- Bush won 51% of the popular vote, most since his father.
- Bush won most of the counties in the US, and took almost all of the South.
- Republicans took five more Senate seats, including ousting the Democratic Minority Leader.
- Republicans took at least three house seats (with three still undecided as of this post)
If this isn't a mandate, I don't know what one looks like.
The Bush-haters and their ilk lost big. The Michael Moore crowd did Kerry a huge disservice, I believe. Bush was the only one running. I still have no clue what Kerry's policies would have been. Kerry dodged interviews and refused to be specific, rather he attacked Bush and pushed his one message of "I will do it better." This was clearly not enough for the American people.
I am now in awe of the poitical genius of Carl Rove. What he accomplished in the 2004 election will be studied in the future. Whether you love him, hate him, or (like me) have no feelings whatsoever toward him or his politics, you have to admit that he has pulled off a masterpiece of a political victory here. Look at the events that I think lead to the surprising win.
1) In 2000, Carl Rove says that there were 4 million Christians that didn't vote. He begins working to get these voters in the 2004 election.
2) Nov. 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court declares the ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. State officials begin giving marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Throughout the first few months of 2004, marriages are licensed in Mass. and San Fransisco, and the issue of gay marriage is a national topic of discussion.
3) In response, many State initiatives are submitted to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Bush and the Republican-controlled congress make the motions of submitting a change to the US Constitution defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Reports that the gay marriage wedge issue may sway the US election begin to appear (example). The religious right is mobilizing for a fight against what they see as the eroding of American values.
4) Republican get out the vote campaigns target churches and religious groups, especially in swing states such as Florida and Ohio.
5) Eleven states have initiatives to ban same-sex marriages (CNN story).
- These include Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah. Bush will ultimately win all these states, except Michigan.
- Florida had a similar initiative requiring parental notification for a minor to have an abortion, another issue that would be sure to mobilize the religious right. Bush wins Florida comfortably.
- States in which a cultural issue such as Marriage Protection or Florida's Parental Notification have large turnouts of blacks and hispanic voters. In these contests, Bush gets a higher percentage of these voters than in states without such measures. The percentage of registered Republicans that vote is equal to the percentage of registered Democrats for the first time in many elections.
- The number one issue for voters in this election according to exit polling is moral values, beating out terrorism, economy and Iraq as main issue. This surprises most political pollwatchers.
Get out the vote campaigns on both sides worked across the board. The problem with this for the Democrats is that though more people voted, the percentages of people voting didn't change. Said another way, more of everyone voted. A higher percentage of Republicans voted in 2004 than voted in 2002 or 2000.
The big story here is the Christian right. They were mobilized by an effective campaign including major cultural "moral" issues on the ballots in key swing states. That got them into the voters' booths on Tuesday, and was the main reason for the massive route of the Democrats in this election.
Carl Rove saw the problem in 2000. He found his solution when Mass. judges allowed gay marriage, kindling the firefight over this wedge issue. Rove capitolized on this issue to ensure that his missing four million were enraged enough to get out and vote. They had something to vote for (e.g., marriage initiative) and by-the-way voted for Bush while they were there. Moral Values becomes the number one issue on election day, a sleeper issue that wins Bush the election and gives him more Senators and Congressmen. Kerry didn't take a single state in the South.
The Democrats now have to lick their wounds and try to figure out how to recover from a surprisingly harsh defeat which shows their platforms to be out-of-sync with the mainstream of American values.