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How Important Were the Fast-Growing Counties to Bush's Victory?

Very important--cosmically important!--if we are to believe the analysis in Monday's Los Angeles Times story by Ron Brownstein and Richard Rainey. The story, breathlessly entitled "GOP Plants Flag on New Voting Frontier: Bush's Huge Victory in the Fast-Growing Areas Beyond the Suburbs Alters the Political Map" makes the situation sound dire indeed for the Democrats. Bush rode a tidal wave of GOP votes in these counties to victory and, since these counties are so fast-growing, things will only get worse!

Does the analysis in the Brownstein/Rainey article justify the somewhat extravagant claims made for the importance of these counties? I don't think so. Start with exhibit number one in the article: Bush carried the 100 fastest-growing counties (defined as those that grew the fastest between April 2000 and July 2003) by 1.7 million votes this year. That sounds impressive, especially since the article points out that those votes are "almost half the president's total margin of victory".

But isn't the most relevant measure for understanding Bush's victory how much Bush improved his performance in different areas relative to 2000? It is these improvements in Bush's vote margins in various areas of the country that are responsible for taking him from a half million vote deficit in 2000 to a roughly 3.4 million vote advantage this election.

In that light, how does Bush's performance in these fast-growing counties stack up? Not so different from what I found the other day when I analyzed the role of exurbs in Bush's 2004 victory. In that analysis, I found that exurbs, defined as fringe counties of large metropolitan areas, contributed about 13 percent of Bush's net vote gain between 2000 and 2004.

In the fast-growing counties, as Brownstein/Rainey point out, Bush’s vote margin in 2000 was 1.06 million votes, so his improvement or net vote gain in these counties was a more modest 660,000 votes. That, in turn, works out to a contribution of about 17 percent to Bush’s total net vote gain in the country. That’s good, but it’s hardly overwhelming.

And actually not very different--and in some cases less--than the contributions of other "top 100" groups of counties that don't have that exciting fast-growth label. Take the top 100 counties in terms of amount--not rate--of population growth. My analysis shows that these counties contributed 21 percent of Bush's total increase in vote margin. Or how about the top 100 counties in terms of population size today: Kerry still carried these counties by an overwhelming margin (5.9 million votes) but Bush cut his deficit enough in these counties that they still contributed about 15 percent of Bush's total net vote gains--just about as much as those sexy fast-growing counties contributed.

And no matter which of these "top 100" county categories you look at, the overwhelming amount of Bush's gains still occur outside those county categories. Boringly enough, it looks like Bush's narrow victory was mostly attributable to modest, but broad-based, gains across the country, not to any particular flavor of county, as enticing as that storyline obviously is to journalists.

How broad-based? If you look at percentage point margins, Bush improved his margin by 4 points in the 100 fastest-growing counties--and by 3 points outside those counties. And he improved his margin by 3 points in the 100 largest-growth counties and by 2 points in the 100 counties with the largest populations.

It's fun to talk about exurbs and fast growth, but "huge victory" and "altering the political map"--puh-leeze. In the end it was "two to four points and a cloud of dust". That was the real 2004 election.


I don't get it. Even if Bush didn't improve on his margins AT ALL since 2000 in the fast-growing counties, so long as he's winning those counties consistently and so long as those counties are growing faster than the national average, doesn't that make life Hell for the Democrats?

Think of it this way: someone delivers me a 10-inch pizza to divy up with my son, and my son a 10-inch pizza to divy up with me. I keep 55 percent of my pizza, he keeps 55 percent of his. (Ie. I put green pepper on 55 percent of my pizza, which he hates, while he puts pepperoni on 55 percent of his pizza, which I hate.) Next day, the deliveryman delivers me a 12-inch pizza and my son a 10-inch pizza. Same thing happens: we each keep the same share of our respective pies. Next day, I get a 14-incher and he gets a 12-incher; we divvy them up the same way.

Who's eating more pizza?


If I've understood your arguments about fat-growing exurbs in the past, we should expect them to trending Dem. But then, there's this:

"If you look at percentage point margins, Bush improved his margin by 4 points in the 100 fastest-growing counties--and by 3 points outside those counties."

I take this to mean that, even if Bush's gains in the fast-growing communities weren't what Brownstein & Rainey made them out to be, Bush *did* make slightly more gains in these communities than elsewhere. At the very least, that makes it look as though the fast-growing exurbs aren't trending Dem.

Am I missing something here? (I hope I am. . . .)

One bit of analysis I'm missing from both this article and the previous one (on exurbs) is what fraction of the vote is cast in each category. If Bush gained 15% of his margin in some category which accounts for 8% of the electorate, that's very different from 15% of his gains in a category which accounts for 30% of the electorate. I don't happen to know how many people live in the 100 fastest growing, or biggest, or whatever, counties, so I can't say what I should have expected from a completely broad-based gain.

These analyses of fastest-growing counties, states, etc., noting that Bush carried them, and concluding that this implies that the future will be progressively more Republican, suffer from a modest difficulty. This rapid population growth is due to immigration, not to the birth of vast numbers of children. There is no reason to believe that people will suddenly change their mindsabout politics as a result of their moves. Either the people who moved to the fast-growing counties happen to be Republicans already (in which case there will be fewer Republicans someplace else) or the Republican vote in these places will be progressively diluted.

All Americans should know the following 18 Amazing Facts About Voting in the USA

Did you know....?

1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.

2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."
5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator in a surprise upset, with votes counted by ES&S machines.
6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.
7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.
8. Kenneth Blackwell co-chaired George Bush's Ohio election campaign. As Ohio secretary of state, he left no stone unturned to surpress the democratic vote.
9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.


11. Exit polls are usually excellent predictors of election results. Reputable analyses could not find and explanation of the discrepancy between exit polls and results of the 2004 presidential election.

12. A Diebold subsidiary employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers. These people helped write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.

13. Jeff Dean, senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.

14. Jeff Dean was served jail time for planting back doors in his client's accounting software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.

15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.
16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it!
(See the movie here with the chimp.)

17. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.

18. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and experts are recommending further investigation.

Based on a list compiled by Angry Girl http://nightweed.com/usavotefacts.html
Were American's votes were deliberately miscounted?

If this was done, it means, quite literally, that we are no longer living in a democracy.

When I read the list a few days ago, some of the allegations just seemed too preposterous to believe. Like:

"Jeff Dean, senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code...served jail time for planting back doors in his client's accounting software and using a 'high degree of sophistication' to evade detection over a period of 2 years."

I tracked down the author of the list, who graciously responded with a list of references for each allegation. I checked out this Jeff Dean thing in particular. It didn't take long to get to this:

According to the findings of fact in case no. 89-1-04034-1 (Washington State):
"...Defendant's thefts occurred over a 2 1/2 year period of time, there were multiple incidents, more than the standard range can account for, the actual monetary loss was substantially greater than typical for the offense, the crimes and their cover-up involved a high degree of sophistication and planning in the use and alteration of records in the computerized accounting system that defendant maintained for the victim, and the defendant used his position of trust and fiduciary responsibility as a computer systems and accounting consultant for the victim to facilitate the commission of the offenses."

Another one of the references led to a detailed account of the double database technique pioneered by Mr. Dean to enable electronically tabulated votes give a false total while still presenting accurate details in case of spot audits.

In combination with the constellation of undisputed circumstantial evidence and open conflicts of interest, these last details are just too damning to ignore.

A cloud over the validity of the American electoral process is not acceptable.