2004: The Morning After

I stayed up until Edwards spoke at 2:30 (after being announced as “the next vice president of the United States”), so I’m just too spent this morning to do the full what-it-all-means post, or even to fully absorb the meaning of Kerry’s refusal so far to concede. My gut tells me that Kerry’s refusal to call it last night was only fair, given the traumatic 2000 experience for his party and given how close this one was in the Electoral College, although it’s rather sad to see the tradition of Election Night concession speeches fade away. But I would hope he buries the hatchet by the end of today; fishing for an extra 500 votes when you have a popular vote plurality at your back is one thing, but going to war for 146,000 votes is quite another, and with Bush having won a decisive majority of the national popular vote, I suspect the public would run out of patience for a fight that lasts more than another day or so. The Democrats never got closure on the last election because the leader of their party never looked them in the eye and said, “we lost fair and square, it’s over” the way the loser of every election had before. Kerry surely must be able to appreciate, particularly with the passions that election and the war have stirred up, why it will be crucially important to the peace of the nation going forward to do that soon.
My feeling this morning is mostly one of overwhelming relief. We got through the election without a terrorist attack, meaning the last thing Al Qaeda might have been holding back something for has passed. Not that they are done, but there was no other reason to wait other than lack of capacity to strike. And the election went well. The Commander-in-Chief will stay at the helm, and we will have the opportunity to carry his strategy through for another four years. The Senate will be more Republican, as we steel for a likely Supreme Court battle and maybe several.
For historical perspective, not only has Bush won a majority of the popular vote for the first time since 1988, but his 51% of the vote is larger than any Democrat has won, other than FDR (who did it four times) and LBJ in 1964, since the Republican party ran its first national election in 1856 (Jimmy Carter in 1976 is the only other Democrat to muster a majority in that period, and then it was 50% in the wake of Watergate). The Republican party remains a majority party at the national level, having won popular majorities now 7 times to the Democrats’ two since 1945. It is, of course, particularly satisfying, on an emotional level, to see Bush win a larger share of the vote than Clinton ever did.
On the coverage last night, I was flipping channels continuously. CBS was actually the fastest network to call states early, but only FOX and NBC called Ohio for Bush, and at last check nobody was willing to say 270; it’s safe to say that some of the networks just couldn’t quite bring themselves to call a winner until the other side had conceded defeat. I do think FOX had the best coverage, for two reasons. First, FOX had the best ticker, packing in useful information on popular vote totals along with the percentages and share reporting for all the major races. Some of the others left out the raw numbers. Second, FOX had the incomparable Michael Barone, whose encyclopedic understanding of every battleground state down to the precinct level gave FOX viewers a decisive informational advantage in digesting the returns from hotly contested states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida.
Furthest-out line of the night, besides some of Dan Rather’s Ratherisms, had to be Joe Scarborough discussing why statewide and nationwide elected officials like hurricanes in Florida.
Anyway, I’m tired and I need to get back to work. I’ll be back on my usual early-morning blogging schedule wrapping up the election the next two days, and then I’ll be resuming baseball coverage next week. I’ll also be taking down some of the election-related bells and whistles on the site over the next several days.

2 thoughts on “2004: The Morning After”

  1. My reaction is amazement. I did not watch TV, the Internet or listen to the radio at all last night or until 9:30 this morning and had rather convinced myself that Kerry was going to win. It felt like waiting for the results of the bar exam.
    I do not share the relief about al Qaeda � I still feel that they could hit us at any time.
    But I�m relieved that the results look a little more decisive than last time (not that it would be possible to be closer) and I hope there is some closure this time.
    Overall, the country remains quite divided, but I hope that – at least in foreign affairs – the two parties can work together.
    And, yeah, it�ll be nice to talk sports again�

  2. Well, I’m disappointed, but I am glad that the results were clear enough that we don’t have another recount mess.
    I flipped around a lot last night, but I was spending most of my time focusing on the Baseball Primer IRC Chat, so I don’t have strong opinions on the coverage. Rather was his usual goofy fun self. CNN had the best website I found as far as finding results.
    I really hope that I’m wrong about Bush, and that he’ll be able to bring about a positive outcome in Iraq. I also hope that it’ll distract him enough that he won’t be able to focus on his domestic agenda. 😉
    Kerry ran a better campaign than I thought he would, and he came pretty damn close to pulling it off. I’m not going to criticize him much – this isn’t Gore, who really should have won. (How do you lose your own state?)
    One trivial note: According to the last numbers I checked, Howard Mills lost to Chuck Schumer by a greater percentage than Alan Keyes lost to Barack Obama. When the NY Repubs phone it in, they don’t mess around.

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