I doubt I am alone right now. Just one of millions of non-U.S. citizens pounding various election result webpages (e.g. the BBC and CNN), hoping to find out that Kerry has won. I’ve been following the voting histories, predictions and pre-election polls, and on the basis of that the results so far (Bush ahead 211 to 188, with the important swing states still to declare) are not that surprising - no states have change hands yet. The fact that the outcome depends on so few states is a little depressing, and one wonders what on earth Bush would have had to have done to earn the wrath of the people. Having said that, the relatively high turnout is very welcome indication that perhaps the U.S. public is taking this election as seriously as the rest of the world.
This CNN Exit Poll Survey is quite interesting, breaking down the vote by various social and economic factors. The sample size is admittedly fairly small (11,000-ish) and is probably slightly skewed (do the kind of people who stop to take an exit poll make for an representative sample of the overall population? - I doubt it), but some of the numbers are interesting nevertheless. For example, apparently neither Kerry nor Bush are trusted to handle the economy, and both are considered to have attacked the other unfairly. The ‘Most Important Quality’ is fairly amusing (particularly the low importance of intelligence among Bush voters), and the ‘Most Important Issue’ seems rather odd.
I was always under the impression that most Americans (Republican or Democrat) were not huge fans of federal government, and basically just accepted it as a necessity in order to keep things (largely the economy) running smoothly. i.e. they did not want a centralized body dictating what they could and couldn’t do, how they should live and so on. My problem with the ‘Most Important Issue’ statistics is that the largest issue, on a par with the economy, was the importance of ‘Moral Values’ (21% overall, of which 78% were Bush voters). How can morality be the most important issue on which to decide the president when the president’s job is not to dictate the behaviour of the people? There is a lot of data, and it’s difficult to be sure that my own little island thinking and general liberal tendencies are not twisting the nature of the bits of it that stick, but there seems to be a lot of ingrained, stubborn and mildly self-contradictory thinking knocking about.
Hmmm… I can be terribly slow sometimes. I’ve just remembered how the abortion issue is dealt with. So, we don’t want government intruding into peoples lives, unless they are doing something I believe is wrong, so therefore you can live just how you want as long as you live like me. Please collect your complimentary firearm on your way past the pulpit. By the way, bullets are on special offer at K-Mart this week, and come with a free bottle of Coke.
Well, that’s enough pointless, snide, stereotype-driven ranting. It’s just that most folks I know consider these things to be unarguable facts: * America’s economy is in trouble, and getting worse. * The Iraq war has made the world less safe, and the situation is getting worse. And believe that these two things alone are enough to conclude that the current president has failed, and a change is justified. Admittedly, many Americans I know feel that there is very little to choose between the parties, and I would tend to agree. But then why not change?! Maybe things won’t get much better, but surely they can’t get much worse?
We shall see.