Political junkies around the world were devastated at the gutless and premature concession of defeat at 11am (east coast USA time) by Senator John Kerry. The night before, the count ended with just the slightest hint of 2000 all over again with a cliff hanger in Ohio, but alas it comes to nothing. The thrill of waiting 11 days until the fine folks of Ohio counted the provisional votes sounded promising. Democracy certainly makes a great spectator sport. One network was speculating that the Democrats had a plane and a crack squad of electoral lawyers ready to fly anywhere from Alaska to Florida to fight the good fight. But, with the Bush margin in Ohio growing and the popular vote nationwide clearly going Bush's way, Kerry decided to throw in the towel.
As predicted yesterday, the status quo from 2000 has remained almost exactly as it was, with only New Mexico and New Hampshire likely to swap sides. This seems to reflect the idea that voters had an instintive positive or negative reponse to Bush when they first encountered him in 2000, and over the length of his presidency little has changed, with those views being reinforced one way or the other. If we accept the logic that Kerry won the campaign itself (the debate, the public mood) then it makes sense that voters had already decided the election result long ago. Also, consider the fact that voter turnout was significantly higher than in 2000 - people felt more strongly one way or the other, and many more passed the 'do I give enough of a stuff to go out and vote?' threshold.
Bush can rightfully read this result as an endorsement of the last 4 years. The election result will give him a much freer hand in dealing with Iraq. Watch for a change in the response to the 'international community' (that's code for Europe and the UN): they were holding back in contributing significantly in Iraq, hoping for a change in US administration, but now they know they have 4MY, they have no choice but to work alongside Bush. It is also an invitation for Bush to persist with his reckness economic policy of deficit financing that would make Keynes blush and turn straight.
Don't for a moment expect Bush to echo Howard's rejection of triumphalism. This is party time for the Right around the world who see it as a ringing endorsement of the neo-conservative view of the world. On the 'big questions' of international relations at the moment - rogue states, terrorism - the Left have locked themselves out of the argument. Bush's re-election is just another nail in the metaphor for the Left.