- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 3, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Fears of terror attacks competed in voters’ minds with pocketbook concerns, Associated Press exit polls found — and the rival worries kept yesterday’s race between President Bush and Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry close.

Overall, the polls found, Americans were in a pessimistic frame of mind.

Majorities of voters said the war in Iraq is going badly and the economy is not doing well. But three-fourths said they are worried about another terrorist attack, a factor playing to Mr. Bush’s strength.

The poll exploring voters’ frame of mind was conducted among 9,753 persons who had just cast ballots. It was conducted for the Associated Press and television networks by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International.

“I was really disappointed with both candidates,” said Melissa Smith, 40, of Swift Creek, N.C., who added that she didn’t make up her mind until she filled out her ballot. “Bush has made some choices for the wrong reasons. But I’m not sure I think Kerry has the strength to lead us in the right direction.”

Young voters supported Mr. Kerry over Mr. Bush by more than 15 percentage points, but the expected surge in their participation this year was not evident.

Nearly 10 percent of voters were ages 18 to 24, about the same share of the electorate as in 2000. But four years ago, they were evenly split between Mr. Bush and Vice President Al Gore.

About a fifth of the voters considered themselves born-again Christians, and they cast ballots for the president by a 4-1 margin. That was about the same margin as in 2000, when Christians who described themselves as part of the religious right said they were for Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush fared best among those who said moral values were the most important issue, and among those who said terrorism — two of the top issues.

“I think bin Laden is scared of Bush,” said Rebecca Lesko, 50, of Linwood, N.J. “That’s why we haven’t been bombed yet.”

Mr. Kerry fared best among those who said the economy was most important and those who said Iraq was their top concern — two of the other top issues.

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