My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


The Shifting Landscape

Michael Barone takes a wide-lens look at what happened three weeks ago, and it is remarkable how good things look for the GOP, and how adept the President's team was at their job:

With the absentee votes in California and Washington finally counted, it appears that overall turnout was up 12 percent. John Kerry's popular vote was also 12 percent above Al Gore's. But the popular vote for Bush was up a stunning 20 percent. Before the election, some liberal commentators were claiming that Bush would win no votes he hadn't won in 2000. Not quite: He won 10 million more.

Bush's popular vote was up 23 percent in the 13 battleground states that decided the election. Kerry's paid-worker, union-led turnout drives in central cities nearly matched that--his vote was up 21 percent over Gore's in the battlegrounds. But that wasn't enough to outdo the Bush volunteer efforts in the make-or-break states of Florida and Ohio. Elsewhere Bush had a bigger edge. His popular vote was up 21 percent in safe Bush states and 16 percent in safe Kerry states, compared with 12 and 5 percent for Kerry. The Bush organization literally reshaped the electorate. The 2000 exit poll showed an electorate that was 39 percent Democratic and 35 percent Republican. The 2004 exit poll, which was tilted toward Democrats, found a dead heat: 37 percent to 37 percent. That means that Republican turnout was up 19 percent and Democratic turnout up only 7 percent.

It remains to be seen if any candidate can inspire the same passions that this President does, with both the positive effects listed above, and the down-side effects of making Michael Moore a celebrity. But if this is the sort of lasting change that Barone hints it may be, there is absolutely no reason not to be optimistic for the near future of political life in America.

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