No matter how hard John A. Tures at ‘Homeland Security Affairs ‘The Journal of the NPS Center for Homeland Defense and Security’ tried to prove that the intervention of Bin Laden in the 2004 presidential election did not affect the outcome, and he really does try hard with plenty of “possible interpretation” and “data suggests” scattered liberally throughout the text, the final word on the matter must come, surely, straight from the horses mouth:
“During a reception at the Clinton Presidential Library, the Massachusetts politician told Fox’s Geraldo Rivera “It was that Usama tape – it scared them [the American people].”
The source also reports “Senator Kerry clearly believes not only is it the security issue that cost him the election, but very specifically the Usama tape coming out in the 11th hour,” according to Fox News (2004). Kerry repeated these assertions in an NBC TV interview.
“We were rising in the polls up until the last day when the tape appeared. We flat-lined the day the tape appeared, then went down on Monday (BBC News, 2005),” the Senator said”
And at Wikipedia:
2004 Osama bin Laden video
The 2004 tape boosted the popularity of George W. Bush. President Bush opened up a six-point lead over his opponent Senator John Kerry in the first opinion poll to include sampling taken after the videotape was broadcast.
And in the review of the actual election:
The electoral map closely resembled that of 2000, with only three states changing sides: New Mexico and Iowa voted Republican in 2004 after having voted Democratic in 2000.
New Mexico, won by Bush by 6,000 votes (0.74%) and Iowa won by 10,000 votes (0.67%) voting Republican after going for Gore in 2000 is especially significant if their recent voting results are considered.
Iowa has gone Democratic in five of the last six presidential elections as has New Mexico. It would be hardly speculation to consider the national security issue,so prominent in 2004 and Bin Laden’s tape would have had a decisive role in those states out of the norm results.
However even if Kerry had carried both state Bush would have won in the Electoral College-just. It was Ohio which made the difference (no Republican has ever been elected president without carrying the state). Bush carried it “by a football stadium size popular vote margin” of 120,000 (2.1%) which result was not without controversy.
If Kerry had carried then he would have been elected even without Iowa and New Mexico. The fairness of such an Electoral College win when Bush would have won by 2.9 million popular votes is another matter for consideration with due respect to the 2000 election.
In light of the result in New Mexico and Iowa it is fair to consider that the closeness of the end result in Ohio was influenced by the same factors as the polls indicated.
Looking to 2016, and in the light of the role foreign affairs played in the 2004 election (something that usually does not have a major bearing on the election results except in time of war or rumor of war) it is fair to say, surely, that a repeat of 2004 could eventuate.
If ISIS continues to gain strength and territory the whole of President Obama’s Middle East policy will have unraveled which will carry over to the public perception of Hillary Clinton as his potential successor.
That Hillary was the “war’ candidate in 2008 and has subsequently repudiated her support of the Bush administrations decision to go to war would see her in a losing position on both sides of the argument.
If during the 2016 election ISIS has committed acts of terrorism in the United States, which they have threatened to do, or even if a number of “lone wolves’ allied to their cause cause mayhem, as has happened in France and Australia, then the same national security factors could well overtake the normal domestic issues in the voters minds.
The same Electoral College considerations would then come into play exactly as they did in 2004 with Ohio, Colorado and Virginia (presuming, as in any presidential election the GOP wins Florida) being the states which, if they flipped from Obama 2012 wins to the GOP’s candidate, would see the Republicans comfortably home.
Of course at this point in time any number of other factors could come into play to decide the 2016 election,who the Republican candidate is,”Obama’s third term” the “Hillary factor” (positively and negatively) and of course, and perhaps primarily as in 2008 the state of the economy.
However, all things being equal, and in a close election the final result may well be out of the hands, once again, of the two main party candidates.