Bush Wins Presidential Election After Kerry Concedes Race
Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) on Wednesday called President Bush and conceded defeat in the 2004 presidential election, bringing an end to the previously uncalled race, the Washington Post reports (Balz et al., Washington Post, 11/3). As of early Wednesday morning, the outcome hinged "on the hotly contested ... battleground of Ohio," the Wall Street Journal reports (Harwood/Schlesinger, Wall Street Journal, 11/3). Kerry reportedly had considered continuing to question the results, according to the Post (Washington Post, 11/3).
With 89% of the nation's ballots counted, Bush held a three million-vote lead in the popular vote and was ahead of Kerry 51% to 48% (Thomma, Knight Ridder/Tallahassee Democrat, 11/3). According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the election was "marked by a record turnout that some estimated could reach 120 million voters" (Marinucci/Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/3). The Bush campaign is planning a victory announcement for this afternoon, according to campaign aides (Balz et al., Washington Post, 11/3).
Bush won or led in all but one of the states he won four years ago, with his support concentrated in the South and the interior West. Kerry won states in much of the Northeast and the Western coastal states and did well in the industrial upper Midwest. According to the Journal, early exit polls and "anecdotal evidence" had indicated Kerry "was moving into a position to be the winner," but "late vote counts" helped Bush in Ohio, as well as in "the crucial state of Florida."
According to the Journal, the "tight race" showed that voters failed to reach "a consensus" on the next president, who "will have a record budget deficit to tame and enormous decisions about tax and spending levels." The next president also "could reshape the Supreme Court," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 11/3). About 8% of voters said health care was the issue that mattered most to them; 79% of these voters supported Kerry, according to a USA Today exit poll of 13,047 voters (USA Today graphic, 11/3).
The initial National Exit Poll -- conducted by Edison Research and Mitofsky International -- surveyed 11,027 voters at 1,480 precincts for a variety of media outlets (McCormick, Chicago Tribune, 11/3). The survey found that 90% of both Democratic and Republican voters chose to vote for their party's nominee. Voters who cared most about "issues related to moral values voted overwhelmingly" in support of Bush, while those "most concerned about health care" and other issues related to the economy "sided just as strongly" with Kerry, the Journal reports.
Nationally, 22% of voters said they were primarily concerned with moral issues, followed by jobs and economy, which were cited by 19% of voters. In Ohio, 25% of voters listed jobs and the economy as their top priorities, followed by 23% who said they were most concerned with moral issues. Bush, "who touted his success" in passing the new Medicare law, "did better with voters 60 and older than he did in 2000," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 11/3). Bush won support from 51% of voters ages 60 and older, compared with 48% for Kerry (USA Today graphic, 11/3). Bush won the "overwhelming support of white evangelical Christians," while Kerry, a Catholic whose support for expanded embryonic stem cell research and abortion rights "had raised open opposition of some in the Catholic hierarchy," received less support among Catholics than former Vice President Al Gore, a southern Baptist, received in 2000. Among Bush supporters, about 60% said they believed abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, and more than one-third said "moral issues" were the most important to them. About 75% of Kerry supporters said they believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases (Page, USA Today, 11/3).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Wednesday reported on exit polls and voter demographics. According to NPR senior correspondent Juan Williams, nine out of 10 U.S. voters said they were worried about the cost of health care (Montagne/Williams, "Morning Edition," NPR, 11/3). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.