Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Why I'm Really Mad At Non-Voters

Part of the conventional wisdom about the 2004 election is that the Republicans did a better job "getting out the vote" than the Democrats did and, given that so many states were close, either side could have won the election, depending on who they got to the polls in the swing states. With all of the attention on those states like New Mexico, Ohio, Florida, Pennslyvania, Nevada (you all know the drill) which could have gone either way, Bush and Kerry supporters in safe states like New York and California, didn't see to feel a pressing need to get out to the polls. Turnout in both states was down, compared to 2000. Only 46% of New York's voting age population turned out to vote, down 1.5% from 2000. New York ranked 46th in the nation in terms of turnout.

Bush won the popular vote, 51% to 48% and now he's claimed a mandate. He's saying that since he ran on a clear platform and won the popular vote, that he need not make concessions to the other side. New York's 31 electoral votes were never up for grabs but, when the third most populous, and Democratically -leaning state is fourth from the bottom in terms of turnout, well, it kind of skews the old popular vote a bit, doesn't it?

We might not use the popular vote to elect our President but the President uses the popular vote in order to claim support and legitimacy. If you lived in a Kerry safe state, planned to vote for Kerry, and didn't get around to it, you made a big mistake and empowered Bush as surely as if you had voted for him. If you lived in a Bush safe state and planned to vote for him but for some reason didn't go, well, you got lucky.

I think it's important to remind "safe" state voters that the popular vote is important. I think that Bush will show us, in his second term, just how easy it is to use even slim numbers to make it seem as if he has a mandate and he'll get a lot done that way.


At 4:20 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't, don't, and never will blieve Bush won the Popular vote. http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1106-30.htm

At 5:06 PM , Blogger Mike M. said...

I prefer to believe the results are accurate, for strategic reasons if anything. Look, if Kerry had won, it would have been by a slim, slim margin. The truth would still be apparent -- the country is so divided that nearly half of our fellow citizens believe the opposite of what I do, and what most of the people who read my blog do. That's a problem. Complacency on the left, more than anything, cost Al Gore the election in 2000. Despite the result of 2000, complacency on the left hurt John Kerry. If I can concince anyone on the left that we are underdogs and that we need to argue better, convince more people and, in general, try harder, than I'll have accomplished something with this blog.


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