Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Leadership and Values Helped Bush Win

Leadership and Values Helped Bush Win
20 minutes ago
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - President Bush (news - web sites) combined his reputation for
strong leadership in a time of war with a campaign about traditional
values to win re-election despite voters' doubts about his job performance
and policies.

In a dozen swing states that decided the presidential election, moral
values was tied with the economy and jobs as the top issue in the
campaign, according to Associated Press exit polls. Terrorism was close
behind.

Bush won among those in swing states who picked moral values by 84-15 and
he won among those who picked terrorism by 85-15. Kerry won by a wide
margin among those who picked the economy.

"The fact that values trumped the economy sends a very strong signal,"
said Republican pollster Whit Ayres, who said the moral values issue was
in the background of the day to day campaign debate over terrorism, Iraq
(news - web sites) and the economy. "It's a subliminal message that 'this
guy thinks more like I do.' "

In the swing states, Bush was more trusted to handle terrorism and equally
trusted to handle the economy, the polls found.

A fourth of the voters in swing states were white voters who consider
themselves evangelicals and they voted for Bush by almost 3-1 — providing
a strong base for Bush in those key states.

"Republicans have managed to define elections in almost tribal terms —
it's us against them," said Norm Ornstein, a political analyst with the
American Enterprise Institute.

About three-in-10 swing state voters were from cities over 50,000, and
they went for Kerry by 2-to-1. But in the suburbs, swing state voters went
for Bush by 54-45 and in rural areas they went for Bush by 57-42.

Democrats on Wednesday were trying to figure out how they can extend their
appeal to voters outside the cities and to voters who are involved with
religion.

"The Democratic Party needs to be more comfortable on cultural and
national security issues," said Al From, founder and chief executive of
the Democratic Leadership Council, a moderate think tank. "Bush was able
to use these effectively against us."

A majority of swing state voters named strong leadership, having clear
stands on issues, being honest and trustworthy and having strong religious
faith as the most valued qualities in a candidate. All of those groups
favored Bush. Kerry did best among those who most wanted a candidate who
would bring change, about a quarter of the total.

"If there was a tide, it was a tide for President Bush notwithstanding all
the skepticism about his administration and its policies," said Democratic
pollster Doug Schoen. "This represents a real serious issue about the
structural position of the Democratic Party."

He and other Democrats said the party needs to relearn how to appeal to
rural voters and religious voters.

Eight-in-10 voters in swing states consider themselves either moderate or
conservative politically. The states were Arizona, Colorado, Florida,
Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West
Virginia and Wisconsin.

Issues like gay marriage and religious values reminded many voters that
they related more closely to the values of the president and were unsure
of Kerry's values.

"Bush successfully appealed to his base and to a wider base on moderate to
conservative social issues like gay marriage and prayer in school," said
James Thurber, a political science professor at American University.
"Democrats have to learn to appeal to those people."

Scott Edwards, a voter in the central Iowa town of Huxley, said he voted
for the president out of what he called a "gut instinct."

"It's more of a trust issue," Edwards said. "I trust President Bush. With
Kerry, I just didn't have a good feeling."