Skip to comments.Did High Turnout Benefit Bush? [Patrick Ruffini comments]
Posted on 11/18/2004 7:36:39 PM PST by Mike Fieschko
A tsunami of new voters, young voters, recently registered-by-the-Democrat Party-and-George Soros voters, minority voters and unhappy-with-the direction-of-the-country voters is going to swell the voting lines all day tomorrow.
We are going to have an unprecedented turnout - the largest ever - and that is not good news for the GOP and President Bush.
The higher the turnout - and some estimate upward of 120 million voters - the better it is for Kerry because those new voters are coming to vote against President Bush.
Prediction: the anti-Bushies will defeat the pro-Bushies tomorrow night by 3 points in the popular vote and will garner over 280 electoral votes.
John Kerry - sitting atop the surfboard on this anti-Bush wave - will be the President-Elect.
Who said this? Was it Tad Devine, senior strategist for the Kerry campaign? Pollster John Zogby? CNNs Bill Schneider? The Washington Posts Dana Milbank?
It was none of the above. This quote appeared in a NewsMax piece the day before Election Day.
Remember when no one believed Bush could win in a high turnout in excess of 120 million? Well, guess what? According to the U.S. Elections Project at George Mason University, voter turnout on November 2nd was 120,068,799.
Was President Bush re-elected despite the high turnout or because of it?
Folks, were about to kill an important piece of conventional wisdom dead, dead, dead. The more you look at the numbers, the clearer they look: this years higher turnout helped the President win re-election. Had you re-run this election using the more moderate 2000 pattern, President Bush would still have won by about a point less.
The GMU study tells us which states had the greatest increase in eligible voter turnout. Of the top eleven most improved states in turnout, every single one was a red state. This includes the powerhouses of Ohio and Florida. And seven of the ten least improved states in turnout are blue states including New York and California, the only two states in the union that saw turnout decline.
Here are the top 10:
State Winner VEP Turnout Increase Swing to Bush
Arizona Bush 22.15% 4.19% Nevada Bush 21.68% -0.90% Georgia Bush 21.62% 4.93%
New Mexico Bush 20.00% 1.06% South Dakota Bush 18.54% -1.27% Florida Bush 16.64% 5.00%
Ohio Bush 14.64% -1.02% Oklahoma Bush 14.43% 9.27% North Carolina Bush 14.40% -0.18%
Tennessee Bush 14.03% 10.47%
And here are the bottom ten:
State Winner VEP Turnout Increase Swing to Bush
California Kerry -3.95% 1.95% New York Kerry -2.72% 7.71% Vermont Kerry 1.25% -10.20%
Alaska Bush 2.35% -4.22% Utah Bush 2.60% 4.23% Connecticut Kerry 3.07% 7.11%
Montana Bush 3.74% -4.54% District of Columbia Kerry 5.17% -3.89% New Jersey Kerry 5.62% 9.66%
Rhode Island Kerry 6.27% 8.34%
I include in this column the swing to Bush (the change in the margin of victory or defeat since 2000). Was there a pattern of Bush or Kerry improving their vote more in states with higher turnout? Not really. Persuasion is still different from turnout, but it can move the numbers a critical few tenths of a point from the baseline that message, persuasion, and issues create.
The most compelling evidence for a pro-Bush shift in turnout comes from re-running the election using the 2004 percentages for each candidate and the 2000 vote totals. If the states had turned out the way they did in 2000, Bush would have received 50.71% of the vote to Kerrys 48.31% -- a 0.6% shift to Kerry. The more granular you get, the more you should expect to see the turnout effect amplified. And lo and behold, by re-processing the results with the 2000 turnout at the county level, Bush gets 50.59% to Kerrys 48.43% -- a further quarter point shift to Kerry. (And we havent even gotten down to the precinct level, or to the behavior of the individual voter within a precinct.) All told, the benefit the President received from this particular turnout pattern in 2004 is probably at least a point. Incidentally, thats about the same as the gap between the final polls and the results.
Political scientists are going to have rewrite the book on this one. Broken glass Republicans outnumbered broken glass Democrats despite everything the media establishment held sacred and holy about this election. There is no hidden, nonvoting Democratic majority. There is no cap on the number of people willing to vote Republican. GOP mobilization efforts work just as well with high turnout.
Next time you see a long line at the polls, smile.
pings, as you requested.
Not liking the direction the country is heading does not mean that the person will vote against the chief executive. It means the voter will vote against those (s)he identifies as steering the country down the wrong road. In hindsight, voters seemed to blame members of Congress for the wrong direction more than the President.
No, I think it's just the opposite. Bush was the reason for the high turnout.
I agree, I think a lot of people showed up at the polls to defend our President who we saw as unfairly attacked. Also, remember the quote (as near as I can remember it): You know what we call a candidate who is depending on first time voters? A loser! [from the Ragin' Cajun himself, James Carville]
"Bush was the reason for the high turnout."
I think this is an excellent point. I think those who, in the past, were not too excited about voting woke up and looked at the situation, looked at what was at risk... and did what needed to be done.
To be fair, a large number of the people I spoke with said that it was Kerry who pushed them to vote against him...that they would have voted for a better Dem candidate.
Regardless, there are a lot of complexities that arose during this election.
I myself would have been upset if W had lost against any democrat, but I could live with it if the dems had nominated someone like Lieberman or Gephardt. But by making the choice that they did, I was voting as much for W as against Kerry, who turned me from a Bush supporter to a Bush zealot. I've said it before and I'll say it again--we were fortunate to get the Frost Belt, dispassionate, uncharismatic Kerry as an opponent. He gave us a fighting chance; if it had been some other, acceptable democrat, we might have not had much of one.
I fear that many FReepers don't realize that, and I'm praying we don't have another Newt-style debacle. In my area, it's 2-to-1 Republican, but there was a LOT of crossover to Kerry (President Bush BARELY squeaked by here, despite the Republican advantage in registrations), and a lot of the support for Bush was VERY SOFT when I was calling, etc.
Pennsylvania went for Kerry, and I think most of FR fails to realize how popular Specter is here...and how Santorum (the conservative) could be booted out because of the FReeping efforts, if he didn't support Specter.
We need to keep to principles and not scare anyone off out of arrogance, IMHO.
"Not liking the direction the country is heading "
This may also be interpreted as not liking the direction the potty-mouth decadent elitists and celebrities are trying to take the country.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
The Presidential Race in the Northeast .. The first in the series.
The facts speak for themselves: Pres. Bush added a whopping 11 million votes to his 2000 total, while the left added about 5 million (if you include Nader as a leftist in 2000), and that after the leftist 527s spent about $250 million more than their right counterparts. Not many ways to spin those facts!
Sorry.... I meant to ping you also.
Ruffini's analysis is too granular and crude to support any conclusion about anything regarding turnout and who it benefitted. That takes looking at individual precincts, not statewide totals, which totals are incomplete because California for example has not yet counted hundreds of thousands of ballots at the time the data was generated, and in the case of Arizona and Nevada, high population growth.
I agree with you entirely, and I am afraid there is a lot of that already. The big head syndrome hit as soon as the ballots were counted in some circles. I remember the 94 election too.
"There is no hidden, nonvoting Democratic majority. There is no cap on the number of people willing to vote Republican."
I'm still trying to wrap my brain around this line. Could it be there are no downtrodden masses of socialist sympathizers, just waiting for the right Democrat GOTV drive? And millions more potential republican voters waiting for our calls?
It's a wonderfully optimistic outlook. The Republican 96-hour plan is only a few years old. I believe we can do better still.
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