Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Drawing the Wrong Conclusions(OR fun with math)

Much has been made about the rising up of the evangelical vote in last Tuesday's election. I do not believe that the large evangelical turnout tells the complete story of the 2004 election.

The following is a list of candidates and their vote totals from 2000 that ran on either a conservative or Libertarian ticket:
Harry Browne (LBT, LBT-IA, LBF, I) 384,000
Patrick J. Buchanan (REF, RFM, FRE, BP, BR, CF, IDP, RTL, I) 449,000
Howard Phillips (CON, CST, AIP, AMC, BP, CNC, CPF, IAP, UST, I) 98,000
Notice that these candidates received 1,764,000 votes nationwide.

Now look at the candidates that ran on either a conservative or libertarian ticket in 2004:
Badnarik 383,000
Peroutka 132,000
Notice that these candidates only received 515,000 votes nationwide. That is a difference of 1,249,000 votes between 2000 and 2004.

Why is this important, well lets look at Ohio:
In 2000:
Harry Browne (LBT, LBT-IA, LBF, I) received 13,475 votes
Patrick J. Buchanan (REF, RFM, FRE, BP, BR, CF, IDP, RTL, I) -26,724
Howard Phillips (CON, CST, AIP, AMC, BP, CNC, CPF, IAP, UST, I) -3,823
That is 44,022 votes in Ohio for conservative and libertarian candidates.

In 2004:
Badnarik received 14,331 votes and
Peroutka- 11,614votes.

That is 25,654 votes for conservative and libertarian candidates and a net difference of 18,368. Assuming that those who voted in 2000 for a third party voted for Bush in 2004, it can be determined that those 18,368 votes did have an effect in that the margin for Bush in Ohio was only 136,000 votes and those 18,368 could have constituted 14% of Bush's margin of Victory(18,368/136,000).

The point in all of this, and I am not sure I made it, is that while evangelical turnout may have helped Republicans keep pace with the Democrat's increase in turnout, I would suggest that Conservative and Libertarian voters who normally cast their vote for a Third party, cast their vote on Tuesday for Bush and helped put him over the 50% mark.

Lets look at it this way. In 2004, 1,249,000 fewer voters cast their ballots for a Libertarian/conservative candidates then did in 2000 while voter turnout increased. If those voters followed their normal voting pattern(assuming they voted for Bush this time around), Bush would have received 58,527,000 voters rather than 59,770,000 and he would have dropped from 51% of the popular vote to 50%. (Bush's vote total{58, 527,000}/ total votes{117,017,627})

Now a 1% swing does seem trivial, but I believe that the psychological factor of breaking the 50% barrier allows Bush to claim a larger mandate than would a 49% or 50% total. Also, the 1,249,000 voters who did not vote for a conservative/libertarian candidate could have constituted 36% of Bush margin of Victory Nationally( The difference in third party Lib/Con voters from 2000 to 2004{1,249,000}/Margin of Victory {3,463,000})

Now this all highly speculative and I would NEVER claim to be a master of statistics, but it does seem to suggest that conservative/libertarian voters may have come "Home" to the GOP for this election. These voters generally support pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, strict budgetary constraints, and smaller governments. If these voters did indeed support the President this time around, the question remains, why would they support a President who appears to be against their core beliefs? The Answer, of course is The war on Terror. Contrary to common wisdom, an important swing voting bloc may have been influenced into voting for Bush not because of Social issues, but because of 911. My main fear is that all of this talk of an evangelical mandate may turn off 36% of Bush's margin of Victory in this election and may result in a backlash against the GOP in Future elections.

Now, all of this raises question about the rolls of Third party candidates in future elections. Could our highly divided electorate signify the end of "viable" third party candidates like Perot and Nader? Have third parties reached their pinnacle of influence with their effect on the 92 and 2000 elections? And, if third parties are no longer a viable alternative, what will be the effect on the two major parties; will they adopt certain aspects of the third parties(like in the early 1900's), or will they ignore their views and chase away a portion of the population from participating in elective government? Time will only answer these questions, but I believe that we may not have to wait too long before they answered.