Every presidential election offers interesting questions for analysis, but some elections are more puzzling than others. The election of 2004 involves two linked and countervailing puzzles. The first is: How did President George W. Bush manage to win at all, avoiding the fates of George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter? The other is: Why didn’t he win by a more substantial margin than in his first election, as all reelected presidents since Eisenhower were able to do? On the one hand, in the wake of September 11, the president had approval ratings around 90% and the threat of terrorism remained a substantial concern through Election Day. This would seem to afford Bush an overwhelming advantage. On the other hand, the public’s views of the state of the economy and of the course of the war in Iraq were negative. We think that the juxtaposition of these questions will help to explain the outcome of the election and of the pattern of the results. Moreover, by unpacking our explanation of the vote into three policy-related issue components—economic retrospective evaluations, domestic policy views, and foreign policy views—we examine the way these preferences contributed to the electorate’s voting decisions.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Dec 8, 2006
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