Among the thousands of Americans posting pictures of themselves apologizing to the world for the election of George W. Bush on SorryEverybody.com are surely a sizeable number of New Yorkers. After all, three quarters of the voters in New York City, we have been told again and again since November 3, pulled the lever for John Kerry for president. But this, as it turns out, may be even less than the slim consolation it has been for Kerry supporters this month. The fact is, Bush did better in New York City than he did four years ago.
Bush had a total of 544,359, or 24.5 percent of the vote in New York City. In 2000, he had only 18.2 percent.
Kerry received 74.3 percent; in 2000, Gore received 77.9 percent. The percentage for Bush increased in every borough except Manhattan. Bush actually received the majority of voters in Staten Island (56.7 percent). In 2000, Gore received the majority.
Indeed, looking at all 3142 counties in the United States, Staten Island had the 20th highest increase in support for Bush. Brooklyn had the 105th highest increase.
Nationally, Bush did better among every category of voter except the young and very old (over 85.) Why should we expect New York City to be any different?
Election Results 2004
Election Results 2000
Much has also been made of the higher turnout â€“ that whatever the results of the election, the high turnout showed that democracy works. It is true that turnout did go up a bit â€“ 46.5 percent of those eligible, compared to 45 percent in 2000 â€“ and it increased in every borough but Staten Island. The fact is, though, that, as usual, more New Yorkers who are eligible to vote stayed home than voted; New York City is still a non-voting town. The reports of long lines at the polls seem to be the product of early voting or a badly administered election, rather than a massive increase in turnout. And, remember, many more people go to the polls in a presidential election than in any other race.
Turnout Estimates 2002 and 2004
|Borough||Vote 2004||Est Citizen Voting Age Pop 2004||% Turnout 2004||Total vote||Est Citizen Voting Age Pop 2000||% Turnout 2000||Change in Votes||Change in Turnout|
The Exit Polls
Blue-staters seem to be taking this electoral loss much harder than many in the past, and one reason may be that, on Election Day itself, it looked as if Kerry might win. Throughout the afternoon, bloggers and others offered the results of early exit polls that showed Kerry building a large lead in many of the swing states.
But by that night, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and New Mexico had turned from blue to red, and the count was much closer than the exit polls suggested in Michigan, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Kerry went from being a shoo-in to being a loser, and his predicted two-percent vote lead became a three percent loss. How did this happen? At this writing no one knows. Indeed, a recent paper “The Unexplained Exit Poll Discrepancy” (In PDF format) by Steven F. Freeman of the University of Pennsylvania pulls together the exit poll data and eventual tallies in the battleground states. His conclusion: “. . . two broad categories of explanations: the polls were flawed or the count is off.” At this point, since the raw data have not been released, it is impossible to conduct further analyses and definitively answer that question.
Flawed Voting Process
However, the election of 2004 was not free of the problems that made the election of 2000 so controversial. Once again, election officials were accused of being partisan, and of suppressing the vote of the opposition. Ohio’s Secretary of State tried to make it harder for new registrants to be added to the voting roles, originally voiding voter registration applications printed on the back of fast food restaurant menus because the paper was “too thin.” Other evidence of voter suppression -- not having enough voting machines in poor and black areas, so that the voter lines lasted for hours. In 2004, such suppression probably did not cost Kerry the popular vote majority, but it certainly could have cost him Ohio, and thus the election.
Andrew A. Beveridge has taught sociology at Queens College since 1981, done demographic analyses for the New York Times since 1993, and provides expert testimony on a range of cases, including housing discrimination. The opinions expressed are his alone.Â