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The final poll numbers for 2012 aren't in yet, particularly in the west coast states where Obama's lead may still go up, but whether you are counting the percentage of the vote, the electoral vote count, or even the number of votes short the candidate was of actually winning, John Kerry was a better candidate in 2004 than Mitt Romney was in 2012.

Vote Count
According to Dave Leip's Atlas, the count currently stands at:

Obama: 62,616,535 (50.61%)
Romney: 59,090,075 (47.76%)
Other: 2,019,496 (1.63%)

And in 2004, courtesy of President Elect:

Bush: 62,040,610 (50.7%)
Kerry: 59,028,444 (48.3%)
Other: 1,226,291 (1.0%)

So these numbers tell us a few things:

Romney got a smaller percentage of the vote than Kerry did.

The total vote count for Romney is currently less than 100,000 votes above Kerry, but his percentage is already lower (47.76% to Kerry's 48.3%).  This may fluctuate a bit, but it looks pretty certain that he will not be able to do better than Kerry's number.  I guess that goes to show that the anti-Bush forces in 2004 were stronger and larger than the anti-Obama forces were.

Also of note, Obama has more votes at this point than Bush did in 2004.  So the pro-Obama forces were also stronger in 2012 than the pro-Bush forces were in 2004.

Kerry got more electoral votes than Romney did.

Romney is on track to get a mere 206 electoral votes.  Kerry's states added up to 252, although one of his electors voted for John Edwards for President, so he only actually got 251.  Nonetheless, 251 > 206.  Romney would have had to win Florida, Virginia, AND New Hampshire to tie that 252 number.

Kerry was closer to flipping the election his way.

While Kerry clearly lost the popular vote by a couple million votes, he only had to take Ohio to have won the electoral college (which would have been nice, but I definitely wish the vote was a popular one).  If you look at Ohio, Kerry lost the state by a mere 118,601 votes, meaning a switch of 59,301 people would have given him the presidency.  I actually forgot it was that close, and remember the heartbreak that year of realizing we had four more years of Bush ahead of us.

Contrast this to Romney.  Per Nate Silver, the states closest to flipping to Romney were (in order): Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and Colorado.  These states would have given him 275 votes, and would have been the easiest to flip.

But how easy?  Again, according to Dave Leip, Romney lost each state by the following amount of votes:

Florida: 73,858
Ohio: 107,259
Virginia: 143,360
Colorado: 117,276

So he needed (respectively):

FL: +36,930
OH: +53,630
VA: +71,681
CO: +58,639

For a total of 220,880 votes spread out over 4 states.  Clearly a much weaker position than Kerry was in.  Too bad ORCA couldn't tell him where to send those last minute robocalls huh?

In Conclusion...

The Republicans have every right to feel bad about Romney's performance.  Since 2004 it has become the common belief that Kerry fielded an incredibly weak campaign, yet the numbers show that he was less than 60,000 Ohio votes away from winning the election.  In all objective ways of looking at it, Romney fared even worse.  He doesn't even have 100,000 votes more than Kerry got, yet he paid multiple times more for them than Kerry did.  His percentages are below Kerry's across the board though, and considering how he's already implying that he was cheated out of his victory by the takers in this country, I hope he realizes how badly he did.  His candidacy doesn't just deserve to be considered one of the worst in modern history - it deserves to be pitied and spoken of in derision only.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've been thinking of how (4+ / 0-)

    in many ways, 2012 was 2004 in reverse.

    Hated the incumbent so much they assumed everyone else must hate him too? Check.

    Ran a candidate who was for some reason "electable" even though no one from either side actually really wanted him elected? Check.

    Ran on no consistent message other than "I'm Not That Other Guy"? Check.

    Sent Mr. No Charisma to beat Mr. Charisma? Check.

    Basically, they doubled down on every Democratic mistake of 2004, plus throwing in an extra-large side of "Insult The Voters" and "Act Like A Radical Nutcase".

    Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

    by eataTREE on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:19:55 PM PST

    •  But we still support Kerry (10+ / 0-)

      Kerry remains one of the strongest liberal voices in the Senate, and I would say is very well liked by most of this community.  In contrast, the Republicans are going to run away from Romney as fast as they can, and he will never again play a meaningful role in the party.

      "Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it... unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." -The Buddha

      by Brian A on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:33:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are calling W "Mr Charisma"? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eataTREE

      You're weird.

      I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

      My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

      by pucklady on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 02:10:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not because I personally thought so, (0+ / 0-)

        I assure you. Yet millions did, and we ran against him a candidate for whom personal, folksy charm was not exactly a long suit. This was a mistake.

        I like John Kerry and look forward to seeing what he does at Defense. The point of my parent comment was not to bash him.

        Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

        by eataTREE on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 02:15:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I Like Kerry and agree with you (0+ / 0-)

          He just wasn't That Guy. He wasn't Mr. Flash,  or Mr. Magnetic Personality. He was smart, competent, and sophisticated to be sure, but he was up against a  president, who, as far as Red Staters were concerned, was the next best thing to Jesus Himself.

          Also, we were in the thick of Iraq and Afghanistan. So that made Dubya a "War Time" president.

          There was one unforgivable unforced error: Kerry said that even knowing what we know now about WMDs in Iraq (vis a vis their non-existence) he would have still invaded the country. Well, shit, what the hell would be the difference then in electing you that we don't already have with Dum Dum?

          But that's the thing; Kerry was in an awful position, too close to 9/11 and with troops in the Middle East he needed to strike a position between being seen a strong Commander in Chief, and showing himself to be smarter than the current one.  It was an impossible task. It would take another four years of Bush fuckups to show the country that he was right.

          One more note: Howard Dean, God love him, would have been roadkill.  Yeah, we all might have felt better about ourselves had he been nominated rather than Kerry, but it would have been a more lopsided loss.

          Message to Dems: We HAVE to start showing up for Midterms.

          by Jank2112 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:45:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Perhaps, but you can also make ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    philipb

    a strong argument that Obama was a better candidate than Bush.

    Both could be true. But it doesn't necessarily follow from the data you cite.

    "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

    by Demi Moaned on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:33:14 PM PST

    •  Obama WAS a better candidate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Demi Moaned, gffish

      I don't ever hear anyone talk about how great Bush was in 2004 - I hear people talk about how weak Kerry was.  I don't believe he was, and I think it's plainly evident that Romney definitely WAS a weak candidate.

      •  But who was more weaker? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gffish

        Bush than Obama or Romney than Kerry?

        FWIW, I never bought the argument about Kerry's electability. It's a position that reeks of codependence-- i.e., I don't think he's a good candidate but I think other people will like him more than the candidate I prefer.

        But I also think Kerry is unfairly demonized around here. I think he's one of the better voices among national-level Democrats and I have no objection to him holding a high-level cabinet position during the coming Presidential term.

        "The smartest man in the room is not always right." -Richard Holbrooke

        by Demi Moaned on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 02:19:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  And not just because of the numbers. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:33:49 PM PST

  •  John Kerry Was a Better Candidate Than Romney (0+ / 0-)

    He would have made a better president too.

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 01:36:29 PM PST

  •  Kerry ran a smart campaign (0+ / 0-)

    He focused on a path to electoral victory.

    The other thing Kerry had to overcome that Romney didn't is the a massive effort (by Republicans) to suppress the vote, from long lines to intimidation at the polls. There were even blackouts and ballot tampering.

    Romney's campaign was built on pure arrogance. The campaign's last minute push, aided by a media narrative of a surge, was an attempt to compensate for a lousy candidate and his flawed campaign.

  •  They both had useless veeps. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    Show us your tax returns !!!!!!

    by Bush Bites on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 02:36:51 PM PST

  •  47% (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nedsdag

    comes home to roost!

  •  Tell Dave Leip to switch the colors. (0+ / 0-)

    He's using blue for the GOP and red for the Dems.  Unless it's some sick joke he's playing on us.

  •  Kerry Was A Good Candidate... (0+ / 0-)

    ...but he was also the most convenient one. Like with Romney, there were very few people in love with Kerry as opposed to say, Dean, or a Teddy Kennedy or a Paul Wellstone.

    But on the plus side, Kerry still has a hunger for public service as he's going to be placed in one of two high profile cabinet jobs.

    Romney, is never going to run for anything again, but even if he wanted to, he couldn't get elected city Dog Catcher.

    LITERALLY!

    Message to Dems: We HAVE to start showing up for Midterms.

    by Jank2112 on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 06:56:24 PM PST

    •  This was simply not the case. (0+ / 0-)

      There is no comparison between Kerry and Romney, who unlike Kerry, was immensely disliked.

      George Bush and John Kerry are again deadlocked, 45% Bush � 45% Kerry, among likely voters in the three-way race, as they head into tonight's town hall meeting, according to a TIME Poll taken Oct. 6-7. Nader is down to 3%.

      On being "likeable," a key strength for Bush in 2000, Bush now trails Kerry, 70% - 65%. (Bush had a slight 4 point lead on likeability before the debate.) Bush still leads Kerry by a wide margin, 81% - 42% on "sticking to his positions."

      http://www.time.com/...

      In April, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found an even larger gap, with 64 percent of those surveyed describing Obama as the friendlier, more likable candidate, and only 26 percent saying that about Romney.

      http://seattletimes.com/...

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