- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 2, 2005

As the presidential election year is now over, here are a few musings about the 2004 election.

Like the Energizer Bunny, the 2004 vote tally for George W. Bush keeps going and going, setting one record after another. Reflecting reporting by more than 99 percent of voting districts throughout the country, official results at 5 p.m. on the day after the election revealed that Mr. Bush had set the all-time American vote-getting record by amassing more than 59 million votes. That total was nearly 5 million more than the 54.5 million votes Ronald Reagan received in his landslide 1984 re-election.

Since the Nov. 3 count, however, Mr. Bush has collected another 3 million-plus votes, and his tally now tops the 62-million vote level, according to Dave Leip. Mr. Leip, who operates the Web site https://uselectionatlas.org, has been studiously recording the official post-election tallies of all the states, which have spent weeks counting absentee, overseas, write-in and provisional ballots.

Thus, compared to 2000, Mr. Bush increased his vote by more than 11.5 million (and counting), or 23 percent, in 2004. The total presidential vote, according to Mr. Leip’s Thursday tally, topped 122 million. That’s several million votes above the level at which conventional political wisdom predicted a solid victory by Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Yet it is Mr. Bush, whose latest tally exceeds Mr. Kerry’s by more than 3 million votes, who will be inaugurated in less than three weeks.

In 2002 and 2004, Mr. Bush became the first elected president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt whose party gained both House and Senate seats during both the midterm election (1934) and the presidential re-election year (1936). In fact, since the Civil War, FDR and Mr. Bush have been the only presidents to increase their party’s House seats during their first midterm election.

Going back to 1860, when Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican president, Mr. Bush is the first and only elected Republican president to gain House seats in the first midterm election and then in the presidential re-election year. He is also the only elected GOP president to increase his party’s relative position in the Senate during the first midterm and the re-election year. Besides Mr. Bush in 2004, Lincoln in 1864 and William McKinley in 1900 are the only other elected Republican presidents whose coattails added GOP seats in both the House and the Senate during their re-election campaigns.

Before Mr. Bush accomplished the feat, it had been 68 years (going back to FDR in 1936) since the party of an elected president added seats in the Senate during his re-election year. Despite achieving decisive victories, FDR failed to do it 1940 and 1944. Remarkably, during the re-election landslides of GOP presidents Dwight Eisenhower (15.4 percentage-point victory margin, 1956), Richard Nixon (23.2 percent, 1972) and Mr. Reagan (18.2 percent, 1984), the Democratic Party actually increased its representation in the Senate by one, two and two members, respectively. Bill Clinton won re-election in 1996 by 8.5 percentage points, but Republicans added two senators. Mr. Bush’s re-election increased the GOP Senate majority by four members.

Here are some noteworthy results from this year’s exit polling:

• While Mr. Kerry achieved the Democrats’ customary supermajority among black voters (88?11), who comprised 11 percent of the electorate, Mr. Bush won decisively among white males (62?37) and white women (55?44), who comprised 36 percent and 41 percent of the electorate, respectively.

• Among age cohorts, Mr. Kerry won only the 18-to-29-year-old bracket (54?45), while Mr. Bush captured the 30-44 group (53?46), the 45?59 group (51?48) and the 60-and-older group (54?46).

• Fifty-five percent of the electorate reported income over $50,000, and 56 percent of them voted for Mr. Bush. By contrast, Mr. Kerry received 55 percent of the vote of those with incomes below $50,000; but they comprised only 44 percent of the electorate.

• To fund the election of Democrats, organized labor devotes more than 95 percent of its mostly dues-financed political war chest, which totals hundreds of millions of dollars per election cycle, according to well-informed observers. But Mr. Bush received 38 percent of the votes of union members and 40 percent of the votes of those whose household includes a union member.

• Among the 41 percent of voters who attend church weekly, Mr. Bush received 61 percent of the vote. Mr. Kerry captured 62 percent of the vote from the 14 percent of the electorate that never attends church.

• Sixty-three percent of voters were married, and Mr. Bush got 57 percent of their votes. Mr. Kerry received a nearly mirror-image majority from the 37 percent of voters who weren’t married.

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