Buckeye State Bunco in the ’04 Election? It Didn’t Happen

It’s bad enough that the sore losers on the left carp endlessly about George W. Bush defeating Al Gore in Florida, but at least you can understand it. It was a really close election that Bush won by only 537 votes. Then there was the U.S. Supreme Court stepping in to stop the Florida Supreme Court’s unconstitutional recount. There were even recounts after the fact, sponsored by newspapers — which, although they did conclude that Bush would have won if the recount had gone forward — added to the confusion. Still, it did seem to be a rare snafu that we wouldn’t have to repeat again.

Fast forward to 2004. This time around, Bush clearly won the Electoral College and the popular vote by a healthy 3 million vote margin. So, finally America could put the Florida debacle behind us for good — except, we didn’t because liberals hated Bush so much that they simply refused to accept the fact that he could beat them legitimately.

On November 5, just three days after the election, wacky conspiracy theories were already being tossed around on the left:

“I cannot possibly put into words how disappointed, angry, and perplexed I am right now. The reported results coming out of Florida and Ohio simply make no sense to me. I cannot comprehend how we could have such a massive increase in turnout and not win the election. To paraphrase that little weasel Tucker Carlson: You don’t wait in line for five hours to vote for more of the same. Who knows, maybe some people really would wait in line for more of the same. But my impression is that something just stinks here. As EarlG told me this morning: The result is either massively fraudulent or deeply disturbing.” –Skinner, the owner of the Democratic Underground

“My progressive friends: I know you are disheartened. So am I. A record turnout should have ensured a Kerry sweep. And there’s no doubt that we will never know whether the Ohio vote count was legitimate. One thing is certain, however: Bush is still not the legitimate president of the United States. He ran on an incumbency he never earned.”– Ted Rall

“First of all, this election was definitely rigged. I have no doubt about it. It’s a statistical impossibility that Bush got 8 million more votes than he got last time.” — Mark Crispin Miller gives his answer to the question “what do we do now?” which was posed by Salon.

“I know you don’t want to hear it. You can’t face one more hung chad. But I don’t have a choice. As a journalist examining that messy sausage called American democracy, it’s my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry.” — Greg Palast

It was hard to take these doubters any more seriously than the people who claim we never landed on the moon or that the Pentagon was really hit by a truck bomb on 9/11. After all, we’re talking about people who immediately decided that the election must have been rigged simply because their candidate lost and then started working from there. Yet, the stolen election chatter never really went away, as much as anything because Democrats believe these conspiracy theories fire up their base and delegitimize Republican victories.

Want to have a rational debate about the topic? Forget about it. It’s like arguing with a football fan who insists the NFL rigged a playoff game against his team because there was a questionable holding call in the second quarter. It doesn’t matter if the final score is 35-14, he just “knows” that the league is targeting his team and nothing you say can change his mind.

Yet and still, let’s take a look at a few inconvenient facts that the conspiracy theorists love to gloss over.

To begin with, the final tally in Ohio showed Bush burying Kerry by 118,443 votes. That’s more than 220 times the final margin in Florida and it’s not a “close” race by any stretch of the imagination.

How could the GOP even rig an election by that kind of margin? Perhaps Diebold, a corporation a lot of nutters on the left believe has thrown in with the vast right-wing conspiracy, ginned up those totals? Well, that doesn’t really seem possible given that “Diebold machines were used in only two of Ohio’s 88 counties.” So, if Diebold didn’t digitally create those extra 118,443 votes, where did they come from? Perhaps little Republican “vote fairies” sprinkled their magical pixie dust on the ballot boxes and created extra votes for Bush out of thin air, all across the state, without anyone being the wiser.

But what about the exit polls? Didn’t they show Kerry ahead in Ohio? Yes they did, just as the exit polls showed the Democratic candidate overperforming in every election from 1988 to the present.

So, why were the exit polling numbers off? According to Warren Mitofsky, whose company supervised the exit polling:

“Our analysis of the exit polls suggests that we had slightly better cooperation from the Kerry voters than from the Bush voters. In other words, the non-response was not even. There was some unevenness to it. And it favored Kerry.”

The Mayflower Hill blog also said the following after an interview with Mitofsky:

“One possibility he was able to rule out, though, is touch screen voting machines that don’t leave any paper trail being used to defraud the election. To prove this, he broke down precincts based on the type of voting machine that was used and compared the voting returns from those precincts with his own exit polls. None of the precincts with touch screen computers that don’t leave paper trails, or any other type of machine for that matter, had vote returns that deviated from his exit poll numbers once the average 1.9% non-response bias was taken into account.”

So, who are you going to believe? The professional pollster who actually ran the exit polling or the liberal partisans, sitting around in their basements wearing tinfoil beanies, who say that the exit polling proved the election was rigged?

As if that wasn’t enough, what about the polling data from before the election? Was it indicating a Bush or Kerry victory? Bush won nine out of the last 10 polls in Ohio. That’s just another indication that the results in Ohio were right on the money.

Here’s the final reality that the conspiracy theorists need to accept: Bush won Ohio in 2004 by a margin so big that it practically precludes the possibility of fraud or inadvertent mistakes having been the deciding factor, especially in our political system, which has people from both political parties involved almost every step of the way. As Michael O’Grady, “the legal counsel to the Ohio Democratic Party” has said about the possibility that the election in Ohio was stolen, “That point of view relies on the assumption that the entire Republican Party is conspiratorial and the entire Democratic Party is as dumb as rocks. And I don’t buy that.” O’Grady is right not to buy it and no one else should either.

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