In a discussion about what went wrong for Democrats in the November 2 election, FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly claimed that Democrats “lost votes from four years ago” ; that “18- to 24[-year-old]s didn't go” to the polls; and that "[c]ommitted Republicans didn't carry the day for the president; independents did." All three claims are false.
On the November 4 edition of FOX News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly told Reverend Al Sharpton: “The Democrats actually lost votes from four years ago in addition to losing seats in both the House and the Senate. So what happened?” The truth is that Senator John Kerry won 5 million more votes in 2004 than Al Gore won in the 2000 presidential election. Kerry won nearly 56 million votes in 2004 (at last count), while Gore won about 51 million.
Later in his discussion with Sharpton, O'Reilly claimed: “The 18- to 24[-year-old]s didn't go [to the polls]. That was about the same [as 2000].” In fact, as the Associated Press noted, voter turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds was up: “Fewer than one in 10 voters Tuesday were 18 to 24, about the same proportion of the electorate as in 2000, exit polls indicated. Still, with voter turnout expected to be higher overall, more young people appeared to have come out.” Indeed, as Media Matters for America previously noted, turnout among 18- to 29-year-olds increased by 4.6 million voters over 2000 -- from 42.3 percent to 51.6 percent of such potential voters -- according to one analysis of exit polls; 54 percent of these voters voted for Kerry, compared with only 44 percent who voted for President George W. Bush.
At the end of the November 4 show, O'Reilly insisted: “He [Bush] won because independents forgave him for mistakes because they fundamentally liked him more than Mr. Kerry. Committed Republicans didn't carry the day for the president; independents did.” But exit polls show that independents chose Kerry over Bush 49 percent to 48 percent. Meanwhile, voters who identify themselves as Republican constituted 37 percent of the electorate in 2004, compared with only 35 percent in 2000; 93 percent of such self-identified Republicans voted for Bush in 2004, compared with 91 percent in 2000. These data suggest that “committed Republicans” did “carry the day” for Bush.