Sunday, November 09, 2008

Represent!

The dust has begun to settle on the 2008 Presidential election; so it is a good time to take a step back, check the emotions, and look at some turnout data.

I am a firm believer in the U.S. system of representative democracy. One who votes acts as a citizen, helping to govern his country, even if his candidate is not elected. Those that do not vote make themselves subjects to the governing electorate.

I believe in the U.S. system of elections. This belief runs counter to the many who, oftentimes irresponsibly, point out flaws in the mechanism of voting. Voter suppression and voter fraud are serious issues, but are mostly blown out of proportion in their effect on statewide results, and, by extension the national political scene. Some will point to 1960 or 2000 as exceptions, but the razor thin margins in these contests actually belie effective manipulation. If one looks at questionable elections in other countries, the cheaters win by unambiguous margins. A tyrant cannot chance a close election. Just ask Robert Mugabe.

Which brings us to 2008 in the United States. All the prognostication (to include my own projection which took into account traditional underpolling of conservative/Republican voters) favored Barack Obama. Barack Obama did win, 365 to 173. Popular vote favored Obama by about six percentage points, with a little more than one percent going to third-party candidates. The turnout appears to have fallen well short of a record percentage, despite the "get-out-the-vote" efforts of the winning campaign and the hype of the in-the-tank media.

Between 60.7 percent and 61.7 percent of the 208.3 million eligible voted in the 2008 presidential election, compared with 60.6 percent of those eligible in 2004, according to American University political scientist Curtis Gans, as quoted by Politico's David Paul Kuhn. (h/t MLive.com ) Republican voting appeared to decline 1.3 points, to 28.7 percent, while Democratic turnout rose from 28.7 percent to 31.3 percent. So what happened to elect Barack Obama?

I believe enough of "the conservatives," the right wing of the Republican party, stayed home. The Democratic party, despite its close and sometimes bitter primary fight, managed to get its voters out in sufficient numbers. The Republicans, divided on real ideological grounds, could not make both wings work together. We have our result.

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1 Comments:

Blogger CMinor said...

Yeah, but let's not forget the old guard Republicans who actually went over to the other side, though I suspect they were less in number.

Did you find anything on the Independents or those ubiquitous "undecideds?" How did they effect the results?

11:30 AM  

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