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Alternate History

2004 U.S. Presidential Election (The Gipper Goes Down)

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Republicans

Given the unprecedented closeness of the 2000 election (less than 1% separated both candidates), the Republicans re-nominated Bush as their best choice to return to the White House after 16 years. This time free of the constraints of office -- he retired following three terms as Governor of Texas in 2002 -- Bush dedicated himself solely to raising money and criticizing Gore's "lukewarm" response to the threat of international terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Opposing him were Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and former Mayor of New York City Rudolph Giuliani (both representing the party's moderate wing); anti-immigrant Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado; former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee; and the Christian conservative activist Ralph Reed. McCain decided not to enter the contest to spare the party the spectacle of another acrimonious Bush-McCain battle. Surprisingly, the much-awaited Giuliani candidacy never got traction. It came down to a two-way race between Bush and Senator Hagel, who gave as good as he got and earned accolades for his poise and gravitas. Hagel, however, lack conservative firepower and Bush captured the nomination as expected. After this, the now official Republican nominee patched his differences with the popular Senator McCain, who had since moved steadily to the right and was now among the most strident supporters of a more assertive and bellicose foreign policy. Consequently, Bush selected him as his running mate, and unveiled Bush-McCain as a strong pro-security ticket.

Top-Finishers in the Republican Primaries

  • George W. Bush (nominee)
  • Chuck Hagel
  • Fred Thompson
  • Rudy Giuliani
  • Tom Tancredo

Democrats

President Gore faced opposition from within his own party from hawkish Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and pacifist Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio. In spite of approval ratings in the 30's, Gore retained the nomination and as his Vice-President chose Diane Feinstein.

Top-Finishers in the Democratic Primaries

  • Albert "Al" Gore Jr. (nominee)
  • Howard Dean
  • Joseph Lieberman
  • Dennis Kucinich

Electoral College Result:

Bush/McCain: 356

Gore/Feinstein: 182

Popular Result

Bush/McCain: 54%

Gore/Feinstein: 45%

The Republicans finally returned to the White House after 16 years in an election dominated by the primacy of fear and security concerns (Bush-McCain constantly called for a more assertive and pro-active foreign policy). Fatigue with Democratic rule also contributed to Gore's loss.

Congressional elections

House of Representatives

Republican = 259

Democrat = 175

Independent = 1

Senate

Republican = 55

Democrat = 44

Independent = 1

See also

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