Monday, September 29, 2008

Bush/Kerry 2004: Get Out The Vote

By the time Nov 2, 2004 came along, the Democratic party had registered almost 400,000 additional voters in the 16 Ohio counties that voted for Gore in 2000. The key now, was to get them to the polls. And to the polls they came. By the time the votes were counted, John Kerry had amassed over 550,000 more votes than Al Gore had in 2000. Team Kerry was confident. After all, Al Gore had lost Ohio by only 200,000 votes in 2000. They had 350,000 additional votes in hand.

Unknown or unappreciated by the Democrats however, was the GOTV effort by the GOP that was quietly going on in the rural areas throughout Ohio. While the Kerry supporters were diligently registering more voters in their strongholds, the Bush team was putting a GOTV infrastructure in place to drive turnout higher among their existing voters. In 2000, the turnout in the Bush counties came in at 64%. In 2004, this increased to 72%. This translated into over 500,000 more votes for George Bush than he got in 2000. In the end, this was enough.

When the dust settled, George Bush had won Ohio again, this time by a slim 118,601 votes. One pro-Gore county switched to Bush (Clark) and one pro-Bush county switched to Kerry (Stark). The other 86 counties remained the same, except they had longer lines at the voting booths.

Next up, I will start to begin my analysis of the most recent voter registration numbers for Ohio and analyze what they may mean for Ohio in 2008.