2004 United States presidential election

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2004 United States presidential election
Flag of the United States (Pantone).svg
  2000 November 2, 2004 2008  

538 members of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout56.7% [1] Increase2.svg 5.5 pp
  George-W-Bush.jpeg John F. Kerry.jpg
Nominee George W. Bush John Kerry
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Texas Massachusetts
Running mate Dick Cheney John Edwards
Electoral vote286251 [lower-alpha 1]
States carried3119 + DC
Popular vote62,040,61059,028,444
Percentage50.7%48.3%

ElectoralCollege2004.svg
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Bush/Cheney and blue denotes those won by Kerry/Edwards. Numbers indicate electoral votes cast by each state and the District of Columbia.
Faithless elector: John Edwards 1 (MN)

President before election

George W. Bush
Republican

Elected President

George W. Bush
Republican

The 2004 United States presidential election was the 55th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. The Republican ticket of incumbent President George W. Bush and his running mate incumbent Vice President Dick Cheney were elected to a second term, defeating the Democratic ticket of John Kerry, a United States senator from Massachusetts and his running mate John Edwards, a United States senator from North Carolina. At the time Bush's popular vote total was the most votes ever received by a presidential candidate, a total that has since been surpassed; additionally, Kerry's total was the second most. Bush also became the only incumbent president to win re-election after losing the popular vote in the previous election.

Contents

Bush and Cheney were renominated by their party with no difficulty. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean emerged as the early front-runner in the 2004 Democratic Party presidential primaries, but Kerry won the first set of primaries in January and clinched his party's nomination in March after a series of primary victories. Kerry chose Edwards, who had himself sought the party's 2004 presidential nomination, to be his running mate.

Bush's popularity had soared early in his first term after the September 11 attacks in 2001, but it had declined significantly by 2004. Foreign policy was the dominant theme throughout the election campaign, particularly Bush's handling of the war on terror and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Bush presented himself as a decisive leader and attacked Kerry as a "flip-flopper", while Kerry criticized Bush's conduct of the Iraq War. Domestic issues were debated as well, including the economy and jobs, health care, abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research.

Bush won by a narrow margin of 35 electoral votes and took 50.7% of the popular vote. He swept the South and the Mountain States and took the crucial swing states of Ohio, Iowa, and New Mexico, the latter two being flipped Republican. Although Kerry flipped New Hampshire, Bush won both more electoral votes and states than in 2000. Some aspects of the election process were subject to controversy, but not to the degree seen in the 2000 presidential election. Bush won Florida by a five-percent margin, unlike his razor-thin 2000 victory margin in the state that led to a legal challenge in Bush v. Gore . In addition, Republicans increased their majorities in both houses of Congress in the concurrent congressional elections, which gave Bush a comfortable congressional majority as he entered his second term.

As of 2022, this is the only presidential election since 1988 in which the Republican nominee won the popular vote. Bush's victory also marks the only time in U.S. history that a winning presidential candidate failed to win any electoral votes in the Northeast, as well as the last time a candidate has carried every state from the former Confederacy, and the last time a Republican has carried Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, or Virginia. It is the most recent election in which the Democratic nominee won only a single-digit margin of victory in California, Delaware, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, and the most recent time the Republican nominee did so in Arkansas. Bush became the first Republican to ever win without New Hampshire.

Bush served his second term as president and was succeeded by Democrat Barack Obama, who was elected president in 2008, while Kerry continued to serve in the Senate and later became Secretary of State during Obama's second term. This is the most recent presidential election in which an incumbent Republican president or any incumbent president increased their electoral vote count from their previous election, and is the last in which the winning candidate won fewer than 300 electoral votes. Bush is the only Republican president since Ronald Reagan to win re-election, as well as the most recent one to win the presidency without winning the rust belt states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, or Maine's 2nd congressional district.

Background

George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 after the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore remanded the case to the Florida Supreme Court, which declared there was not sufficient time to hold a recount without violating the U.S. Constitution.

Just eight months into his presidency, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, suddenly transformed Bush into a wartime president. Bush's approval ratings surged to near 90%. Within a month, the forces of a coalition led by the United States entered Afghanistan, which had been sheltering Osama bin Laden, suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks. The Taliban had been removed by December, although a long and ongoing reconstruction would follow.

The Bush administration then turned its attention to Iraq and argued the need to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq had become urgent. The Iraq issue gave Bush an antagonist to present to the people, rallying support against a common enemy rather than gaining voters through ideas or policy. [2] Among the stated reasons were that Saddam's regime had tried to acquire nuclear material and had not properly accounted for biological and chemical material it was known to have previously possessed. Both the possession of these weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the failure to account for them, would violate the UN sanctions. The assertion about WMD was hotly advanced by the Bush administration from the beginning, but other major powers including China, France, Germany, and Russia remained unconvinced that Iraq was a threat and refused to allow passage of a UN Security Council resolution to authorize the use of force. [3] Iraq permitted UN weapon inspectors in November 2002, who were continuing their work to assess the WMD claim when the Bush administration decided to proceed with war without UN authorization and told the inspectors to leave the country. [4] The United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, along with a "coalition of the willing" that consisted of additional troops from the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent, from Australia and Poland. Within about three weeks, the invasion caused the collapse of both the Iraqi government and its armed forces. However, the U.S. and allied forces failed to find any weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. Nevertheless, on May 1, George W. Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, in a Lockheed S-3 Viking, where he gave a speech announcing the end of "major combat operations" in the Iraq War. Bush's approval rating in May was at 66%, according to a CNNUSA TodayGallup poll. [5] However, Bush's high approval ratings did not last. First, while the war itself was popular in the U.S., the reconstruction and attempted "democratization" of Iraq lost some support as months passed and casualty figures increased, with no decrease in violence nor progress toward stability or reconstruction. Second, as investigators combed through the country, they failed to find the predicted WMD stockpiles, which led to debate over the rationale for the war.

Nominations

Republican nomination

Republican Party (United States) Republicanlogo.svg
Republican Party (United States)
2004 Republican Party ticket
George W. Bush Dick Cheney
for Presidentfor Vice President
George-W-Bush.jpeg
46 Dick Cheney 3x4.jpg
43rd
President of the United States
(2001–2009)
46th
Vice President of the United States
(2001–2009)
Campaign
Bush Cheney 2004 campaign logo.svg

Bush's popularity rose as a wartime president, and he was able to ward off any serious challenge to the Republican nomination. Senator Lincoln Chafee from Rhode Island considered challenging Bush on an anti-war platform in New Hampshire, but decided not to run after the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. [6]

On March 10, 2004, Bush officially attained the number of delegates needed to be nominated at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. He accepted the nomination on September 2, 2004, and retained Vice President Dick Cheney as his running mate. During the convention and throughout the campaign, Bush focused on two themes: defending America against terrorism and building an ownership society. As well, Bush used populist rhetoric in an attempt to rally voters behind him in a time of international terror. [7] The ownership society included allowing people to invest some of their Social Security in the stock market, increasing home and stock ownership, and encouraging more people to buy their own health insurance. [8]

Democratic Party nomination

Democratic Party (United States) DemocraticLogo.svg
Democratic Party (United States)
2004 Democratic Party ticket
John Kerry John Edwards
for Presidentfor Vice President
John F. Kerry.jpg
John Edwards, official Senate photo portrait.jpg
U.S. Senator
from Massachusetts
(1985–2013)
U.S. Senator
from North Carolina
(1999–2005)
Campaign
Kerry Edwards 2004 campaign logo.svg

Withdrawn candidates

Candidates in this section are sorted by popular vote from the primaries
John Edwards Howard Dean Dennis Kucinich Wesley Clark Al Sharpton Joe Lieberman Carol Moseley
Braun
Dick Gephardt
John Edwards, official Senate photo portrait.jpg
HowardDeanDNC-cropped.jpg
Dennis Kucinich.jpg
General Wesley Clark official photograph (cropped).jpg
Al Sharpton by David Shankbone (cropped).jpg
Joe Lieberman official portrait 2 (cropped) (cropped).jpg
Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.jpg
Dick Gephardt color.jpg
  U.S. Senator from
North Carolina
(1999–2005)
79th
Governor of Vermont
(1991–2003)
U.S. Representative from Ohio
(1997–2013)
Supreme Allied
Commander Europe
(1997–2000)
Minister and ActivistU.S. Senator
from Connecticut
(1989–2013)
U.S. Senator
from Illinois
(1993–1999)
House Minority Leader
(1995–2003)
John Edwards 2004 campaign logo.svg
Howard Dean 2004 campaign logo.svg
Denniskucinich2004logo.gif
Wesley Clark 2004 campaign logo.svg
Al Sharpton presidential campaign, 2004.png
Joe Lieberman campaign logo 2004.svg
Carol Moseley Braun 2004 logo.png
Dick Gephardt bumper sticker 2004.gif
Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign
W: March 2
3,162,337 votes
W: Feb 18
903,460 votes
W: July 22
620,242votes
W: Feb 11
547,369 votes
W: March 15
380,865votes
W: Feb 3
280,940votes
W: Jan 15
98,469votes
W: Jan 20
63,902 votes

Before the primaries

By summer 2003, Howard Dean had become the apparent front-runner for the Democratic nomination, performing strongly in most polls and leading the pack with the largest campaign war chest. His strength as a fund raiser was attributed mainly to his embrace of the Internet for campaigning. The majority of his donations came from individual supporters, who became known as Deanites, or, more commonly, Deaniacs . Generally regarded as a pragmatic centrist during his governorship, Dean emerged during his presidential campaign as a left-wing populist, denouncing the Bush policies like invasion of Iraq as well as fellow Democrats, who, in his view, failed to strongly oppose them. Senator Joe Lieberman, a liberal on domestic issues but a hawk on the War on Terror, began his candidacy in early 2003 but failed to gain traction with liberal Democratic primary voters.

In September 2003, retired four-star general Wesley Clark announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination. His campaign focused on themes of leadership and patriotism; early campaign advertisements relied heavily on biography. His late start left him with relatively few detailed policy proposals. His first few debates showed this weakness, although he soon presented a range of position papers, including a major tax-relief plan. Nevertheless, Democrats did not flock to support his campaign.

In sheer numbers, John Kerry had fewer endorsements than Dean, who was far ahead in the superdelegate race going into the Iowa caucuses in January 2004. However, Kerry led the endorsement races in Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, South Carolina, New Mexico, and Nevada. His main perceived weakness was in his neighboring state of New Hampshire and nearly all national polls. Most other states did not have updated polling numbers to give an accurate placing for Kerry's campaign before Iowa. Heading into the primaries, Kerry's campaign was largely seen as being in trouble, particularly after he fired campaign manager Jim Jordan. The key factors enabling it to survive were when fellow Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy assigned Mary Beth Cahill to be the new campaign manager, as well as Kerry's mortgaging his home to lend the money to his campaign (while his wife was a billionaire, campaign finance rules prohibited using one's personal fortune). He also brought on the "magical" Michael Whouley who would be credited with helping bring home the Iowa victory the same as he did in New Hampshire for Al Gore in 2000 against Bill Bradley.

Iowa caucus

By the January 2004 Iowa caucuses, the field had dwindled down to nine candidates, as Bob Graham had dropped out of the race. Howard Dean was a strong front-runner. However, the Iowa caucuses yielded unexpectedly strong results for Democratic candidates Kerry, who earned 38% of the state's delegates, and John Edwards, who took 32%. Dean slipped to 18% and into third place, while Richard Gephardt finished fourth (11%). In the days leading up to the Iowa vote, there was much negative campaigning between the Dean and Gephardt candidacies.

The dismal results caused Gephardt to drop out and later endorse Kerry. Carol Moseley Braun also dropped out, endorsing Howard Dean. Besides the impact of coming in third, Dean was further hurt by a speech that he gave while at a post-caucus rally. He was shouting over the cheers of his enthusiastic audience, but the crowd noise was being filtered out by his unidirectional microphone, leaving only his full-throated exhortations audible to the television viewers. To those at home, he seemed to raise his voice out of sheer emotion. The incessant replaying of the "Dean Scream" by the press became a debate on whether Dean was victimized by media bias. The scream scene was shown approximately 633 times by cable and broadcast news networks in just four days after the incident, an amount not including talk shows and local news broadcasts. [9] However, those in the actual audience that day have insisted that they didn't know about the infamous "scream" until they returned to their hotel rooms and saw it on television. [10]

Kerry had revived his campaign and began using the slogan "Comeback Kerry".

New Hampshire primary

On January 27, Kerry triumphed again, winning the New Hampshire primary. Dean finished second, Clark came in third, and Edwards placed fourth. The largest of the debates was held at Saint Anselm College, where both Kerry and Dean had strong performances.

South Carolina primary

Senator Kerry at a primary rally in St. Louis, Missouri, at the St. Louis Community College - Forest Park Kerry02.jpg
Senator Kerry at a primary rally in St. Louis, Missouri, at the St. Louis Community College – Forest Park

Edwards won the South Carolina primary the following week and brought home a strong second-place finish in Oklahoma to Clark. Lieberman dropped out of the campaign the following day. Kerry dominated throughout February and his support quickly snowballed as he won caucuses and primaries, taking in wins in Michigan, Washington, Maine, Tennessee; Washington, D.C.; Nevada, Wisconsin, Utah, Hawaii, and Idaho. Clark and Dean dropped out during this time, leaving Edwards as the only real threat to Kerry. Kucinich and Sharpton continued to run despite poor results at the polls.

Super Tuesday

In March's Super Tuesday, Kerry won decisive victories in the California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island primaries as well as in the Minnesota caucuses. Despite having withdrawn from the race two weeks earlier, Dean won his home state of Vermont. Edwards finished only slightly behind Kerry in Georgia, but after failing to win a single state other than South Carolina, he chose to withdraw from the presidential race. Sharpton followed suit a couple weeks later. Kucinich did not leave the race officially until July.

Democratic National Convention

On July 6, Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate, shortly before the 2004 Democratic National Convention was held later that month in Boston. Days before Kerry announced Edwards as his running mate, Kerry gave a short list of three candidates: Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dick Gephardt, and Gov. Tom Vilsack. Heading into the convention, the Kerry/Edwards ticket unveiled its new slogan: a promise to make America "stronger at home and more respected in the world." Kerry made his Vietnam War experience the convention's prominent theme. In accepting the nomination, he began his speech with, "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty." He later delivered what may have been the speech's most memorable line when he said, "the future doesn't belong to fear, it belongs to freedom," a quote that later appeared in a Kerry/Edwards television advertisement.

The keynote address at the convention was delivered by Illinois State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate (as well as future president) Barack Obama; the speech was well received, and it elevated Obama's status within the Democratic Party. [11]

Other nominations

David Cobb, the Green Party candidate David Cobb on fire.jpg
David Cobb, the Green Party candidate
Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik SI-MichaelBadnarik1.JPG
Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik

There were four other presidential tickets on the ballot in a number of states totaling enough electoral votes to have a theoretical possibility of winning a majority in the Electoral College. They were:

General election campaign

Campaign issues

Bush focused his campaign on national security, presenting himself as a decisive leader and contrasted Kerry as a "flip-flopper." This strategy was designed to convey to American voters the idea that Bush could be trusted to be tough on terrorism while Kerry would be "uncertain in the face of danger." Bush also sought to portray Kerry as a "Massachusetts liberal" who was out of touch with mainstream Americans (just as his father did with Michael Dukakis in the 1988 election). One of Kerry's slogans was "Stronger at home, respected in the world." This advanced the suggestion that Kerry would pay more attention to domestic concerns; it also encapsulated Kerry's contention that Bush had alienated American allies by his foreign policy.

According to one exit poll, people who voted for Bush cited the issues of terrorism and traditional values as the most important factors in their decision. [13] Kerry supporters cited the war in Iraq, the economy and jobs, and health care. [13]

Bush speaking at campaign rally in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 19, 2004 Bush cropped.jpg
Bush speaking at campaign rally in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 19, 2004

Over the course of Bush's first term in office, his extremely high approval ratings immediately following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks steadily dwindled, rising only during combat operations in Iraq in spring 2003, and again following the capture of Saddam Hussein in December that same year. [14]

Between August and September 2004, there was an intense focus on events that occurred in the late-1960s and early-1970s. Bush was accused of failing to fulfill his required service in the Texas Air National Guard. [15] However, the focus quickly shifted to the conduct of CBS News after they aired a segment on 60 Minutes Wednesday, introducing what became known as the Killian documents. [16] Serious doubts about the documents' authenticity quickly emerged, [17] leading CBS to appoint a review panel that eventually resulted in the firing of the news producer and other significant staffing changes. [18] [19]

Meanwhile, Kerry was accused by the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, who asserted that "phony war crimes charges, his exaggerated claims about his own service in Vietnam, and his deliberate misrepresentation of the nature and effectiveness of Swift boat operations compels us to step forward." [20] The group challenged the legitimacy of each of the combat medals awarded to Kerry by the U.S. Navy, and the disposition of his discharge.

In the beginning of September, the successful Republican National Convention along with the allegations by Kerry's former mates gave Bush his first comfortable margin since Kerry had won the nomination. A post-convention Gallup poll showed the President leading the Senator by 14 points. [21] [22]

Presidential debates

Neighboring yard signs for Bush and Kerry in Grosse Pointe, Michigan Bush Kerry 2004.jpg
Neighboring yard signs for Bush and Kerry in Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate were organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and held in the autumn of 2004. As expected, these debates set the agenda for the final leg of the political contest. Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik and Green Party candidate David Cobb were arrested while trying to access the debates. Badnarik was attempting to serve papers to the Commission on Presidential Debates.

Debates among candidates for the 2004 U.S. presidential election
No.DateHostCityModeratorsParticipantsViewship

(Millions)

P1Thursday, September 30, 2004 University of Miami Coral Gables, Florida Jim Lehrer President George W. Bush
Senator John Kerry
62.4 [23]
VPTuesday, October 5, 2004 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio Gwen Ifill Vice President Dick Cheney
Senator John Edwards
43.5 [23]
P2Friday, October 8, 2004 Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, Missouri Charles Gibson President George W. Bush
Senator John Kerry
46.7 [23]
P3Wednesday, October 13, 2004 Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona Bob Schieffer President George W. Bush
Senator John Kerry
51.1

Osama bin Laden videotape

On October 29, four days before the election, excerpts of a video of Osama bin Laden addressing the American people were broadcast on al Jazeera. In his remarks, bin Laden mentions the September 11, 2001 attacks and taunted Bush over his response to them. In the days following the video's release, Bush's lead over Kerry increased by several points. [35]

Notable expressions and phrases

Highlighting Kerry's alleged "flip-flops," the Republican National Committee placed on the web an advertisement that compared Kerry to a periodical cicada, one of whose largest brood's (Brood X) emerged within the eastern U.S. during 2004. The ad portrayed a cicada’s face changing into a picture of a confused-looking Kerry, while stating:

Every 17 years, cicadas emerge, morph out of their shell, and change their appearance. Like a cicada, Senator Kerry would like to shed his Senate career and morph into a fiscal conservative, a centrist Democrat opposed to taxes, strong on defense.” [39]

Results

Electoral results
Presidential candidatePartyHome statePopular voteElectoral
vote
Running mate
CountPercentageVice-presidential candidateHome stateElectoral vote
George Walker Bush Republican Texas 62,040,61050.73%286 Richard Bruce Cheney Wyoming 286
John Forbes Kerry Democratic Massachusetts 59,028,44448.27%251 John Reid Edwards North Carolina 251
John Reid Edwards (a) Democratic North Carolina 50.00%1 John Reid Edwards North Carolina 1
Ralph Nader Independent Connecticut 465,6500.38%0 Peter Camejo California 0
Michael Badnarik Libertarian Texas 397,2650.32%0 Richard Campagna Iowa 0
Michael Peroutka Constitution Maryland 143,6300.12%0 Chuck Baldwin Florida 0
David Cobb Green Texas 119,8590.10%0 Pat LaMarche Maine 0
Leonard Peltier Peace and Freedom Pennsylvania 27,6070.02%0 Janice Jordan California 0
Walt Brown Socialist Oregon 10,8370.01%0 Mary Alice Herbert Vermont 0
Róger Calero (b) Socialist Workers New York 3,6890.01%0 Arrin Hawkins (b) Minnesota 0
Thomas Harens Christian Freedom Minnesota 2,3870.002%0 Jennifer Ryan Minnesota 0
Other50,6520.04%Other
Total122,295,345100%538538
Needed to win270270

Source (Electoral and Popular Vote): Federal Elections Commission Electoral and Popular Vote Summary Voting age population: 215,664,000

Percent of voting age population casting a vote for president: 56.70%

(a)One faithless elector from Minnesota cast an electoral vote for John Edwards (written as John Ewards) for president. [44]
(b)Because Arrin Hawkins, then aged 28, was constitutionally ineligible to serve as vice president, Margaret Trowe replaced her on the ballot in some states. James Harris replaced Calero on certain other states' ballots.

Popular vote
Bush
50.73%
Kerry
48.27%
Nader
0.38%
Badnarik
0.32%
Peroutka
0.12%
Others
0.17%
Electoral vote
Bush
53.16%
Kerry
46.65%
Edwards
0.19%

Results by state

The following table records the official vote tallies for each state as reported by the official Federal Election Commission report. The column labeled "Margin" shows Bush's margin of victory over Kerry (the margin is negative for states and districts won by Kerry).

Legend
States/districts won by Kerry/Edwards
States/districts won by Bush/Cheney
At-large results (for states that split electoral votes)
George W. Bush
Republican
John Kerry
Democratic
Ralph Nader
Independent / Reform
Michael Badnarik
Libertarian
Michael Peroutka
Constitution
David Cobb
Green
OthersMarginState Total
StateEV# %EV# %EV# %EV# %EV# %EV# %EV# %EV# %#
Alabama 91,176,39462.46%9693,93336.84%6,7010.36%3,5290.19%1,9940.11%00.00%8980.05%482,46125.62%1,883,449AL
Alaska 3190,88961.07%3111,02535.52%5,0691.62%1,6750.54%2,0920.67%1,0580.34%7900.25%79,86425.55%312,598AK
Arizona 101,104,29454.87%10893,52444.40%2,7730.14%11,8560.59%00.00%1380.01%00.00%210,77010.47%2,012,585AZ
Arkansas 6572,89854.31%6469,95344.55%6,1710.58%2,3520.22%2,0830.20%1,4880.14%00.00%102,9459.76%1,054,945AR
California 555,509,82644.36%6,745,48554.31%5520,7140.17%50,1650.40%26,6450.21%40,7710.33%27,7470.22%−1,235,659−9.95%12,421,353CA
Colorado 91,101,25551.69%91,001,73247.02%12,7180.60%7,6640.36%2,5620.12%1,5910.07%2,8080.13%99,5234.67%2,130,330CO
Connecticut 7693,82643.95%857,48854.31%712,9690.82%3,3670.21%1,5430.10%9,5640.61%120.00%−163,662−10.37%1,578,769CT
Delaware 3171,66045.75%200,15253.35%32,1530.57%5860.16%2890.08%2500.07%1000.03%−28,492−7.59%375,190DE
District of Columbia 321,2569.34%202,97089.18%31,4850.65%5020.22%00.00%7370.32%6360.28%−181,714−79.84%227,586DC
Florida 273,964,52252.10%273,583,54447.09%32,9710.43%11,9960.16%6,6260.09%3,9170.05%6,2340.08%380,9785.01%7,609,810FL
Georgia 151,914,25457.97%151,366,14941.37%2,2310.07%18,3870.56%5800.02%2280.01%460.00%548,10516.60%3,301,875GA
Hawaii 4194,19145.26%231,70854.01%400.00%1,3770.32%00.00%1,7370.40%00.00%−37,517−8.74%429,013HI
Idaho 4409,23568.38%4181,09830.26%1,1150.19%3,8440.64%3,0840.52%580.01%130.00%228,13738.12%598,447ID
Illinois 212,345,94644.48%2,891,55054.82%213,5710.07%32,4420.62%4400.01%2410.00%1320.00%−545,604−10.34%5,274,322IL
Indiana 111,479,43859.94%11969,01139.26%1,3280.05%18,0580.73%00.00%1020.00%650.00%510,42720.68%2,468,002IN
Iowa 7751,95749.90%7741,89849.23%5,9730.40%2,9920.20%1,3040.09%1,1410.08%1,6430.11%10,0590.67%1,506,908IA
Kansas 6736,45662.00%6434,99336.62%9,3480.79%4,0130.34%2,8990.24%330.00%140.00%301,46325.38%1,187,756KS
Kentucky 81,069,43959.55%8712,73339.69%8,8560.49%2,6190.15%2,2130.12%00.00%220.00%356,70619.86%1,795,882KY
Louisiana 91,102,16956.72%9820,29942.22%7,0320.36%2,7810.14%5,2030.27%1,2760.07%4,3460.22%281,87014.51%1,943,106LA
Maine 2330,20144.58%396,84253.57%28,0691.09%1,9650.27%7350.10%2,9360.40%40.00%−66,641−9.00%740,752ME
Maine-1 1165,82443.14%211,70355.07%14,0041.04%1,0470.27%3460.09%1,4680.38%−45,879−11.94%384,392ME1
Maine-2 1164,37746.13%185,13951.95%14,0651.14%9180.26%3890.11%1,4680.41%−20,762−5.83%356,356ME2
Maryland 101,024,70342.93%1,334,49355.91%1011,8540.50%6,0940.26%3,4210.14%3,6320.15%2,4810.10%−309,790−12.98%2,386,678MD
Massachusetts 121,071,10936.78%1,803,80061.94%124,8060.17%15,0220.52%00.00%10,6230.36%7,0280.24%−732,691−25.16%2,912,388MA
Michigan 172,313,74647.81%2,479,18351.23%1724,0350.50%10,5520.22%4,9800.10%5,3250.11%1,4310.03%−165,437−3.42%4,839,252MI
Minnesota 101,346,69547.61%1,445,01451.09%918,6830.66%4,6390.16%3,0740.11%4,4080.16%5,8740.21%−98,319−3.48%2,828,387MN
Mississippi 6684,98159.45%6458,09439.76%3,1770.28%1,7930.16%1,7590.15%1,0730.09%1,2680.11%226,88719.69%1,152,145MS
Missouri 111,455,71353.30%111,259,17146.10%1,2940.05%9,8310.36%5,3550.20%00.00%00.00%196,5427.20%2,731,364MO
Montana 3266,06359.07%3173,71038.56%6,1681.37%1,7330.38%1,7640.39%9960.22%110.00%92,35320.50%450,445MT
Nebraska 2512,81465.90%2254,32832.68%5,6980.73%2,0410.26%1,3140.17%9780.13%1,0130.13%258,48633.22%778,186NE
Nebraska-1 1169,88862.97%196,31435.70%2,0250.75%6560.24%4050.15%4530.17%300.01%73,57427.27%269,771NE1
Nebraska-2 1153,04160.24%197,85838.52%1,7310.68%8130.32%3050.12%2610.10%230.01%55,18321.72%254,032NE2
Nebraska-3 1189,88574.92%160,15623.73%1,9420.77%5720.23%6040.24%2640.10%290.01%129,72951.18%253,452NE3
Nevada 5418,69050.47%5397,19047.88%4,8380.58%3,1760.38%1,1520.14%8530.10%3,6880.44%21,5002.59%829,587NV
New Hampshire 4331,23748.87%340,51150.24%44,4790.66%3720.05%1610.02%00.00%9780.14%−9,274−1.37%677,738NH
New Jersey 151,670,00346.24%1,911,43052.92%1519,4180.54%4,5140.12%2,7500.08%1,8070.05%1,7690.05%−241,427−6.68%3,611,691NJ
New Mexico 5376,93049.84%5370,94249.05%4,0530.54%2,3820.31%7710.10%1,2260.16%00.00%5,9880.79%756,304NM
New York 312,962,56740.08%4,314,28058.37%3199,8731.35%11,6070.16%2070.00%870.00%2,4150.03%−1,351,713−18.29%7,391,036NY
North Carolina 151,961,16656.02%151,525,84943.58%1,8050.05%11,7310.34%00.00%1080.00%3480.01%435,31712.43%3,501,007NC
North Dakota 3196,65162.86%3111,05235.50%3,7561.20%8510.27%5140.16%00.00%90.00%85,59927.36%312,833ND
Ohio 202,859,76850.81%202,741,16748.71%00.00%14,6760.26%11,9390.21%1920.00%1660.00%118,6012.11%5,627,908OH
Oklahoma 7959,79265.57%7503,96634.43%00.00%00.00%00.00%00.00%00.00%455,82631.14%1,463,758OK
Oregon 7866,83147.19%943,16351.35%700.00%7,2600.40%5,2570.29%5,3150.29%8,9560.49%−76,332−4.16%1,836,782OR
Pennsylvania 212,793,84748.42%2,938,09550.92%212,6560.05%21,1850.37%6,3180.11%6,3190.11%1,1700.02%−144,248−2.50%5,769,590PA
Rhode Island 4169,04638.67%259,76559.42%44,6511.06%9070.21%3390.08%1,3330.30%1,0930.25%−90,719−20.75%437,134RI
South Carolina 8937,97457.98%8661,69940.90%5,5200.34%3,6080.22%5,3170.33%1,4880.09%2,1240.13%276,27517.08%1,617,730SC
South Dakota 3232,58459.91%3149,24438.44%4,3201.11%9640.25%1,1030.28%00.00%00.00%83,34021.47%388,215SD
Tennessee 111,384,37556.80%111,036,47742.53%8,9920.37%4,8660.20%2,5700.11%330.00%60.00%347,89814.27%2,437,319TN
Texas 344,526,91761.09%342,832,70438.22%9,1590.12%38,7870.52%1,6360.02%1,0140.01%5480.01%1,694,21322.86%7,410,765TX
Utah 5663,74271.54%5241,19926.00%11,3051.22%3,3750.36%6,8410.74%390.00%1,3430.14%422,54345.54%927,844UT
Vermont 3121,18038.80%184,06758.94%34,4941.44%1,1020.35%00.00%00.00%1,4660.47%−62,887−20.14%312,309VT
Virginia 131,716,95953.68%131,454,74245.48%2,3930.07%11,0320.34%10,1610.32%1040.00%2,9760.09%262,2178.20%3,198,367VA
Washington 111,304,89445.64%1,510,20152.82%1123,2830.81%11,9550.42%3,9220.14%2,9740.10%1,8550.06%−205,307−7.18%2,859,084WA
West Virginia 5423,77856.06%5326,54143.20%4,0630.54%1,4050.19%820.01%50.00%130.00%97,23712.86%755,887WV
Wisconsin 101,478,12049.32%1,489,50449.70%1016,3900.55%6,4640.22%00.00%2,6610.09%3,8680.13%−11,384−0.38%2,997,007WI
Wyoming 3167,62968.86%370,77629.07%2,7411.13%1,1710.48%6310.26%00.00%4800.20%96,85339.79%243,428WY
U.S Total53862,040,61050.73%28659,028,44448.27%251465,1510.38%397,2650.32%143,6300.12%119,8590.10%99,8870.08%3,012,1662.46%122,294,846US

Although Guam has no votes in the Electoral College, they have held a straw poll for their presidential preferences since 1980. In 2004, the results were Bush 21,490 (64.1%), Kerry 11,781 (35.1%), Nader 196 (0.58%) and Badnarik 67 (0.2%). [45]

Maine and Nebraska each allowed for their electoral votes to be split between candidates. In both states, two electoral votes were awarded to the winner of the statewide race and one electoral vote was awarded to the winner of each congressional district. [46] [47]

Close states

Red font color denotes those won by Republican President George W. Bush; blue denotes states won by Democrat John Kerry.

States where margin of victory was under 1% (22 electoral votes):

  1. Wisconsin 0.38% (11,384 votes)
  2. Iowa 0.67% (10,059 votes)
  3. New Mexico 0.79% (5,988 votes)

States where margin of victory was more than 1% but less than 5% (93 electoral votes):

  1. New Hampshire 1.37% (9,274 votes)
  2. Ohio 2.11% (118,601 votes) (tipping point state)
  3. Pennsylvania 2.50% (144,248 votes)
  4. Nevada 2.59% (21,500 votes)
  5. Michigan 3.42% (165,437 votes)
  6. Minnesota 3.48% (98,319 votes)
  7. Oregon 4.16% (76,332 votes)
  8. Colorado 4.67% (99,523 votes)

States where margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10% (149 electoral votes):

  1. Florida 5.01% (380,978 votes)
  2. Maine's 2nd Congressional District 5.82% (20,762 votes)
  3. New Jersey 6.68% (241,427 votes)
  4. Washington 7.18% (205,307 votes)
  5. Missouri 7.20% (196,542 votes)
  6. Delaware 7.59% (28,492 votes)
  7. Virginia 8.20% (262,217 votes)
  8. Hawaii 8.74% (37,517 votes)
  9. Maine 9.00% (66,641 votes)
  10. Arkansas 9.76% (102,945 votes)
  11. California 9.95% (1,235,659 votes)

Statistics

[48]

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Republican)

  1. Ochiltree County, Texas 91.97%
  2. Madison County, Idaho 91.89%
  3. Glasscock County, Texas 91.56%
  4. Roberts County, Texas 90.93%
  5. Arthur County, Nebraska 90.23%

Counties with Highest Percent of Vote (Democratic)

  1. Washington, D.C. 89.18%
  2. Shannon County, South Dakota 84.62%
  3. City and County of San Francisco, California 83.02%
  4. Macon County, Alabama 82.92%
  5. Bronx County, New York 82.80%

Notes on results

Bush received 62,040,610 popular votes compared to Kerry's 59,028,444.

Because of a request by Ralph Nader, New York held a recount. In New York, Bush obtained 2,806,993 votes on the Republican ticket and 155,574 on the Conservative Party ticket. Kerry obtained 4,180,755 votes on the Democratic ticket and 133,525 votes on the Working Families ticket. Nader obtained 84,247 votes on the Independence ticket, and 15,626 votes on the Peace and Justice ticket.

Note also: Official Federal Election Commission Report, with the latest, most final, and complete vote totals available.

Finance

These maps show the amount of attention given by the campaigns to the close states. At left, each waving hand represents a visit from a presidential or vice-presidential candidate during the final five weeks. At right, each dollar sign represents one million dollars spent on TV advertising by the campaigns during the same time period. 2004CampaignAttention.png
These maps show the amount of attention given by the campaigns to the close states. At left, each waving hand represents a visit from a presidential or vice-presidential candidate during the final five weeks. At right, each dollar sign represents one million dollars spent on TV advertising by the campaigns during the same time period.

Source: FEC [49]

2004 United States Electoral College

Ballot access

Presidential ticketParty Ballot access
Bush / CheneyRepublican50+DC
Kerry / EdwardsDemocratic50+DC
Badnarik / CampagnaLibertarian48+DC
Peroutka / BaldwinConstitution36
Nader / CamejoIndependent, Reform34+DC
Cobb / LaMarcheGreen27+DC

Faithless elector in Minnesota

One elector in Minnesota cast a ballot for president with the name of "John Ewards" [ sic ] written on it. [50] The Electoral College officials certified this ballot as a vote for John Edwards for president. The remaining nine electors cast ballots for John Kerry. All ten electors in the state cast ballots for John Edwards for vice president (John Edwards's name was spelled correctly on all ballots for vice president). [51] This was the first time in U.S. history that an elector had cast a vote for the same person to be both president and vice president.

Electoral balloting in Minnesota was performed by secret ballot, and none of the electors admitted to casting the Edwards vote for president, so it may never be known who the faithless elector was. It is not even known whether the vote for Edwards was deliberate or unintentional; the Republican Secretary of State and several of the Democratic electors have expressed the opinion that this was an accident. [52]

Electoral vote error in New York

New York's initial electoral vote certificate indicated that all of its 31 electoral votes for president were cast for "John L. Kerry of Massachusetts" instead of John F. Kerry, who won the popular vote in the state. [53] This was apparently the result of a typographical error, and an amended electoral vote certificate with the correct middle initial was transmitted to the President of the Senate prior to the official electoral vote count. [54]

Voter demographics

The 2004 presidential vote by demographic subgroup
Demographic subgroupKerryBushOther % of
total vote
Total vote48511100
Ideology
Liberals 8613121
Moderates 5445145
Conservatives 1584134
Party
Democrats 8911037
Republicans 693137
Independents 4948326
Gender
Men4455146
Women5148154
Marital status
Married4257163
Non-married5840237
Race
White 4158177
Black 8811111
Asian 564312
Other564042
Hispanic 544428
Religion
Protestant 4059154
Catholic 4752127
Jewish 742513
Other742337
None 6731210
Religious service attendance
More than weekly3564116
Weekly4158126
Monthly4950114
A few times a year5445128
Never6236215
White evangelical or born-again Christian?
White evangelical or born-again Christian 2178123
Everyone else5643177
Age
18–29 years old5445117
30–44 years old4653129
45–59 years old4851130
60 and older4654024
First time voter?
First time voter5346111
Everyone else4851189
Sexual orientation
Gay, lesbian, or bisexual 772214
Heterosexual 4653196
Education
Not a high school graduate504914
High school graduate4752122
Some college education4654032
College graduate4652226
Postgraduate education 5544116
Family income
Under $15,000633618
$15,000–30,0005742115
$30,000–50,0005049122
$50,000–75,0004356123
$75,000–100,0004555014
$100,000–150,0004257111
$150,000–200,000425804
Over $200,000356323
Union households
Union 5940124
Non-union4455176
Military service
Veterans 4157218
Non-veterans5049182
Issue regarded as most important
Moral values 1880222
Economy 8018220
Terrorism 1486019
Iraq 7326115
Health care 772308
Taxes 435705
Education 732614
Region
Northeast 5643122
Midwest 4851126
South 4258032
West 5049120
Community size
Urban5445130
Suburban4752146
Rural4257125

Source: CNN exit poll (13,660 surveyed) [55]

Battleground states

Cheney visited Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania on October 27, 2004 CheneyatWJ2004.jpg
Cheney visited Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania on October 27, 2004

During the campaign and as the results came in on the night of the election there was much focus on Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. These three swing states were seen as evenly divided, and with each casting 20 electoral votes or more, they had the power to decide the election. As the final results came in, Kerry took Pennsylvania and then Bush took Florida, focusing all attention on Ohio.

Bush in the Oval Office, receiving a concession phone call from Kerry, which came the afternoon of the day following the election after Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell declared that it would be statistically impossible for Kerry to overcome Bush's lead in the state's results Bush Oval Office phone call.jpg
Bush in the Oval Office, receiving a concession phone call from Kerry, which came the afternoon of the day following the election after Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell declared that it would be statistically impossible for Kerry to overcome Bush's lead in the state's results

The morning after the election, the major candidates were neck and neck. It was clear that the result in Ohio, along with two other states who had still not declared (New Mexico and Iowa), would decide the winner. Bush had established a lead of around 130,000 votes but the Democrats pointed to provisional ballots that had yet to be counted, initially reported to number as high as 200,000. Bush had preliminary leads of less than 5% of the vote in only four states, but if Iowa, Nevada and New Mexico had all eventually gone to Kerry, a win for Bush in Ohio would have created a 269–269 tie in the Electoral College. The result of an electoral tie would cause the election to be decided in the House of Representatives with each state casting one vote, regardless of population. Such a scenario would almost certainly have resulted in a victory for Bush, as Republicans controlled more House delegations. Therefore, the outcome of the election hinged solely on the result in Ohio, regardless of the final totals elsewhere. In the afternoon of the day after the election, Ohio's Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, announced that it was statistically impossible for the Democrats to make up enough valid votes in the provisional ballots to win. At the time provisional ballots were reported as numbering 140,000 (and later estimated to be only 135,000). Faced with this announcement, Kerry conceded defeat.

The upper Midwest bloc of Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin is also notable, casting a sum of 27 electoral votes. The following is list of the states considered swing states in the 2004 election by most news organizations and which candidate they eventually went for. The two major parties chose to focus their advertising on these states:

Bush:

Kerry:

Election conspiracy theories

Map of election day problems 2004ElectionControversyMap.jpg
Map of election day problems

After the election, some sources [57] reported indications of possible data irregularities and systematic flaws during the voting process. [58]

Although the overall result of the election was not challenged by the Kerry campaign, Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Michael Badnarik obtained a recount in Ohio. This recount was completed December 28, 2004, although on January 24, 2007, a jury convicted two Ohio elections officials of selecting precincts to recount where they already knew the hand total would match the machine total, thereby avoiding having to perform a full recount. [59]

At the official counting of the electoral votes on January 6, an objection was made under the Electoral Count Act (now 3 U.S.C.   § 15) to Ohio's electoral votes. Because the motion was supported by at least one member of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the law required that the two houses separate to debate and vote on the objection. In the House of Representatives, the objection was supported by 31 Democrats. It was opposed by 178 Republicans, 88 Democrats and one independent. Not voting were 52 Republicans and 80 Democrats. [60] Four people elected to the House had not yet taken office, and one seat was vacant. In the Senate, it was supported only by its maker, Barbara Boxer, with 74 Senators opposed and 25 not voting. During the debate, no Senator argued that the outcome of the election should be changed by either court challenge or revote. Boxer claimed that she had made the motion not to challenge the outcome, but "to cast the light of truth on a flawed system which must be fixed now.". [61] [62]

Kerry would later state that "the widespread irregularities make it impossible to know for certain that the [Ohio] outcome reflected the will of the voters." In the same article, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said "I'm not confident that the election in Ohio was fairly decided... We know that there was substantial voter suppression, and the machines were not reliable. It should not be a surprise that the Republicans are willing to do things that are unethical to manipulate elections. That's what we suspect has happened." [63]

Points of controversy

New during this campaign

International observers

At the invitation of the United States government, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent a team of observers to monitor the presidential elections in 2004. It was the first time the OSCE had sent observers to a U.S. presidential election, although they had been invited in the past. [84] In September 2004 the OSCE issued a report on U.S. electoral processes [85] [86] and the election final report. [87] The report reads: "The November 2, 2004 elections in the United States mostly met the OSCE commitments included in the 1990 Copenhagen Document. They were conducted in an environment that reflects a long-standing democratic tradition, including institutions governed by the rule of law, free and generally professional media, and a civil society intensively engaged in the election process. There was exceptional public interest in the two leading presidential candidates and the issues raised by their respective campaigns, as well as in the election process itself."

Earlier, some 13 U.S. Representatives from the Democratic Party had sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan asking for the UN to monitor the elections. The UN responded that such a request could only come from the official national executive. The move was met with opposition from some Republican lawmakers. [88] The OSCE is not affiliated with the United Nations.

Electronic voting

For 2004, some states expedited the implementation of electronic voting systems for the election, raising several issues:

Campaign law changes

The 2004 election was the first to be affected by the campaign finance reforms mandated by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCainFeingold Bill for its sponsors in the United States Senate). Because of the Act's restrictions on candidates' and parties' fundraising, a large number of so-called 527 groups emerged. Named for a section of the Internal Revenue Code, these groups were able to raise large amounts of money for various political causes as long as they do not coordinate their activities with political campaigns. Examples of 527s include Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, MoveOn.org, the Media Fund, and America Coming Together. Many such groups were active throughout the campaign season (there was some similar activity, although on a much lesser scale, during the 2000 campaign).

To distinguish official campaigning from independent campaigning, political advertisements on television were required to include a verbal disclaimer identifying the organization responsible for the advertisement. Advertisements produced by political campaigns usually included the statement, "I'm [candidate's name], and I approve this message." Advertisements produced by independent organizations usually included the statement, "[Organization name] is responsible for the content of this advertisement", and from September 3 (60 days before the general election), such organizations' ads were prohibited from mentioning any candidate by name. Previously, television advertisements only required a written "paid for by" disclaimer on the screen.

This law was not well known or widely publicized at the beginning of the Democratic primary season, which led to some early misperception of Howard Dean, who was the first candidate to buy television advertising in this election cycle. Not realizing that the law required the phrasing, some people viewing the ads reportedly questioned why Dean might say such a thing—such questions were easier to ask because of the maverick nature of Dean's campaign in general.

Colorado's Amendment 36

A ballot initiative in Colorado, known as Amendment 36, would have changed the way in which the state apportions its electoral votes. Rather than assigning all 9 of the state's electors to the candidate with a plurality of popular votes, under the amendment Colorado would have assigned presidential electors proportionally to the statewide vote count, which would be a unique system (Nebraska and Maine assign electoral votes based on vote totals within each congressional district). Opponents claimed that this splitting would diminish Colorado's influence in the Electoral College, and the amendment ultimately failed, receiving only 34% of the vote.

See also

Other elections

Notes

  1. One Minnesota elector voted for Edwards for both president and vice president.

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