Friday, December 10, 2004

A Clarification for the Math-Challenged

by Rich Miles

Dec. 10, 2004

On Dec. 10, a letter writer took one of our local columnists to task for actually expressing an opinion in his opinion column of Dec. 7, saying that supporters of the Fairness Ordinance (and by extension, opponents of the anti-gay hate campaign locally and nationally) obviously hadn't "heard the voice of the electorate" on Nov. 2. Apparently, columnists are only allowed to express "warm and fuzzy" opinions, and when they get into saying what they believe about a controversial topic of importance to our city and country, some folk feel the need to try to cut him off at the knees. But that's not why I'm writing this - that columnist is a big guy, a REALLY big guy, and can defend himself.

What I want to say here is...well...I mean really...this "the people have spoken" and "Bush has a mandate" crap simply has to stop. Since it seems that a lot of people are merely repeating what they've heard elsewhere and don't actually understand what they're saying, let me offer some facts about this matter for the mathematically challenged:

The surface-noise word these days is that George W. Bush won the election by a popular-vote margin of 51-48% over John Kerry. However, the truth (as displayed by among other sources) is that Bush received 50.7%, and Kerry received 48.3% - a margin of 2.4%, not the 3% in the surface-level numbers. That's a significant 20% reduction in the margin between the two major party candidates.

However, even the most innumerate among us will note that these numbers do not add up to 100%. Third-party candidates nationwide represented a total of 1% of the vote. So in the final count, 49.3% of all Americans who voted for a presidential candidate voted AGAINST Bush. His final total was a margin of 1.4% of the popular vote, less than one-half of the 3% Republicans have been crowing about since the day after the election. This represents 1.8 million voters, not 3.7 million as stated after November 2, a reduction of 50% in that margin of victory. Add to this the fact that only about 60% of eligible voters actually bestirred themselves to vote, and the high rate of voting "irregularities" that remain unresolved nationwide, and it turns out that Bush got at most the votes of about 30% of voting-age Americans, and about 20% of all Americans of all ages.

How any of this, even the largest of the above numbers, amounts to a mandate is a logical leap that simply boggles the mind.

In truth, far from receiving a mandate, he barely squeaked by, and there are some indications that he didn't really even do as well as he seems to have done. However, barring a miracle, it appears we're going to inaugurate him again anyway.

But if people like that letter writer think that Americans who disagree with Bush and his policies are just going to lay down and die because he and they keep shouting "Mandate! The people have spoken!", they've got a major surprise in store. We still think he's wrong whether he won the election or not, and we're still going to do all we can to thwart him in his misguided attempts to dismantle the America we know and love. So get off your high horse. We're not buying.

And besides, vox populi was never vox dei, and most assuredly isn't now.

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