October 22, 2004

Post-election analysis today

Since 2000, we've all heard over and over from our Democrat friends that Al Gore "really won" because he won the popular vote. I happen to think the Supreme Court unjustly gave Florida to Bush (when it was a statistical tie) and that there's a case to be made that the election was stolen. But the popular vote has nothing to do with it because the candidates weren't competing for the popular vote. If they had been they would have run completely different races, and who knows how it would have ended up.

I mention this because it now appears conceivable -- if only just -- that John Kerry could win the electoral vote while losing the popular vote. Republicans will scream bloody murder. They'll be wrong, but Democrats who made their case for Gore based on the fact that "more Americans voted for him" won't be able to say it. Upside: the cause of eliminating the electoral college gets bi-partisan momentum.

More post-debate analysis: Why a victorious Kerry is in trouble, while a victorious Bush has little to worry about.

Kerry wins: We'll be lucky to get in a day of celebration before trying to come to terms with the fact that he's now stuck with Bush's mess. Bush has so cocked-up everything at home and abroad that fixing it will be a monster task, even with the entire country united. And it won't be. Instead, Republicans will instantly start blaming Kerry for everything Bush did wrong. Look, they'll say, Bush had Iraq on the path to democracy and under Kerry it's devolved into civil war. Or, Bush's tax cuts would have cut the deficit in half, but Kerry rolled them back, and deficits are worse than ever. I've come around to the idea that Kerry will be a pretty decent president (as opposed to simply Better Than Bush), but he'll have to far exceed my expectations to really clean up Bush's mess. Worst case scenario: Republican landslide in 2008.

Bush wins: While it's true that Bush has a core of true believers, he'll be put over the top by the many, many voters who know he's messed everything up, but don't trust Kerry to do better. This works for him because his own supporters have literally no expectations for him. If everything he's done to date can be shrugged off, there's virtually nothing he can do that will make his tepid supporters rethink their support. A disasterous foreign policy? An economy in decline? Hey, that's what we voted for, and Kerry would have been worse -- you can't prove he wouldn't have. Best case scenario: Democrats nominate anyone but Hillary and fight tooth and nail to rewin those tepid Bushies.

Nader "spoils": Well, we've heard it all before. I sure hope no one votes for Nader, but if they do, they're to blame, not the candidate. Democracy is improved when there are more choices and people have an absolute right to vote for the candidate who best represents their views (even when exercising that right is, in my view, self-defeating). Nader is running against John Kerry. He can no more spoil Kerry's victory than Bush can. Do polls show that some Nader supporters would break for Kerry if Nader wasn't on the ballot? That's meaningless unless you're going to rewrite the Constitution to make the two-party system law. After all, I'll bet if you polled people in a two-way race and got a tie, and then asked who they'd vote for if there was no Democrat on the ballot, enough people would shift to Bush to give him a landslide. Does that mean Kerry is a spoiler, or does it mean he's a candidate?

Badnarik spoils: Unlikely, but it could happen if the race comes down to Wisconsin. If you're asking, Who? don't worry. The pundits will have the same question and instead of 1) doing the work required to answer it, 2) trying to figure out if he "stole" more from Bush or Kerry, and 3) having to admit that they made a mistake in never thinking about him, they'll probably just blame Nader. PS: Say what you want about Badnarik, it's hard to question his campaign slogan: "a as in 'ago', as in 'car', i as in 'is'." Didn't Ken Wind have something similar?

Update: Tierney wakes up to the Badnarik bandwagon. And apparently NPR has been alert, so I probably can't say you heard it here first.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


"I mention this because it now appears that if John Kerry wins, he could do so while losing the popular vote. Republicans will scream bloody murder."

Does it really appear that way? Please
explain your maph.
No Democrat has won the presidency
without also securing the popular vote.
Not yet, anyway.

Democrats typically do well in the
high-population states (OK, not Texas),
where an electoral vote represents more
people. An electoral vote in California
or New York can represent over four times
as many people as one in those
sparsely poplulated states.

Regardless of the outcome, the Republicans
will scream bloody murder.

Note: Post has been updated to reflect this answer:

Damn, I was afraid someone was gonna call me on that. I saw this analysis on a blog a couple of days ago, but have completely forgotten where. I'll try to find it... But in any case, I should have made plain that it's only a possibility, not a likelihood... Ah, it's from Salon.

Yeah, the same thing was said about Gore in 2000, also. I remember thinking how I was going to have to defend the EC to my Republican friends when Gore took the EC but failed to get a majority. Imagine my surprise when I had to EXPLAIN the EC to a number of my Democratic friends, when the opposite occured.

Ken Wind was the presidential candidate in "Elektra: Assassin," not "Watchmen."

"Remember, not wind like a watch, but wind like the air..."

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