The 2000 presidential election has turned out like none other. It has been labeled the closest election ever. That certainly appears to be the case. At first glimpse, one wonders how the outcome of this election (which is always uncertain) has anything in common at all with research findings. However, by using the research in the book Everything you think you know about politics and why you are wrong by Kathleen Hall Jamieson (2000), this isn’t the case. In fact, it seems that this election has turned out much the manner in which it could be projected to have turned out based on previous research.
The Dow through Election Day. America has now seen 28 presidential elections since the initial publication of the DJIA on May 26, 1896. In 20 of those 28 election years, the Dow posted a Y-T-D gain through Election Day. Would that it was real this year. When the market opened on November 4, 2008, the Dow was down 29.71% from its close on the final day of 2007.
The Dow in “election season”. Between Labor Day and Election Day, the Dow rose an average of 1.92% in the 27 election years between 1896 and 2004. When the incumbent President was a Republican, the Dow’s average gain between Labor Day and Election Day in those election years was approximately +0.6%. This year certainly didn’t live up to statistical expectation: the Dow closed at 11, 543.96 On August 29 (the last market day before Labor Day) and opened at 9, 323.89 on the morning of November 4 for a loss of 19.23 % Over that period.
The Election Discussion Continues…
The Dow immediately after a Presidential election. The short-term statistic is positive: on average, the DJIA has gained 1.90% between Election Day and New Year’s Day in the 27 election years past. Here are two statistics seemingly at variance with each other: when a Republican President is in office during an election year, the DJIA gain has averaged approximately 4.6% between Election Day and New Year’s Day. But when a Democrat is elected (irrespective of what party holds the White House), the Dow has averaged roughly a-0.9 % Loss between the first Tuesday in November and New Year’s Day.
Perhaps we should also discuss…
The two main party candidates have been neck and neck in the polls throughout the 2000 presidential campaign. Ralph Nader was behind those two, but with support. Pat Buchanan had even less support than Nader, and Harry Browne, of the Libertarian Party, had almost no visible support in the polls. According to Jamieson (2000)’…candidates who perform poorly in the polls are less able to garner coverage and have a tougher time increasing their visibility and with it their standing in the polls’ (p. 208). This surely seems to have influenced the media coverage of all the candidates. Bush and Gore, who were for all practical purposes tied for the lead, received the same number of coverage, and more than anybody else.
The other candidates received coverage in proportion to their percentages in the polls. Nader, 3rd in the polls, received some coverage and gained a bit more support. His numbers went up. He very nearly made it to the 5 percent of the popular vote necessary to obtain federal funds. Buchanan, however, received almost no coverage, as his standing in the polls was very low. Browne was mentioned hardly at all. He was behind all the others in the polls and received no coverage at all. As a result, it was hard for him to improve his standing, because there were very few people who even knew such a person as Harry Browne existed as a presidential candidate.
Research also suggests that when an election is ‘boring’ cover of the event falls. An exciting campaign is one where the candidates are in closer competition and there is a component of uncertainty as to the way the election will turn out. The 1996 election was seen as ‘boring,’ as President Clinton was well ahead of Bob Dole in the polls. According to Jamieson (2000) news coverage fell in the last two months of campaigning (p. 37). What a contrast that is to the 2000 election. Campaign coverage by the news media grew steadily as the race became more and more uncertain. Even now the outcome is still uncertain. On the local news there’s a story about the progress of the ballot counting each night and the news networks appear to have all day coverage of the way the election is turning out. This election has had enough twists and turns to make it seem almost soap-opera-ish. Coverage cannot help but rise with such an exciting race.
Elections! Now here is a universally awaited event, if ever there was one. And here’s the web app called election results which facilitates ready access of your desired election news. No longer do you need to remain agonizingly glued to TV to wait for the desired polling figure to flash on the monitor or for the anchor to declare the news of the exact election constituency you’re looking for. It’s but a click away.
You can view all information on election in an interactive panel that displays election results dynamically. These details of elections are graphically represented. Be it any form of election – assembly or parliament or municipality – by using the interactive web 2.0 interface, you can access its results in their graphical, easy-to-understand forms. You also get the limits of the election constituency or ward you’re interested in.
This communication of ELECTION RESULTS in maps, using the GIS, is the tendency of the day for it gives clearer picture for analysis of elections. The media of the day love it. Psephologists find this especially useful for better analysis of elections. Using GIS, better services can be rendered to citizens during elections as well.
A close race also affects voter turnout. There was an increase of voter turnout this year in contrast to the last election when voter turnout was rather low. Voter turnout is also higher when there is contrast advertising and coverage of contrasting issues by the news media. ‘ Contrast advertising…increases both voter share and increase turnout’ (Jamieson, 2000, p. 113). When voters see a difference in the questions, they’re more likely to go out and vote for a person who is more closely aligned with their views. Each of the candidates made an attempt to show how they were different from the others during this campaign. While Bush and Gore highlighted their different tax plans, and variances in their approaches to social security, Nader was pointing out how he was different from both of them. As a result, voter turnout for Ralph Nader was somewhat high, considering. Even though he did not 5% of the popular vote nationally, he did get it in a number of the states, including Utah. Voter turnout among Republicans was higher as well. The race was close. Bush’s efforts to paint himself as different from Gore seemed to encourage them to go out and save the country. Voter turnout was high among Democrats as well. The closeness of the race, and the speed which Bush caught up to Gore prior to the first presidential debate was used as a goad to lift them out to save the country.
Research suggests also that attacks tend to turn off voters to the sponsoring candidate, while showing contrast tends to favor the sponsoring candidate. All-in-all, this was not a negative campaign. While the primary opponents attacked the other’s proposed policies, personal attacks were rather minimal. Each candidate attacked by showing differences, for the more part. This prevented voters from becoming apathetic about the election because of ‘negative campaigning. ‘
So, while this election is different than any other, the outcome was largely predictable. With newscasters touting that this election could very well pose a Constitutional crisis, and announcing that it’d be a close race, this election is par for the course. The polls showed neither of the major party candidates with a definitive lead. Predictions were of no clear winner. As shown in Jamieson (2000) the polls are usually reflective of how much coverage is given and in return how much one advances in the polls. It is obvious that throughout this election that the polls and media coverage has been about even, and now the outcome of this election is always in question. There has been more media coverage of this election, supporting the research that a close and ‘exciting’ election garners more coverage. It is still receiving unheard-of amounts of coverage. Voter turnout for this election was fairly high, due to those turning out to vote for Nader (who emphasized his difference from both candidates) and those coming to vote for either Bush or Gore, depending on whose view of taxes and social insurance was preferred. The outcome of this election largely supports research done on presidential campaigns.
Jamieson, K. (2000). Everything you think you know about politics and why you are wrong. New York, NY: Basic Books.