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Many analysts have made a second career out of postulating how George Bush managed to beat John Kerry in the presidential election. Most of the speculation has centered on anti-gay marriage initiatives in eleven states, even though a thorough analysis of voting between 2000 and 2004 show a slight decrease in support for Bush in comparison. The one person given credit as the architect for the victory, Karl Rove, insists that the real reason is much more prosaic:
Tactically, Kerry's decision to vote for the $87 billion in funding for troops and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then deciding in October 2003 to vote against it, was a bonanza for the president's campaign, "the gift that kept on giving," Rove said.
Kerry's record in general and his shifting support for the war in Iraq caused the most problems for him among voters, Rove insisted. Exit polling has been widely reported to state that voters felt that Kerry didn't represent their moral values, but Rove disputed that. He told the AP that his review of polling showed that the war in Iraq turned out to be the most important issue when ballots were cast. Conventional wisdom had Iraq as Bush's Achilles heel (as opposed to the overall war on terror, where he scored big numbers over Kerry), but even Iraq helped more than it hurt.
Rove also believes that the country has become more Republican over the last two election cycles and told the AP that more people voted as Republican than Democrat -- the first time that has happened in many decades. The national results appear to bear this out. Democrats lost an additional ten seats in the House, where Texas redistricting accounted for at least half of that number. More significantly, the GOP picked up four more seats in the Senate overall, coming in 6-2 in reversals this cycle. It marks the third straight election in which the GOP have gained seats in the upper chamber and their biggest majority there since before WWII. The only seats they lost were in Colorado, where a conservative Democrat holding statewide office beat a first-timer in politics, and in Illinois where the GOP ran a ridiculous carpetbagger in Alan Keyes against the charismatic and centrist Barack Obama.
The American electorate has been realigning itself ever since the 1998 mid-terms, when the Clinton impeachment damaged Republican efforts. The country has moved farther to the right while the Democrats have allowed their party to be hijacked by the radical left, with people like Michael Moore and Jimmy Carter and organizations like International ANSWER and MoveOn setting their agenda. The two leading candidates in their primaries both kowtowed to the radical anti-American activists in these organizations while the majority of voters found themselves appalled by their protests and accusations.
If Democrats want to be taken seriously as a national party in the future, they need to stop kidding themselves about why they lost this election. Gay marriage did not bury John Kerry, whose position on the issue almost exactly mirrored that of Bush. Values and morals played a part, but much more impact came from Kerry's temporizing on American independence on security issues and the company he kept on the campaign trail. Democrats need to marginalize the Stalinists (I-ANSWER) and the aging hippies (Kerry, Hollywood) to return to their progressive, pro-engagement past. Until they do, they can expect to see the slivers of blue at both ends of the country continue to shrink and cement their status as a long-term minority party.Sphere It View blog reactions
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