Wednesday, November 3
Deal with it
Martin Kettle, Comment: The Guardian, November 3, 2004
While the Republicans should be magnanimous in victory, the Democrats should acknowledge that this time around George Bush and his party have won a legitimate mandate, says Martin Kettle
Has the remarkable 2004 presidential election merely produced a repeat of the 2000 contest, proof that United States remains as much at war with itself in the aftermath of the second Bush election as it was after the first?
Judging by the closeness of the likely electoral college figures, it may look that way. But look more carefully.
Here is a big difference that really matters. In 2000 half a million more Americans voted for Al Gore than for George Bush.
Yesterday, on a radically increased turnout, nearly 4 million more voted for Bush than for John Kerry.
Here is another difference. In 2000, Bush took Florida by only 537 votes, a margin of a mere hundredth of a percentage point. Yesterday Bush captured the sunshine state by more than 360,000 votes, a clear majority of five full points. Another decisive change.
And here is a third. Four years ago, it is beyond doubt that Ralph Nader, running as a third party candidate, took enough votes in Florida and elsewhere to hand the White House to Bush. Yesterday, the Nader effect faded to negligibility.
But it was a sweet night for the Republicans in other ways too. In both houses of Congress, they strengthened their narrow advantage.
In the senate, where John Thune knocked off the Democratic minority leader Tom Daschle in South Dakota, Republican control is now locked in, another difference from 2000.
In the House, for the sixth election in a row, the Republicans retained and strengthened their control.