Bush versus Kerry : a case study of the 2004 presidential election : an senior honors thesis (HONRS 499)

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Nawara, Steven P
Scheele, Raymond H.
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Thesis (B.?.)
Honors College
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Having been first elected following the infamous Florida recount in 2000, George W. Bush had governed with an assertive style, ordering troops into battle, pushing for tax cuts, and permitting deficit spending. Heading into the 2004 election, the nation was still looking back on the September l lt" terrorist attacks and was currently embroiled in two wars: one against the Taliban in Afghanistan and another against a growing insurgency in Iraq. The incumbent's popularity, having reached astronomical levels following September 11, 2001, had fallen back to human levels and there was a general sense that he was vulnerable; just how vulnerable remained a big question. The Democrats eventually chose Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts as their nominee with hopes of competing against the wartime President with someone possessing excellent combat credentials. The campaign would be hard fought, setting records for fundraising, spending, and votes cast. When the dust settled, George W. Bush was once again the victor.In this paper, a number of explanations are offered as to why the particular results occurred. It is difficult to point to one single event, cause, or action and say, "This is why Bush won," or, "This is why Kerry lost." Instead, the truth probably lies in a combination of these theories, with some being more significant than others. It is important to understand these events, as well as the errors committed by the political actors. As future campaigns and elections play out, candidates, parties, and voters will look at future elections as a byproduct of past ones, and understanding these elections will help individuals gain a better understanding of the political process in general.