Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Numbers

In browsing commentary on the election, it has occurred to me (and this will, I hope, be my last post on the subject) that by any nonpartisan measure, this has been one of the most successful elections in recent history; and, what is more, that Kerry has been one of the most successful campaigners the Democrats have ever had. It was a Kerry success, even though it wasn't a Kerry victory. For Bush, of course, it was both.

Assuming MSM to be more or less right (we still have to see, technically, but it would be odd if they were off by more than a million or two), Bush broke the record for the President elected with the greatest number of votes, with about 59,000,000. Kerry is close on his heels at about 56,000,000.

How many votes did Gore get in 2000? About 51,000,000. Clinton in 1996? About 37,000,000. The only near equivalence in recent memory was Reagan in 1984 - somewhat more than 54,000,000 (which I think was the previous record). For further comparison, what is the combined population of Australia and Canada? About 52,000,000. The population of the United Kingdom is a bit over 59,000,000. That's a lot of voters. It's not India-big, by any means (voter turnout in India is larger than the population of the United States, despite our being something like the third most populated country in the world), but it is, on both sides, a very respectable expression of democracy.

Bush comes away with about 51% of the popular vote. Kerry gets about 48%.

What percent of the popular vote did Clinton get in 1996? About 49%. Gore in 2000? About 48%. Kerry clearly didn't do too badly in terms of the popular vote. It's also clear he did well in the Electoral College.

So I think we have good reason to ignore any post-election analysis that assumes that Kerry somehow failed, rather than what seems to be the case, namely, that he did extremely well but Bush did better.

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