Blogs > Cliopatria > The Difference Between 2000 and 2004

Nov 1, 2004 9:47 am


The Difference Between 2000 and 2004



One difference between this year and four years ago is that we now know what it means to have a Florida. In 2000 we didn't.

This works to the advantage of the Democrats. Four years ago one of the constraints Al Gore faced was that the public expected to know the result of the election swiftly. This expectation forced him to adopt a failing strategy. To get a quick result he at first asked for a recount only of the votes in 4 Democratic counties. This made it appear he was less interested in counting all the votes, as he claimed, and more interested simply in the outcome: his own election. This undermined his moral argument.

This time around the Democrats won't face that problem. When Republican attempts to block new voters materialize Democrats will be able to go to court to secure the suffrage rights of these citizens without fearing that the public demands instant action.

Republicans meanwhile will be robbed of the strategy employed by Jim Baker in Florida, which was to drag out the proceedings until the safe harbor date had been reached. To be sure, the Republicans will try to drag out the proceedings. But my guess is that they won't be able to get away with it this time because voters will be willing to let the process unfold.

So what if the safe harbor date is reached? At least half the country will say it is more important to get the duly elected president named president than to leave the outcome up to chance.

A strategy of delay will clearly be in the Republicans' interest because invariably it will be Democrats trying to get provisional ballots accepted, necessitating a resort to court action. But the Republicans won't succeed--not this time.

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