Highlights of Election Night (Featuring Historians' Commentary)

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Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an HNN intern

The Electoral College

• George W. Bush: 286, Number of States: 31
• John F. Kerry: 252, Number of States: 20

The Popular Vote

• George W. Bush: 59,459,765 (51% total) with 3.5 million more votes than his opponent.
• John F. Kerry: 55,949,407 (48% total)

The Congressional Results

The Senate:

• Republican: 55, a gain of 4
• Democrat: 44, a loss of 4
• Independent: 1

The House of Representatives (218 needed for House majority, 435 at stake, 3 undecided)

• Republican: 231, a gain of 4
• Democrat: 200, a loss of 3
• Indepdendant: 1

Governors (11 at stake, 1 undecided)

• Republican: 28; 23 seats not up
• Democrat: 21; 16 seats not up

The Historians

Douglas Brinkley (Director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies, University of New Orleans, NBC)

• "I think it will be decided by midnight on Election Night. I think there'll be a lot of court cases and a lot of rumbling about ballot boxes that didn't work properly, and chads that were dangling, but I think by and large there will be a clear victor. I don't think it will be like four years ago."
• "There are three big swing states: Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. Whoever gets two out of three will win. I think Kerry will win Pennsylvania, Bush will win Florida, and whoever wins Ohio gets to be president."
• "It's because he used to be a heavy drinker and he still gives the impression that he's a pickup-truck-driving Texas rancher/ZZ Top-listening kind of dude, which plays very well in the red states of the South. And it's amazing if you look at the electoral map right now, you can see that the Republicans control the entire South. Every state that had slavery is for George W. Bush."

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

• “There is more skepticism about votes counting than in past presidential elections, because I think it is a belated reaction to the last presidential election. I don’t think the question of vote counting was raised in a massive way until 2000.”

Allan Lichtman (Presidential historian at American University)

• "Any election is a referendum on the party in power, and indeed the majority of Americans judge the record of the party in power.... including this president's success in keeping America safe from terrorism over the last three years."
• "This is the deepest cultural divide in the history of the country, with the exception of the Civil War."
• "They (Democrats) need to rethink liberalism for the 21st century. They haven't yet made the transition from Franklin Roosevelt. They've run from liberalism into empty space."

Richard Norton Smith (Director of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on PBS)

• "It’s a long standing tradition, in the nineteenth century, Ohio was called the mother of presidents. They were mostly forgettable presidents but they were presidents never the less. More recently Ohio is a microcosm of America, it's agricultural, it's industrial, it's old ethnic, it's new ethnic, it's a remarkable snapshot, and it's right in the middle of the country. In 1976 Gerald Ford lost the presidency by a whisker, he lost it in Ohio by 11,000 votes to Jimmy Carter, who did well for a Democratic in conservative rural Ohio that is the pattern that the Kerry people hope to repeat tonight."
• "We've heard it over and over again no Republican has ever won without Ohio."
• "This is a latter-day Wilson presidency," invoking Woodrow Wilson's impassioned intervention in World War I to make the world "safe for democracy. It's going to matter, it's going to be pointed to - pro and con - for a long time."

Roger Wilkins (Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture, George Mason University, Virginia, on PBS)

• "You got Cleveland in the North, you got Columbus in the central part of the state, and then you got Cincinnati in the southern part of the state. Cincinnati is the home of the Tafts, the really royal dynasty of the state, President William Howard Taft, then the great Senator Robert Taft. The conservative part of the state is in the south where as the formally industrial parts of the state where you had a union stronghold, and Democrats did well, is much weaker now. Cleveland is not the industrial heart it was, but the state is big, its got lots of people, and the mix makes a very interesting kinda neutral test."

Ellen Fitzpatrick (Professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, on PBS)

• "It is interesting because Ohio has always been a tough one for the Democrats in many ways. When you think about the fate of Ohioans during theGreat Depression where you had unemployment rates of 80 percent in some cities in Ohio, terrible suffering, and the industrial workers of Ohio were reliable for the Democratic Party, but those days are long behind us, and part of it really reflects changes in the economy in the United States over the last thirty years. The Democratic Party cannot sincerely relay anymore on those kinds of votes in a place like Ohio, and we'll see tonight."

Michael Beschloss (Presidential historian, on ABC)

• "Well, you know the most fascinating thing in the ABC News exit polls I thought, was the number of people who voted for President Bush because of moral issues. I think the other thing is that when you have a president who is fighting a war that often times trumps everything else."

Gil Troy (Presidential historian, professor of history, McGill University, on CTV)

• "The big headline from the 2004 election is that the essential dynamic from 2000 re-emerged. Once again, we have a near-deadlock. Once again, the future of the presidency hangs on a closely divided state, in a closely divided nation. Once again, we have a red-blue electoral equilibrium – the chardonnay sipping, quiche eating, New York Times-reading 'blue states' - and as the numbers suggest 'blue people' -- balanced out by nearly equal numbers of the country-western listening, gun-toting, Bible-thumping 'red states' and red people - the colors have no inherent significance they just happened to have been used by the TV network mapmakers to signify Democratic and Republican states."
•"The 2004 exit polls - which did a terrible job predicting state-by-state totals but do a good job reflecting attitudes - confirm this impression for today. Kerry proved most popular with women, the unmarried, Northeasterners, African-American,18 to 29 year-olds, gays and lesbians, first-time voters, and citizens most concerned with education, health care, and the economy. Bush proved most popular with men, married couples, Southerners, whites, the over-60-set, military veterans, evangelicals, gun-owners, and citizens most concerned with strong leadership and the fight against terror. Remarkably, this polarized nation produced a nasty campaign but a peaceful election day - a testament to a political maturity and a civic grandeur for which Americans rarely get credit these days."
• "God bless America's beautiful slogan, it's not a real honeymoon, and I think the danger is that yes, he has 51 percent of the vote, which is relatively strong. Bill Clinton never broke 50 percent, he has the house, the Congress, he has a concentration of power, but not necessarily a broad mandate. He still has that electoral map of blue America and red America."
• "Second term presidencies always promise a clean slate, a new start. The problem with second term presidencies is they often have emerged what I call the 'the second term curse.' Ronald Reagan ran into Iran-contra, Bill Clinton ran into Monica Lewinsky problems, Richard Nixon had Watergate. So what Bush wants to do is to a certain extant stay afloat, he has to watch the problem of becoming a lame duck."

Stephen Hess (Brookings Institutution, interview with the Associated Press)

• "He may face a somewhat less contentious international community. They're practical people. They may not like him, but if he's the president, they have to figure out how to deal with him."

Larry Sabato (Presidential historian, head of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia on CBS)

• "Just in recent times, I would say the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater race was one of the most negative presidential battles in all of American history, we've had a lot of negative races. We're able to recover and go along a lot better and faster than we think."
• "For one thing, every president in American history who had lost the popular vote had not been elected to a second term. The only other presidential father-son ticket, the Adams, both had one term."

Eric Foner (DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University)

• "People who have power want to exercise it. He can do pretty much what he wants."(On President Bush's self-proclaimed mandate.)

Richard Reeves (Historian, on CBS)

• "Close to half the people in the country, maybe more, if you ask them what they are, they’re not gonna say either a truck driver, they’re gonna tell you ‘I’m a Christian. The Democratic Party has got to come to grips with that. It’s an important part of being an American, for at least half the country."
• "I think that the country is divided, I think that the president is being given a chance to make good on his promise four years ago to be a uniter, not a divider. I think it’s a real tough job."

President George W. Bush: Victory Address

• "We had a long night -- and a great night. The voters turned out in record numbers and delivered an historic victory."
• "Earlier today, Senator Kerry called with his congratulations. We had a really good phone call. He was very gracious. Senator Kerry waged a spirited campaign, and he and his supporters can be proud of their efforts. America has spoken, and I'm humbled by the trust and the confidence of my fellow citizens."
• "With that trust comes a duty to serve all Americans, and I will do my best to fulfill that duty every day as your president. There's an old saying, "Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for powers equal to your tasks." In four historic years, America has been given great tasks and faced them with strength and courage. Our people have restored the vigor of this economy and shown resolve and patience in a new kind of war. Our military has brought justice to the enemy and honor to America. Our nation -- our nation has defended itself and served the freedom of all mankind. I'm proud to lead such an amazing country, and I am proud to lead it forward."
• "Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans, so today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution, and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America."
• "A campaign has ended, and the United States of America goes forward with confidence and faith. I see a great day coming for our country, and I am eager for the work ahead."

Senator John F. Kerry: Concession

• "In America, it is vital that every vote count and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters and not by a protracted legal process. I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail. But it is now clear that when all the provisional ballots are counted -- which they will be -- there won't be enough outstanding votes for us to win Ohio. And therefore we cannot win this election. I want to especially say to the American people you have given me an honour and gift, I will never forget you and I will never stop fighting for you."
• "I did my best to express my vision and my hopes for America. We worked hard and we fought hard, and I wish that things had turned out a little differently. But in an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans. That is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on Earth. With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country. In the days ahead, we must find common cause. We must join in common effort, without remorse or recrimination, without anger or rancor. America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion. I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years.
I pledge to do my part to try to bridge the partisan divide."

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More Comments:

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Your last two links look intriguing, but don't work.
Perhaps an update, or summary, or an identifying title ?

Maarja Krusten - 11/9/2004

I agree with you that the environmental problems are huge and worrisome. Most of the younger people I know feel the same way. Why these issues do not resonate with other voters, and with some members of my generation, I don't know.

Maarja Krusten - 11/9/2004

Thank you, Nancy, for your thoughtful comments. It is nice to hear you are optimistic about our country, despite the denigration you have to endure! I have my days when I am more optimistic and days when I am less. I've probably been reading too many message boards, they always depress me, unlike when I talk to the Democrat and Republican voters I actually know. One hears more reason when one talks to people face to face, at least I do. But I appreciate your reminding me that even here on HNN, there are voices of reasons, such as yours!

Val Jobson - 11/8/2004

There are a lot of jokes on the internet about Americans moving to Canada, in some cases bringing their states with them; [we would certainly be happy to welcome California with its nice sunny beaches!] and maps showing the redesigned countries. There is a site suggesting Canadians offer to marry Americans so they can immigrate easily.

I think your president needs to show some humility at barely scraping a win, and to moderate his policies; whether he is capable of doing that, I do not know. The general opinion is that either he will moderate his policies, or he will continue as an extremist until he produces a disaster that turns most Americans against him. Maybe more wars in the Middle East or Korea.

There is already a disaster in Iraq; right now American forces are attacking Falluja again and God knows how many civilians they will kill this time; they've been evacuating, but how many could not leave? But too few Americans know what is going on there and too few believe it and too few care.

Actually, I think the disaster that is coming will be environmental; global climate change because of too much CO2 being produced by cars and industry. If your president really believes in Christian fundamentalism, he either does not believe in climate change or he wants it to happen as part of bringing on the Apocalypse. If he is not really that religious, maybe saner advisors will persuade him to mitigate the environmental damage the USA is causing, if his oil company friends allow him to.

Maybe Americans can unite against the threat to the environment, but again, they need to know it is happening and to believe it and to decide to act about it.

I'm sorry to be so depressing; and God knows Canadian governments are no better at caring for our environment; but it is something we have to keep working at.

Nancy Tann - 11/7/2004

Thanks, Maarja, for the op-eds and for your thoughtful comments. I have been with my partner for 28 years and we had a religious ceremony 20 years ago. Somehow our relationship has lasted in spite of no protections by our government. We continue to pay our taxes, however. I guess that will include salaries for those who denigrate us!
But I am very proud of my country nevertheless, and I feel that we are in a better position now than 25 years ago, in terms of being accepted by others. At least the Supreme Court has now said that what we do in the privacy of our homes is not illegal.
On the topic of the South: I'm recalling LBJ's remark that by passing civil rights legislation, he was giving away the South for the next generation, at least, for the Democrats. I'm just saying I think that generation is about to pass into history. There are still a lot of racists here, but they are at least in the closet now!

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

The Vietnam War could not be called either a Democrat War or a Republican War. For one thing, the escalation of the fighting and build up of U.S. forces in Vietnam began during the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat. The war continued on for four more years during the Presidency of Richard Nixon, a Republican. Moreover, during the Nixon era, there was divided government. The Democrats controlled the Congress and the Republicans the White House. So both parties were vested either in the war effort or in ending the war. Not so Iraq. That is why I am so worried about the way Democratic voters have been insulted and baited, all for short term election gain. Even after the election, some HNN readers don't seem to get it. I still see the lame old references to "misdirection from the liberals." What purpose that serves, I sure don't know. We already know the country is polarized, aren't those who keeps flinging about labels interested in trying to unite it? Maybe not.

Charles V. Mutschler - 11/7/2004

Why does none of this surprise me? This seems to be the classic case of "Be careful about what you wish for, because you might receive it" coming to pass.

After the 2000 election a lot of press coverage was devoted to stories about the problems with punch card voting. Apparently the stories neglected to point out the larger and more nuanced story. The infamous butterfly ballot was badly designed, but that was poor ballot design, not an inherant flaw in puch card voting. The fact that many first-time voters apparently had not been instructed in how to use the voting equipment may have contributed to voting errors due to mis-aligned ballots. None of that got much ink - instead, there was a chorus demanding the removal of the punch card voting equipment. So it was done.

It seems to me that the punch card ballots were better than touch screen voting without a paper trail. Maybe that's just me, but that's how I see it. Your mileage may vary, as they say...


Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

Val, whether questions surround the legitimacy of the election of not--and I tend to think the President did legitimately win most of the 3 million votes by which he prevailed--Bush faces some huge challenges because of the way his team chose to campaign.

The metamessage of a large part of the Bush campaign was, if you are patriotic, you will vote for me. If you don't vote for me, you are unpatriotic. Most of this came from surrogatges, from 527s, and, as you've seen, on message boards such as HNN. The President signalled this himself by refusing to acknowlege the valid, sincere questions many voters, even Republicans, had about the way the Iraq war has been handled. But asking questions is not unpatriotic.

I don't know for sure what went wrong with the prewar intelligence. Did Saddam talk a good game and fool a number of intelligence agencies throughout the world? Or did very senior officials lean on analysts to make the results come out a certain way? Many people know what it is like to work in a workplace where a boss says, see that you make it come out this way. Is it easy for the subordinate to answer back, but the facts strongly suggest otherwise? The administration is not big on reflection or explanations, I doubt we'll ever know what happened, so ordinary people will continue to fill in the blanks, according to their biases.

Of course, a President cannot say during a war, I was wrong, or I erred. But he can reach out by saying, as Clinton, a much more talented campaigner did, "I feel your pain." I don't mean using those words, but Bush could have said, "yes, many patriotic, loyal Americans ask tough questions about the war. I welcome those questions and I understand them. Those questions lie at the heart of our democracy and those citizens are doing their duty." I am mystified by the fact that he chose not to do it. He would have won by a large margin, if he had.

By framing questions about Iraq as "giving comfort to the enemy" Bush and Cheney denied the legitimacy of the questions swirling in many citizens' minds. Think about that. I don't remember ever hearing a candidate for President deny the legitimacy of questions raised by voters. The right to ask those questions lies at the very heart of our democracy. How in the world is the administration going to win back those people now? They hardly are going to want to sign up to join the military, that's for sure, if the Washington Post's message boards are any indication. And they may be tempted to sit back now and say, Republicans, Iraq is your problem, YOU own it, alone, since you rejected our questions as unpatriotic. I've seen those implications on the other message boards and they are very worrisome. It's a huge challenge, but, I believe, a consequence of campaigning the way the Bush team did. Sigh.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

I'm not saying there was vote tampering, I don't know. But without a paper trail, how can we know. I heard some awfully weird stories on election night about the Diebold voting machines. And the stuff about the exit polls skewing one way and the results another way probably will give conspiracy theorists plenty to jaw over. I liked the old mechanical voting machines we used to use in Northern Virginia better than the touch screen computers.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

Very interesting. Nothing surprises me any more.

Val Jobson - 11/7/2004

Maarja; Bush's hometown paper that endorsed Kerry is getting driven out of town by angry locals boycotting it. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;sessionid=YASRJZE2LMIVPQFIQMFSNAGAVCBQ0JVC?xml=/news/2004/11/07/wus207.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/11/07/ixnewstop.html&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=14522

"...Despite his plummeting circulation and the ostracism of his reporters, Mr Smith has no regrets. "We did that editorial based on principle," he said. "Four of us sat down and figured out what we wanted to write on the election. One colleague said he supported Bush and opted out of writing it. The rest of us were very happy with what we came up with."

"The challenge, he said, was to win back alienated readers but there seems little chance of his adopting a less confrontational editorial line.

"In fact, the Iconoclast is working on an election conspiracy theory, involving possible tampering with electronic voting machines in Florida and Ohio, for this week's issue. "There were no paper trails those states," said Mr Smith... "

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

A longer more detailed account is at

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

"Ground Zero Suicide Inspired by Election"

"NEW YORK - A 25-year-old man from Georgia who was apparently distraught over President Bush's re-election shot and killed himself at ground zero. Andrew Veal's body was found Saturday morning inside the off-limits site, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. A shotgun was found nearby, but no suicide note was found, Coleman said.

Veal's mother said her son was upset about the result of the presidential election and had driven to New York, Gus Danese, president of the Port Authority Police Benevolent Association, told The New York Times in Sunday's editions.

Friends said Veal worked in a computer lab at the University of Georgia and was planning to marry."

Click on the link above to read the rest.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

BTW, I have the hazy impression from reading newspaper stories that right now, in certain parts of the country, well educated, middle or upper middle class black women sometimes have trouble finding "marriageable" black men similar to themselves in terms of earning power and education. Some say they have to "settle" for less than they otherwise might have done. (Actually, some highly educated white women also have trouble finding husbands, for some men, we're not always the most attractive candidates for marriage, and I don't mean that in physical terms, LOL.) For black women in that situation, a wider universe of marriageable men, if they include those of another race, would appear to increase the chances of their having children, hence "more" children would be born than if they remained single and childless. But I could be wrong. I'm not a sociologist, I don't know how that applies throughout the country, or whether blacks have more or fewer children than they once did, in the days of segregation.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

Oh pooh, don't consider yourself chastized, LOL. It's just that as most HNN posters do, I myself write fast and don't always use the best syntax or proper punctuation, as I would do in my "academic" writing. So I try to give others the benefit of the doubt on stuff like that.

Richard Henry Morgan - 11/7/2004

You're right. I hadn't seen the ambiguity. I consider myself justly chastized.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

Richard, Nancy wrote, "many are marrying interracially (the nightmare of a previous generation!) thereby producing more beautiful children." She well may mean that they are producing children that are more beautiful. But she also could mean, they are producing more children, who are beautiful. I'll have to wait and see what she says. In any event, demographic experts already point to an America which in coming decades will have a face which is less pale "white" than it is now.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

check out another op ed at

This is a letter to America by a gay man who lives in Falls Church, VA, a suburb of Washington, DC. It is well written and heartfelt. Whether it will resonate with the people he is trying to reach, I don't know, since I am not someone who believes that gays are trying to force their lifestyle on others. So I did not buy into the demagouing of the gay marriage issue in the first place. That is not to say that I fail to understand why some of my fellow Christians feel strongly about the issue--I have had enough conversations with evangelical friends to know how they feel. Some of them feel their moral values have been affronted, but I get the sense that that stems from a wide array of things (popular culture, such as that reflected by Hollywood, some forms of popular music; what they feel is unfair denigration of the religious by what they call the liberal elites, etc.) I happen to be a "mainstream Christian," a plain old Lutheran, myself. Basically, I'm a live and let live type of person, my votes are affected by different considerations than the ones that drive the so-called religious right.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

Nancy, I'm not a Dem, I'm a former Repbulican who now is an Independent, a centrist. On some issues, I lean more towards the Republicans, on other issues I lean towards the Democrats. In some areas, neither party fits my position. So I am not the best person to say what the Democrats should do. If you would like to read a send-up of post-election feelings, check out this column from today's Washington Post:

op ed: "Am I Blue? I apologize for everything I believe in. May I go now?" By Michael Kinsley
Sunday, November 7, 2004; Page B07
The election campaign made it official. These are the Disunited States. There is "Red" America: conservative, Republican, religious. And there is "Blue" America: liberal, Democratic, secular. Everybody's message from the election results is that Red America won, and Blue America must change or die.

It's a terrible exaggeration, of course. People have different mixes of values, and states have different mixes of people. Just for example, more than 50 million, or 44 percent, of the 115 million citizens who voted for either George W. Bush or John Kerry on Tuesday live in states that went for the other guy. These misfits live publicly, mingle with others and often are treated like normal human beings.

. . . So, yes, okay, fine. I'm a terrible person -- barely a person at all, really, and certainly not a real American -- because I voted for the losing candidate on Tuesday. If you insist -- and you do -- I will rethink my fundamental beliefs from scratch because they are shared by only 47 percent of the electorate. And please let me, or any other liberal, know if there is anything else we can do to abase ourselves. Abandon our core values? Pander to yours? Not a problem. Happy to do it. Anything, anything at all, to stop this shower of helpful advice.

There's just one little request I have. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Call me profoundly misguided if you want. Call me immoral if you must. But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist? I mean, look at it this way. (If you don't mind, that is.) It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose abortion and where gay relationships have full civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values -- as deplorable as I'm sure they are -- don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?

. . . Don't assert the prerogatives of victory and then claim the compensations of defeat as well. You can't oppress us and simultaneously complain that we are oppressing you. Well of course you can do this, if you want. Who's to stop you? I just kinda wish you wouldn't. If you don't mind my asking. Thanks. Sorry. "

Richard Henry Morgan - 11/7/2004

It hadn't occurred to me that inter-racial children were any more beautiful, nor any less beautiful, than any other child. How narrow-minded of me.

Maarja Krusten - 11/7/2004

Interesting! As anyone who has been following my postings knows, my major problem with the election is in the way issues have been framed, with what you properly call demgoguing. All of this has increased the sense of polarization.

You mention younger people. I don't know what age group you fall into but I'll ask this anyway. From what I hear, only a tiny percentage of younger people vote, and, as a group, they follow the news much less than previous generations. What do you think the reasons are for that? How can they influence politics if so few of them vote? I do note that the youth vote (18-29 y/o) increased in 2004 by 4.6 million over 2000. Their votes split about 55% Kerry 45% Bush, with Kerry doing better in the battleground states. Whether turnout will drop or keep increasing in future years, I don't know.

Nancy Tann - 11/7/2004

I am not happy with the election results and very concerned about four more years of Bush. But I wonder if people need to step back and realize that our "dividedness" may be a sign of a good healthy democracy? We also have two strong political parties, and I for one will be very distressed if the Dems think they have to turn into Republicans.
As for the previous discussion re the South: I think the South won't continue to be monolithic in the next 20 years. Younger southerners have left behind racism and many are marrying interracially (the nightmare of a previous generation!) thereby producing more beautiful children.
As a lesbian, I find it disgraceful that the Prez demagogued the gay marriage issue. On the other hand, he also made a statement about tolerance and the freedom we have to live our lives as we wish. I think one thing Kerry and Edwards wanted to point out in mentioning Mary Cheney is that WE are everywhere, even in Republican ranks. Both of them were respectful in their remarks, from my point of view. It is only when one feels being a lesbian is shameful that their statements are a problem. Ms Cheney has been out for years even in her employment life, and chose to be a public figure as well.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

Peter, the problems described in the linked stories relate to the tragic deaths and murders of abused children in Washington, DC, the city where George and Laura Bush have lived for nearly four years. The two stories might clarify for HNN readers why "gay marriage" is so low on my list of things to worry about, and why I feel abortion opponents need to broaden their scope. Also, with a ballooning deficit, there will be little federal money left to spend on domestic problems. Remember, the District of Columbia has no voting representation in Congress and some issues pertaining to it are federalized. All in all, the events described and the deafening silence on them from the bully pulpit of the Presidency during the election this year, have helped shape my views on moral authority.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

I mentioned above that during the days of Jim Crow, some black children in southern states had to walk ten miles each day to reach their segregated black schools, due to lack of buses. I need to clarify that it was ten miles round trip, five miles to school, five miles back home. Quite a hike for 6-year olds.

John H. Lederer - 11/6/2004

I think it is an error to speak of "blue states" and "red states". The split seems to be pretty distinctly between urban and suburban/rural areas.

The state result really seems an artifact caused by how heavily the state is urbanized.

There do seem some exceptions -- the Upper Great Lakes is one, but by and large the split is between city and country.

I suspect that a hypothetical "secession" by the blue states would result in secessions within them, much as West Virgina left Virginia. Hard to imagine parts of Pennsylvania going with Phildaelphia, or the Fox Valley in Wisconsin going with Milwaukee.

John H. Lederer - 11/6/2004

I believe Kentucky, along with Delaware only had slavery abolished by the 13th Amendment after the Civil War. Maryland had slavery until quite late in the Civil War.

An early New Hampshire consititution appears to have abolished slavery for those born after 1783.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

As sometimes happens on HNN only part of the link was conveyed in hypertext when I pasted. Just copy the entire link, included the part after the % sign, as that is a part of the URL also, then paste it into a browser. But be forwarned, the stories are grim.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

I just finished watching the McLaughlin Group. John McLaughlin, who sometimes comes across as a blowhard, still manages to raise thought provoking questions that other Republicans shirk. He asked today whether moral values had been too narrolwy defined in the election, and mentioned issues such as poverty. Well, at least someone is concerned about that, good timing given my posting above.

Larry O'Donnell pointed out that the much reviled blue states, with the West and East coast cities, are the sources of most of the tax revenue that keeps the federal government going, while 90% of the heartland red states are "welfare states" which use up more Federal dollars than they put into the Treasury. Interesting point. O'Donnell mentioned the fact that if things keep going the way they are with polarization during the next 20 years or so, the blue states may secede and then the economic situation for the remaining states will really get tough. Of course, O'Donnell is a liberal and he may have been just reflecting post-election griping.

Speaking of liberals, I have a fundamental problem with the way that word has become a pejorative, although it never has described me politically. You see it in the way some HNN authors toss around terms such as "the left doesn't get it" in describing Democrats, as if all Democrats were alike. Yes, I understand the argument that some Democrats have been "weak on defense." And I understand the fact that there is a backlash to the 1960 counterculture. Remember, I was a member of the conservative Young Americans for Freedom during the 1960s and early 1970s. That doesn't mean I was or remained an ideologue, my views have shifted on some things since then.

As I was standing in line on Election Day for 70 minutes, waiting to vote, I was reading the paperback version of James T. Patterson's _Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and its Troubled Legacy_. It was a good reminder of the fact that some of the liberals' legacy in the United States is commendable, and some due to great bravery. The Freedom Riders and the Blacks who protested Jim Crow showed a lot of courage. The Patterson book has a picture of a 68 year old black graduate student, sitting behind a partition, so the white students would be "protected" from seeing him, in a classroom at the University of Oklahoma in 1948. The 68 year old was a teacher himself, a man of great dignity, who had to fight in court to gain admission to graduate school. I cringed when I saw the photo of him placed behind a partition. Yet, when I showed the photo to a couple of people recently, they laughed. Imagine that.

Is the demonization of liberal sensibilities that far reaching and effective in the US today, that people laugh at a reminder of Jim Crow? I hope not. I told those who laughed that during Jim Crow, some 6 year old black children had to walk 10 miles to school each day, in order to reach their rundown, segregated black schools. The states they lived in not only forbid them to attend the better equipped white schools, they declined to make school buses available to them. Those days really aren't that far behind us. And from what I've read, many of the people who preached segregation of the races were convinced that moral authority and the Constitution were on their side. Since 2004 is the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision, I've found the book well worth reading.

Also worth reading, although somewhat long, are the links at

I don't think most of you will read those, they describe in depressing detail some problems that are terribly difficult to solve. I have to say I don't have the answers myself. If anyone here is an expert in such matters, and can offer some good resolutions, in an historical perspective or otherwise, I would welcome them.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

To me, a candidate who does not publicly condemn a well known, publicly revealed, dirty campaign tactic, such as the Arkansas Bible flyer, condones it. Not to do so is to erode one's future credibility in talking about personal responsibility and moral values. That's why I tune out politicians when they talk about moral values. I find reprehensible the handing out of flyers in Black neighborhoods, urging voters to go to the polls on Wednesday, when election day was Tuesday. I find illegitimate vote suppression to be cowardly.

My condemnation of dirty tricks by surrogates applies to both parties. Because I heard so much about vote suppression during the run-up to our election, I now tune out anything the politicians say about wanting democracy in Iraq. That's not to say I don't wish Iraq could become a democracy, although I fear it will not. It was sad to me to hear a woman say she voted for Bush because she felt to do otherwise would mean all those soldiers died for nothing in Iraq. There is a good chance they will have died for very little, if Iraq exchanges one authoritarian regime for another.

There is no one on the public scene to talk with authority on democracy and voting. Sorry, but to have credibility, you have to earn it, and in my view, neither party has moral authority right now. Both took the easy way out. And the voters mostly allowed it. As a result, I now care much less about public opinion than I did before this election.

The public often votes based on ignorance and rarely thinks through all the ramifications of complex issues. See my earlier post on savings, investment, and spending. Politicians keep raising the deficit, dooming future generations to long years of hard work and deferred retirement. At the same time, economists look for the public to boost retail sales, to jump start new construction of homes, to buy big ticket items. Yep, it's just party on America, no sacrifice needed or preparation for hard times ahead.

I am well off, well educated, and live comfortably. I have no children and probably won't be around to pay the price for what is happening now with the deficit. That doesn't mean I don't shake my head over what that deficit portends. And just because I'm doing well, it doesn't mean I don't shudder at the image of a political party I once called my own, appearing to send out a message, "we've got ours, who cares if you don't get yours." I saw some of that on HNN, when some posters defended the tax cuts by boosting how well their portfolios were doing and what luxury items they had been buying. No wonder no one ever responds to my postings about inner city children. Too bad Bush didn't govern like a "compassionate conservative" during his first term. He woulda won in a landslide.

Richard Henry Morgan - 11/6/2004

You seem to have bought the spin that some sort of fundamentalist wave of "moral values" inundated Kerry. Not so. Consult the numbers at Andrew Sullivan's website and David Brooks' column. The notion of "moral values" was never unpacked in the survey, leaving Dems the opportunity to fill it with a straw man. The bottom line is that a significant number of people just didn't find Kerry believable. Period. He's smoother, and a much better speaker, but he seems trapped in a time warp. This ain't St. Paul's, and this ain't a debating club. Were it so, perhaps Kerry's comment "I can't believe I'm losing to that f***ing idiot" would be understandable.

Robert Kennedy? I'm glad he's off the smack these days, but he refuses to appear on a show across from somebody who knows environmental science. Instead, he goes where he will be pitched softballs.

The charge by Dionne is not that Kerry was trashed, but that he was savagely trashed by Bush. The problem of agency raises its head in an environment with national party committees and 527's. I take Dionne to mean that Bush differentially and savagely trashed Kerry, gaining some advantage in the process. I think both candidates were trashed (though not savagely) mostly by arm's length groups -- isn't that how it is done these days? Of course, Kerry did proclaim, at a fundraiser that raised $7.5 billion and where Bush was indeed trashed in vulgar terms by Hollywood types, that those Hollywood types represented the heart and soul of America (whereas Bush never endorsed the Swift Boat ads -- for all that's worth).

I don't respect Kerry's faith -- or Bush's for that matter -- as I don't know that he has any. I instead tolerate their proclamations of such. I've never found Dionne to be anything but a partisan hack, and this latest hasn't changed my view, but reinforced it. And I don't mind the sarcasm.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

Richard, I am sorry to do this to you, as I rarely use sarcasm here on HNN, and I know your views are heartfelt, but I had to laugh when I saw what you wrote in response to my reflective posting. Peter Clarke, who takes his fair share of flak for rhetoric on HNN, sounded much milder than you in his post-election message yesterday--and you, not Peter, are the one whose guy won the election! (See http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=46104#46104 ) When I saw you rip into Dionne, the image of the book published in July 2004, "Sore Winners," with a frowning President Bush on the cover, flashed through my mind.

You disagree that Kerry was trashed? Consider this:

"[Richard Viguerie] admits that, yes, some Bush campaign tactics have been downright Nixonian; shown the famous flyer with 'BANNED' stamped on an image of the Bible, then the words 'This will be Arkansas . . . if you don't vote,' his face curls in disapproval. 'I mean there, there is so much material—legitimate, credible, honest material—to use against the Democrats.' That flyer was put out by the Republican National Committee, though he's quick to assure that movement conservatives—the idealists—would never do such a thing."

That quote appeared in the Village Voice on October 19, 2004 (http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0442/perlstein.php). I find the Arkansas Bible flyer to be a vicious personal attack on Kerry. I am disgusted by it. Now, go ahead and direct your fire at me rather than Dionne or Daschle for saying that. I defy you to tell me my East Coast moral values are of lesser quality than that of the heartland voters for feeling disgusted by that flyer.

If President Bush had said publicly in a speech or during one of the debates, "I call on those who support me to stop spreading such lies about my opponent. I respect John Kerry's faith and I know he will never ban the Bible in Arkansas. I reject such tactics and do not want to win based on lies such as those, to do so would go against my ethical values," then I would have applauded him for admirable courage and moral values. I haven't found such a quote from Bush or any of his spokesmen during the campaign. If you're aware of one, do pass it along.

I find little to admire in the way Bush or Kerry ran their campaigns. Howard Dean showed more courage than Kerry on the Iraq issues. And I generally find a great deal of moral relativism in campaigning, candidates in both parties keep quiet about dirty campaigning because they want to win at all costs. Perhaps that is why a victory based on "moral values" seems so hollow to me.

Speaking of moral values, did anyone catch Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on Bill Maher's show last week? Kennedy, an environmental laywer, was promoting his new book, _Crimes Against Nature_. Type that in on the Barnes and Noble website (http://www.bn.com) to see what the book covers. Kennedy talked on Maher's show about mercury contamination and how it affects women's wombs and causes damage to babies' brains. I am fascinated by the fact this issue, like the issue of inner city children planning their funerals, seems to have little resonance with the moral issues voters who decry abortion. A number of pollsters have mentined the fact that the environment didn't even make the list of voters' major concerns this years, as it has in years past.

I thoroughly reject the notion that heartland voters care more about moral values than people in the East and West coast cities. We may define those values differently, and we probably focus more on public policy than on personal character. We probably have more African American and gay friends than people in the heartland do, so many of us take a more pluralistic view of society. That doesn't make us better than the folks in the heartland, it only means that for us, inner city children, gays, etc. have a human face.

Gay marriage doesn't faze me as an issue at all although I find the notion that people of the same gender can marry to be silly--how can you call it marriage? But I support partnership benefits and do not see proponents of "gay marriage" as the primary threat to the sanctity of family.

Abortion? We need more of a focus on adoption of unborn babies and protection of abused children. Have you ever looked at the photos of the faces of the little babies who are killed by abusive boyfriends of unwed mothers in the inner cities? Talk about the poor innocents. Do they discuss those murders in the heartland, I don't know, I don't live there. But believe me, we on the East Coast do have hearts, and I grieve when I see the pictures of those battered, murdered toddlers. To listen to the Presidential candidates this year, it would seem they are invisible.

Whether Roe v. Wade is overturned or not, no one can stop abortions. Rich women will always find a way to have them safely, it is the poor who are likely to suffer in a return to back alley coat hanger abortions. Guns? Great for the hunters in the broad outdoors of the red states, not so good in the inner cities of the blue states. But gosh darn, I forgot that we city people don't matter to some on , our concerns were marginalized this time around. Guess we're just good for producing tax revenues, and not much else, eh? It would seem for many voters, it was gays, guns and abortion which set us on the path we will follow for the next four years. Fascinating.

Richard Henry Morgan - 11/6/2004

I'm afraid I can't go along with E.J. Dionne, who is, sorry to say, just another component of the mainstream media echo chamber. When the Dems lose, the opponent (by definition in their eyes) carries no legitimacy to the task of governing, and so is told ad nauseum that though he won, he must really cede power to the truly legitimate Dems.

This is stated in many different ways, some more subtle than others. Daschle said the same thing after 2000, and Daschle is now a footnote to history. In Dionne's warped and not too brilliant universe, Kerry was savagely trashed. One day Dionne will, with luck, pull his head out of his ass, and realize that there is a whole world out there that lies in contrast to his own solipsism.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

My goodness, my pessimism really is showing. I also made a mistake in my last sentence writing dividing where I should have written uniting. Also, when I quoted my Repubican friend as saying she preferred divided government, I should have added that it meant she preferred the legislative and executive branches be in the hands of opposing parties. She is a fiscal conservative who believes Clinton handled economic and fiscal issues much better than Bush, although she is a classic "moral values" person who never would have voted for Clinton.

Speaking of fiscal restraint, while Bush would seem to have little leverage in persuading those he has implied are "unpatriotic" to join the armed forces, we all will face the consequences of the present fiscal policies. Interestingly, I haven't heard much about financial planning and the need to increase Americans' abysmal rate of saving versus spending. In fact, among those who strongly supported Bush, a young couple I know has been the most inclined to spend as if there is no tomorrow, buying whatever techno toys struck their fancy. Conversely, a family of liberal Democrats whom I know has been much more sparing with their spending and inclined to say "no" when their sons asked for things. Go figure.

In any event, I hope HNN readers are encouraging their children and grandchildren to invest wisely and to plan well financially, if they have the means, as I don't see the deficit leaving much leeway for spending on domestic issues. And it looks as if the remainder of the New Deal safety net will be dismantled. We're all on our own now, folks! All the more reason why I am concerned about the inner cities, where some children plan their own funerals because they expect to die young and people struggle to stay alive and keep their kids in school, and have little hope of finding decent jobs. Those issues didn't even register with the voters and the candidates this year. Ah well, it seems that not only are some children actually left behind, they don't even register on the radar screen!

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

"polarizing fashion will make it harder for the country to divided" should read "harder for the country to be united." Freudian slip reflecting my pessimism or simply a typo?
You judge, LOL.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

"polarizing fashion will make it harder for the country to divided" should read "harder for the country to be united." Freudian slip reflecting my pessimism or simply a typo?
You judge, LOL.

Maarja Krusten - 11/6/2004

The 51% Bush and 48% Kerry numbers suggest a nation nearly as divided as it was in 2000. Gil Troy notes, "Once again, the future of the presidency hangs on a closely divided state, in a closely divided nation.Once again, we have a red-blue electoral equilibrium – the chardonnay sipping, quiche eating, New York Times-reading'blue states' - and as the numbers suggest 'blue people' -- balanced out by nearly equal numbers of the country-western listening,gun-toting, Bible-thumping 'red states' and red people."

The problem I see is that the divisive rhetoric used to cast campaign issues in a polarizing fashion will make it harder for the country to divided. Short term gain for the candidates in appealing to their base, potential long term pain for the country. I repeatedly have expressed concern on HNN boards about Bush's statements that criticizing the way he has handled the Iraq war gives comfort to the enemy. I happen to to one of those who believes that we best support the troops if we insist on good planning, accountability, and, above all, a clear and compelling reason to use force at the time we choose to use it. To imply that asking questions may be unpatriotic risks the danger of portions of the electorate deciding that they are less vested in an issue, such as manning the armed services, than those who uncritically support the war. In this age of the volunteer army, it will be interesting to see what are the recruiting figures in the future for the blue states that went for Kerry versus the red states that went for

I posted at http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=46127#46127 a number of reader comments from the Washington Post's readers' forum, in which some posters said to Bush voters after the election, you all believe that you, rather than we, are the patriotic ones? Fine, when are you signing up to go fight in Iraq? Read the extracts from the readers' forum which I posted yesterday. They suggests that at least for a few people, Iraq now is the Republicans' war, which is not a good sign but may be a consequence of the way that issue was framed by the President during the campaign. Although Bush is focusing on political capital, he seems to have little leverage left now with the people who feel that way.

How can Bush overcome this? Reaching out to opponents and signalling an understanding of dissent has not been his strong suit. In an age of the volunteer army, he is really at a disadvantage now. And he can't control what Republican voters say to Democrats. Just look at HNN and the way posters handled the Swift Boat controversy! And then there are articles such as Thomas C. Reeves' about "the terrorists' favorite" and Judith Apter Klinghofer's about "peace in our time." It's hard for me to imagine anyone who has been called a sissie or unpatriotic on HNN during the campaign turning around and encouraging his or her son or grandson to sign up to serve in the military. As one of the Washington Post readers posted on its message board, the military supports Bush? Fine, war on. HNN readers know that I strongly faulted the campaign rhetoric (us versus them, rather than an emphasis on two different but valid visions for American). I worry now about its long term impact.

Too close a linkage of patriotism with support for one political party,and too close an identification of one's fighting forces with one political party, may harm rather than enhance national unity and cohesion. I know that the men serving in the armed forces are not all Republican, but some HNN posters have striven hard to make it appear so, in an effort to persuade others not to vote for Kerry, I suppose. It remains to be seen how much impact this has in the long run. You all remember the debates we had at http://hnn.us/articles/7604.html
on the composition of the present day armed forces.

How great is the great divide described by Troy? Right now, commentators are focusing on the supposed "moral values" issue, although there is a lack of clarity on what that means. Today's New York Times reports,

"Gary Langer, director of polling for ABC News, one of the sponsors of the poll, said a major flaw in the question is that 'moral values' is not the same sort of specific issue that taxes or Iraq are. 'Health care is an issue, terrorism is an issue; moral values is much more of a personal characteristic,' he said.

Mr. Langer and others said 'moral values' became a sort of 'catchall''for Mr. Bush's voters that could include topics as varied as gay marriage and vulgarity on television.

Several independent pollsters said they were suspicious because a higher percentage of people listed 'moral values' as their top concern in the Election Day poll than had in many of the previous public polls."

Whatever its impact, people even seem to be divided by what it means to be moral or have character. I noted that earlier on http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=45999#45999 .

I noted elsewhere that after reading HNN all summer and fall, I stopped wearing the American flag pin I had worn during the Vietnam war and again after 9/11. That mostly was a recognition --an acceptance of the fact -- that some readers simply did not care whether we in the DC area came under terrorist attack and that there was less of a sense of "united we stand" on the War of Terror in the country than I had thought. I am fascinated by the fact that although I mentioned several times that Dave Livingston had shrugged at the thought of "DC parasites" being wiped out, no one posted a demurral! There must be a bigger segment of people who viserally dislike those on the East Coast than I had realized. I consider carefully what I read on HNN, and I get it, I do accept that division now. Will the fact that NYC and DC and its suburbs voted overwhelmingly for Kerry increase that feeling? The woman in New York who was quoted after the election as saying they hate us in heartland and don't care if attacks come our way, seemed to have picked up that impression. An unfortunate result of the post election examination of the views of the "moral values" voters, I suppose.

As the campaign wore on and I read HNN, I also came to worry that wearing a flag pin might signal that I was a jingoistic person who brooked no disagreement with the Bush administration on any of its policies when I actually had serious concerns about the run up to and planning for the Iraq war. Again, that is a reflection of what I read on HNN and other reader forums. You westerners needn't worry, not wearing my flag pin doesn't mean I won't care when I read about devastating forest fires destroying homes out West, or natural catastrophes hitting the heartland. I simply have come to worry that wearing a flag pin might unfairly stereotype me in the eyes of people who don't know me or understand that I am a centrist and an Independent, someone who accepts dissent and listens to perspectives from many sides of an issue.

E. J. Dionne noted yesterday at

"Kerry, in his poignant concession speech, said we should now be united. We are united against terrorists, in support of our troops and in the hope of a decent outcome in Iraq. But the burden for achieving national unity is on a president who could manage a narrow victory only by savagely trashing his opponent.

On Wednesday Bush told those who voted against him: "I will do all I can do to deserve your trust." Mr. President, I truly hope you realize how much work you have to do." My conversations since the election with Bush and Kerry supporters suggests that Dionne largely is right, although the task is not insurmountable. Interestingly, a close friend and Bush voter actually told me, "I like it best when government is divided. Alternatively, I really wish there were a third party we could vote for." Whether Bush succeeds in uniting the nation depends on whether he understands the concerns of this type of Republican voter, or acts as if he has a sweeping mandate.

Richard Henry Morgan - 11/6/2004


The Pennsylvania gradual emancipation law was passed in 1780.

Richard Henry Morgan - 11/6/2004

Ah, the Chris Pettit charm offered, as usual, in place of an argument. We know what he meant and why he meant it. His intention was obvious: to hint that those who voted for Bush are knuckle-dragging racists, while those who didn't are the pinnacle of the Enlightenment. But he couldn't quite pull off the smear because (as anyone who has read his boo 'Tour of Duty') clear thinking and clear writing aren't exactly his strong points. That Brinkley can write a biography of Kerry's Vietnam and anti-war activities and airbrush from history Kerry's trip to Paris to visit Mme Binh, and think nobody would notice the intellectual dishonesty of a court hagiographer at work, shows he's every bit as stupid as you are Chris.

chris l pettit - 11/6/2004

Are you that daft that you cannot tell that Brinkley was referring to the Civil War divide...it is really not that difficult. i know both of you two are ignorant partisan flaks, but please, stop with the idiocy. You are great examples of what is wrong with the US.

Your history is accurate, your perception of what was said is not...


Richard Henry Morgan - 11/5/2004


I'm agreeing with the previous poster, and disagreeing (like him) with Brinkley.

Richard Henry Morgan - 11/5/2004

"Every state that had slavery is for George W. Bush".

Not so. Pennsylvania passed a gradual emancipation law in 1800. Connecticut didn't abolish slavery until 1848. Delaware and New Hampshire never abolished slavery -- it became illegal only with the 13th Amendment, going into effect in late 1865. Massachusetts gave up slavery by judicial decision in 1783. New Jersey abolished slavery in 1846. In New York, a gradual emancipation law was passed in 1799, but not to go into effect until 1827 (it wasn't fully banned until 1841). Rhode Island went for gradual emancipation in 1784, not taking total effect until about 1840. Vermont went official in 1777, but there seem to have been some for years to come.

Brian Martin - 11/5/2004

Did Mr. Brinkley see a different result than I did or is he
unaware that Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Paradise Plantations, Delaware, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maryland all had slavery?

Slavery also existed in Kerry's stronghold of Washington D.C.

Faneuil Hall where Kerry made his concession speech...was built by a slavetrader!