Wednesday, November 03, 2004

"A broad, nationwide victory"

CNN reports the vice president as saying, "The result is now clear: a record voter turnout and a broad, nationwide victory." He's trying to argue that their administration now has a strong mandate from the country for their second term. That's just bull.

Let's look at the numbers. Based on the most recent CNN estimates, Bush/Cheney received 59,108,395 votes, while Kerry/Edwards received 55,554,114 votes (Nader received 395,871). Now, I'm no mathematician, but even I can realize that the margin of victory here was only 3.09%. To look at it another way, Mr. Cheney, there are at least 55,949,985 voters who did not agree with you, and who in fact wanted to send you home come January.

Let's also look at the total proportion of the population that voted. Yes, voter turnout was at a "record high", with CNN's best estimate being 119.8 million total voters. They report that this is approximately 60% of eligible voters.

However, America is not composed solely of eligible voters, so let's look at the total population, which the CIA World Factbook estimated to be 293,027,571 in July of 2004 (has the CIA ever heard of significant digits?). Thus, using CNN's estimate of total votes cast, only 40% of the US population voted. Of those 40%, only 51.3% voted for Bush, meaning that Bush only has evidence for the support of a whopping 21% of the nation's population (or ~30% of all eligible voters). This is not a broad mandate.

Admittedly these are not atypical numbers for a presidential election (margin of victory, turnout, and % of population all fall within the range of historical data; see Dave Leip's Atlas of Presidential Elections), but I still find it heartening that only one in five Americans actually voted for Bush.

(all 2004 voting numbers from CNN at ~8pm PST)

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