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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

 Why Kerry lost

Click to enlargeIn the coming days you will read a lot of political analysis and punditry about the election.

"The Democratic party is out of touch with mainstream America." Expect to hear this charge a lot. One variant I heard on CNN this morning was "Democrats can win the Starbucks crowd but not the Wal-Mart crowd." This argument boils down to values, rather than economics: Democrats can't win the "Bible Belt" because they aren't perceived as religious enough.

Looking at the Presidential electoral map on top (click to enlarge), you can see why superficially this argument seems logical. Kerry was locked out of every southern and plains state.

Looking deeper, however, a different pattern emerges. The bottom map is of races for the House of Representatives. As you can see, not only can Democrats win in the South and plains states, but Republicans can win on the coasts.

Clearly, the Democratic party is not outside of the mainstream. So why did Kerry lose?

Very simply, Kerry ran a weak campaign. Although clearly stronger than Gore's campaign of four years ago, Kerry mostly played defense to Karl Rove. Despite quagmire in Iraq, a weak economy, rampant corruption, a reinvigorated Democratic grassroots machine, and losing all three debates, Rove was able to successfully define the issues of the presidential campaign.

This is why everyone was talking about the "Swift Boat Vets" bullshit and not about Al Qaeda's endorsement of Bush.

For what its worth, I was an early supporter of Howard Dean. I believed then, and still believe now, that Dean would not have let himself get Rove'd.


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