The 2004 presidential election, hailed by many as the most important election of our lifetime, has made political history. On Wednesday, George W. Bush became the first Republican president to win reelection since Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1984. A major factor contributing to his return to office is the significant increase in voter turnout – the highest rate since 1968.
The Associated Press reported that 114.9 million out of an estimated 295 million Americans voted on Tuesday, with 99 percent of precincts reporting a turnout.
This figure is estimated to be closer to 117.8 million when uncounted absentee and mail ballots from California, Oregon, and Washington are factored in. An additional 2 million votes remain in the form of provisional ballots, incomplete tabulations in some states, and other absentee ballots, according to CNN.
The total turnout is estimated at about 120 million people, a little under 60 percent of eligible voters – the highest percentage in 36 years.
In the 2000 election between Bush and Democratic nominee Al Gore, the numbers were similar. Fifty-two percent, about 102 million people, voted.
Unlike the 2000 election, however, George W. Bush secured the popular vote with 51 percent compared to Kerry’s 48 percent. Overall, the president claimed the victory by about 3.5 million votes, becoming the first presidential candidate since his father, George Bush Sr. in 1988, to receive over 50 percent of the popular vote, according to the New York Times.
Bush was fully supported by Florida, receiving a reported 3,836,216 votes, or 52 percent compared to Kerry’s 3,459,293 votes, or 47 percent of Florida’s voting population. In Ohio, the key swing state that ultimately decided the election, Bush was reported to be ahead of Kerry one to two percentage points.
To win the presidency, a candidate must garner 270 electoral votes. When Kerry conceded the election on Wednesday, Bush had acquired 274 electoral votes to Kerry’s 252.
Exit polls this year indicated that about nine percent of voters were between ages 18 to 24, similar to the election in 2000. When expanded to the 18 to 29 age demographic, this number rose to 17 percent of voter turnout, also similar to statistics recorded four years ago. In addition, exit polls showed 54 percent of registered females and 46 percent of registered males went to the polls, with the majority of females choosing Kerry (51%) and majority of males placing their vote with Bush (55%).
Andrea Boston can be reached at email@example.com.