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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

National Journal Article Debunks “Mandate” Myth

A November 12th National Journal article by Jonathan Rauch takes apart a series of myths about what the 2004 election signified. The first three paragraphs nicely sum it up.

The election of 2004 was one of the greatest of our era, but the post-election of 2004 was as bad as they come. Rarely have election returns been so widely but wrongly — in fact, dangerously — misconstrued.
A quick post-post-election exit poll: Which of the following two statements more accurately describes what happened on November 2?
A) The election was a stunning triumph for the president, the Republicans, and (especially) social conservatives. Because the country turned to the right, President Bush received a mandate, the Republicans consolidated their dominance, and the Democrats lost touch with the country.
B) Bush and the Republicans are on thin ice. Bush barely eked out a majority, the country is still divided 50-50, and the electoral landscape has hardly changed, except in one respect: The Republican Party has shifted precariously to the right of the country, and the world, that it leads.
Usual answer: A. Correct answer: B.

It gets better. Read it as a “pick-me-up” for Election Day blues.

One comment on “National Journal Article Debunks “Mandate” Myth

  1. cloudy on

    Here’s a good polling suggestion that Democracy Corps or anyone else Ruy talks to can do:
    First, identify a LARGE pool of voters who fit the following description: they did NOT give Bush a positive approval rating individually as of election day AND/OR preferably AND were part of that majority who felt in polls as of election day that the country “was moving in the wrong direction”.
    Then you determine if they did not vote for Kerry, did they (a) vote for someone else, especially Bush, or (b) stay home, after having voted in either 2002 or 2000, especially for a Democrat.
    Those voters who did NOT give Bush a positive approval rating or felt that the country was “moving in the wrong direction” AND who voted for Bush or stayed home after having voted in the past for a Democrat can first be assessed for what percentage of the total number of voters they comprised. You need to first assess the percentage of those who actually voted as a percentage of the total vote, possibly with a breakdown in key states, and then check to determine how LARGE the number of voters who stayed home but were seriously potential voters based on recent voting for Democrats and their disaffection with the status quo was. These voters cost Kerry the election.
    Now, WHY didn’t these voters vote for Kerry. Two issues seem prominent — they thought he was wishywashy or a flipflopper AND/OR they were concerned about the war on terror and did not have confidence in Kerry (the Bai distortion). Voters don’t always or generally give specific indications of why they voted they way they did or why they didn’t bother to vote, but there is where a decisive number of bodies are buried. You could also measure what IF those two groups of voters had turned on mass to Kerry? What would it have done to your constituency analysis. Prediction on the latter — add those voters who felt the country was going in the wrong direction but didn’t vote for Kerry to the Kerry column, by breakdown of category, and most of those gaps you are measuring in various social groups close like a mousetrap that has been sprung.
    The mandate was for being successfully snookered by the mass media AND spinmeisters justifying the lying and the chorus of hounds that didn’t bark, including when spinning the polls, on the abovementioned issues. Another mandate for a rigged election, cashed in all the moreso as real the less real it is.
    Everybody is so busy “serving” and “doing the job” that no one really serves democracy and all that is left is the hollow shell of a system as it goes down the tubes.


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