United States presidential election, 2004

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John Kerry (left) and George W. Bush (right)
In 2004 Republicans renominated President George W. Bush for reelection on the Republican party ticket. The Democrats nominated Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as their candidate. Several others minor candidates ran in the election, but none got very much support.

The Campaign

Republicans pointed out that Kerry was liberal, even more so than Ted Kennedy. Bush's popularity numbers were at a point that most Presidents would not get re-elected. Indeed, Kerry led in the polls for most of the campaign season, but failed to get a bump from the Democratic convention, especially when confronted with strong allegations from Swift Boat veterans that his war record was exaggerated and far from heroic. The Republican convention painted Kerry as a flip-flopper, and the Bush-Cheney ticket did receive a bounce. Even so, with a campaign to galvanize the young people to his cause with odd slogans such as "vote or die", Kerry still had a slight lead heading into the election and it appeared he would win.

The Election

On election night, voter turnout was heavy, as the Democrats had hoped, but they underestimated the Republican turnout - which was heavier than expected. Karl Rove's strategy of getting gay marriage amendment propositions on the ballot in key states helped to get out the conservative base. Exit polling was known to be unreliable as more Democrats than Republicans agree to talk afterwards, but this election truly highlighted that. It began to leak on the internet that Kerry had won as the polling showed that he won Ohio by 5 points. The networks believed that Kerry was going to be the next President and all they had to do was report it as it unfolded. In the end George W. Bush won. At first Kerry and Edwards refused to concede and, indeed, Edwards wanted to contest the election, but there were no close states like in 2000. Their best bet, Ohio, was won by Bush with a margin of 120,000 votes. Kerry conceded the next morning and Bush was re-elected as President.

In a rare occurrence, it was found afterwards that Kerry hadn't spent all of the money in his war chest, having over $10 million that could have gone to last minute advertising. The Democratic party was upset and Kerry never did explain why he allowed this to occur.

Due to the high voter turnout and lack of a strong third party candidate, George Bush's tally of over 62 million votes was the most in United States History and surpassed his winning total in 2000 by over 11 million votes. John Kerry's 59 million was the second highest for a Presidential candidate, and, of course, the highest for a losing candidate. The relative closeness of the victory was due in part to lopsided Democrat victories in New York and California; ignoring these states, Bush beat Kerry by 5 1/2 percentage points in the remaining 48 states.

After the election, there were a number of allegations of voter fraud and irregularities by those who couldn't face that their candidate lost,[1][2][3][4] and some Democratic poll workers were convicted of misconduct and failure to perform official duties in a vote rigging scheme to bypass a recount of Presidential election ballots.,[5][6] but in the end it meant little to the overall scheme of how the election went.

Adding to a disappointing presidential election for the Democratic party, one of Minnesota's electoral college members inexplicably cast his vote for John Edwards instead of Kerry. New York also made a mistake and gave their electoral votes to "John L. Kerry" instead of John F. Kerry. The state electors gave a corrected set of results to the Senate.

In 2007 the Federal Election Commission fined the Kerry campaign $1.3 million for spending more than federal rules allow during his 2004 Presidential bid. In order to receive public funds, Kerry, a former Democrat senator from Massachusetts, and his running mate, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, agreed to spend $74.6 million or less on their general election campaign against President Bush.[7][8] In 2009 the FEC fined a George Soros-backed group $775,000 for its unregulated spending during the 2004 election on behalf of Democrats, including Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kerry.[9]


Candidate Party Popular Vote Percent Electoral Vote
George W. Bush Republican 62,040,610 50.73% 286
John Kerry Democratic 59,028,439 48.27% 251[11]
Ralph Nader Independent 463,655 0.38% 0
Michael Badnarik Libertarian 397,265 0.32% 0
Others - 363,579 0.30% 0


  1. http://www.tompaine.com/articles/kerry_won.php
  2. http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen/print
  3. https://www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/06/03/kennedy/
  4. https://www.motherjones.com/arts/books/2005/11/recounting_ohio.html
  5. Convicted for Ohio Vote Fraud, Media Forgets They’re Democrats, By Warner Todd Huston. Retrieved from TheRealityCheck.org November 11, 2007.
  6. [1]
  7. https://www.politico.com/news/stories/0507/4269.html
  8. Agenda Document No. 07-37, Federal Election Commission, Washington, D.C., May 21, 2007.
  9. https://www.cbsnews.com/2100-501563_162-3222390.html
  10. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections
  11. One Minnesota Kerry elector voted for John Edwards.