2004 United States presidential election

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2004 United States presidential election

← 2000 November 2, 2004 2008 →

538 members of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout60.1%[1] Increase 5.9 pp
 
Nominee George W. Bush John Kerry
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Texas Massachusetts
Running mate Dick Cheney John Edwards
Electoral vote 286 251[a]
States carried 31 19 + DC
Popular vote 62,040,610 59,028,444
Percentage 50.7% 48.3%

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Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Bush/Cheney and blue denotes those won by Kerry/Edwards. Numbers indicate electoral votes cast by each state and the District of Columbia.
Faithless elector: John Edwards 1 (MN)

President before election

George W. Bush
Republican

Elected President

George W. Bush
Republican

The 2004 United States presidential election was the 55th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. The Republican ticket of incumbent President George W. Bush and his running mate incumbent Vice President Dick Cheney were elected to a second term, defeating the Democratic ticket of John Kerry, a United States senator from Massachusetts and his running mate John Edwards, a United States senator from North Carolina.

Bush and Cheney were renominated by their party with no difficulty. Former Vermont governor Howard Dean emerged as the early front-runner in the 2004 Democratic Party presidential primaries, but Kerry won the first set of primaries in January and clinched his party's nomination in March after a series of primary victories. Kerry chose Edwards, who had himself sought the party's 2004 presidential nomination, to be his running mate.

Foreign policy was the dominant theme throughout the election campaign, particularly Bush's handling of the war on terror and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Bush presented himself as a decisive leader and attacked Kerry as a "flip-flopper". Kerry criticized Bush's conduct of the Iraq War, despite having voted for it himself. Domestic issues were debated as well, including the economy and jobs, health care, abortion, same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research.

Bush won by a narrow margin of 35 electoral votes and took 50.7% of the popular vote. Bush swept the South and the Mountain States and took the crucial swing states of Ohio, Iowa, and New Mexico, the latter two flipping Republican. Although Kerry flipped New Hampshire, Bush won both more electoral votes and states than in 2000. Ohio was the tipping-point state, and was considered to be the state that allowed Bush to win re-election. Some aspects of the election process were subject to controversy, but not to the degree seen in the 2000 presidential election.

Background[edit]

George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 after the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore 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 of September 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 entered Afghanistan, which had been sheltering Osama bin Laden, suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks. The Taliban had been removed by December, although a long reconstruction would follow.

The Bush 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 and chemical 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, would violate the UN sanctions. The assertion about WMD was hotly advanced by the Bush administration from the beginning, but other major powers including China, France, Germany, and Russia remained unconvinced that Iraq was a threat and refused to allow passage of a UN Security Council resolution to authorize the use of force.[2] Iraq permitted UN weapon inspectors in November 2002, who were continuing their work to assess the WMD claim when the Bush administration decided to proceed with war without UN authorization and told the inspectors to leave the country.[3] The United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003, along with a "coalition of the willing" that consisted of additional troops from the United Kingdom, and to a lesser extent, from Australia and Poland. Within about three weeks, the invasion caused the collapse of both the Iraqi government and its armed forces. However, the U.S. and allied forces failed to find any weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. Nevertheless, 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.

Nominations[edit]

Republican nomination[edit]

Republican Party (United States)
Republican Party (United States)
2004 Republican Party ticket
George W. Bush Dick Cheney
for President for Vice President
43rd
President of the United States
(2001–2009)
46th
Vice President of the United States
(2001–2009)
Campaign

Bush was able to ward off any serious challenge to the Republican nomination. Senator Lincoln Chafee from 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 2003.[4]

On March 10, 2004, Bush officially attained the number of delegates needed to be nominated at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. He accepted the nomination on September 2, 2004, and retained Vice President Dick Cheney as his running mate. During the convention and throughout the campaign, Bush focused on two themes: defending America against terrorism and building an ownership society. 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.[5]

Democratic Party nomination[edit]

Democratic Party (United States)
Democratic Party (United States)
2004 Democratic Party ticket
John Kerry John Edwards
for President for Vice President
U.S. Senator
from Massachusetts
(1985–2013)
U.S. Senator
from North Carolina
(1999–2005)
Campaign

Withdrawn candidates[edit]

Candidates in this section are sorted by popular vote from the primaries
John Edwards Howard Dean Dennis Kucinich Wesley Clark Al Sharpton Joe Lieberman Carol Moseley
Braun
Dick Gephardt
 U.S. Senator from
North Carolina
(1999–2005)
79th
Governor of Vermont
(1991–2003)
U.S. Representative from Ohio
(1997–2013)
Supreme Allied
Commander Europe
(1997–2000)
Minister and Activist U.S. Senator
from Connecticut
(1989–2013)
U.S. Senator
from Illinois
(1993–1999)
House Minority Leader
(1995–2003)
Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign Campaign
W: March 2
3,162,337 votes
W: Feb 18
903,460 votes
W: July 22
620,242 votes
W: Feb 11
547,369 votes
W: March 15
380,865 votes
W: Feb 3
280,940 votes
W: Jan 15
98,469 votes
W: Jan 20
63,902 votes

Democratic primaries[edit]

Senator Kerry at a primary rally in St. Louis, Missouri, at the St. Louis Community College – Forest Park

The 2004 Democratic Party presidential primaries took place from January 14 to June 8, 2004 to select the Democratic Party's nominee for president. Before the primaries, Vermont governor Howard Dean was a favorite to win the nomination. However, Massachusetts senator John Kerry won victories in two early races: the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. These wins strengthened Kerry's previously weak campaign.[6] By March 11, Kerry had received enough delegates to win the nomination.[7] Other major candidates included North Carolina senator John Edwards and retired U.S. Army general Wesley Clark. On July 6, Kerry selected Edwards as his running mate, shortly before the 2004 Democratic National Convention was held later that month in Boston.[8]

Democratic National Convention[edit]

Heading into the convention, the Kerry/Edwards ticket unveiled its new slogan: a promise to make America "stronger at home and more respected in the world."[9] Kerry made his Vietnam War experience the convention's prominent theme.[10]

The keynote address at the convention was delivered by Illinois State Senator and U.S. Senate candidate (as well as future president) Barack Obama; the speech was well received, and it elevated Obama's status within the Democratic Party.[11]

Other nominations[edit]

David Cobb, the Green Party candidate
Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik

There were four other presidential tickets on the ballot in a number of states totaling enough electoral votes to have a theoretical possibility of winning a majority in the Electoral College. They were:

Issues unique to the election[edit]

Electronic voting machines[edit]

Ahead of the 2004 election, some states implemented electronic voting systems. Critics raised several issues about voting machines, particularly those made by Diebold Election Systems. Cybersecurity professionals found security vulnerabilities in Diebold machines.[16] Voting machines made by several companies were also criticized for their lack of a paper trail, which would have made results easier to verify.[16] Democrats also criticized various executives at Diebold, Inc. (the parent company of Diebold Election Systems) for their support of Bush's campaign, stating that it constituted a conflict of interest.[16] Following these issues, California banned the use of Diebold's AccuVote TSX voting machines for elections in 2004.[17]

Campaign law changes[edit]

The 2004 election was the first to be affected by the campaign finance reforms mandated by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. The act created restrictions on fundraising by political parties and candidates. A large number of independent 527 groups were created to bypass these restrictions.[18] 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 did not coordinate their activities with political campaigns. Examples of 527s include Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, MoveOn.org, the Media Fund, and America Coming Together. These groups were active throughout the campaign season, spending a record $556 million for all elections in 2004.[19]

The Stand by Your Ad provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act required political advertisements on television to include a verbal disclaimer identifying the organization or campaign responsible for the advertisement. This provision was intended to force campaigns to take responsibility for negative advertisements.[20] Campaign strategists criticized this requirement, stating that it would waste time and cause voters to be confused.[20]

General election campaign[edit]

Campaign issues[edit]

Bush focused his campaign on national security, presenting himself as a decisive leader and contrasted Kerry as a "flip-flopper." This strategy was designed to convey to American voters the idea that Bush could be trusted to be tough on terrorism while Kerry would be "uncertain in the face of danger."[21] In the final months before the election, Kerry's campaign focused on domestic issues such as the economy and health care. Kerry's campaign managers believed that Kerry had an advantage on domestic issues.[22]

According to one exit poll, people who voted for Bush cited the issues of terrorism and traditional values as the most important factors in their decision.[23] Kerry supporters cited the war in Iraq, the economy and jobs, and health care.[23]

Bush speaking at campaign rally in St. Petersburg, Florida, October 19, 2004

Economy[edit]

Tax cuts were passed in 2001 and 2003 under the Bush administration with Bush's support. Kerry voted against these tax cuts.[24] During the 2004 campaign, Bush praised these tax cuts, stating that they helped to grow the economy.[25] On the other hand, Kerry attacked Bush for failing to create jobs under his presidency.[26] Kerry stated that he wanted to reduce the United States budget deficit by capping government spending while ending various tax breaks for businesses.[25] Kerry also supported tax credits for businesses that hire additional workers.[27] Bush attacked Kerry for his economic proposals, stating that they would cause Americans to pay higher taxes. Bush also attacked Kerry for previously supporting tax raises, such as a proposed increase on the federal gas tax.[24]

Foreign policy[edit]

Bush defended the Iraq War, arguing that it was necessary to stop terrorism. He also said that the United States had made progress stopping terrorism in other nations.[28] Bush attacked Kerry for opposing the Iraq War after voting to authorize it in 2002, characterizing the shift as one of many flip-flops by Kerry.[29] Kerry argued that Bush had misled the American public in pursuing the Iraq War, noting that no illegal weapons had been found in Iraq. He said that the Iraq War was a mistake[30] and a diversion from terrorism in other nations such as Afghanistan.[31]

After the election, exit polls found that foreign policy concerns were the most important issues for voters.[32]

Health care[edit]

Health savings accounts (HSAs) were introduced in 2004 as part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, signed by Bush in December 2003.[33] As part of his 2004 campaign, Bush supported the expansion of HSAs. He proposed tax cuts to help Americans purchase their own health insurance. He also proposed a plan that would allow small businesses to purchase health insurance in large groups. Kerry's health care proposals included government subsidies for businesses that provide health insurance and the expansion of government-run health care programs.[34] Health policy experts stated that Bush's proposals would have a more limited impact than Kerry's proposals.[35][36]

Kerry also attacked Bush for his policy on stem cell research. In 2001, the Bush administration restricted embryonic stem cell research to existing stem cell lines. Kerry stated that this restriction was a barrier to conducting important research.[37]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

In July 2004, Bush announced his support for a Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, shortly before the Senate voted on the amendment. Although Kerry stated that he opposed same-sex marriage, he also opposed the amendment, saying that the legality of same-sex marriage should be decided by individual states.[38] The Senate vote failed on July 14.[39]

Controversies[edit]

Bush military service controversy[edit]

During the campaign, Bush was accused of failing to fulfill his required service in the Texas Air National Guard.[40]

A scandal occurred at CBS News after they aired a segment on 60 Minutes Wednesday, introducing what became known as the Killian documents. These documents were allegedly written by Jerry B. Killian, Bush's squadron commander, and they contained various allegations about Bush's service.[41] Serious doubts about the documents' authenticity quickly emerged,[42] leading CBS to appoint a review panel that eventually resulted in the firing of the news producer and other significant staffing changes.[43][44] The Killian documents were eventually concluded to be forgeries.[45]

Kerry military service controversy[edit]

Kerry was accused by the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth of distorting his military service in Vietnam.[46] 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. The organization spent $22.4 million in advertisements against Kerry. After the election, political analysts described their advertising campaign as effective.[19] The term swiftboating was used during the campaign to describe the organization's negative advertising, which Democrats saw as unfair. It was also used after the campaign to generally describe a harsh attack by a political opponent that is dishonest, personal and unfair.[47]

Presidential debates[edit]

Neighboring yard signs for Bush and Kerry in Grosse Pointe, Michigan

Three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate were organized by the Commission on Presidential Debates, and held in the autumn of 2004.

Debates among candidates for the 2004 U.S. presidential election
No. Date Host City Moderators Participants Viewship

(Millions)

P1 Thursday, September 30, 2004 University of Miami Coral Gables, Florida Jim Lehrer President George W. Bush
Senator John Kerry
62.4[48]
VP Tuesday, October 5, 2004 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, Ohio Gwen Ifill Vice President Dick Cheney
Senator John Edwards
43.5[48]
P2 Friday, October 8, 2004 Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, Missouri Charles Gibson President George W. Bush
Senator John Kerry
46.7[48]
P3 Wednesday, October 13, 2004 Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona Bob Schieffer President George W. Bush
Senator John Kerry
51.1
  • Map of United States showing debate locations
    University of Miami Coral Gables, FL
    University of Miami
    Coral Gables, FL
    Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH
    Case Western Reserve University
    Cleveland, OH
    Washington University in St. Louis St. Louis, MO
    Washington University in St. Louis
    St. Louis, MO
    Arizona State University Tempe, AZ
    Arizona State University
    Tempe, AZ
    Sites of the 2004 general election debates
    The first debate was held on September 30, slated to focus on foreign policy. 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.[49]
  • On October 5, the vice presidential debate between Cheney and Edwards. An initial poll by ABC indicated a victory for Cheney, while polls by CNN and MSNBC gave it to Edwards.[50][51][52][53]
  • The second presidential debate was 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.[54]
  • Bush and Kerry met for the third and final debate on October 13.[55] 51 million viewers watched the debate. After Kerry, responding to a question about gay rights, reminded the audience that Vice President Cheney's daughter was a lesbian, Cheney responded with a statement calling himself "a pretty angry father" due to Kerry using Cheney's daughter's sexual orientation for his political purposes.[56] Polls taken by Gallup in found that Kerry pulled ahead in October, but showed a tight race as the election drew to a close.[57]

Osama bin Laden videotape[edit]

On October 29, four days before the election, excerpts of a video of Osama bin Laden addressing the American people were broadcast on al Jazeera. In his remarks, bin Laden mentions the September 11, 2001 attacks and taunted Bush over his response to them. In the days following the video's release, Bush's lead over Kerry increased by several points.[58]

Results[edit]

Electoral results
Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
vote
Running mate
Count Percentage Vice-presidential candidate Home state Electoral vote
George W. Bush (incumbent) Republican Texas 62,040,610 50.73% 286 Dick Cheney (incumbent) Wyoming 286
John Kerry Democratic Massachusetts 59,028,444 48.27% 251 John Edwards North Carolina 251
John Edwards(a) Democratic North Carolina 5 0.00% 1 John Edwards North Carolina 1
Ralph Nader Independent Connecticut 465,650 0.38% 0 Peter Camejo(b) California 0
Michael Badnarik Libertarian Texas 397,265 0.32% 0 Richard Campagna Iowa 0
Michael Peroutka Constitution Maryland 143,630 0.12% 0 Chuck Baldwin Florida 0
David Cobb Green Texas 119,859 0.10% 0 Pat LaMarche Maine 0
Leonard Peltier Peace and Freedom Pennsylvania 27,607 0.02% 0 Janice Jordan California 0
Walt Brown Socialist Oregon 10,837 0.01% 0 Mary Alice Herbert Vermont 0
Róger Calero(c) Socialist Workers New York 3,689 0.01% 0 Arrin Hawkins(c) Minnesota 0
Thomas Harens Christian Freedom Minnesota 2,387 0.002% 0 Jennifer Ryan Minnesota 0
Other 50,652 0.04% Other
Total 122,295,345 100% 538 538
Needed to win 270 270

Source (Electoral and Popular Vote): Federal Elections Commission Electoral and Popular Vote Summary Voting age population: 215,664,000

Percent of voting age population casting a vote for president: 56.70%

(a) One faithless elector from Minnesota cast an electoral vote for John Edwards (written as John Ewards) for president.[59]
(b) In Montana, Karen Sanchirico was listed on the ballot as Nader's running mate, not Camejo. In Alabama, Jan D. Pierce was Nader's running mate. In New York, Nader appeared on two distinct tickets, one with Camejo and one with Pierce.[60]
(c) 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' ballots.

Popular vote
Bush
50.73%
Kerry
48.27%
Nader
0.38%
Badnarik
0.32%
Peroutka
0.12%
Others
0.17%
Electoral vote
Bush
53.16%
Kerry
46.65%
Edwards
0.19%

Results by state[edit]

The following table records the official vote tallies for each state as reported by the official Federal Election Commission report. The column labeled "Margin" shows Bush's margin of victory over Kerry (the margin is negative for states and districts won by Kerry).

Legend
States/districts won by Kerry/Edwards
States/districts won by Bush/Cheney
At-large results (for states that split electoral votes)
George W. Bush
Republican
John Kerry
Democratic
Ralph Nader
Independent / Reform
Michael Badnarik
Libertarian
Michael Peroutka
Constitution
David Cobb
Green
Others Margin State Total
State EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % #
Alabama 9 1,176,394 62.46% 9 693,933 36.84% 6,701 0.36% 3,529 0.19% 1,994 0.11% 0 0.00% 898 0.05% 482,461 25.62% 1,883,449 AL
Alaska 3 190,889 61.07% 3 111,025 35.52% 5,069 1.62% 1,675 0.54% 2,092 0.67% 1,058 0.34% 790 0.25% 79,864 25.55% 312,598 AK
Arizona 10 1,104,294 54.87% 10 893,524 44.40% 2,773 0.14% 11,856 0.59% 0 0.00% 138 0.01% 0 0.00% 210,770 10.47% 2,012,585 AZ
Arkansas 6 572,898 54.31% 6 469,953 44.55% 6,171 0.58% 2,352 0.22% 2,083 0.20% 1,488 0.14% 0 0.00% 102,945 9.76% 1,054,945 AR
California 55 5,509,826 44.36% 6,745,485 54.31% 55 20,714 0.17% 50,165 0.40% 26,645 0.21% 40,771 0.33% 27,747 0.22% −1,235,659 −9.95% 12,421,353 CA
Colorado 9 1,101,255 51.69% 9 1,001,732 47.02% 12,718 0.60% 7,664 0.36% 2,562 0.12% 1,591 0.07% 2,808 0.13% 99,523 4.67% 2,130,330 CO
Connecticut 7 693,826 43.95% 857,488 54.31% 7 12,969 0.82% 3,367 0.21% 1,543 0.10% 9,564 0.61% 12 0.00% −163,662 −10.37% 1,578,769 CT
Delaware 3 171,660 45.75% 200,152 53.35% 3 2,153 0.57% 586 0.16% 289 0.08% 250 0.07% 100 0.03% −28,492 −7.59% 375,190 DE
District of Columbia 3 21,256 9.34% 202,970 89.18% 3 1,485 0.65% 502 0.22% 0 0.00% 737 0.32% 636 0.28% −181,714 −79.84% 227,586 DC
Florida 27 3,964,522 52.10% 27 3,583,544 47.09% 32,971 0.43% 11,996 0.16% 6,626 0.09% 3,917 0.05% 6,234 0.08% 380,978 5.01% 7,609,810 FL
Georgia 15 1,914,254 57.97% 15 1,366,149 41.37% 2,231 0.07% 18,387 0.56% 580 0.02% 228 0.01% 46 0.00% 548,105 16.60% 3,301,875 GA
Hawaii 4 194,191 45.26% 231,708 54.01% 4 0 0.00% 1,377 0.32% 0 0.00% 1,737 0.40% 0 0.00% −37,517 −8.74% 429,013 HI
Idaho 4 409,235 68.38% 4 181,098 30.26% 1,115 0.19% 3,844 0.64% 3,084 0.52% 58 0.01% 13 0.00% 228,137 38.12% 598,447 ID
Illinois 21 2,345,946 44.48% 2,891,550 54.82% 21 3,571 0.07% 32,442 0.62% 440 0.01% 241 0.00% 132 0.00% −545,604 −10.34% 5,274,322 IL
Indiana 11 1,479,438 59.94% 11 969,011 39.26% 1,328 0.05% 18,058 0.73% 0 0.00% 102 0.00% 65 0.00% 510,427 20.68% 2,468,002 IN
Iowa 7 751,957 49.90% 7 741,898 49.23% 5,973 0.40% 2,992 0.20% 1,304 0.09% 1,141 0.08% 1,643 0.11% 10,059 0.67% 1,506,908 IA
Kansas 6 736,456 62.00% 6 434,993 36.62% 9,348 0.79% 4,013 0.34% 2,899 0.24% 33 0.00% 14 0.00% 301,463 25.38% 1,187,756 KS
Kentucky 8 1,069,439 59.55% 8 712,733 39.69% 8,856 0.49% 2,619 0.15% 2,213 0.12% 0 0.00% 22 0.00% 356,706 19.86% 1,795,882 KY
Louisiana 9 1,102,169 56.72% 9 820,299 42.22% 7,032 0.36% 2,781 0.14% 5,203 0.27% 1,276 0.07% 4,346 0.22% 281,870 14.51% 1,943,106 LA
Maine 2 330,201 44.58% 396,842 53.57% 2 8,069 1.09% 1,965 0.27% 735 0.10% 2,936 0.40% 4 0.00% −66,641 −9.00% 740,752 ME
Maine-1 1 165,824 43.14% 211,703 55.07% 1 4,004 1.04% 1,047 0.27% 346 0.09% 1,468 0.38% −45,879 −11.94% 384,392 ME1
Maine-2 1 164,377 46.13% 185,139 51.95% 1 4,065 1.14% 918 0.26% 389 0.11% 1,468 0.41% −20,762 −5.83% 356,356 ME2
Maryland 10 1,024,703 42.93% 1,334,493 55.91% 10 11,854 0.50% 6,094 0.26% 3,421 0.14% 3,632 0.15% 2,481 0.10% −309,790 −12.98% 2,386,678 MD
Massachusetts 12 1,071,109 36.78% 1,803,800 61.94% 12 4,806 0.17% 15,022 0.52% 0 0.00% 10,623 0.36% 7,028 0.24% −732,691 −25.16% 2,912,388 MA
Michigan 17 2,313,746 47.81% 2,479,183 51.23% 17 24,035 0.50% 10,552 0.22% 4,980 0.10% 5,325 0.11% 1,431 0.03% −165,437 −3.42% 4,839,252 MI
Minnesota 10 1,346,695 47.61% 1,445,014 51.09% 9 18,683 0.66% 4,639 0.16% 3,074 0.11% 4,408 0.16% 5,874 0.21% −98,319 −3.48% 2,828,387 MN
Mississippi 6 684,981 59.45% 6 458,094 39.76% 3,177 0.28% 1,793 0.16% 1,759 0.15% 1,073 0.09% 1,268 0.11% 226,887 19.69% 1,152,145 MS
Missouri 11 1,455,713 53.30% 11 1,259,171 46.10% 1,294 0.05% 9,831 0.36% 5,355 0.20% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 196,542 7.20% 2,731,364 MO
Montana 3 266,063 59.07% 3 173,710 38.56% 6,168 1.37% 1,733 0.38% 1,764 0.39% 996 0.22% 11 0.00% 92,353 20.50% 450,445 MT
Nebraska 2 512,814 65.90% 2 254,328 32.68% 5,698 0.73% 2,041 0.26% 1,314 0.17% 978 0.13% 1,013 0.13% 258,486 33.22% 778,186 NE
Nebraska-1 1 169,888 62.97% 1 96,314 35.70% 2,025 0.75% 656 0.24% 405 0.15% 453 0.17% 30 0.01% 73,574 27.27% 269,771 NE1
Nebraska-2 1 153,041 60.24% 1 97,858 38.52% 1,731 0.68% 813 0.32% 305 0.12% 261 0.10% 23 0.01% 55,183 21.72% 254,032 NE2
Nebraska-3 1 189,885 74.92% 1 60,156 23.73% 1,942 0.77% 572 0.23% 604 0.24% 264 0.10% 29 0.01% 129,729 51.18% 253,452 NE3
Nevada 5 418,690 50.47% 5 397,190 47.88% 4,838 0.58% 3,176 0.38% 1,152 0.14% 853 0.10% 3,688 0.44% 21,500 2.59% 829,587 NV
New Hampshire 4 331,237 48.87% 340,511 50.24% 4 4,479 0.66% 372 0.05% 161 0.02% 0 0.00% 978 0.14% −9,274 −1.37% 677,738 NH
New Jersey 15 1,670,003 46.24% 1,911,430 52.92% 15 19,418 0.54% 4,514 0.12% 2,750 0.08% 1,807 0.05% 1,769 0.05% −241,427 −6.68% 3,611,691 NJ
New Mexico 5 376,930 49.84% 5 370,942 49.05% 4,053 0.54% 2,382 0.31% 771 0.10% 1,226 0.16% 0 0.00% 5,988 0.79% 756,304 NM
New York 31 2,962,567 40.08% 4,314,280 58.37% 31 99,873 1.35% 11,607 0.16% 207 0.00% 87 0.00% 2,415 0.03% −1,351,713 −18.29% 7,391,036 NY
North Carolina 15 1,961,166 56.02% 15 1,525,849 43.58% 1,805 0.05% 11,731 0.34% 0 0.00% 108 0.00% 348 0.01% 435,317 12.43% 3,501,007 NC
North Dakota 3 196,651 62.86% 3 111,052 35.50% 3,756 1.20% 851 0.27% 514 0.16% 0 0.00% 9 0.00% 85,599 27.36% 312,833 ND
Ohio 20 2,859,768 50.81% 20 2,741,167 48.71% 0 0.00% 14,676 0.26% 11,939 0.21% 192 0.00% 166 0.00% 118,601 2.11% 5,627,908 OH
Oklahoma 7 959,792 65.57% 7 503,966 34.43% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 455,826 31.14% 1,463,758 OK
Oregon 7 866,831 47.19% 943,163 51.35% 7 0 0.00% 7,260 0.40% 5,257 0.29% 5,315 0.29% 8,956 0.49% −76,332 −4.16% 1,836,782 OR
Pennsylvania 21 2,793,847 48.42% 2,938,095 50.92% 21 2,656 0.05% 21,185 0.37% 6,318 0.11% 6,319 0.11% 1,170 0.02% −144,248 −2.50% 5,769,590 PA
Rhode Island 4 169,046 38.67% 259,765 59.42% 4 4,651 1.06% 907 0.21% 339 0.08% 1,333 0.30% 1,093 0.25% −90,719 −20.75% 437,134 RI
South Carolina 8 937,974 57.98% 8 661,699 40.90% 5,520 0.34% 3,608 0.22% 5,317 0.33% 1,488 0.09% 2,124 0.13% 276,275 17.08% 1,617,730 SC
South Dakota 3 232,584 59.91% 3 149,244 38.44% 4,320 1.11% 964 0.25% 1,103 0.28% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 83,340 21.47% 388,215 SD
Tennessee 11 1,384,375 56.80% 11 1,036,477 42.53% 8,992 0.37% 4,866 0.20% 2,570 0.11% 33 0.00% 6 0.00% 347,898 14.27% 2,437,319 TN
Texas 34 4,526,917 61.09% 34 2,832,704 38.22% 9,159 0.12% 38,787 0.52% 1,636 0.02% 1,014 0.01% 548 0.01% 1,694,213 22.86% 7,410,765 TX
Utah 5 663,742 71.54% 5 241,199 26.00% 11,305 1.22% 3,375 0.36% 6,841 0.74% 39 0.00% 1,343 0.14% 422,543 45.54% 927,844 UT
Vermont 3 121,180 38.80% 184,067 58.94% 3 4,494 1.44% 1,102 0.35% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 1,466 0.47% −62,887 −20.14% 312,309 VT
Virginia 13 1,716,959 53.68% 13 1,454,742 45.48% 2,393 0.07% 11,032 0.34% 10,161 0.32% 104 0.00% 2,976 0.09% 262,217 8.20% 3,198,367 VA
Washington 11 1,304,894 45.64% 1,510,201 52.82% 11 23,283 0.81% 11,955 0.42% 3,922 0.14% 2,974 0.10% 1,855 0.06% −205,307 −7.18% 2,859,084 WA
West Virginia 5 423,778 56.06% 5 326,541 43.20% 4,063 0.54% 1,405 0.19% 82 0.01% 5 0.00% 13 0.00% 97,237 12.86% 755,887 WV
Wisconsin 10 1,478,120 49.32% 1,489,504 49.70% 10 16,390 0.55% 6,464 0.22% 0 0.00% 2,661 0.09% 3,868 0.13% −11,384 −0.38% 2,997,007 WI
Wyoming 3 167,629 68.86% 3 70,776 29.07% 2,741 1.13% 1,171 0.48% 631 0.26% 0 0.00% 480 0.20% 96,853 39.79% 243,428 WY
U.S Total 538 62,040,610 50.73% 286 59,028,444 48.27% 251 465,151 0.38% 397,265 0.32% 143,630 0.12% 119,859 0.10% 99,887 0.08% 3,012,166 2.46% 122,294,846 US

Although Guam has no votes in the Electoral College, they have held a straw poll for their presidential preferences since 1980. In 2004, the results were Bush 21,490 (64.1%), Kerry 11,781 (35.1%), Nader 196 (0.58%) and Badnarik 67 (0.2%).[61]

Maine and Nebraska each allowed for their electoral votes to be split between candidates. In both states, two electoral votes were awarded to the winner of the statewide race and one electoral vote was awarded to the winner of each congressional district. [62][63]

Close states[edit]

Red font color denotes those won by Republican President George W. Bush; blue denotes states won by Democrat John Kerry.

States where margin of victory was under 1% (22 electoral votes):

  1. Wisconsin 0.38% (11,384 votes)
  2. Iowa 0.67% (10,059 votes)
  3. New Mexico 0.79% (5,988 votes)

States where margin of victory was more than 1% but less than 5% (93 electoral votes):

  1. New Hampshire 1.37% (9,274 votes)
  2. Ohio 2.11% (118,601 votes) (tipping point state)
  3. Pennsylvania 2.50% (144,248 votes)
  4. Nevada 2.59% (21,500 votes)
  5. Michigan 3.42% (165,437 votes)
  6. Minnesota 3.48% (98,319 votes)
  7. Oregon 4.16% (76,332 votes)
  8. Colorado 4.67% (99,523 votes)

States where margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10% (149 electoral votes):

  1. Florida 5.01% (380,978 votes)
  2. Maine's 2nd Congressional District 5.82% (20,762 votes)
  3. New Jersey 6.68% (241,427 votes)
  4. Washington 7.18% (205,307 votes)
  5. Missouri 7.20% (196,542 votes)
  6. Delaware 7.59% (28,492 votes)
  7. Virginia 8.20% (262,217 votes)
  8. Hawaii 8.74% (37,517 votes)
  9. Maine 9.00% (66,641 votes)
  10. Arkansas 9.76% (102,945 votes)
  11. California 9.95% (1,235,659 votes)

Statistics[edit]

[64]

Counties with highest percent of vote (Republican)

  1. Ochiltree County, Texas 91.97%
  2. Madison County, Idaho 91.89%
  3. Glasscock County, Texas 91.56%
  4. Roberts County, Texas 90.93%
  5. Arthur County, Nebraska 90.23%

Counties with highest percent of vote (Democratic)

  1. Washington, D.C. 89.18%
  2. Shannon County, South Dakota 84.62%
  3. City and County of San Francisco, California 83.02%
  4. Macon County, Alabama 82.92%
  5. Bronx County, New York 82.80%

Finance[edit]

These maps show the amount of attention given by the campaigns to the close states. At left, each waving hand represents a visit from a presidential or vice-presidential candidate during the final five weeks. At right, each dollar sign represents one million dollars spent on TV advertising by the campaigns during the same time period.

Source: FEC[65]

Ballot access[edit]

Presidential ticket Party Ballot access
Bush / Cheney Republican 50+DC
Kerry / Edwards Democratic 50+DC
Badnarik / Campagna Libertarian 48+DC
Peroutka / Baldwin Constitution 36
Nader / Camejo Independent, Reform 34+DC
Cobb / LaMarche Green 27+DC

2004 United States Electoral College[edit]

Faithless elector in Minnesota[edit]

One elector in Minnesota cast a ballot for president with the name of "John Ewards" [sic] written on it.[66] 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's name was spelled correctly on all ballots for vice president).[67] This was the first time in U.S. history that an elector had cast a vote for the same person to be both president and vice president.

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 accident.[68]

Battleground states[edit]

Cheney visited Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania on October 27, 2004[69]

During 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 Ohio.

Bush in the Oval Office, receiving a concession phone call from Kerry, which came the afternoon of the day following the election

The morning after the election, the winner was still undetermined. The result in Ohio would decide the winner, although the results in New Mexico and Iowa were also undetermined. Bush led in Ohio, but the state was still counting provisional ballots. In the afternoon of the day after the election, Ohio's Secretary of State, Ken Blackwell, announced that there were roughly 135,000 provisional ballots remaining. Kerry's campaign believed that it was statistically impossible to erase Bush's lead. Faced with this announcement, Kerry conceded defeat.[70]

Bush became the first Republican to ever win without carrying New Hampshire, and the first to win the popular vote without Vermont and Illinois. This is the last time a president was re-elected with a higher share of the electoral vote. Bush carried Colorado despite the state being Kerry's birth state. Bush simultaneously lost his own birth state of Connecticut, making this the only election since 1864 where neither candidate carried that person's birth state. This election was the first and only time since 1976 that New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Maine, Illinois, New Mexico, Michigan, and California voted for the losing candidate in the popular vote, as well as the first since 1980 that Maryland did so, and the first since 1948 that Delaware did so. Bush's 2.4% popular vote margin is the smallest ever for a re-elected president surpassing the 1812 election.

Bush won 4 states that have not voted Republican since: Virginia, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. In contrast, this is the last election that the losing candidate won any of the following states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. This is also the last time a Republican was elected without carrying Maine's 2nd congressional district. This election is the only time in history that every Northeastern state voted Democratic and every former Confederate state voted Republican. Thus, Bush is the only Republican to win without carrying any Northeastern electoral votes.

As of 2020, this is the only presidential election since 1988 in which the Republican nominee won the popular vote (as well as the last time the Democratic nominee lost the popular vote) and the only presidential election since 1984 in which the incumbent Republican president won re-election. Bush also became the only incumbent president to win re-election after previously losing the popular vote.

The 2004 election had the highest turnout rate among eligible voters since 1968,[71] although the 2008 presidential election would have higher turnout.[72]

Voter demographics[edit]

2004 presidential vote by demographic subgroup
Demographic subgroup Kerry Bush Other % of
total vote
Total vote 48 51 1 100
Ideology
Liberals 86 13 1 21
Moderates 54 45 1 45
Conservatives 15 84 1 34
Party
Democrats 89 11 0 37
Republicans 6 93 1 37
Independents 49 48 3 26
Gender
Men 44 55 1 46
Women 51 48 1 54
Marital status
Married 42 57 1 63
Non-married 58 40 2 37
Race
White 41 58 1 77
Black 88 11 1 11
Asian 56 43 1 2
Other 56 40 4 2
Hispanic 54 44 2 8
Religion
Protestant 40 59 1 54
Catholic 47 52 1 27
Jewish 74 25 1 3
Other 74 23 3 7
None 67 31 2 10
Religious service attendance
More than weekly 35 64 1 16
Weekly 41 58 1 26
Monthly 49 50 1 14
A few times a year 54 45 1 28
Never 62 36 2 15
White evangelical or born-again Christian?
White evangelical or born-again Christian 21 78 1 23
Everyone else 56 43 1 77
Age
18–29 years old 54 45 1 17
30–44 years old 46 53 1 29
45–59 years old 48 51 1 30
60 and older 46 54 0 24
First time voter?
First time voter 53 46 1 11
Everyone else 48 51 1 89
Sexual orientation
Gay, lesbian, or bisexual 77 22 1 4
Heterosexual 46 53 1 96
Education
Not a high school graduate 50 49 1 4
High school graduate 47 52 1 22
Some college education 46 54 0 32
College graduate 46 52 2 26
Postgraduate education 55 44 1 16
Family income
Under $15,000 63 36 1 8
$15,000–30,000 57 42 1 15
$30,000–50,000 50 49 1 22
$50,000–75,000 43 56 1 23
$75,000–100,000 45 55 0 14
$100,000–150,000 42 57 1 11
$150,000–200,000 42 58 0 4
Over $200,000 35 63 2 3
Union households
Union 59 40 1 24
Non-union 44 55 1 76
Military service
Veterans 41 57 2 18
Non-veterans 50 49 1 82
Issue regarded as most important
Moral values 18 80 2 22
Economy 80 18 2 20
Terrorism 14 86 0 19
Iraq 73 26 1 15
Health care 77 23 0 8
Taxes 43 57 0 5
Education 73 26 1 4
Region
Northeast 56 43 1 22
Midwest 48 51 1 26
South 42 58 0 32
West 50 49 1 20
Community size
Urban 54 45 1 30
Suburban 47 52 1 46
Rural 42 57 1 25

Source: CNN exit poll (13,660 surveyed)[73]

Aftermath[edit]

Voting problems in Ohio[edit]

After the election, activists and election scholars criticized various issues with the election in Ohio. Long lines at polling places over seven hours were reported. An electronic voting machine erroneously gave thousands of extra votes to Bush.[74] Professor Edward B. Foley stated that Ohio's voting problems did not affect the outcome.[75]

Election conspiracy theories[edit]

Map of election day problems

After the election, some sources [76] reported indications of possible data irregularities and systematic flaws during the voting process.[77]

Although 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. This 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 recount.[78] Independent candidate Ralph Nader obtained a recount in 11 New Hampshire precincts that used Accuvote voting machines.[79]

At the official counting of the electoral votes on January 6, an objection was made under the Electoral Count Act (now 3 U.S.C. § 15) to Ohio's electoral votes. Because the motion was supported by at least one member of both the House of Representatives and the Senate, the law required that the two houses separate to debate and vote on the objection. In the House of Representatives, the objection was supported by 31 Democrats. It was opposed by 178 Republicans, 88 Democrats and one independent. Not voting were 52 Republicans and 80 Democrats.[80] 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, Barbara 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. Boxer claimed that she had made the motion not to challenge the outcome, but "to cast the light of truth on a flawed system which must be fixed now.".[81][82]

Kerry would later state 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 National Committee Chairman Howard Dean 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 happened."[83]

Points of controversy[edit]

See also[edit]

Other elections[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ One Minnesota elector voted for Edwards for both president and vice president.

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Sources[edit]

  • Official Federal Election Commission Report, a PDF file, with the latest, most final, and complete vote totals available.
  • "Presidential Results by Congressional District". Polidata. Washington, D.C.: Polidata. Retrieved July 29, 2005.
  • Barone, Michael J. The Almanac of American Politics: 2006 (2005)
  • Daclon, Corrado Maria, US elections and war on terrorism (2004), Analisi Difesa, no. 50
  • Evan Thomas, Eleanor Clift, and Staff of Newsweek. Election 2004 (2005)

Books[edit]

  • Ceaser, James W. and Andrew E. Busch. Red Over Blue: The 2004 Elections and American Politics (2005), narrative history.
  • Freeman, Steven F. and Joel Bleifuss, Foreword by U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. Was the 2004 Presidential Election Stolen? Exit Polls, Election Fraud, and the Official Count (Seven Stories Press, 2006)
  • Greene, John C. and Mark J. Rozell, eds. The Values Campaign?: The Christian Right and the 2004 Elections (2006)
  • Miller, Mark Crispin. Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election (2005) –
  • Sabato, Larry J. Divided States of America: The Slash And Burn Politics of the 2004 Presidential Election (2005)
  • Stempel III, Guido H. and Thomas K. Hargrove, eds. The 21st-Century Voter: Who Votes, How They Vote, and Why They Vote (2 vol. 2015)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Official candidate websites[edit]

Election maps and analysis[edit]

State-by-state forecasts of electoral vote outcome[edit]

Controversies[edit]

Election campaign funding[edit]

Campaign ads[edit]