Kerry: liked 5 points less than Gore

Wow, no wonder. On a “hot or not” kind of scale, Kerry came in at 52 points, compared to Gore for 57. Finally, empirical evidence for “Kerry was a lousy candidate”…

For starters, Republicans gave Kerry a mean score of 32 – six points worse than the score of 38 McGovern received from GOP identifiers in 1972 – and 14 points worse than the score Gore received from Republicans four years earlier. This is the first example of intensified partisanship, and it provides a more nuanced understanding of Kerry’s overall thermometer score – Kerry was the least liked Democrat ever, in the brief history of presidential thermometers, among Republican identifiers. There are some future precincts in New Hampshire and Iowa where that might qualify as a badge of honor.

But if Kerry was the least liked Democrat among rival party followers, George W Bush did him one better in 2004. Bush emerged as the least liked opposition-party presidential candidate, ever, of either major party. Democratic identifiers bestowed upon Bush a mean score of 29 – - a full 12 points lower than the score Democrats gave him four years earlier.

Pretty funny that Democrats dislike Bush even more than Nixon.

Oh, and check out these numbers:

There are many theories about what drove the 2004 election results and some of the more fanciful (exurbs, fast-growing counties, evangelicals, Hispanics, values voters) have been critiqued on this site. Now, with the release of the raw data from the 2004 NEP exit poll, it is possible to do some closer analysis of trends that really were of high salience. One such trend was the movement of white working class voters away from the Democratic ticket.

Here some findings from an initial pass through the NEP national data:

  1. In 2000, Gore lost white working class (defined as whites with less than a four year college degree) voters by 17 points; this year, Kerry lost them by 23 points, a swing of 6 points against the Democrats. In contrast, Gore lost college-educated whites by 9 points and Kerry lost them by 10 points–not much change.

Therefore, white working class voters were responsible for almost all of Bush’s increased margin among whites as a whole (which went from 12 to 17 points). And Bush’s increased margin among whites, of course, was primarily responsible for his re-election.

  1. Almost all of the white working class movement toward Bush was among white working class women, rather than white working class men. Bush won white working class men by almost identical margins in the two elections (29 points in 2000 and by 30 points in 2004). But he substantially widened his margin among white working class women, going from a 7 lead in '00 to an 18 point lead in '04. That 11 point swing against the Democrats among white working class women is arguably arguably the most important single fact about the 2004 election.

  2. Looking at married versus single white working class women, both groups appear to have swung substantially against the Democrats. Single white working class women (38 percent of white working class women) went Democratic by 15 points in 2000, but only by 2 points in 2004. Married white working class women (62 percent of white working class women) gave Bush a 15 margin in 2000 and more than doubled that margin, to 31 points, in 2004. Since married white working class women are the bulk of this group and had a slightly larger pro-Republican shift, they are responsible for most of the shift toward Bush among white working class women, but their single counterparts clearly made an important contribution as well.