One of the many reasons for the President’s historic victory was the increased turnout of Bush voters in the Kerry states. No doubt, many of these voters were Democrats who voted for Bush, but I think that many were also Republican voters who, for one reason or another, decided to stay home in 2000, but were moved to cast ballots for the President this time around.
I’ll offer up some anecdotal evidence to support this. In 2000, my brother-in-law was attending school in New York. He choose to vote (for Bush) by absentee ballot in Tennessee, his home state, to avoid the stress of dealing with his in-laws, who supported Al Gore. (I can’t help but note the irony of New York state voters supporting a Tennessean candidate for president, while the voter from Tennessee cast a ballot against said candidate.)
Another example, one of my wife’s college friends was attending Columbia University in 2000. My wife very diligently encouraged her friend, who grew up in Kentucky and is a solid Republican voter, to vote in 2000, especially to cast a vote against Hillary since neither my wife nor I could. After the election, my wife emailed her friend to ask if he had voted. His reply went something like this, “Yeah I did, not that it matters or that it will do any good.”
In both cases, the people I know voted despite the uncomfortableness of dealing with friends, family, co-workers and neighbors who did not share their views, or the discouragement that their vote would not affect the eventual outcome. Sure, these are only two examples, and not a statistically valid sample. But I can’t help wondering, if the people I know were discouraged or pressured about the election, how many others were in the same circumstances, but decided to sit that election out. I will probably never know. But I think it is something worth considering.