and women, for social justice, and at the same time speak the language of a part of the country we are becoming increasingly alienated from would be a good thing. Not talking Clinton, he really brought the party too so far to the right it became wobbly.
It also seems like younger people in this election are leaning towards the Democrats. Orgainizing needs to continue to touch base with and keep interested this future pool of Dem voters and polititians.
I think one night of mourning is ample, we have new ways of talking to each other, large electronic mailing lists, and about 49 percent of the population as a given. We need to use this energy to do better in 2006.
Delighted to see the post-mortem off to such a constructive start.
1. It’s important not only to forget about fraud as a decisive issue in the race, but to work hard to keep it from becoming a self-destructive meme that prevents necessary changes in our party. I do believe frankly that Rove is the Goebbels of our time, so I believe him capable of coup d’etat, but the fact is that we still have a free and intrusive press where matters of real power are concerned: fraud on the decisive scale suggested above would have required the connivance of hundreds of people, any of whom could develop a democratic conscience (or tell someone who has a conscience) at any time and go to the press with the story of the century. (I would love to see dieboldgate become the defining news story of 2004, but if it doesn’t conclusively emerge in the next ten days, with a real person saying ‘yes I rigged the vote’, not a suggestive statistical analysis, forget it.)
2. Kerry came close enough that I believe we should realise that ‘North East liberal’ is not the problem– the problem that needs solving in our candidate selection procedure is ‘human being who connects on a basic human level with the voters’, not making sure they come from an otherwise-unwinnable state/region. “Favorite son” doesn’t work any more, look at TN and NC in 00 and 04 respectively.
3. The figures show that Gore’s hugely-derided populist economic campaign actually worked better on a base-motivating level– the fact that it didn’t come naturally to him was the problem– this is the campaign we should be running from the door in 08.
4. With great sorrow I agree with the comments above that we need to give gay marriage a rest. And I love the proposal that we need to come up with our own turnout-boosting ballot propositions. Triangulation!!!!!
5. We must remember that the caveat that always was cited in articles about the Incumbent Rule was “but we don’t unseat an incumbent in wartime”, which, in our marvellous reality-based way we dismissed by saying ‘but we’re not at war! not properly anyway’. Looks like the American people thought we were, and I bet analysis over the next few weeks may suggest that reluctance to unseat Bush while OBL is still at large was instrumental in depressing our turnout.
6. I wholeheartedly agree that we need directly to copy the GOP GOTV system. We must scrap the MoveOn/ACT model. It is fatally flawed in that professionals WILL NEVER connect with the prospective voter in terms of moral suasion, true ‘you’re doing it for our community’ motivation in the way that genuinely local based GOTV work will do. As has been stated above we need to build these grassroots NOW. The ACT model is very tempting for campaign organisers because it appeals to the ‘bring a certain amount of resources to bear and you will get the job done’ mentality– but it’s how the message connects with people on the ground that really makes the difference in turnout.
Finally I would ask people who are considering giving up to ask themselves what they would have done if they had lived in 1930s Germany.
Keep talking everybody.
The Democratic Party is officially dead. The party is so out of touch with middle America that it has completely lost sight of how to reach them and how to persuade them.
The party of FDR, Kennedy and Clinton has so tied itself to the special interests, not due to the underhanded tactics of the GOP, but due to it’s own insulated, ivory tower mentality and sense of blind self righteousness. That it is incapable of connecting with that larger part of the population which SHOULD be it’s base. Working people! This was the party of the WORKING MAN. I deliberately said MAN and not person, because Working PERSON smacks of the type of political correctness, CREATED BY NORTHEAST LIBERAL ELITES, which forces REGULAR PEOPLE to turn away in disgust.
This was possibly the weakest Republican President (and that includes George the 41) in 30 years. A sitting President shackled with an unpopular war, a mediocre economy and a questionable intellect, and the Democrats couldn’t beat him. Sad.
Worse than that, do the Democrats lead with their best offense? NO. They select a NORTHEAST LIBERAL SENATOR, with an undistinquished record, and expect to win by simply having him toss his war medals around.
Has the Democratic Party truly become so intellectually and politically bankrupt?
Where are you FDR? Where are you JFK? We need you more now than ever. Before the Democratic Party truly becomes DOA.
It is interesting to hear the thoughts on what type
of candidate the Democratic Party needs to run to
be successful in the future. The main issue is not
where the candidate resides, but rather how to combat Republican faux “values” campaigns. This has been a very effective wedge to get their base
to part with their economic and security interests
to support an emotional issue. These issues
have nothing to do with issues at the Federal level
and cannot be held accountable. It has been enough to satisfy their voters that they all stand
together on the issue. Who ever can find a way
to break that wedge will win. It is obvious since
this is the first president who lost the popular vote
the first time, had a net job loss, poor economy, and start an unpopular loosing war to be re-elected.
Counting on Americans to see through values issues and vote on facts is not going to happen
in the future.
As long as you know what you want to achieve and you want to change, it’s possible. You’re not getting there feeling pissed, or wondering why God would let this happened, or despising someone because he won the election with votes he earned, or despising someone because they think differently, or always criticizing before proposing. The only sure way to defeat is defeatism. The only sure way to victory is determination. I’m determined, and I hope you are too.
I’m as disappointed as anyone in here about the election results, but I’m not about to go into the detailed “coulda-woulda-shoulda” about what we did or didn’t do. What’s done is done. Historically, it’s hard to defeat an incumbent president, especially in wartime. That we came as close as we did is creditable.
But in order to win a national majority we can and should examine how we come across to Middle American, middle class voters. We need to create a sense that we clearly understand their concerns and are not alien culturally. On many issues, most Americans are tolerant and recognize that the Democratic party has the average American’s interests at heart. Why we keep getting sidetracked into seeming like leftish special interests needs examination. Perhaps the prominence of anger among many Democratic activists hurt; so maybe did wedge issues like gay marriage (Thanks, Massachusetts Supreme Court.) We have a strong and appealing message, but it keeps getting muddled. Increased turnout among groups like minority groups and young voters helped us, but to put us over the top we need to look beyond narrowly defined population groups and work hard on winning those average Americans who are working hard to get by and don’t really feel that either party entirely represents them or their interests.
Nothing is permanent in politics. There’s always another election, and an unpredictable future. This year’s setback was a disappointment, but we have suffered much worse defeats in recent years (’80, ’84, ’94) Furthermore, the GOP next time around will have its own problems and fissures on display as it won’t have an unchallenged incumbent (and I’ll bet that after eight years we’ll really be extra-hungry to win, as they were in 2000.) But we won’t prevail if we form a circular firing squad or spend all our time nitpicking about polling samples or who did what wrong. We need to get up, look forward, roll up our sleeves, and get to work. There’s clearly a potential Democratic majority out there–we fell just short of it twice–and we will need to try harder to make it happen.
I’d also like to thank the EDM staff for their efforts. These blogs and columns helped raise my spirits at times in the campaign when they were pretty low. I look forward to continuing to come here to discuss and analyze strategy as we work to build that Democratic majority.
cajazz: terrorism played a big part, too. Crazy, but people believe that Bush keeps us safe.
I, personally, am withdrawing from the process.
I’m tired and depressed and seriously thinking of becoming an ex-pat; this isn’t the country I want for myself or my kids if one-half of the electorate thinks the idiot in the White House is good for this country.
In all of this, I still think that Kerry/Edwards did an excellent job and campaigned really well, especially at the end. I congratulate them both for running a campaign that dealt with the issues and focussed on the truth, in contrast to the other team that swam around in lakes of dishonesty. Both Kerry and Edwards kept the high ground and did us proud. I am very happy about them both.
However I dont think the lost was due to their non performance but I think it relates back to the fact that the party is too fragemented and too loosely joined. It hasnt got the kinda cohesion required to win a strong and vibrant campaign. The party needs a management machinery that can bring democrats together as a team long before the elections are due.
As of yesterday the party should be rolling out its management machinery and gearing up for 2008. Alas, this wont be the case. They will approach the 2008 elections in much the same manner as this one.
Again, my congrats to Kerry and Edwards.. Great Job
Being a resident of MN, I was shocked at how well the state races went. There really seemed to be no big anger at the republican part that controlled the house and the governorship.
All I can imagine, is that it was either something to do with the Stadium issue, or it was schools and light-rial transit (something desperately needed in the Metro area) and something incredibly useful for Twins and Vikings games.
Note: In the precint where my university was, Kerry won because the students put him over. I’ve talked to election judges there and they said that a ton of college students came out, much higher than the 17% of the electorate.
Wrong! I have lived in the south for 50 years. The Democratic southern strategy does not work. It was a real fluke that Clinton got elected — thanks only to Ross Perot. Edwards did not do a thing for the ticket.
The problem is the Democrats can’t sweep the North. The North is the base. At least this time they got New Hampshire, but still failed again to get Ohio. Bigger margins in the North would have won the popular vote. For the life of me I can’t figure out why the rural North thinks it is part of the Confederacy. Bush getting 45% in this part of the country is a real joke. You need to understand that the red states are the politically correct terminology for the gray states.
So until you can solidify the Northern base, Democrats will not win. All these Republican votes in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa are what killed us. Where do these northern confederates come from? They need to be shipped down here so there is room for some of us to come up there.
1. As a Southern Democrat, I scoffed when Kerry actually said he could win without the South. People, we’re not going to win without the South–without at least some part of it. Florida, Louisiana, Virginia, Kentucky, pick one, or two, but for God’s sake we’ve got to do something about this. The Carolinas and the Deep South may be lost to us for the next fifteen or twenty years but the border states and Florida are not. But we can’t do it with anybody who might be perceived as a Massachussetts Liberal, or whatever. If we can’t reach into our ranks and find somebody who grew up average, we’re not going to get the South and we’re not going to win at all.
2. Why on Earth did we lose the industrial midwest? These are states where the key issues were jobs, jobs, and jobs, and yet we could not win those states by comfortable enough margins to make a bid for any other states. My take: I absolutely detested the claim that Bush lost more jobs than any president since the Great Depression. This may be true, but it sounds ridiculous. Anybody with a brain in their head could look around and see that this is NOT the bloody Great Depression, and every time we made that comparison (which EVERY democrat out there was make ad nauseum the last few weeks) we just looked silly. Ultimately in the made the argument seem grossly out of proportion, so it wasn’t taken seriously. We need to leave off the demagoguery and treat people like they’re capable of thinking for themselves.
3. Though it may happen, don’t look for a federal constitutional amendment on gay marriage in the next four years. The state bans brought voters to the polls in droves, and don’t for a second think the GOP is going to ignore that. The ban may well have been what turned the tide in Ohio and thus won the race for Bush; parental notification may have served a similar purpose in Florida. As long as these sorts of things are going to be on the ballot, more social conservatives will come to the polls. Expect to see them in states with important Senate or House races in 2006, and expect to see them in more swing states in 2008. We must come up with a way to counter these turnout-boosters, and NOT by arguing against the bans; it’s a non-starter. It might convince some indies, but we’ll just draw even more evangelicals out to the polls. We need to come up with our own turnout-boosters. If that’s the way the GOP is going to play, then we had darned well better start playing by the same rules.
I do not blame John Kerry for this loss. I think he demonstrated that he was a credible alternative to Bush (especially debate one). No, this election was a referendum on the incumbent. The electorate, amazingly, decided to retain him.
I think the Democratic party really needs to do a better job of marketing itself. Right now, the Republican party is defining the Dems (tax and spend, pro-red tape, pro gay marriage, pro-special interests – you get the idea).
I think the emergence of the Rep party started with Gingrich and the Contract With America. The Dems need to get more marketing adept.
The loss I suspect had to do with the Christian Right and I suppose the Reps were superior with GOTV.
Can someone explain this ?
How could Zogby’s exit polling show a CONSISTANT MISS of 3 – 6% ( or higher ) in ALL 20 Battleground states except for 1 PA ?
Then Karl Rove says PROVE IT or concede and we’ll work something out.
Battleground States from http://www.zogby.com and final results from CNN.com.
Zogby had it +6% for Bush
Final +11% for Bush
Zogby had it +3% for Bush
Final +9% for Bush
Zogby had it too close to call
Final +7% for Bush
Zogby had it +.1% for Kerry and trending Kerry
Final +5% for Bush
Zogby had it +5% for Kerry
Final still TBD
Zogby had it +6% for Kerry
Final Result +3% for Kerry
Zogby had it +6% for Kerry
Final +3% for Kerry
Zogby had it +3% for Bush
Final +8% for Bush
Zogby had it too close to call
Final +3% for Bush
Zogby had it +5% for Kerry
Final Result +1% for Kerry
Zogby had it +3% for Kerry
Final – still TBD
Zogby had it +3% for Bush
Final +13% for Bush
Zogby had it +10% for Kerry
Final Result +5% for Kerry
Zogby had it +2% for Bush but trending Kerry
Zogby had it trending Kerry
Final Result +3% for Kerry
Zogby had it +4% for Bush
Final +14% for Bush
Zogby had it slight edge for Bush
Final +8% for Bush
Zogby had it +10% for Kerry
Final +7% for Kerry
Zogby had it +4% for Bush
Final +14% for Bush
Zogby had it +6% for Kerry
Final +1% for Kerry
Tinfoil hat theory…
Assumption: in states with evoting that had a paper trail, the exit polls were very accurate. However, in states without a paper trail, Bush seemed to get a bump of 3- 6%.
What perhaps could be the most amazing reveal of this election was Karl Rove’s boldness to pull off a “possible or purported evoting fraud “across ALL BATTLEGROUND STATES that probably was never even considered as scenario by Kerry Edwards. I mean what good is having 10,000 lawyers if you never did scenario planning and had a quick response team to react ?
ps: also see http://tinyurl.com/3q99r
A poster at Democratic Underground did the SCREEN CAPTURES of the now missing exit poll data from the CNN site both before and after they “altered them”. He then constructed a clever MATH PROOF how the eVoting FRAUD was done in the battleground states with out paper audit trails. There is a consistant 5% edge for GWB.
Ruy — when you decompress, I’d like to suggest you look at the Minnesota results — no, not the Kerry race, though where he ran strong is useful information, but in fact it may be the Emerging Dem Majority happened here last night.
The DFL lost a slew of State House and Senate Seats in 2002. Part of it was Wellstone’s death, and the fact so much of the coordinate campaign was tied to him — but before last night the DFL was down 26 seats in a 134 House. Last night they either made it up — a 67-67 tie (recount underway) or it will be 66-68. More important, most of the gains are in the Suburbs, including a couple of pretty upper crust ones, and the defeated were among the most crazy ideologues the Republicans could produce. (I shall not name the sins.)
The issues seem to be Education — Pre-school through University Funding, Transit — particularly the love affair Republicans have with more roads and more and bigger SUV’s — when what people want is efficient mass transit such as our new light rail line that in the first quarter generated twice the predicted ridership (and it isn’t finished yet.) The Republicans turned down massive Fed Funds for the second line on ideological grounds and since that one would serve upper middle class suburbs, they elected replacement DFL’ers. Most of them are moderate women.
Now of other interest. It seems that when Howard Dean dropped out, many of his organizers transferred their efforts to legislative races, and they served as campaign managers, and today are getting rave reviews. Most important, they won in second ring suburbs — where the DFL simply has not previously done well.
I know, I know — everyone is focused on Kerry’s race, but Politics goes in cycles, and what happened at the state level here may be most instructive.
Oh yea — the Campaign people confronted the Christian Right head on. Signs went up asking the question; “Can good Christians do UnChristian things …. mention an issue.” It was like a burma shave campaign. One subject that apparently got lots of traction was Indian Gameing. The Republican Governor had been trying to force the Indians to give up 25% of their White Buffalo to the state to cover the deficit, and if they didn’t hand over, he was busy talking to the big boys out in Las Vegas about coming in and building competition. It was just like land grabs of old. The State Rep’s associated with this extortion lost. It ain’t Christian as it was put in the campaign. Anyhow — just maybe we have a first wave of an EDM here.
Looking at CNN’s exit poll results I found a very interesting piece of data.
In 2004 those who voted for Gore in 2000 made up 37 percent of the electorate. Those who voted for Bush in 2000 made up 43 percent of the electorate. Since Gore won the popular vote in 2000 by half a point this represents a very large decline in Gore voters versus Bush voters from 2000.
Both Bush and Gore lost voters from 2000. Bush lost about 6 million voters who voted for him in 2000. But as for Gore the numbers are really worth noting. 13 million voters who voted for Gore in 2000 did not vote for Kerry in 2004.
Bush kept 88 percent of his votes from 2000 but only 74.5 percent of those who voted for Gore in 2000 voted for Kerry in 2004.
Now I realize some voters from 2000 have passed away in the last 4 years or are no longer healthy enough to vote but surely this does not account for most of the 13 million Gore voters who did not vote for Kerry in 2004. In fact, it looks like many former Gore voters simply did not vote since the number of defectors from 2000 was just about even in 2004 for both parties.
Now for some good news. Bush appears to have gained approximately 14 million voters who did not vote for him in 2000. Kerry gained 17 million voters over those Gore voters from 2000 who actually voted in 2004. So Kerry actually did better than Bush with first time voters and those who skipped the 2000 election. 3 million votes better to be exact.
To me it all comes down to base support. The GOP really got its base to vote in record numbers and we DEMs clearly failed to motivate a large number of voters who voted for Gore in 2000. They simply failed to vote for Kerry in 2004 opting to sit out the election instead.
CNN reports GOP voters at 37 percent of the elctorate and Dems also at 37 percent of the electorate. Since Kerry won the independent vote by 2 percent it was greater loyalty to the GOP(94 percent) than to the Dems(89 percent) which made the difference in the election.
Clearly not enough DEMs voted in 2004. We failed to get the 3-5 percent vote advantage over the GOP we have enjoyed since 1988 and apparrently a very signifigant number of 2000 voters for Gore simply did not vote in this election.
Ruy, I hope you will look at this data I have presented and give your readers some feedback. Your expertise and commentary are greatly valued by all of us.
I’m very, very disappointed. But I want to that Ruy Teixeira and his colleagues in presenting this wonderful site. Furthermore, I want to thank all of you for being so informative and thoughtful. Some of your monikors are like old friends now. Please don’t give up the fight.
Kerry has not been aggressive enough in his campaign, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Most Bush voters don’t use facts, logic and reason as a base for their vote decisions. They vote mostly on religious fate. Their decision making process resembles the mobs in muslim countries much more than it resembles people in the western world. 99% of those voters have never been outside the continental US, they know nothing of the outside world, their ignorance is their bliss. As long as their number is above 50% of the voters, no Democrat has a chance to win even one red state, and without winning one or two of those, no Democrat can be elected.
While the Ohio saga may linger for some days, it’s abundantly clear that the Democrats have suffered a devastating defeat. Bush has his mandate, the GOP owns Congress and the governorships, and the Supreme Court is only a matter of time.
Let the recriminations begin. Progressives will no doubt cite a host of factors, from Kerry’s wooden personality, the unshakable flip-flopper label, the Swift Boat slanders, “voted for it before I voted against it”, among others. But these are questions of tactics, not strategy. At the end of the day, Democrats must realize their party is adrift in terms of ideology, policy and branding, and that is the source of Tuesday’s calamity.
Democrats need to learn five lessons from this debacle, and learn them fast:
– Restore credibility on national security.
– Compete for white males.
– Move beyond identity politics.
– Understand intensity versus propensity in the culture wars.
– Focus on branding and communications.
For more detail, see:
“The Donkey Gets Its Ass Kicked: Five Lessons for Democrats”
The big fear before the election was that the Republicans would be able to tamper with the votes in Democratic precincts. What seems to have happened instead is that suburban areas predicted to go 60% Republican went 70% Republican in Florida and Ohio. This is quite likely where the fraud occurred.
The exit poll conundrum has to be resolved– it strikes me that the final exit polls presented a profile of the electorate that many of us were predicting or at least hoping for. At 8 PM EST, the exit polls showed a 2% national victory for Kerry, as well as an electoral college tidal wave based on a narrow win in FLA and a 2-3 point win in OH. The national polls were based on a 38-35 advantage for Democrats in turnout and an 8 point Kerry win among Independents.
Then as the poll closed in their states, clear victories were shown in IA and NM, with NV and CO as too close to call. Indeed, provisional ballots could possibly produce Kerry victories in IA, NM and NV, which would resolve into a 269-269 tie.
In any case, the exit polls have been “adjusted,” both nationally and in the states. But two things here. First, it adjusted down to an equal number of Democrats and Republicans and a 3 point Kerry win among I voters. But second, it makes for a tie election nationally and doesn’t explain where Bush’s 3 percent victory in the NPV margin comes from.
A number of explanations are possible. Is it possible that more Republicans than Democrats turned out? Were there more Democratic crossovers than the exit polls showed and where were these crossovers? Or did Independents split or, in reality actually support Bush?
I’m not sure I know which combination of explanations account for this difference and I’d like to hear from others on this. But I sure think we ought to try to find a proper explanation.
LongTom, you’re suggesting that a) Kerry should’ve been more inclusive/”unifying”, and b) that he should’ve run a sharper attack campaign. I’m not sure you can do both. Either one alone would’ve been better than what he did do, I suspect, but that’s pure speculation.
As far as the attack thing goes, he attacked Bush on too many bullshit issues: The AWOL thing? Nobody cares. The French think our foreign policy should serve their interests instead of ours? Nobody cares — the French serve their interests, we serve ours. Governments are like that. If Chirac didn’t serve the interests of France, the French electorate would fire him and find somebody who did. Ditto the US. Ditto the UK — the perception that Blair is not serving UK interests is going to finish Blair off in the end.
Kerry spent the last year campaigning for George Bush. That’s because Kerry is a fool. If he’d campaigned for himself instead, Bush would be on CNN right now conceding gracefully.
One place you’re wrong, though: The *left* has generated incredible polarization and hostility. You can say that you’re only polarized because the other guy disagrees with you, and that you’re only consumed by mindless hate because he’s Satan incarnate, but you’ll be kidding yourself. Blaming everything on the “right” is ridiculous. I am not the only lifelong Democrat who left the fold this year because I was sickened by the Michael Moore wing of the party. I spent eight years in the 1990s disgusted by the Limbaugh/Free Republic Republicans — and then saw my own party throw itself down the same paranoid/lunatic rathole as soon as we lost the White House.
If you characterize people who merely DISAGREE with you as demonic, insane, mentally retarded, animalistic traitors — you are definitively hostile. That crap is divisive. It is polarizing. It also makes you look like a nutcase yourself. I talk to my Democrat friends every day, and they’re sane, reasonable people who just happen to disagree with me (and they see me the same way) — and then I read stuff on the net and wonder what the hell rock these paranoid freaks crawled out from under. Moore is the kiss of death. This year, Moore did to the Democratic Party what Pat Buchanan did to the Republicans in 1992. I still believe that there is a sane, reasonable core of the Democratic Party, but they’ve let the wingnuts grab far too much airtime.
Some of you are still telling yourselves that anybody who’s not just like you is a brainless animal, not worth talking to and not fit to vote. As long as you keep telling yourselves that, you’ll never understand them, and if you never understand them, you’ll never convince them to vote for you. The big story of this campaign is the number of Democrats who openly despise the American people, but still expect to get elected.
Stop all this moaning about nominating a Northeastern Liberal. You are buying Republican spin. John Kerry is a sincere, hardworking, honest Senator who did his best. You can argue strategy all you want. The fault lies with us, Dear Brutus for not doing our jobs as citizens and doing our jobs to find out where candidates truly stand on issues. I was talking to a union engineer about the election and he said he was voting for Bush. I asked him what about health care for all americans. he said let them get a job that provides it. We are facing this kind of mentality in this country. I don’t know how to argue and have a reasoned didscussion with people who are ignorant. When Bush goes after unions and Social Security I will not stand in his way because many of the people who will complain about it voted for it. Let them rot and suffer as a consequence of their vote.
For those of you claiming Kerry wasn’t centrist enough, you could make an equal claim that he was too centrist and did not fire up the Democratic base enough. After all, the Rove strategy was for a candidate to get out HIS base, not the other candidate’s. Pretending to be a moral conservative would have just meant playing on Bush’s turf.
I think we lost because Bush managed to string together 1) a Christian base that would have worshipped him no matter who his opponent was, 2) people afraid of terrorism, and 3) people afraid of switching presidents mid-war. I’ve talked to Bush supporters here and there, and by no means were the majority enthusiastic for their candidate.
Reading over most of these commenss, I’m reminded of something Elizabeth Drew wrote after the 1988 election: that everyone’s opinion of why Dukakis had lost bore a remarkable resemblance to the opinion they’d held going in.
Why does everyone harp on how desperately Dems need to change, when the GOP is in just as poor shape? The GOP base in the south and mountain west/plains isn’t much different, EV-wise, from all New England (minus iffy NH) plus NY, CA and IL. Yet no one talks about how the Pubs will never win till they find someone who can compete in those regions.
Obviously this election is a cruel disappointment (all the moreso given the exit poll mirage — we were all tantalized like pre-2004 Red Sox fans). But I don’t agree that Bush was such a horribly weak opponent. I LOATHE him, and think he’s screwed up royally (with repercussions to be felt well down the line), but his record on paper doesn’t match our most dire evaluations. Alan Lichtman’s Keys to the Presidency found a rather ambiguous result — Bush clearly suffered from a poor long-term economy and problems in Iraq, but I think we overlooked the benefit he gained from the quick success in Afghanistan (even omitting bin Laden) and the decent job spurt of late Spring — it prevented him losing two of Lichtman’s Keys. He also benefitted from the lockstep loyalty of his party, which prefigured an almost preternatural GOP base turnout. Throughout this campaign I said I though Kerry’s chances of winning were good, but that, like Truman, Bush had a small chance of eking out a small win, because the facts and numbers disdn’t make his defeat a sure thing. It’s demoralizing that he finished at the absolute top of his possible range, but that sometimes happens in politics.
The fact is, though, this is no great victory for the GOP (though they will no doubt spin it so in comparison to the negative margin of 2000, and also, cruelly, the exit polls). Bush will probably finish below 300 EVs for the second time, the Dems still holding a firm base that can easily lead to victory in 2008. (Hell, 100,000 or so votes in Ohio this time…) I have no idea of what candidate or circumstance can bring that about; at the moment I don’t even have the heart to think that far ahead. But the idea that the Dems are in dire, 1984-like straits is absurd on its face.
COUNTY RESULTS INFO!!
and choose states from the drop down menu to look at their county results.
Rout for the right? Please. It was a close election that came down to a few hundred thousand votes in one state. Bush certainly took the popular vote, but it was by no means a landslide.
The fact is that these were two flawed candidates, and Bush won mostly because he is the incumbent in a time of war. I think Dems underestimated the impact of the gay marriage issue, which probably convinced just enough leaners to flip to the Bush side.
On a broader level, though, this was a bad cycle for the Democrats. Republicans have strengthened their hold on both chambers. We can expect Bush to push forward with an ambitious conservative agenda in the next four years.
In response and given what happened in several high profile races in 2002 (i.e GA Senator Max Cleland). Do the actual results mirror the exit polls or do the off-base exit polls suggest something more nefarious?
I knew it was over when Karen Hughes appeared on CNN and began spinning that the exit polls being done by their people showed what the results would later be and they were different from those everyone else had. In other words it was get it out front that the Republicans had the only polls that mattered and everyone else was wrong. Amazing it happened in the two states where Diebolt and Jeb Bush ‘guaranteed’ victory.
Curious, CNN appears to be compiling county results here.
I see this every time the Republicans win: The Democrats hide their liberal principles and try to nominate someone they think is “centrist”. And then the Republicans smear him as “too liberal”.
So they hide even more and then everyone is convinced that there’s no point in working hard for Democrats because they’re not much different from the Republicans and they don’t stand for anything – and then we hear about how the Democrats lost because we weren’t centrist enough and we should stop being so liberal.
I think it’s long past time we stopped repeating that kind of RNC spin. Don’t you? Liberal values are the ones most Americans actually share, and it’s time we started standing up for them.
I’m with LongTom. Before we do too much navel-gazing and worrying about messages and philosophies and what-not we need to worry about tactics and logistics. We need to figure out who knows how to win elections – McAuliffe sure doesn’t, and Shrum doesn’t either – and put them in charge. And we need to be aggressive as hell.
This is no rout, this is a small win.
One of two things happened. Either the pollsters are incompetent or there is some kind of election fraud going on here. I believe pollsters are very competent, so you can see what my explanation of the exit poll problems is…
As a social scientist with a strong statistical background who is very suspicious of the electronic voting machines but not willing to draw any conclusions without data, I have a few questions:
1. Does anybody know where/if county-by-county election results are available?
2. Does anybody know where/if county-by-county exit poll results, from all different times in the day, both unweighted and reweighted, are available?
3. Does anybody know where a county-by-county listing of how many machines are electronic voting machines is available?
It seems like all of this should be public knowledge, but my Internet searches aren’t very revealing and I’m not sure where to look. (I’m a social scientist but not a political scientist). And it also seems that if the “conspiracy theories” suggested above are true, that should be evident from the statistics of these numbers. If anyone can help me find the data, I want to check this out…
“I think that Democrats need to think very hard about the lessons of this election”. Really, you think? Democrats can start by not nominating another Northeastern liberal. That’s lesson #1.
It was good to read all these comments. Here are mine:
1. We had a hard-working, articulate, war-hero candidate running against the worst president in living memory whom a plurality of voters believed did not deserve a second term. Bush would have lost to a blank space on the ballot. This election was a slam dunk. It was “lost” by the risk-averse national Democratic strategists. Bob Shrum, are you listening?
2. Who told Kerry not to call the Swifties liars instantly and repeatedly? Who told him not to call Bush a flip-flopper right back in his face, endlessly and repeatedly? Who told him not to deride Bush’s phony “I’m a leader” posturing? Who told him not to point out instantly and endlessly that Bush threatened to veto the 87 billion bill for Iraq (for reasons analogous to Kerry’s ‘opposition’ to it?) Who told him not to point out that it was Mr. “I’ll keep you safer” who ignored the memo warning of al Qaeda’s attack? Who told him not to say that Bush’s policies lacked not just wisdom, but common sense? Who told him not to say that he was proud to be from Massachusetts, the birthplace of our Revolution and democratic values? Whover is responsible for these failures should be shot down like a dog (figuratively, of course).
3. The campaign lacked imagination, verve, and media appeal. It never reached out to “moral conservatives.” Kerry pledged to create 10 million jobs; how about a pledge to reduce the number of abortions by half? How about a series of meetings with religious groups to at least listen to their concerns and positions on stuff like prayer in schools and such?
4. The message was all wrong. Despite Bush’s endless failings, the default vote in America is still Republican. Kerry had to overcome the knee-jerk reluctance to pull the Democratic lever. Forget “A Stronger America”–“A Unified America” was the
stronger message. Most people are sick of the polarization and hostility that the right has generated.
Where was the attempt to undermine Bush’s unsettled conservatives, who didn’t like all the deficits and are uneasy about the war? Bush is no conservative–he’s a radical.
5. I’ve heard Kerry is giving a speech soon. If he concedes, to hell with him. If he can’t beat Bush, how’s he gonna beat the Islamists? (I know this is fatuous, but for cryin’ out loud!! They’ve promised all year that every vote would be counted!!) To hell with this party. They’re like the Washington Generals!
Anybody think there’s a Rep. mole in the upper echelons of the Dem party?
2 simple, basic points here:
Let’s not forget the PIPA poll, which showed that people actually supported Democratic policies, except they thought that Bush held them, not Kerry.
Which leads to..
If the nature of the media does not change significantly for the better, ie. really fair and balanced, the Dems are cooked, regardless of what we do.
I wonder if George Soros is interested in buying a network?
And how is Gore’s network coming?
“Why did Kerry lose the popular vote? Basically this was a rerun of 2000.”
The statement, “rerun of 2000” certainly makes sense for the electoral college. But I am puzzled by the statement as applied to the popular vote. This was a complete reversal.
The combined center-left (Gore + Nader) vote in 2000 was 51.12%. The combined “center”-right vote (Bush + Buchanan) was 48.29.
This time we have 51 Bush to 48 Kerry, with Nader under 1%.
Even if we credit the center-left with only half Nader’s vote (about what exit polls suggested), it exceded 50% in 2000. Bush alone got more than that this time.
This was no rerun. It was a rout for the right.
And few other than Rove and his disciplies saw it coming. Be afraid, be very afraid. These guys will see this as a MANDATE. And they have a point, don’t they?
At least the John Zogby myth can finally be put to rest.
The two parties put together the largest “law firms” in the country. There were literally thousands of lawyers on the ground in key battleground states. The likelihood that fraud on a national scale — to the tune of 3,000,000 votes — could have made it by all this scrutiny, is grasping at the weakest of straws.
Go back and read’s Abramowitz’s comments, read the exit polls, and think really hard. Bush was a weak candidate by any measure, and he beat Kerry fair and square.
The majority of Americans are god fearing, church attending, and gay marriage opposing. They are willing to vote against their economic self-interest for a candidate who they think provides strong and consistent leadership.
Until the Democratic Party finds a message, and a leader, who can appeal to Main Street, we’re consigned to minority status.
And to the Deaniacs I’m already hearing out in portland, OR: you know what, another NE Democrat ain’t the ticket out of this wilderness!
Here, from the heartland, come some suggestions for how Dems can improve their support:
1) Get as far away from Michael Moore as possible. He’s a divisive, polarizing jerk. He makes people feel bad to be Americans. Lots of people don’t want to be on the same side he is for that reason.
2) Lose Move On.org. They are a terrible interest group. Shrill, too young, breathless and dopey. They remind me of face-painters at college football games–unquestioning in their devotion to their cause and candidate. They hung up on one of my neighbors when she told them she was leaning for Bush. Not a great way to win votes, really.
3) Forget about the youth vote. They don’t vote. Middle-aged people vote.
4) No one cares about the French and what they think of us. No one cares if Putin bad mouths us. No one cares if the president of Canada is annoyed.
5) Find a candidate whose life even remotely resembles the lives of regular people. Windsurfing and a billionire wife–out. Chopping wood and jogging–in. That sort of thing.
I wish it weren’t how it is. but it is.
I, too, believe there is something the matter with the vote count in Florida and Ohio.
Aside from that, I don’t see what we can do to change our approach when we are dealing with a majority of voters who believe the President is right when he says that up is down. I guess we can take up fantasizing as Bush and Cheney do, but that doesn’t sound like something most of us can live with.
Republicans have starved the public schools for 45 years, and the results are paying off for them. They now have a nation of sheep to lead wherever they wish.
> Rather than perpetuating conspiracy theories
Hear, hear. If there was fraud, it will out eventually. Meanwhile there is work to be done; whingeing about yesterday is wasted energy.
All along I have been concerned about the “Kerry vs. Bush” focus of the 2004 election debate … seemingly to the exclusion of other races. A president without party support is hamstrung – and the Republicans (in case it escaped your notice) have made gains in both houses of Congress.
Seems to me – and this has been pointed out by other posters in this thread – that a grassroots effort to publicize not only Republican failures but positive Democratic initiatives (so that folk vote -for- Dems and not -against- Reps) is needed. “Start today” is perhaps not too much to say. Once upon a time the GOP styled itself “the Gubernatorial Party” because it was targeting state governorships in that election cycle. What about coordinated work to build (rebuild?) support for candidates at the local, state, and national legislative levels in ’06 and beyond?
I am not quite ready to “sell out” to those who think that every campaign should be a sloganeering bareknuckles fistfight, but I do think it will take significant effort at the grassroots to make considered approaches (the “proper, analytical, meritocratic thing to do”) look wise instead of weak. Kerry, Dukakis and Mondale may not have pulled this off, but Clinton did. How? Can we understand this phenomenon? It may be that someone does, but I do not. I think we need to. I fear that Thomas Jefferson, looking at the brute forces that seem to rule in today’s elections, might well have turned away, a shake of his head, a tear in his eye: “Maybe I was wrong; maybe humans are not in fact fit for self-government.”
Aren’t we talking about not the flaws of exit polling, but the flaws of midday exit polling results? Polls can give a sample of sentiment at a black urban precinct say, and a rural precinct, but only but only after the results are weighed according to what the turnout was at each precinct can the results be meaningful. That last step is not insignificant.
What we’ve got to do now is crib from the GOP GOTV techniques. A less professional, more neighbor-based system apparently works better. (Though even something small like better weather in Ohio might have won the election for us.)
I don’t agree that the fix was in on this election. I thought it might be before, but I don’t believe it now. I believe that the election was a referendum on the war and on people’s fears about terrorism and Kerry just couldn’t get his ideas across in a way that folks in the red states could grasp.
The thing that needs to happen in the next four years as we watch Bush wreak havoc is that the Democrats need to retreat and take a hard look at how they communicate their message and how they come across in the red states. Perhaps a think tank should open in Columbus and stay there for the next four years and figure out how to get that state on board. That would be a start….probably you’ll never get Utah or Alabama…but try to pick a couple to tick off. There’s no excuse for losing Iowa, however…
So where is the emerging Democratic Majority? This election is largely 2000 all over again, w/ larger margins in the red states and tighter margins in the blue states. More people than ever voted, and they voted for a conservative, not a moderate, Republican.
Wow! I can say I agree with almost all the above comments,especially with Tim165. To add to the constructive dialogue I would like to add the following:
1.The Swift Boat and Flip Flop ads DID work! The failure on our part was not fighting back quickly and firmly. This is why Shrum will never win a national campaign, he believes in playing nice.
Kerry never really regained his lead after the Swiftboat ads.
2.As a gay man, I want to state this strongly and firmly, the gay activists and groups (many of whom are friends) overplayed the Mass. Marriage battle. As I have argued over the last 3 years, America is not ready for gay marriage! We should not have gone forward with the legal battles in many states. America will be ready in 20 to 30 years from now, when many of the traditional and older voters die off. I’m mad that the gay organizations that I support did not properly map out and strategize. Instead of a quick fix, we now may get a constitutional admendment that would make the issue moot forever. I plead and beg honest and hardworking gay couples to stop pursuing this, it is time for a timeout, even here in California! When a country is suffering serious economic and foriegn policy problems and they pick moral values as their #1 concern, you know we are headed for trouble!
We should be careful about the national margin of victory. Kerry wasn’t running to win the popular vote, nice as that would have been. He was running to win the electoral college. The effort and money to scrounge up a single vote in Ohio might have earned ten in California. Bush could have run up the score in Texas, but what Kerry could have done in California, New York, Illinois, etc., could have overwhelmed that.
It seems to me that what happened is that Kerry waged a great campaign, won the voters he set out to win, but he and everyone else (except Karl Rove) was mistaken about where the election was. Kerry won the independents, he won the undecideds, he won the youth vote, and it it didn’t matter. Bush won despite bad numbers on right track/wrong track and job approval because his base came out in droves. We all sneered at the loyalty oaths, and believed Bush had alienated too many voters by playing so strong to the conservative evangelicals. We were wrong. Bush wrote off the center and won because his most conservative supporters turned out in huge numbers. I hope the lesson here is not that the center does not matter anymore, but it might be. We have more numbers, and presumably we could do the same thing. Is this lesson? Dump the center, and march to the extremes. A battle of the bases?
Strategy, schmategy. It is time that Democrats worried a little less about winning elections and a little more about winning hearts. What did Kerry stand for? Well? I’m waiting.
For the last few months we’ve bent over backwards to explain away that nagging few points that Bush lead in the polls. We talked about the undecideds breaking for the challenger, the LV models were screwed, the media was screwing with the numbers, etc. In the end polls were almost exactly right. Folks, we accused the Right of living in a fabricated reality and listening to their echo chamber. Perhaps we should pay a bit more attention to reality ourselves.
Please humor a consevative. Here is what I think:
1) Kerry never caught fire as a candidate. Outside of the Anyone But Bush crowd, he ignited NO passion in the electorate. Say what you will, W showed himself to be a candidate of convictions. His base was energized.
Kerry took the black vote for granted, and while the turnout was high, he didn’t get enough of his base to the polls.
2) Democrats cannot ignore the South and Great Plains anymore. But to win there, the Democrats have to nominate a more mainstream candidate. By that, I mean more stong on defense, and more moderate on social issues. You can scream if you want, but most people see the Democratic party as far to the left of the population on social issues and weak on defense.
3) Kerry never showed why he was a better choice to vote FOR. Again, Anyone But Bush can only carry you so far. People want to vote FOR a candidate, not just vote against another one.
4) Quit complaining about fraud and voting machine conspiracies. It makes the Democratic Party look like a bunch of UFO nuts. There is plenty of fraud to go around, and in an election of 120,000,000 votes, it is statistically insignificant. If it can be found and rooted out, fine, but it DID NOT effect the outcome.
5) Beware the echo chamber. The Right has this problem as well. As we speak to each other in circles, we convince ourselves that our wishes are reality. Fortunately for the Republicans, the media tends to favot the left, and so it polices the effect better.
6) Revamp the nominating process. By “front-loading” the nominating process, the Democrats effectively left their candidate hanging out with nothing to do for months. It selected the candidate quickly, but I would argue that it did not elect the strongest candidate. The primary process should see who has “legs”, who can appeal to votors across the board over the long haul. The Democrats have killed this process and so there was no way for the electorate to see a candidate over a longer period and really evaluate his electability.
Kerry ran a good campaign, far better than I had expected, but he came up short. He lost. It’s time to get on with life. I’m sorry that your side is disappointed by the results, but denying them doesn’t solve the problem. Believe it or not, I think that a vibrant two-party system is an integral part of a functioning republic, and the Democrats are rapidly marginalizing themselves out of national relevance.
It should be noted that in Nevada (which is the ONLY state with verifiable paper records) the exit polling most closely matches the actual vote.
All that was needed in “hacked” or “gamed” machines is a slight margin for Bush – who would be the wiser. It would fit the “razor thin” rhetoric put forth by the media. There is NO integrity in those machines (espcially Diebold ones) and there should be a massive outcry.
Someone ought to look critically at the design of this page and have an astounded epiphany about what it “may say” to “the rest of the country.” (As they say at the final moment, “I’m sorry for your loss and mourning, and trust you will find hope and strength in the embrace of your family.”) Scroll and faint upon the appearance of the poison frog.
When you look at the mapof the US, with the swath of blue on the east and west coasts and the huge block of red across the middle of the country, the cultural divide it represents is visually impressive. We need to pay attention to the cultural issues. Nor can we assume that all of the people who are resistant to progressive ideas are merely ignorant bigots.
Without denying the existence of a subset of bigotry, we need to look at the idea that social changes, especially as they have occurred in the urban east and west, may have occurred more rapidly in the past 40 to 50 years than the average person can adapt to – especially if those changes are not common to your geographical area.
We need to spend some time looking into language and relationships so that we can begin to reestablish civil discourse in this country and try to bridge the divide.
Why do you assume the relection returns were right and the pre and exit polls were wrong?
Have you not considered that the exit polls ONLY deviated in states where Kerry was wining (FL, OH, etc.) and that they were right on in BUsh states?
I am surprised, dissapointed, that you have been taken by Rove/media and believe that Bush won.
Not oince have you mentioned the word fraud. FRAUD IN CYBERSPACE.
Yes, there IS an Emerging Democratic Majority and it just voted for Kerry.
Face the facts. We wuz robbed.
Rather than perpetuating conspiracy theories, how about admitting that many of us were flat wrong in several assumptions. Most obvious, we were wrong in thinking (1) that the late deciding voters would strongly favor Kerry, and (2) that the new voters would strongly favor Kerry.
And while we’re at it, shouldn’t we admit that we were wrong to discount Gallup’s polls?
I’m more optimistic about the Democratic electoral outlook because I am so pessimistic about probable Bush policy outcomes, in Iraq in particular. In this election policy got swamped by personality, enough people retained faith in Bush and were encouraged in their doubts about Kerry that Bush squeaked through. But we can’t forget that Bush shed a full forty points of approval between 9/11 and the beginning of 2004 and hasn’t gained any of it back.
As I put it elsewhere we have left the ABB era – we are stuck with him – and so have entered the AAB era. From this point onwards it is indeed All About Bush.
I remember 1974. And Bush is not coming off a 49 state landslide like Nixon was. There are enough criminal investigations and damning reports whose revelations have been delayed to beyond Election Day that are going to be coming to the surface. And I am not at all certain that the Republican Congress will be willing to throw itself on the grenade to save Bush. As of this morning they are running for reelection and he is not.
We lost because our candidate did not distinguish himself from President Bush on the twin issues of the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Senator Kerry accepted the administrations framing of those issues, conceding the high ground.
Very little effort went into saying “why I’m better”. Saying “I’ll manage the Iraq war better” is not a rallying cry. Neither is “Mislead the nation”. You have to call the other guy a liar, show where the lies are and stick to your guns. Like President Bush did.
In the end, I believe that Senator Kerry simply could not bring himself to talk tough on the primary issue. Offering to be a better manager is never going to inspire a change in leadership. Ask Dukakis.
1. Essentially nothing changed from 2000 despite the largest trauma this country has had in 40, 70, 160 years.
2. Unless ratings of dissatisfaction with Bush and the war effort are as bonkers as the exit poll, this is not a lovefest for Bush. The referendum on four more years is over; the referendum on Bush and his policies goes on.
3. Win Ohio or win Florida and Democrats are celebrating. It’s that close. This is not McGovern or Dukakis. This was an imperfect candidate who was behind for most of the campaign and he still almost won.
4. As a Midwesterner who has lived on the East Coast for more than 20 years — East Coast liberals listen to the far right and think everyone who says they really, really believe in God wants to ban abortion, jail gays, and make unmarried women wear chastity belts. There are folks like that, but they aren’t the majority, and they live in Maine and Pennsylvania and California just like anywhere else. But the “red state” folks do expect that you clearly know right from wrong the way they do and that you make your decisions with that as your base.
5. Now, for various reasons — political, situational, emotional — you may know what the right thing is and choose not to do it. Or you may do some of it. Or you may have to make so many deals to get some of it done that only a little bit gets done. They’re really not looking for Savonarola.
6. That is what the buzzword of “faith” and “moral values” means. When Bush said, “You may not agree with me, but you know where I stand,” this resonated. Lots of those who voted for him don’t agree with him. Kerry, like Dukakis, like Mondale, comes across as a guy who considers every option before he decides what the right thing to do is, and treats them all as equal. To college-educated liberals, this is the proper, analytical, meritocratic thing to do. To many others, this is just absurd.
7. The Democrats need to run a candidate who makes clear that he knows, based on his belief in God and the United States, what the right thing to do is, but will then consider every option in terms what he actually does to achieve that right thing. His belief clearly cannot lead him to the conclusions it leads the religious right. It can lead him to the exact opposite conclusions. It doesn’t even have to be worn on his sleeve. But Bush comes across as a guy who says, I’d rather be right than president. Kerry came across as saying, I’d rather be president, because, in the end, “right” is a relative concept. The country is not a sophomore-level philosophy class.
Well, apparently things are going to have to get a whole lot worse before enough people are willing to vote against Republican. Some projects/questions to consider:
1. I’m a software engineer and I just don’t trust those voting machines. Can a comparison be made of the exit polls on paper-ballot precincts and EVM precincts? Something is really rotten here.
2. What happened to the Gore voters? By any measure, Kerry should have gotten all Gore voters plus some. That doesn’t seem to have happened. Last I saw here the trades were about even.
3. What happened with all the new registrants? All reports was that they were heavy in favor of Democrat. If they were this would have been quite different.
Sad day, although personally I’m not hurt by this. I’m going to go work on earning my next millions so I can enjoy that Bush tax cut while some poor kids can go without medical care or basic education.
I would argue four things stand out strategically in the results from Nov. 2:
1) Those small states add up. The Democratic strategy since Dukakis in 1988 has been to tackle 15 to 17 big states and take the presidency. This strategy is failing. There is a “Plains Strategy” being followed by the GOP, which gives the Republicans a free hand at winning Idaho (4), Montana (3), North Dakota (3), South Dakota (3), Wyoming (3). That’s 16 votes. Kansas (6), Nebraska (5), Oklahoma (7), Colorado (9) and Nevada (5) are all within striking distance for the Dems. Yet, all are almost immediately conceded by the Democrats. None of these states are a lock for the GOP, but are treated as such.
2) Democrats need to adopt a “Wal-Mart strategy.” Labor unions are arguing that they have to begin organizing Wal-Mart. If they don’t, Wal-Mart will continued to destroy unionized stores and destroy the labor movement. I would argue that the Democrats need to begin organizing in the South, the “political Wal-Mart” of our age. This means changing the political culture of states like West Virginia (not too hard), Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, North Carolina and New Mexico. Even Florida is a possibility. It’s a long-term strategy. But it has to be done. There’s no reason why all the snowbirds moving to Florida or Arizona should be voting Republican. The Dems need to stop thinking in terms of winning candidates and holding office and think in terms of creating a cultural and civic shift that will break the party out of its Northeast-West Coast redoubts. This is what the GOP did, and the Democrats can do it, too.
3) Get the ball rolling now. I can’t believe how many interest group organizations said this year, “We started talking to our members in January 2004.” Many progressive groups allied with the Democrats subsequently found that many of their members had drifted to the GOP side of politics in the meantime. Now, those members threatened to bail out of the organization. Many organizations reacted defensively, scaling back their political messages in order to hang on to the members. I would argue that this is the wrong tactic. In the 1950s, many organizations jettisoned racist chapters; some groups, like labor unions, lost a quarter of their members. But in the end, these groups ended up stronger and without internal factions. The GOP learned this lesson. It’s time for the Democrats and their supporters to do so as well, to avoid “hesitant politics” in 2008.
4) Find the liberal religious figures, and get them activated. It’s interesting that, in American society — which has seen the destruction or severe weakening of most civic, consumer, social and other groups — that only two organizations seem to remain to provide that sense of solidarity and ready-made conduits from the political parties to voters. One is the conservative evangelical community, which the GOP has used effectively as practicaly an adjunct of the party. The other is the labor movement, which the Democrats use in a similar fashion. It would do wonders for the Democrats to revitalize the progressive religious community. It would help neutralize the ultra-conservative, pro-GOP Roman Catholic and the Protestant evangelical communities, while helping restore a major pillar of support for the Democrats (one which was active for most of the 20th century, but seems to have died along with Reinhold Niebuhr!).
The truisim in leadership studies is that leaders simply do not stand at the head of their followers; they reshape their followers (although this has limits) and remold them in their own image in order to accomplish their own goals.
The Democrats need to start realizing this, too, and make it part of their own strategy. Otherwise, they will find that realigning elections often lead to the demise of the losing political party.
hi a question from Canada: What’s gonna happen!?
the world is in shock, we do not understand.
Instead of blaming bad exit polling, we have to try to assess where we went wrong because you guys predicted a Kerry victory based on your analysis of what was going to happen. Yes it was close, but we have to figure out a way to appeal to more american voters. Not that we are wrong, but a majority of Americans do not vote based on facts, logic , or reasoning. Instead, most Americans vote based on their hatred of blacks, gays etc. They are not capable of voting their own economic interest. Instead it makes most Americans feel good about showing those gays and blacks who is in charge. I for one will not stoop to bigotry in order to win the votes of people who are clearly stupid and ignorant. No professional business would ever hire George Bush to work for it, yet many of these people voted for him. Why?
The early exit polls were correct.
The GOP is cooking the the actual results, and now the the exits are being “adjusted” to support the theft.
Democracy is dead in the USA.
4 years of horrowshow+theft=4 more years.
How do we know there wasn’t fraud with these electronic voting systems? I and a lot of other people are very suspcious of the votes in Ohio and Fla.
Also, what the heck happened to the massive turnout? The numbers aren’t showing it right now.
Isn’t the lesson of this election that we can forget about the South altogether (look at those margins) and concentrate on a very few border states like NM with rapidly changing demogs in addition to our base in the NE and W?
After all, Bush did not exactly run away with the electoral college in this race either.
People out there are just not feeling enough economic pain. And New Voters did not materialize. (Forget that fantasy once again…..) And among those treading water there is a lot of bedrock fundamental optimism about the future, skepticism of gov’t, and fear of war. That wasn’t enough for these people to say “we’ve just got to have some kind of change.” Thanks to the vote of 2004, that more broadly-spread economic pain is now more likely in the near future.
Or, with another $100 million, Kerry could have *really* ran in some other states.
Agreed. We southern Democrats have been shouting for a long time that someone needs to pay attention down here. Say what you will about the Republicans, but they compete everywhere. Here in Texas, we had Congressional seats where the Democrats didn’t even bother to field candidates. You don’t build a party base unless you field candidates and compete.
It appears now that Bush may have won the Hispanic vote in Texas — just remarkable. But there was no effort to have them vote otherwise. I just don’t understand.
Your entry presumes trust of the governing bodies’s reports. You trust Diebold? You trust that there has *NOT* been a fraud on a massive scale?
Flinging log files around is easy, especially in black box central computers, and especially if it was architected months ago, as the President of Diebold intimated last December when he promised to deliver Ohio for Bush.
Exit polling has been done the same way for years and has never failed like this before.
We have a massive theft on our hands AND WE NEED OUR LEADERSHIP TO LEAD THE FIGHT!
Democrats need to find a better way to court social conservatives than to cast economic issues as social ones. That works on a intellectual level to some extent, but not on an emotional level.
I would suggest work with the Democratic Party’s Hollywood friends to craft legislations to combat the mounting level of meaningless violence and sexuality in popular culture (a la Tipper Gore). Risk the backlash of reduced campaign contributions. The vote you take away from the Republicans with that move will be worth it. Moreover, with the efficiency of internet-based fundraising, individual big donors may be less of a factor in the future.
And I would try to work with the activist groups to lower the stridency on the gay marriage and abortion issues. While these issues attract lots of money to the Democratic Party and these issues have some resonance with generally liberal voters, they are also huge rallying points for the other side. The bottom line is that these social issues bring more conservatives to the polls than liberals. Find a way to neutralize that and the Democrats may have a shot next time.
From CNN’s Ohio exit poll:
16% of African-Americans (10% of the electorate) voted for Bush. 55% of white women (46% of the electorate) voted for Bush.
14% of all voters go to church more than once a week, with another 26% going once a week. 25% considered themselves to be “white evangelical bornagain Christians.” 23% thought “moral values” was the most important issue in this election, vs. 13% who picked Iraq.
The ballot measure to ban gay marriage won 62% of the vote.
I know that what you suggested about the South and border states will echo in the hand wringing on the horizon, but as a Black gay man I have my fears of what Dems would need to do, to become competitive in those areas.
Does a Bush win mean we need to pander or compromise with an electorate, where racism and intolerance can trump issues like the economy and health care?
Should our party look away while White Supremacists infiltrate our party, due to their effectiveness in delivering the vote?
I am nowhere as angry as I was 4 years ago, in fact I’m relatively calm. This country has just validated everything I (and the rest of the world) feared about the American people.
I will abandon my party if they choose to jettison basic Democratic principles, all in the name of winning – as the Conservatives have succeeded in doing.
George Bush is the kind of America, a majority of those who bothered to vote, have chosen.
I fear, it will take harder lessons than 9/11 before they understand what we already know.
(Full disclaimer: voted for Bush in ’00 and ’04)
I think the lesson for 2008 is Gov. Warner at the top of the ticket and Congressman Harold (?) Ford as VP. Warner would immediately put some of the southern states in play, and Ford (who, unlike the flav-of-the-month Obama, is an actual centrist) would both help in TN and among Black turnout nationally.
I think we really need to have a more dynamic candidate than Kerry. We didn’t have any better options this time though. I don’t think any of the Dems would have won.
Agreed. I wasn’t surprised to see 2000 redux in the electoral college, though obviously I had hoped for better. I was surprised to see all our Senate candidates in the South and the border states get hammered. (Mongiardo came close, but this ain’t horseshoes.) What do we need to do to compete in the South? Would even running a Clintonesque Southerner do it this time, given the demographic shifts– more evangelicals, for example, and fewer people who remember the New Deal?
Maybe the election is about the states, but the overall poor showing is about message. Democrats have allowed Republicans to align themselves with all sorts of political keywords – “faith”, “security”, “fiscal responsibility”, “patriotism” – and allowed them to make the word “liberal” absolutely filthy.
There are very few people in this country that received any benefit from this administration, and yet Bush will win handily by almost 4 million popular votes. Matthew Y. puts it best when he talks about simplicity. When you are able to take over words and sentiments, make them your own, your message doesn’t have to be complicated. In Wisconsin, Tim Michels ran against Russ Feingold with the single message, “I am a Patriot” because he supported the USA PATRIOT Act, while Feingold voted against it. He lost (by a decent margin), but still made a great showing and epitomized the political landscape. Democrats can’t claim moral high ground, patriotism, troop supporting or faith when running against the Republicans, because they have worked so effectively at making those “conservative” values, true or not.
Democrats don’t need to look at Southern states in order to win again. They need to play offense and start attacking the Republicans where they are weakest (which is really at every one of their talking points). Lets not rebut their “values” let develop some, own them, and craft our messages around that. Everything else will fall into place.
I say we start with “rights.” We want you to have your rights, they don’t. Lets start hammering away…we’ll have our first rally point.
Seriously, when is this “emerging” Democratic majority actually going to start emerging? I do not see it happening when 22% of respondents claim “moral issues” drove their vote; focus on “moral issues” does not help Dems when it comes to traditionally socially conservative African-American and Hispanic voters. The stranglehold on the House and the Senate is just getting worse.
The lessons of 2000 were not learned by the Democratic regulars. East Coast, Leftist, elitist, anti-war candidates are not going to do well in vast geographic areas of this country. If the Democratic regulars think Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Dean are the answer in ’08, then they remain stuck in the cocoon and will not have learned the lessons of 2004 . In Illinois, the alleged rising star Mr. Obama ran virtually unopposed. That will not happen again and he has more of a chance to be the male Carole Mosley Braun than he does of being relected. Can anyone convince Evan Bayh to run in ’08?
History will record that Bush’s re-elect margin is not a big one. Given that 9/11 was only three years ago, I think we’re lucky to have done as well as we did.
We’ve had it worse. It was only as late as 1988 ago that everyone was postulating about a GOP “Electoral Lock” that would last for at least a generation. Since then, the Democrats have won at least 250 EV four times in a row. So much for that.
What worries me is that the so-called “culture wars” have really taken over our politics for now. However, there does not appear to be anybody in the GOP for ’08 that appeals to that base like George Bush.
Assuming Cheney does not run(or step down in the next four years) 2008 will be the first election since 1952 without either an incumbent President or Vice President heading a ticket.
Gee, ya think the democrats should rethink giving away the South every two years? I suggest that you keep waiting for that emerging majority. (Really, it’s just over the horizon.) About your statement that Bush had a horrible record. The American people decided that it was KERRY who had the horrible record. Maybe this is why the Democrats are losing every 2 years. If not for the Kool-Aid maybe you would have realized that nominating the most liberal Senator from the Northeast was a bad idea.
From looking at the exit poll data you directed me to — and thnks a lot for that, BTW — it looks like it’s the Christian base that did us in. They’re the biggest support for that third of the population identified as “Conservative.” Liberals are only about a fifth of the voting population. Both liberals and moderates voted overwhelmingly for Kerry.
I think this country’s a goner. We’re looking at the basic nightmare scenario talked about in Federalist Paper #10, where an obsessed know-nothing minority is driving the agenda.
Unfortunately our brains are negative by default, which means we have to make the affirmative decision EVERY DAY to confront that natural tendency, and the fearful among the Christians have been locked up by the Republicans.
What does it mean to “reweight” a poll to “correspond with actual results”? Is this sarcasm? It seems like it.
Forgive my obtuseness.
The problem when you have polls showing one result and ballot results showing something different is that you are left wondering what to believe. If there were ever large-scale fraud (which is certainly conceivable with the electronic machines), the only way to detect it would be via polling.
I’m not saying there was fraud. But I’m confused at how a 3% Kerry lead could turn into a 2% deficit at the national level.
I think there is something systemically wrong with exit polls in general.
The stated “margin of error” for these polls is a complete joke, because exit polls are famously inaccurate. If you assume that reality is exactly the opposite of what an exit poll says, perhaps then it might be an accurate predictor.
I did some phone banking. It appears to me that the game is usually lost some time in the primaries when the candidate’s credibility is questioned . This is critical because the republicans need to potray the dem candidate to be lacking in principles and values no matter what his record actually is.The primaries provide fodder to the repubs. The democratic candidate has to defend and establish himself on only one issue early on and that is that he or she can be trusted- his word is to be believed and he will keep his promises,
Unfotunately there is not much else we can do on the issues of choice etc because we believe certain things deeply. For the voters to accept the democratic position on the “values issue” the candidate has to be believed-there is a national consensus on attempting to reduce abortions, allowing abortions for most reasons in early pregnancy and only for certain limited conditions late term. Remember that this is the majority republican position as well. Unless the voters vest the candidate with personal honesty their ability to challenge the republicans on this issue is very limited . No one believes that Bush has presided over an increased number of abortions, no one knows that there could have been a partial birth abortion ban had the republicans added appropriate safeguards.
I think unless we guard the personal integrity and credibility of the nominee no issue will save us from the republican machine.
What if the exit polls weren’t bad, but the e-voting machines were?
Isn’t that discrepancy evidence of possible e-voting machine fraud?
C’mon Ruy. You’re just trying to avoid being called a conspiracy theorist.
You know it wasn’t just the exit polls. It was all the pre-election polls, too. What happened? Did the undecideds break for the incumbent? Or was there a surge of Republican voters? If there was a surge, why were the long lines in the Democratic precincts, and why was the overall turnout not as high as predicted?
RE: Dem woes & the future
In a nutshell, it’s time for people ‘in charge’ of the DNC to go. They live a dream world where playing fair is the goal. Well, it’s a good thought for preschool, but obviously not for winning elections…or more importantly, defeating zealots bent on taking the country down a path that shreds the Constitution and rewards corruption.
The DNC ‘leadership’ failed (again) to see wedge issues coming. One exit poll had the “primary issue” — the main reason why people were at the polls in almost a dozen states — was gay marriage. People went out in force to vote homophobia into law. The GOP had this adopted on the state level on purpose. It reduced Iraq, cronyism, terrorism, and corruption to a distraction and got frightened people to the polls. Unbelievable!
There have been a few books written on what needs to take place in the Dem’s world, and why we keep coming up short. The common thought in each of these (that I’ve read) is that the GOP is run by people accustomed to running businesses, and they see NO DIFFERENCE in business strategy — that emphasizes CRUSHING the competition — and political strategy.
That’s their mission: To crush the life out of the competition and have free reign over the country. This election just boosted that effort significantly.
Well, that didn’t go very well, did it? The frequently criticized (especially on this site) polls pretty much got it right, perhaps even underestimating the Republican vote a bit. We did GOTV, but so did they, I think because of social issues, primarily gay rights. This presents a tough problem, since we don’t want to abandon our stand on these issues, both out of principle and the need to solidify (and grow) our base.
What happened? Could the exit polls be more reflective of how the voters “voted” than the vote counts?
How much factor did the electronic voting machines play?
Call me paranoid but these gaps between the exit poll results and vote counts seem suspicious. Please, feel free to debunk this theory and save a trip to the rubber padded room.
I’m in a state of grief and that’s real, not metaphor.
You folks have been doing a terrific job with the data available. I’ve learned a great deal about public opinion research and interpretation.
Alas, my fear is that voting in the future will be worthless so long as one party has the power to manipulate the outcome. Stalin said it’s not who votes that counts, but who counts the votes.
He knew. He knew.
Are you sure that the exit polls were the problem? What about all those new e-voting machines in Florida, Ohio and New Mexico with no paper trail?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the reason we lost is two-fold.
First, terrorism is the new Soviet Union. During the cold war the Republicans portrayed Democrats as appeasers who couldn’t stand up to the Russians. Now they’re doing the same thing with terrorist. Is it a wonder that Bill Clintons two terms came when there was no real challenge to American power.
Secondly, the Senate has done too good a job shielding the American people from the excess of the Republican Congress. I say let them rule for two years, no more filibusters. I think the voters may have a very different opinion of the Republican party if we just let them have their way for a while.
what about the rumors on the internet about extra-large discrepancies where there was paperless touch-screen voting?
Something doesn’t look right. All the exit polls track except Ohio, Florida, and the National popular vote? The popular vote totals don’t look correct either. Every media source in the country spent yesterday talking about the HUGE turnout. This morning the total looks like 113 million. What?? That’s only 8 million more votes when projections were for well over 120 million votes to be cast. I saw Paul Krugman a few months ago in Berkeley. He said that he felt the odds were 55% for Kerry Victory, 20% for and outright Bush victory, and 25% that the election would be stolen (through e-voting machines without a paper trail). Guess Paul was on to something again.
We tried to prove that a war hero can overcome the ‘northeast liberal’ label.
We were painfully wrong.
If there is any solace, the next candidate will be too young to have been involved in the whole Vietnam trauma/obsession.
Ruy, I love you and your site, but I don’t think the exits were really off that much. I haven’t personally checked yet, but they seemed to call the winner in everything but the national vote, Ohio and Floirda. The last two may have something to do with the former.
I may be clutching at straws, but there are more serious issues with our voting process and the tactics used by the GOP re: voting machines and equipment, and voter suppression through impossible wait lines. We need to standardize our national election system, make it nonpartisan and fair, and make it worthy of all Americans’ trust.
We can do better in terms of our candidate selections and campaigns, but we did well enough this time to win. Again. Even thought we ‘didn’t.’
Why suppose that the exit polls, rather than the paperless electronic machine count in OH and FL, are what is wrong?
I would like to know where exactly (i.e. which counties) there is a discrepancy between the exit polls and the “actual” count.
Is there not a possibility that this election was stolen through the use of electronic vote manipulation and that the exit polls were right?
I hope we democrats don’t start bashing ourselves too much. Maybe this is still premature, and can anyone think of anything else legal we could have done to get out the vote and try to influence the media to get the story straight?
I think the bushies were just extremely successful getting out both their born again and “rich 1%ers” base. It seems half the nation is more concerned about “christian morals” than what is actually happening in this world and the rich corporations just love that.