James Ceaser has an interesting piece at the Weekly Standard today. He attempts to debunk the democratic theory that Bush won re-election on the back of a flood of religious and conservative voter turnout Worse Than It Looks.
"The Republican edge is attributed mostly to increased turnout of evangelical voters in the Red states."
He presents an argument that the Kerry ticket lost ground and Bush gained ground in several key states compared to the 2000 result.
Perhaps the best way to appreciate this change, however, is not to focus on Bush's share of the vote, but instead to compare the percentage of the vote received by the Left Coalition of Gore-Nader in 2000 and Kerry-Nader in 2004. It is revealing to focus on this coalition, because it represents the real opposition to the Republican party.
While this is an interesting theory, the reality is that increasing the turnout of republican voters will necessarily decrease the perecentage received by the democrat ticket. The numbers Ceaser quotes very well may prove his hypothesis, but they could just as easily disprove it.
Take, as one of the most conspicuous examples, John Kerry's home state of Massachusetts. Kerry slightly outpolled Al Gore. But this point is hardly as relevant since in 2000 Gore and Nader combined to receive 66 percent of the vote. Without Nader on the ballot in Massachusetts, Kerry was still only able to poll 62 percent--a notable decline, even with the added pull of a favorite son on the ballot.
On the surface this is a powerful statistic, however democrats could argue it proves their argument. If there was a groundswell of republican voters this election cycle, it would water down the democratic vote and the raw percentage of the vote they received would be less.
One would hope his argument were true, but I would caution conservatives not to bask in their glory for long. It is yet to be seen if the republican GOTV campaigns continue to be as sucessfull in the years to come, although a Howard Dean chairmanship of the DNC could ensure just that.....