this post is about the recent u.s. election, but i don't think it's about politics. it's the results of my fact checking study on the exit poll analysis. i wanted to validate or disprove what i'd heard about the electorate who selected george w. bush, and how they made that choice. i'm not interested, in this post, in what they should have done. this is intended to be a demographic study, not a political argument. more disclaimers at the end, but you get the idea.
the results of the recent u.s. election surprised me. the analysis of the exit polls surprised me even more. the basic theme is that george bush was elected by scared, intolerant, ignorant religious zealots. the blogs i read have discussed the shocking reality of the nation we really live in at length, sometimes civilly and sometimes not.
this past weekend's editorials echoed a similar theme: like it or not, the majority of americans are ignorant religious extremists; what now?
so, as i said, i was pretty surprised by what i was hearing and wanted to check the stats.
about the exit polls
first of all, i was interested to learn that the results are based on 13,660 respondents. that's kind of staggering - 13,660 people who speak for the 115 million voters who speak for 295 million americans.
exit poll results: http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html
information on how the polls are conducted: http://www.exit-poll.net/faq.html
values / religion / character
only 22% said most important issue was moral values
only 8% said gwb's most important quality is his religious faith
abortion vote not a strong factor either way
60% supported either marriage or civil unions for same sex couples
77% said they were not "white evangelical / born again"
bush's most important quality - not religion but character - "honest / trustworthy", "strong leader", "clear stand on issue"
majority said kerry says mostly what people want to hear vs. what he believes
fear / terrorism
71% said they are worried about terrorism, but of that group only 53% voted for bush.
by a 6% margin, those surveyed did not believe the iraq war had made the us more secure.
70% of americans are "very concerned" about availability / cost of healthcare, 23% said they're "somewhat concerned"
kerry did not capture the middle class vote - 70% of voters earning between $30K and $150K
bush got almost 40% of the union vote
52% said the economy was "not good" or "poor", but 20% of that group voted for bush
53% did not trust kerry to handle the economy
education - bush captured the 80% of the vote with high-school or college degrees, kerry got the 20% without high school education and with post grad degrees. college graduates (with no postgrad degrees) picked bush by a 6% margin.
age - kerry got the young vote (18-29), but it comprised only 17% of voters. the next group (30-44) voted for bush, as did all older categories.
location - the rural vote was only 25% of the vote, and of that bush picked up 57% of the vote. a lead, but not a huge lead. i had come to a different conclusion from the maps scott linked to: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/PermaLink.aspx?guid=d714c9ae-acbb-4d89-bb22-e67953cdce89
party affiliation - the 26% who identified themselves as independant (neither republican nor democrat) split their vote between kerry and bush, 49% to 48%.
ideology - kerry only got 54% of the 45% who classified themselves as "moderate".
warning - these are opinions. they're still talking about the messages of the candidates, though, not the issues.
i don't see evidence to support a religious mandate for bush.
kerry doesn't appear to have presented a clear message other than "i'm not bush".
kerry needed to provide a vision for healthcare and the economy. 70% americans were "very concerned" with the health care issue, but they didn't have a chance to vote on it. the majority of americans felt the economy was "not good", but a majority also said they didn't trust kerry to handle the economy.
i think the terrororism and iraq issues, while very important, were a quagmire (as an issue, i'm not getting into the actual war part). it's like the old saying: "never wrestle a pig - you both get dirty, and the pig likes it." this issue is a mess, and kerry couldn't really say "vote for me and i'll make this war thing go away." surprisingly, this issue appears to have given no real advantage to either side. based on the exit polls, it looks to me like kerry should shown respect for the gravity of the situation, but spent more time on a domestic vision.
indicentally, i think it's funny that the state of the economy gets debated every 4 years while the natural economic cycles run about 10 years: http://www.nber.org/cycles.html. asking "are you better off now than you were 4 years ago?" makes a good soundbite, but ignores some general economic principles (on either end of the swing).
i always enjoy comments, but do not intend to host any political debates.
this is off topic for my normal subject matter. i'll be keeping my focus is on internet technologies, asp.net, blogging, etc.
pardon the bullet points and lowercase - i'm finishing a big project and don't have much free time.