Elections 2004

The 2004 Presidential election was not a pro-life mandate for President Bush.

The press has focused on the 22% of the electorate who cited in exit polls “moral values” as their number one issue (moral values is assumed to mean “abortion”). Four out of five voters who cited moral values voted for the President; that amounts to 17.6% of the electorate voting for the President on this issue. The moral values response in the exit polls was not far from the Gallup pre-election poll that showed that 19% of potential voters cited abortion as their number one issue (of these the Bush vote was about twice that of the Kerry vote). If these numbers are correct, then Bush got about one-third of his votes based on the abortion issue— 17.6% is 1/3rd of the 52% of the total vote that Bush won. Not an insignificant amount but not a majority of his votes.

Further analysis shows that national abortion opinion did not change in this election. The exit polls asked if abortion should be always legal, mostly legal, mostly illegal or always illegal.

The breakdown was:

Always legal—-21%

Mostly legal—-34%

Mostly illegal–26%

Always illegal–16%

Those who want abortion always or mostly legal have a 55-45 edge over those favoring always or mostly illegal. This is similar to previous polling.

Interestingly, the vote patterns were not in lockstep with the voter’s abortion opinions. 25% of the “always legal” voters voted for Bush and 22% of the “always illegal” voters voted for Kerry.

The biggest swing occurred in the “mostly” categories. 38% of the “mostly legal” voters voted for Bush while just 26% of the “mostly illegal” voters voted for Kerry.

The polls indicated that in the 2004 election Bush picked up 3-4% in each of the “illegal” categories (although I am not certain how reliable the 2000 figures are).

If just 13% of the “mostly legal” voters who voted for Bush had voted for Kerry, this would have meant a swing of over 1.5% of the electorate, and the national popular vote would have been tied (the President won by 52-49%).

The President cannot claim a pro-life mandate when it was based on a few “mostly legal” voters voting for him based on other issues.

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