The 'Urban Legend' of the 2004 Election: Summary

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Executive Summary of The Urban Legend of 2004

Executive Summary of The Urban Legend of 2004

The following is an executive summary of:
Election 2004: The Urban Legend
Sludge Report #177 – Bigger Than Watergate II


Over the past few months America has been exposed to a seemingly never-ending cascade of evidence concerning Karl Rove's efforts to suppress minority and working class vote.

On election night 2004 TV screens across the world bore testimony to the results of his meddling.

The huge queues to vote in some minority and inner city precincts saw people waiting 10 hours or more to vote—Ohio was particularly bad—but it happened in many key urban areas. It was accompanied throughout the country by race-based voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement. In Florida nearly 700,000 ex-felons are barred from voting, in Virginia 200,000; simply for having a felony on their record.

The “Urban Legend” uncovered by Michael Collins and detailed in his report is simply this.

According to the official election night results and the official exit polls (the most extensive ever conducted in the history of elections) it was these queuing voters from the core of America's largest cities who elected George W. Bush.

The full article is at

Excerpts from the Collins report—

The Bush campaign focused its efforts heavily, almost exclusively, on the rural areas and suburbs in order to counter the anticipated big city Democratic margins. But then the miracle occurred just when it was needed. White ghosts never seen before emerged from parking lots, alleys and perhaps even graveyards in big cities across the country to give George W. Bush a stunning victory in the presidential election of 2004. It had to be this way, otherwise the vote count was wrong and who would tolerate such a notion, despite the clear signs on the ground and in the National Exit Poll? But the convenient and wide spread Red versus Blue story of election eve was maintained through inertia. For those with nagging questions, that story was replaced by the Urban Legend of 2004: Bush won the 2004 Presidential election in big cities.

So please ask yourself—if Karl Rove, Bush and the US Attorney Generals were so busy disenfranchising urban minorities as fast as they could, how can the above "official story of Election 2004" be remotely possible?

Where then did the Bush swing in the urban wave come from? The simple answer is that it was weighted into existence. The act of reconciling the exit polls to the official vote count created it. The Bush urban voters came into existence because they had to—otherwise the official vote count would be wrong.

Weighting is a practice used by the US Census, political consultants, public health officials and others who conduct large scale survey research. If you collect data on a population, Latino voting patterns in the 2004 election for example, and your data is unrepresentative of a subset of that population, you can weight certain responses by a multiplier greater or less than one to make your poll consistent with the population measured. The problem though is when weighting is used to reconcile polling data with a “known fact” that may not be known at all. The NEP assumes that the official vote total must be accurate and weights accordingly.

Curiouser and curiouser—

Generating the Bush urban wave was effortless. Only 10% of urban voters required a call. They were not required to attend rallies or watch television ads. In fact, many of them didn’t even need to vote. That was taken care of by the weighting process conducted when the national exit poll was found to be inconsistent with the announced vote tallies. After all, how could the unintentionally released Election Day NEP be right in showing a 3% Kerry overall victory margin when the vote tabulators showed a 3% Bush win? Rural Americans didn’t produce that margin. Neither did the small towns or the suburbs. Even the improvement in the smaller cities wasn’t enough. The big cities, according to announced totals, delivered the vote for Bush.

For this study, we chose the less controversial approach of using the final, revised exit poll with a focus on the stated purposes of the exit poll, who were the voters and where did they cast their ballots. Why not take the numbers the pollsters finalized the day after the election? Yet after careful scrutiny, we’ve shown that the NEP’s urban demographic data just don’t add up to even a remotely convincing explanation for a Bush victory. The data is clearly inconsistent, incompatible, and results in a conundrum rather than clarity about what happened on Nov. 2 2004. Doubt leads to disbelief.

And then there’s one more problem that casts doubt on the entire process. The NEP reports a 66% increase in voter turnout in the big cities, from 9 million votes in 2000 to 15 million in 2006. This provides foundation for the increases in Bush urban votes and percentages, even though there is no common sense or historical reason to believe such an increase in Bush votes ever took place, as we’ve demonstrated.

Now here’s the shocker. In addition to the analysis above, the 66% vote increase in the urban areas simply can’t be true on the basis of actual reports of big city vote totals. Why hasn’t this been widely discussed?

Well now, many Democrats might say—why go on about 2004 when we retook the House and the Senate in 2006? If the election system is crooked, how could we have done that? An obvious answer was that the Republicans failed to suppress and/or steal enough votes to stop that outcome. If that is the case, the Democratic victory ought to have been even larger than it was, and there is some evidence that it may well have been.

There is an unfortunate tendency of Democratic officeholders, particularly those in comfortably majority Democratic districts, to think that if they got elected what could possibly be wrong with the process? Leave well enough alone. However, Republicans have absolutely no inhibitions about being “sore losers,” or even sore winners. The US Attorney General scandal now unfolding will absolutely not stop them from their efforts to suppress the votes of Democrats.

It is more than past time for grassroots Democrats to insist that Democratic officeholders stop being WEAK ON DEFENSE—defense of their own voters and of the integrity of the election process. There must be an end to secret, unauditable software and the very notion that any private company has the right to own any data about election process whatsoever, now!


IMPORTANT NOTE: Publication of this story marks a watershed in American political history. It is offered freely for publication in full or part on any and all internet forums, blogs and noticeboards. All other media are also encouraged to utilise material. Readers are encouraged to forward this to friends and acquaintances in the United States and elsewhere.

Download Word Doc. Version – Bigger Than Watergate II
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