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January 22, 2009


There are (at least) 4 reasonable ways to measure the magnitude of a Presidential election victory: electoral vote, % of electoral vote, popular vote, and % of popular vote. Based on the latter two measures, Bush's victory was decisive. Brendan chose the measure that minimized Bush's victory margin.

According to dictionary.com, "decisive" has the relevant meanings:

3. indisputable; definite: a decisive defeat.
4. unsurpassable; commanding: a decisive lead in the voting.

Bush's victory margin over Kerry must have been indisputable. Otherwise, the Dems would have gone to court and disputed it.

OTOH I will grant Brendan that Bush's victory may not have been "commanding".

Didn't John Quincy Adams fail to get re-elected in 1828?

Rob is correct. The phrasing is unclear, but I think Brownstein is using 1832 as the cutoff for the dawn of mass democracy in the Jacksonian era, not referring to 1828 as the closest incumbent reelection. This sentence from later in his article makes this more explicit: "Apart from Truman in 1948 (whose winning margin was 4.5 percentage points), every other president elected to a second term since 1832 has at least doubled Bush's margin over Kerry."

By the way, Wikipedia has lists of the presidential elections that you can sort by popular vote and Electoral College margins.

Since 2000, "decisive" has apparently evolved to mean any election outcome not decided by the Supreme Court.

I disagree, Dave. I think you're confusing indisputable (Bush's reelection couldn't be disputed) with undisputed (Bush's reelection wasn't disputed).

But regardless, I don't think anyone would have interpreted her comment the way you suggest, since it would have rendered it nearly meaningless. Especially when you consider the full quote:

"It was a remarkable reversal from the president's decisive re-election victory in 2004 and his hopes for a lasting Republican majority."

She's talking about a paradigm shift here, not a skin-of-his-teeth (but undisputed) reelection.

Jinchi and Brendan -- you have convinced me. The word "decisive" was not accurate.

Is there a cat macro that represents astonishment that this thread turned out this way? Kudos to you, David.


You are ready for the MSM; by choosing the standard as electoral at first and then "re-election margin" second, you are doing a great job manipulating some others.

Bush's 2004 victory was decisive; the issue was clear ... War Endurance or Effortful, and Merely Hopefully Honorable, Withdrawal. This was after WMD proved specious. Bush won by 3%; that is decisive and you know it; otherwise, why the games.

Also how about JFK substantively as the most Bush II like previous president? Like JFK, Bush II expanded aid for poor foreign countries; cut taxes on the rich (but unlike FDR Bush II made the USA tax system MORE progressive); and, far MORE agressively than Bush II, revanchistically, invaded foreign countries.

Also, the Iraq II War was not pre-emptive, but enforced the treaty from Iraq War I.

The Masked Defender

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