The United States presidential election of 2004
was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential
election. It was
held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party
President George W. Bush
candidate John Kerry
then-junior U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Foreign
was the dominant theme throughout the election campaign,
particularly Bush's conduct of the War
and the 2003
invasion of Iraq
As in the 2000
and concerns of irregularities emerged during and
after the vote. The winner was not determined until the
following day, when Kerry decided not to dispute Bush's win in the
state of Ohio.
state held enough electoral votes to determine the winner of the
presidency. Both Kerry and Democratic National Committee
Chairman Howard Dean
have stated their
opinion that voting in Ohio did not proceed fairly and that, had it
done so, the Democratic ticket might have won that state and
therefore the election. However, there was far less controversy
about this election than in 2000.
Only three states changed allegiance. New Mexico and Iowa voted
Democratic in 2000, but voted Republican in 2004.
New Hampshire voted Republican in 2000 but voted Democratic in
In the Electoral College
received 286 votes, and Kerry 251. Kerry's running mate, John Edwards
, who had also run as a Democratic
primary candidate, received one electoral vote for president from a
This was presumably in error, as that elector also still separately
voted for Edwards for vice president.
George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 after the
Court's decision in Bush
remanded the case to the Florida Supreme Court, which declared there was not sufficient time to
hold a recount without violating the U.S. Constitution
Just eight months into his presidency, the terrorist attacks
11, 2001 suddenly transformed Bush into a wartime president. Bush's
approval ratings surged to near 90%. Within a month, the forces of
a coalition led by the United States invaded
, which had been sheltering Osama bin Laden
, suspected mastermind of the
September 11 attacks. By December, the Taliban had been removed as rulers of Kabul, although a
long and ongoing occupation would follow.
administration then turned its attention to Iraq, and argued
the need to remove Saddam Hussein
from power in Iraq had become urgent.
Among the stated
reasons were that Saddam's regime had tried to acquire nuclear material
and had not properly
accounted for biological
material it was known to
have previously possessed. Both the possession of these weapons of mass destruction
(WMD), and the failure to account for them, violated the U.N. sanctions
. The assertions about WMD were
hotly debated from the beginning, and their basis in U.S.military intelligence
the subsequent failure to find any WMDs in Iraq. This situation
escalated to the point that a coalition of about forty nations,
including the United States, invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003. Within
about three weeks, the invasion caused the collapse of both the
Iraqi government and its armed
. On May 1, George W.
Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS
Abraham Lincoln, in a Lockheed
S-3 Viking, where he gave a speech announcing the end of major
combat operations in the Iraq war.
Bush's approval rating in May was at 66%, according to a CNN
However, Bush's high approval ratings did not last. First, while
the war itself was popular in the U.S., the occupation lost support
as months passed and casualty figures increased, with no decrease
in violence nor progress toward stability or reconstruction in
Iraq. Second, as investigators combed through the country, they
failed to find the predicted WMD stockpiles, which led to debate
over the rationale for the war.
Image:George-W-Bush.jpeg|President George W. Bush of Texas
Bush's popularity as a wartime president helped consolidate his
base, and ward off any serious challenge to the nomination.
Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island
considered challenging Bush on an anti-war platform in New Hampshire, but decided not to run after the capture of
Saddam Hussein in December
On March 10, 2004, Bush officially clinched the number of delegates
needed to be nominated at the 2004 Republican National
in New York City. Bush accepted the nomination on
September 2, 2004, and selected Vice President
Cheney as his running mate
. (In New
York, the ticket was also on the ballot as candidates of the
of New York State
). During the convention and throughout the
campaign, Bush focused on two themes: defending America against
terrorism and building an ownership
. The ownership society included allowing people to
invest some of their Social Security
in the stock
market, increasing home and stock ownership, and encouraging more
people to buy their own health insurance.
Democratic Party nomination
- John Kerry, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
- John Edwards, U.S. Senator from North
- Howard Dean,
former Governor of Vermont
- Wesley Clark, retired U.S.
- Dennis Kucinich, U.S.
Representative from Ohio
- Al Sharpton, Reverend and civil
rights activist from New York
- Joe Lieberman, U.S. Senator from Connecticut
- Dick Gephardt, U.S. Representative from
- Carol Moseley Braun, former
U.S. Senator from Illinois
- Bob Graham, U.S. Senator from Florida
Image:John F. Kerry.jpg|Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts (Campaign
Article)Image:John Edwards, official Senate photo
John Edwards of
Article)Image:HowardDeanDNC-cropped.jpg|Former Governor Howard Dean of Vermont (Campaign
Article)Image:General Wesley Clark official
Clark of Arkansas (Campaign
Dennis Kucinich of
Image:Al Sharpton by David
Shankbone.jpg|Reverend Al Sharpton
of New YorkImage:Joe Lieberman
official portrait 2.jpg|Senator
Joe Lieberman of
House Minority Leader Dick
Gephardt of MissouriImage:Carol Moseley Braun NZ.jpg|Former Senator Carol Moseley Braun of IllinoisFile:Bob Graham, official Senate photo
Bob Graham of Florida (Campaign
Before the primaries
By summer of 2003, Howard Dean had become the apparent front runner
for the Democratic nomination, performing strongly in most polls
and leading the pack with the largest campaign war chest. Dean's
strength as a fund raiser was attributed mainly to his embrace of
the Internet for campaigning. The majority of his donations came
from individual supporters, who became known as Deanites
or, more commonly, Deaniacs
Generally regarded as a pragmatic centrist
during his time as governor, Dean emerged during his presidential
campaign as a left-wing populist
denouncing the policies of the Bush administration (especially the
2003 invasion of Iraq
) as well
as fellow Democrats, who, in his view, failed to strongly oppose
them. Senator Lieberman, a liberal on domestic issues but a hawk on
the War on Terror, failed to gain traction with liberal Democratic
In September 2003, retired four-star general Wesley Clark
announced his intention to run in
for the Democratic Party nomination. His
campaign focused on themes of leadership and patriotism; early
campaign ads relied heavily on biography. His late start left him
with relatively few detailed policy proposals. This weakness was
apparent in his first few debates, although he soon presented a
range of position papers, including a major tax-relief plan.
Nevertheless, many Democrats did not flock to his campaign.
In sheer numbers, Kerry had fewer endorsements than Howard Dean
, who was far ahead in the superdelegate
race going into the Iowa
caucuses in January 2004, although Kerry led the endorsement race
in Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, South Carolina, New Mexico and
Nevada. Kerry's main perceived weakness was in his neighboring
state of New Hampshire and nearly all national polls. Most other
states did not have updated polling numbers to give an accurate
placing for the Kerry campaign before Iowa. Heading into the
primaries, Kerry's campaign was largely seen as in trouble,
particularly after he fired campaign manager Jim Jordan
. The key factors
enabling it to survive was when fellow Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy
assigned Mary Beth Cahill to be the
campaign manager, as well as Kerry's mortgaging his own home to lend the money to his
campaign (while his wife was a billionaire, campaign finance rules
prohibited using one's personal fortune).
He also brought on
the "magical" Michael Whouley
would be credited with helping bring home the Iowa victory the same
as he did in New Hampshire for Al Gore
2000 against Bill Bradley
By the January 2004 Iowa caucuses
field had dwindled down to nine candidates, as Bob Graham dropped
out of the race and Howard Dean was a strong front-runner.
the Iowa caucuses
yielded unexpectedly strong results for Democratic candidates
John Kerry, who earned 38% of the state's
delegates and John Edwards, who took
Former front-runner Howard
slipped to 18% and third place, and Richard Gephardt
finished fourth (11%). In
the days leading up to the Iowa vote, there was much negative
campaigning between the Dean and Gephardt camps.
The dismal results caused Gephardt to drop out and later endorse
Kerry. What further hurt Dean was a speech he gave at a post-caucus
rally. Dean was shouting over the cheers of his enthusiastic
audience, but the crowd noise was being filtered out by his
leaving only his full-throated exhortations audible to the
television viewers. To those at home, he seemed to raise his voice
out of sheer emotion.The incessant replaying of the "Dean
by the press became a debate on the topic of whether
Dean was the victim of media bias
scream scene was shown approximately 633 times by cable and
broadcast news networks in just four days following the incident, a
number that does not include talk shows and local news broadcasts.
However, those who were in the actual audience that day insist that
they were not aware of the infamous "scream" until they returned to
their hotel rooms and saw it on TV.
Kerry, on the other hand, had revived his campaign and began using
the slogan "Comeback Kerry."
New Hampshire primary
On January 27, Kerry triumphed again, winning the New Hampshire primary
. Dean finished
second, Clark was third and Edwards placed fourth.
South Carolina primary
following week, John Edwards won the South Carolina primary and
finished a strong second in Oklahoma.
Senator Kerry at a primary rally in
St. Louis, MO at the St. Louis Community College - Forest
After Howard Dean's withdrawal from the
contest, Edwards became the only major challenger to Kerry for the
Democratic nomination. However, Kerry continued to dominate and his
support quickly snowballed as he won caucuses and primaries, taking
in a string of wins in Michigan, Washington, Maine, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., Nevada, Wisconsin, Utah, Hawaii, and
Clark and Lieberman dropped out during this
time, leaving only Sharpton, Kucinich, and Edwards in the running
March's Super Tuesday, Kerry won
decisive victories in the California, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and
Island primaries and the Minnesota caucuses.
Dean, despite having withdrawn
from the race two weeks earlier, won his home state of Vermont.
Edwards finished only slightly behind Kerry in Georgia, but,
failing to win a single state other than South Carolina, chose to
withdraw from the presidential race.
Democratic National Convention
6, John Kerry selected John Edwards as his running mate, shortly
before the 2004
Democratic National Convention in Boston,
Massachusetts, held later that month.
Days before Kerry
announced Edwards as his running mate, Kerry gave a short list of
three candidates: Sen John Edwards
, and Gov Tom Vilsack
. Heading into the convention, the
Kerry/Edwards ticket unveiled their new slogan—a promise to make
America "stronger at home and more respected in the world." Kerry
made his Vietnam War
prominent theme of the convention. In accepting the nomination, he
began his speech with, "I'm John Kerry and I'm reporting for duty."
He later delivered what may have been the speech's most memorable
line when he said, "the future doesn't belong to fear, it belongs
to freedom," a quote that later appeared in a Kerry/Edwards
There were four other pairs of candidates who were on the ballot in
states with enough electoral votes to have a theoretical chance of
winning a majority in the Electoral College
- Ralph Nader/Peter Camejo, independent (also Reform Party, Independent Party of Delaware,
Populist Party, Better Life Party, Cross-endorsements N.Y.
, Peace and Justice Party Independence Party of New
York, Independence Party S.C.. Nader was also endorsed by the
Vermont Green Party who chose not to ratify the national party’s
presidential nominee. Nader details by state
- Michael Badnarik/Richard Campagna, Libertarian Party
- Michael Peroutka/Chuck Baldwin, Constitution Party (also
- David Cobb/Pat LaMarche, Green Party
General election campaign
Bush focused his campaign on national security, presenting himself
as a decisive leader and contrasted Kerry as a "flip-flopper
." Bush's point was that
Americans could trust him to be tough on terrorism while Kerry
would be "uncertain in the face of danger." Bush also sought to
portray Kerry as a "Massachusetts
" who was out of touch with mainstream Americans. One of
Kerry's slogans was "Stronger at home, respected in the world."
This advanced the suggestion that Kerry would pay more attention to
domestic concerns; it also encapsulated Kerry's contention that
Bush had alienated American allies by his foreign policy.
According to one exit poll, people who voted for Bush cited the
issues of terrorism and moral values as the most important factors
in their decision. Kerry supporters cited the war in Iraq, the
economy and jobs, and health care.
Bush speaking at campaign rally in St.
Petersburg, Florida, October 19, 2004
Over the course of Bush's first term in office, his extremely high
approval ratings immediately following the September 11, 2001
terrorist attacks steadily dwindled, peaking only during combat
operations in Iraq in the spring of 2003, and again following the
capture of Saddam Hussein
the same year. Kerry supporters attempted to capitalize on the
dwindling popularity to rally anti-war sentiment.
In March 2004, the Bush/Cheney campaign was criticized by 2004 Racism Watch
. The organization took
offense to a campaign ad, which showed a man who was possibly
Middle Eastern in a negative light. 2004 Racism Watch issued a
press release calling on the campaign to pull the ad, calling it
disturbing and offensive.
During August and September 2004, there was an intense focus on
events that occurred in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Bush was
accused of failing to fulfill
his required service
in the Texas Air National Guard
the focus quickly shifted to the conduct of CBS
after they aired a segment on 60 Minutes
introducing what became known as the Killian documents
. Serious doubts about
quickly emerged, leading CBS to appoint a review
panel that eventually resulted in the firing of the news producer
and other significant staffing changes.
Meanwhile, Kerry was accused by the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth
who averred that "phony war crimes
charges, his exaggerated claims about his own service in Vietnam,
and his deliberate misrepresentation of the nature and
effectiveness of Swift boat operations compels us to step forward."
The group challenged the legitimacy of each of the combat medals
awarded to Kerry by the U.S. Navy
, and the disposition of his discharge.
In the beginning of September, the successful Republican National
Convention along with the allegations by Kerry's former mates gave
Bush his first comfortable margin since Kerry had won the
nomination. A post-convention Gallup poll showed the President
leading the Senator by 14 points.
Three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate were
organized by the Commission on Presidential
, and held in the autumn of 2004. As expected, these
debates set the agenda for the final leg of the political contest.
Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik and Green Party
candidate David Cobb were arrested while trying to access the
debates. Badnarik was attempting to serve papers to the Commission
on Presidential Debates.
debate was held on September 30 at the University
of Miami, moderated by Jim Lehrer
the debate, slated to focus on foreign policy, Kerry accused Bush
of having failed to gain international support for the 2003
Invasion of Iraq, saying the only countries assisting the USA
during the invasion were the United Kingdom and Australia. Bush
replied to this by saying, "Well,
actually, he forgot Poland
" (in an ironic turn of events,
Poland announced plans to withdraw its troops from Iraq shortly
after the debate). Later, a consensus formed among mainstream
pollsters and pundits that Kerry won the debate decisively,
strengthening what had come to be seen as a weak and troubled
campaign. In the days after, coverage focused on Bush's apparent
annoyance with Kerry and numerous scowls and negative facial
expressions.On October 5, the Vice Presidential debate
was held between Dick Cheney and
John Edwards at Case Western
Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and was moderated by Gwen
Ifill of PBS.
An initial poll by ABC
indicated a victory for Cheney, while polls by CNN
gave it to
second presidential debate was held at Washington
University in St. Louis, Missouri on October 8, moderated by Charles Gibson of ABC.
Conducted in a
"town meeting" format, less formal than the first Presidential
debate, this debate saw Bush and Kerry taking questions on a
variety of subjects from a local audience. Bush attempted to
deflect criticism of what was described as his scowling demeanor
during the first debate, joking at one point about one of Kerry's
remarks, "That answer made me want to scowl."
Kerry met for the third and final debate at Arizona
State University on October 13.
51 million viewers watched
the debate which was moderated by Bob
News. However, at the time
of the ASU debate, there were 15.2 million viewers tuned in to
watch the Major League
playoffs broadcast simultaneously.
Source (Electoral and Popular Vote): Federal Elections Commission Electoral and Popular Vote
(a) One faithless elector from Minnesota cast an electoral vote for John Edwards for
(b) Because Arrin Hawkins, then aged 28, was constitutionally
ineligible to serve as vice president, Margaret Trowe replaced her on the ballot in
some states. James
Harris replaced Calero on certain other states'
Results by state
Guam has no votes in the Electoral College, they have
held a straw poll for their presidential preferences since
||Leonard Peltier 27,607,
||Stanford Andress 804, Gene Amondson 378, Bill Van Auken 329, James Harris 241, Walt Brown 216, Earl
||Roger Calero 12
||Walt Brown 100
District of Columbia
||write-in 506, James Harris 130
||Walt Brown 3,502, James Harris 2,732
||Tom Tancredo 26, John Joseph Kennedy 8, David Byrne 7, James
||Peter Camejo 115, Lawson Bone 4, Ernest
Virag 4, John Joseph Kennedy
3, David Cook 2, Margaret Trowe 1, Joann Breivogel 1, John Joseph Kennedy 1, Robert Christensen 1
||John Joseph Kennedy 37,
Walt Brown 22, Lawson Mitchell Bone 6
||James Harris 373, Bill Van Auken 176
||John Joseph Kennedy 5,
Bill Van Auken 5, Walt Brown 4
||Walt Brown 1,795, James Harris 985
||Joe Schriner 27, John Joseph Kennedy 7, Ted Brown senior 4, Lawson Mitchell Bone 2, Robert Abraham Boyle II 1
||Walt Brown 1,431
||write-in 2,521, Thomas Harens
2,387, Bill Van Auken 539, Roger Calero 416, John Joseph Kennedy 4, Debra Joyce Renderos 2, Martin Wishnatsky 2, Walt Brown 2, Joy Graham-Prendergast 1
||James Harris 1,599, write-in
||write-in 931, Roger Calero 82
||'None of These
||Walt Brown 664, Bill Van Auken 575, Roger Calero 530
||Roger Calero 2,405, Michael Halpin 4, John Joseph Kennedy 4, Bill Van Auken 2
||Walt Brown 348
||Martin Wishnatsky 9
||Joe Schriner 114, James Harris 22, Richard Duncan 16, Thomas Zych 10, John Thompson Parker 2
||write-in 845, John Parker
||Walt Brown 2,124
||Walt Brown 6
||Andrew Falk 219, John Joseph Kennedy 126, Walt Brown 111, Deborah
||Charles Jay 946, James Harris 393, Larry
Topham 2, John Joseph
Kennedy 1, Joe Schriner 1.
||write-in 957, John Thompson
Parker 265, Roger Calero 244
||John Thompson Parker
1,077, James Harris 547, Bill Van Auken 231
||John Joseph Kennedy 13
||write-in 2,986, Walt Brown 471,
James Harris 411
In 2004, the results were Bush 21,490 (64.1%), Kerry
11,781 (35.1%), Nader 196 (0.58%) and Badnarik 67 (0.2%).
Notes on results
Because of a request by Ralph Nader, New Hampshire held a
recount.In New York, Bush obtained 2,806,993 votes on the
Republican ticket and 155,574 on the Conservative ticket. Kerry
obtained 4,180,755 votes on the Democratic ticket and 133,525 votes
on the Working Families ticket. Nader obtained 84,247 votes on the
Independence ticket, and 15,626 votes on the Peace and Justice
Note also: Official Federal Election Commission Report
, with the
latest, most final, and complete vote totals available.
- George W. Bush (R) $367,227,801 / 62,040,610 = $5.92
- John Kerry (D) $326,236,288 /
59,028,111 = $5.52
- Ralph Nader (i) $4,566,037 / 463,653
- Michael Badnarik (L) $1,093,013
/ 397,265 = $2.75
- Michael Peroutka (C) $729,087 /
144,498 = $5.05
- David Cobb (G) $493,723 / 119,859 =
- Walt Brown (SPUSA) $2,060 / 10,837 =
- (money spent/total votes=average spent per vote)
Blue font color denotes states won by Democrat John Kerry; red
denotes those won by Republican President George W. Bush.
States where margin of victory was under 5% (115 electoral votes):
- New Mexico
- New Hampshire
2004 United States Electoral College
|Bush / Cheney
|Kerry / Edwards
|Badnarik / Campagna
|Peroutka / Baldwin
|Nader / Camejo
|Cobb / LaMarche
“Faithless elector” in Minnesota
One elector in Minnesota cast a ballot for president with the name
of “John Ewards” [sic
] written on it. The Electoral
College officials certified this ballot as a vote for John Edwards
for president. The remaining nine electors cast ballots for John
Kerry. All ten electors in the state cast ballots for John Edwards
for Vice President (John Edwards' name was spelled correctly on all
ballots for Vice President). This was the first time in U.S.
history that an elector had cast both of his or her votes for the
Electoral balloting in Minnesota was performed by secret ballot,
and none of the electors admitted to casting the Edwards vote for
President, so it may never be known who the “faithless elector
” was. It is not even
known whether the vote for Edwards was deliberate or unintentional;
the Republican Secretary of State and several of the Democratic
electors have expressed the opinion that this was an
Electoral vote error in New York
New York's initial electoral vote certificate indicated that all of
its 31 electoral votes for president were cast for “John
Kerry of Massachusetts” instead of John
Kerry, who won the popular vote in the state.
This was apparently the result of a typographical error, and an
amended electoral vote certificate with the correct middle initial
was transmitted to the President of the Senate
prior to the official electoral vote count.
Map comparing voter turnout to
The results produced many interesting features. A partial list is
given below, but it is by no means complete.
- Compared to 2000 vs. Al Gore, Bush picked up a net gain of 8 electoral votes due to narrow victories in
Mexico while conceding a close loss in New
Hampshire, and a net gain of 7 votes due to the reapportionment of
electors in 2003 as a result of the 2000 census, for a total net gain
of 15 electoral votes.
- This was the first election since George H. W. Bush
in 1988 in which
the winning presidential candidate of either party won an absolute
majority (over 50%) of the popular vote.
- Bush won the popular vote with 50.73% to Kerry's 48.27%.
Although in percentage terms it was the closest popular margin ever
for a victorious sitting president, he ended up getting higher
percentage of the popular vote than 6 out of 8 Democratic
Presidents who preceded him. Bush received 2.5% more than Kerry.
Bush's absolute victory margin (approximately 3 million votes) was
the smallest of any sitting president since Harry S. Truman in 1948.
- At least 12 million more votes were cast than in the 2000 election.
- Voter turnout was unusually high. American University's Center
for the Study of the American Electorate reported a record turnout
of 60.7% of eligible voting-age citizens, 6.4% higher than turnout
in the previous election
and the highest since 1968. Note, however, that
the "eligible" voting-age electorate is by definition smaller than
the total voting-age population. In a formal report, the Federal
Election Commission released a lower figure of 56.70% for the
percentage of the electorate that voted for a presidential
candidate, based on the latter, larger pool (as calculated by the
- Owing to the nation's growing population and large turnout,
both Bush and Kerry received more votes than any previous
presidential candidate in American history. The previous record was
held by Republican Ronald Reagan, who
in 1984 received
more votes than any other presidential candidate in American
history (54.4 million).
- Five states saw every county vote for one candidate: Bush won
every county in Utah and Oklahoma while Kerry won every county in
Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Hawaii.
- As in
2000, electoral votes split along sharp geographical lines: the
West Coast, Northeast, and most of the
region for Kerry, and the South, Great Plains, and Mountain States
for Bush. The widespread support for Bush in the Southern
states continued the transformation of the formerly Democratic
Solid South to the Republican
- This is the first and, to date, only time that a Democrat won
every electoral vote in the Northeast while losing the
- Minor party candidates received many fewer votes, dropping from
a total of 3.5% in 2000 to approximately one percent. As in 2000,
Ralph Nader finished in third place, but
his total declined from 2.9 million to 400,000 votes, leaving him
with fewer votes than Reform Party
candidate Pat Buchanan had received in
finishing fourth in 2000.
- The 2004 election completed the transition of Illinois from a
swing state into a reliably Democratic one. Up through the 2000
election both Democratic and Republican presidential candidates
campaigned in the state during elections. It went for Ronald Reagan
and George Bush from 1980-1988, and Bill Clinton and Al Gore from
1992 to 2000. Both George Bush and Al Gore spent large amounts of
time and resources in the state; in 2004 it was not the case. The
Democratic party won the governor's office in 2002, and the
election of Barack Obama changed its
Senate makeup to completely Democratic and the defeat of Rep.
Phil Crane to Melissa Bean gave the party the majority of the
state's congressional delegation. Following the 2008 election, in
addition to not having voted Republican in presidential elections
for 20 years, the Democrats hold the governor's office, both Senate
seats, 12 of its 19 House seats, and both houses of the state
- The election marked the first time an incumbent president was
returned to office while his political party increased its numbers
in both houses of Congress since Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 election. It was the
first time for a Republican since William McKinley in the 1900 election.
- Although the election was close, nearly half of U.S. voters
lived in a county where Bush or Kerry won by 20 percentage points
or more. By comparison, only a quarter lived in such counties in
Electoral College changes from 2000
The U.S. population is continuously shifting, and some states grow
in population faster than others. With the completion of the 2000
took place, moving some representative districts from the slowest
growing states to the fastest growing. As a result, several states
had a different number of electors in the U.S. Electoral College
in 2004 than in
2000, since the number of electors allotted to each state is equal
to the sum of the number of Senators
The following table shows the change in electors from the 2000 election
states represent those
won by Bush
; and Blue
states, those won by
. All states except Nebraska and Maine use a
allocation of electors. Each of these states was won by the same
party in 2004 that had won it in 2000; thus, George W. Bush
received a net gain of seven electoral votes due to reapportionment
while the Democrats lost the same amount.
- California (54→55
Carolina (14→15 +1)
- New York
- Connecticut (8→7
(This table uses the currently common Red→Republican,
Blue→Democratic color association, as do the maps on this page.
Some older party-affiliation maps use the opposite color coding for
the campaign and as the results came in on the night of the
election there was much focus on Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
These three swing
states were seen as evenly divided, and
with each casting 20 electoral votes or more, they had the power to
decide the election. As the final results came in, Kerry took
Pennsylvania and then Bush took Florida, focusing all attention on
The morning after the election, the major candidates were neck and
was clear that the result in Ohio, along with two other states who
had still not declared (New Mexico and Iowa), would
decide the winner.
Bush had established a lead of around
130,000 votes but the Democrats pointed to provisional ballots
that had yet to be
counted, initially reported to number as high as 200,000.
preliminary leads of less than 5% of the vote in only four states,
but if Iowa, Nevada and New
Mexico had all eventually gone to Kerry, a win for Bush in Ohio
would have created a 269–269 tie in the Electoral College.
The result of an electoral
would cause the election to be decided in the House of
Representatives with each state casting one vote, regardless of
population. Such a scenario would almost certainly have resulted in
a victory for Bush, as Republicans controlled more House
delegations. Therefore, the outcome of the election hinged solely
on the result in Ohio, regardless of the final totals elsewhere. In
the afternoon Ohio's Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell
, announced that it was
statistically impossible for the Democrats to make up enough valid
votes in the provisional ballots to win. At the time provisional
ballots were reported as numbering 140,000 (and later estimated to
be only 135,000). Faced with this announcement, John Kerry conceded
defeat. Had Kerry won Ohio, he would have won the election despite
losing the national popular vote by over 3 million votes, a
complete reversal of the 2000 election when Bush won the presidency
despite losing the popular vote to Al Gore by some 500,000
Midwest bloc of Minnesota, Iowa, and
Wisconsin is also notable, casting a sum of 27 electoral
The following is list of the states considered swing
states in the 2004 election by most news organizations and which
candidate they eventually went for. The two major parties chose to
focus their advertising on these states:
Map of election day problems
After the election, some sources reported indications of possible
data irregularities and systematic flaws during the voting process,
which are covered in detail by the election controversy
the overall result of the election was not challenged by the Kerry
campaign, Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb and Libertarian Party presidential
candidate Michael Badnarik obtained
a recount in Ohio.
recount was completed December 28, 2004, although on January 24,
2007, a jury convicted two Ohio elections officials of selecting
precincts to recount where they already knew the hand total would
match the machine total, thereby avoiding having to perform a full
At the official counting of the electoral votes on January 6, a
motion was made contesting Ohio's electoral votes. Because the
motion was supported by at least one member of both the House of
Representatives and the Senate, election law mandated that each
house retire to debate and vote on the motion. In the House of
Representatives, the motion was supported by 31 Democrats. It was
opposed by 178 Republicans, 88 Democrats and one independent. Not
voting were 52 Republicans and 80 Democrats. Four people elected to
the House had not yet taken office, and one seat was vacant. In the
Senate, it was supported only by its maker, Senator Boxer
, with 74 Senators opposed and 25
not voting. During the debate, no Senator argued that the outcome
of the election should be changed by either court challenge or
revote. Senator Boxer claimed that she had made the motion not to
challenge the outcome, but to “shed the light of truth on these
Kerry would later state (in interviewer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
's words) that "the
widespread irregularities make it impossible to know for certain
that the [Ohio] outcome reflected the will of the voters." In the
same article, Democratic
said "I'm not confident that the election in Ohio was
fairly decided... We know that there was substantial voter
suppression, and the machines were not reliable. It should not be a
surprise that the Republicans are willing to do things that are
unethical to manipulate elections. That's what we suspect has
Points of controversy
- There is no individual federal agency with direct regulatory
authority of the U.S. voting machine industry. However the Election Assistance
Commission has full regulatory authority over federal testing
and certification processes, as well as an influential advisory
role in certain voting industry matters. Further oversight
authority belongs to the Government Accountability
Office, regularly investigating voting system related
- The former president of Diebold Election Systems (Bob Urosevich) and the vice president of
customer support at ES&S (Todd
Urosevich) are brothers.
- Walden O'Dell the former CEO of
Diebold (the parent company of voting
machine manufacturer Diebold Election Systems) was an active
fundraiser for George W. Bush's re-election campaign and wrote in a
fund-raising letter dated August 13, 2003, that he was committed
"to helping Ohio deliver its
electoral votes to the
- Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, who
was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential
candidates, served as the chairman of ES&S in the early 1990s
when it operated under the name American Information Systems Inc.
(AIS). ES&S voting machines tabulated 85 percent of the votes
cast in Hagel’s 2002 and 1996 election races. In 2003 Hagel
disclosed a financial stake in McCarthy Group Inc., the holding
company of ES&S.
- Global Election Systems, which was purchased by Diebold
Election Systems and developed the core technology behind the
company's voting machines and voter registration system, employed
five convicted felons as consultants and developers.
- Jeff Dean, a former Senior
Vice-President of Global Election Systems when it was bought by
Diebold, had previously been convicted of 23 counts of felony theft
in the first degree. Bev Harris reports
Dean was retained as a consultant by Diebold Election Systems,
though Diebold has disputed the consulting relationship. Dean was
convicted of theft via "alteration of records in the computerized
accounting system" using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade
detection over a period of 2 years.
- International election observers were barred from the polls in
Ohio by then Republican Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Blackwell's office argues this
was the correct interpretation of Ohio law.
- California Secretary of State Kevin
Shelley decertified all Diebold Election Systems touch-screen
voting machines due to computer-science reports released detailing
design and security concerns.
- 30% of all U.S. votes cast in the 2004 election were cast on
direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machine, which do not
print individual paper records of each vote.
- Numerous statistical analysis showed "discrepancy in the number
of votes Bush received in counties that used the touch-screen
machines and counties that used other types of voting equipment" as
well as discrepancies with exit polls, favoring President George W.
New during this campaign
At the invitation of the United States government, the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE
sent a team of observers to monitor the presidential elections in
2004. It was the first time the OSCE had sent observers to a U.S.
presidential election, although they had been invited in the past.
In September 2004 the OSCE issued a report
(PDF 168K) on U.S. electoral processes and the
election final report
(PDF 256K). The report reads: "The
November 2, 2004 elections in the United States mostly met the OSCE
commitments included in the 1990 Copenhagen Document. They were
conducted in an environment that reflects a long-standing
democratic tradition, including institutions governed by the rule
of law, free and generally professional media, and a civil society
intensively engaged in the election process. There was exceptional
public interest in the two leading presidential candidates and the
issues raised by their respective campaigns, as well as in the
election process itself."
Earlier, some 13 U.S. Representatives
the Democratic Party
had sent a
letter to United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan
the UN to monitor the elections. The UN responded that such a
request could only come from the official national executive. The
move was met by considerable opposition from Republican lawmakers.
The OSCE is not affiliated with the United Nations.
For 2004, some states expedited the implementation of electronic voting
systems for the
election, raising several issues:
- Software. Without proper testing and
certification, critics believe electronic voting machines could produce
an incorrect report due to malfunction or deliberate
- Recounts. A recount of an electronic voting
machine is not a recount in the traditional sense. The machine can
be audited for irregularities and voting totals stored on multiple
backup devices can be compared, but vote counts will not
- Partisan ties. Democrats noted the Republican
or conservative ties of several leading executives in the companies
providing the machines.
Campaign law changes
The 2004 election was the first to be affected by the campaign finance reforms
the Bipartisan Campaign
Reform Act of 2002
(also known as the McCain
Bill for its sponsors in the United
). Because of the Act's restrictions on
candidates' and parties' fundraising, a large number of so-called
emerged. Named for a section of
the Internal Revenue Code
these groups were able to raise large amounts of money for various
political causes as long as they do not coordinate their activities
with political campaigns. Examples of 527s include Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
, the Media Fund
, and America Coming Together
. Many such
groups were active throughout the campaign season. (There was some
similar activity, although on a much lesser scale, during the 2000
To distinguish official campaigning from independent campaigning,
political advertisements on television were required to include a
verbal disclaimer identifying the organization responsible for the
advertisement. Advertisements produced by political campaigns
usually included the statement, “I'm [candidate's name]
and I approve this message.” Advertisements produced by independent
organizations usually included the statement, “[Organization name]
is responsible for the content of this advertisement,” and from
September 3 (60 days before the general election), such
organizations' ads were prohibited from mentioning any candidate by
name. Previously, television advertisements only required a written
“paid for by” disclaimer on the screen.
This law was not well known or widely publicized at the beginning
of the Democratic primary season, which led to some early
misperception of Howard Dean, who was the first candidate to buy
television advertising in this election cycle. Not realizing that
the law required the phrasing, some people viewing the ads
reportedly questioned why Dean might say such a thing—such
questions were easier to ask because of the maverick nature of
Dean's campaign in general.
Colorado's Amendment 36
initiative in Colorado, known as Amendment 36, would have changed the
way in which the state apportions its electoral votes.
than assigning all 9 of the state's electors to the candidate with
a plurality of popular votes,
under the amendment Colorado would have assigned presidential
electors proportionally to the statewide vote count, which would be
a unique system (Nebraska and Maine assign
electoral votes based on vote totals within each congressional
Detractors claimed that this splitting would
diminish Colorado's influence in the Electoral College, and the
amendment ultimately failed, receiving only 34% of the vote.
- Lincoln Chafee, Against the Tide (2007),
- Loyola Phoenix, "The scream that left us blind",
2/11/04. Retrieved November 27, 2006
- San Francisco Chronicle October 5, 2004
- National Review: Does "L" Stand for "Loser?"
- Minnesota Public Radio: Minnesota elector gives Edwards a vote; Kerry gets
- Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential
Elections Presidential General Election Results Comparison
- Final Vote Results for Roll Call 7
- U.S. GAO. (2001, March 13).
Elections: The Scope of Congressional Authority in
Election Administration (GAO-01-470). Washington, DC: U.S.
Government Printing Office. Retrieved February 10, 2008.
- U.S. Election Assistance
Commission. (2007, January 11). EAC Statement Regarding Partisan Political
Activities by Voting Machine Manufacturers and Testing Labs and
their Employees. U.S. ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION: U.S.
ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION. Retrieved February 10, 2008.
- Government Accountability
Office election related reports
- Todd Urosevich: Vice President, Customer Support
- Washington Times August 6, 2004
- Bruce Schneier: The Problem with Electronic Voting
Machines, November 2004
- Warner, Melanie. " Machine Politics in the Digital Age."
Times. November 9, 2003.
- Official Federal Election Commission Report, a PDF
file, with the latest, most final, and complete vote totals
- Barone, Michael J. The Almanac of American Politics:
- Daclon, Corrado Maria, US elections and war on
terrorism (2004), Analisi Difesa, no. 50
- Evan Thomas, Eleanor Clift, and Staff of Newsweek. Election
Official candidate websites
A website originally existed for George W. Bush's campaign, but
after the election it was removed and the URL now redirects to the
Republican Party website. The Internet Archive has a copy of it as of just before the
The other five candidates continued to run
their campaign websites as personal sites.
Election maps & analysis
State-by-state forecasts of electoral vote outcome
Election campaign funding
Election 2004 global debate and voting
Minnesota electoral voting