Why did Bush Win?

I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that Peter Hartcher is the savviest Australian journalist around when it comes to interpreting polling evidence. In a piece in today’s SMH, Hartcher takes on the "Bush won 2004 on moral issues" thesis, and points out that:

the people who voted according to "moral issues" made up about the same share of the vote four years ago, and voted in about the same 4:1 ratio in favour of Bush four years ago, too. In other words, the role of the moral values vote was a constant. It did not explain Bush’s ability to move a decisive bloc of voters into the Republican column.

Hartcher’s conclusion is that Bush won ’04 on terrorism, which if true would certainly vindicate the Kerry strategy (roundly criticised by Dick Morris yesterday).

Current Tradesports predictions for 2008:
Dem Candidate: Hillary 36%, Edwards 11% …(skip a few)… Gore 4%, Kerry 2%
Rep Candidate: McCain 24%, Guiliani 22% …. (skip a few)…. Powell 5%
Winner: Dems 52%, Reps 48%

Recent reading:
Where should the Dems go now? (Slate discussion)
What the Washington Post’s managing ed thinks of exit polls

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4 Responses to Why did Bush Win?

  1. I am not convinced by Hartcher’s conclusion. If there was compulsory voting in the US, maybe, but I dont think it is that simple. This article by Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post is the biggest difference. It was a fight over whose base could be biggest. From the article;

    “In 2000 Democrats constituted 39 percent of the electorate and Republicans 35 percent. This year Democrats and Republicans each constituted 37 percent of the electorate.”


    “Four years ago, moderates made up 50 percent of the voting public and conservatives 29 percent. On Tuesday the moderate share of the electorate declined to 45 percent, while conservatives boosted their share to 34 percent.”

    On the county by county map, the urban areas are bluer. In Virginia which is a traditional red state, the new urban areas of Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington etc went blue. The areas of new development in Loudoun started to tinge purple. It is largely an urban/rural divide. And the Republicans targetted increased turn out in the rural areas. I also read that the difference between PA being blue and Ohio red, was that Ohio had gay marriage on the ballot.

    Hmm no html comments;

    Meyerson article – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26837-2004Nov4.html

    County election map – http://www.princeton.edu/~rvdb/JAVA/election2004/

    Population election map – http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v453/cybermoe/results2004_sm.jpg

  2. cs says:

    Hartcher’s column is also questionable in its own terms. Maintaining a voting share in a context where the turnout has grown would still amount to a crucial contribution to the win. OK, it would mean the christian base could not have won it on its own, any more than it could have in ’00. But without it, Bush would have been cactus, buried under the democratic turnout. In these terms, it is equally legitimate to attribute the victory to each and every component of the vote, without which Bush would have lost. If Iraq was crucial on Hartcher’s figures, so too were the moral (sic) etc issues.

  3. Graham Young says:

    Not quite sure how you come to the conclusion that Morris was wrong. I thought his advice was pretty spot on, and was equally applicable to the Australian election result. Talking about an issue where your opponent has a perceived advantage is not generally a smart election tactic. If Hartcher is right, and it was the war on terror that moved the votes, then Kerry needed a counter argument. As one wasn’t available on terror, he needed to counter “regime change” with “subject change” and he didn’t.

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