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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Significance of Bush's Second Inauguration

As an unabashed fan of the free market and a contributor to Thank You, President Bush, it’s no surprise that I’m pleased to see George W. Bush being sworn in for a second term tomorrow. But beyond the positive policy implications of Bush’s November victory (e.g. simplified tax code, Social Security reform, strong national defense), there are a number of reasons why his triumph over John Kerry should be viewed as nothing less than an historic development.To wit:

· Bush is the first popular-vote-losing president to be re-elected. The others (John Quincy Adams, Rutherford Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison) all failed in their re-election bids.
· His 51% of the popular vote is the first outright majority since his father in 1988.
· The 3% popular vote margin of victory may not sound like much upon first consideration, but from a historical perspective it’s a healthy win. Four elections since 1960 have been decided by smaller margins, and all five elections between 1876 and 1892 were by margins of 3% or less.*
· He significantly increased his party’s numbers in Congress, an almost unheard of accomplishment for an incumbent.

In terms of political alignment, Bush continued the Democratic Party’s two decade-long slide. The GOP has now won the presidency in 7 of the last 10 elections, and its 10 year dominance in Congress (something that couldn’t have even been imagined in the years following Watergate) was significantly strengthened. And with the GOP’s ongoing consolidation of Evangelical Christians and steady progress in the Latino community, it appears that this trend is poised to continue.

History tells us that the Democrats won’t remain a minority party forever, but with Bush’s recent triumph it’s hard to conclude that they will continue to face a rocky future over the next decade or so.

* Note: For an in-depth yet readable look at presidential elections past, readers are referred to Tara Ross’s Enlightened Democracy.

Eric M. Jackson is the president of World Ahead Publishing and the former head of PayPal’s marketing department. His book,
The PayPal Wars: Battles with eBay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth, is on sale now.