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Alternate History: Evan Bayh vs. George Bush 2004


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As close as 2004 was, I believe the only prospective candidate who stood much of a chance of defeating W was Evan Bayh. The field was simply too liberal at a time where social conservatism dominated large swaths of the country. That said, I think Bayh would stand to do better in the midwest and the south whereas Bush would stand to do better on the east and west coasts. 

The Clinton states in the south, I believe would be less than 10% margins. Keep in mind, Kerry, a Massachusetts liberal, kept Missouri and Arkansas within 10%. A conservative Democrat like Evan Bayh could likely compete in these states. 

As in OTL, Ohio would be the deciding state, but the margin would be pretty close to Florida. Bayh would be more competitive in rural Ohio but at the cost of support and turnout in the cities. This would be a net positive but I don't think it would be enough to flip the Buckeye state.

Indiana would be close but Bush's incumbency, I believe would push him over the edge. Allen County and the suburbs around Indy, while rich in ancestral democrats, are ruby red in 2004 on the presidential level. Bayh would have the advantage in southern Indiana leaning more Democratic but Bush's popularity in the Indy burbs would be too much for Bayh to overcome in a Presidential race against an incumbent.

Florida would be decided by around a 1% margin. Bush held good margins in Miami-Dade and I don't see Bayh cutting into that.

Bayh could win Iowa. it's a relatively swing state at this point and it would probably go for a moderate midwestern Democrat. 

Overall, Bush has an edge here. 


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Also any gains in Missouri would likely be cut down somewhat by a lack of turnout in St. Louis. A conservative Dem like Bayh would be a trade off in a lot of places. You would be sacrificing a lot of turnout from cities for gains in rural areas.

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