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Distribution of votes in the 2004 US presidential election

The 2004 US presidential election was contested by incumbent President George W. Bush of the Republican Party, and John Kerry of the Democratic Party. The US' political landscape had changed drastically since the 2000 election, following the September 11 attacks in 2001, and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq dominated the campaigns. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were re-nominated for the Republican ticket with no opposition, as his response following the 9/11 attacks and his role as a wartime president caused his popularity to soar. The Democratic nomination was contested by a number of candidates, with Howard Dean seen as the frontrunner in the beginning of the race, before Kerry emerged as the surprise victor following the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. Kerry then went on to win the Democratic nomination comfortably, and named Senator John Edwards at the 2004 Democratic National Convention (the DNC also featured a keynote address from the little-known US Senate candidate, Barack Obama).

Campaign

Throughout the campaign, Bush drew focus for his foreign policy record and to matters of national security, while also claiming that his opponent would be weak in this regard. To counter this, Kerry ran with the slogan "stronger at home, respected in the world" which suggested that Bush was weak on domestic issues and that the US had lost some of its standing in the international community due to the fallout of the War on Terror. When CBS News introduced the Killian Documents; a series of papers that claimed Bush had not fulfilled his required service in the Texas Air National Guard. The legitimacy of these papers was widely doubted in the run-up to election day, and they failed to derail Bush's campaign. Kerry's military record also came under scrutiny, when a group of veterans who had served with the nominee in Vietnam came forward and claimed that he had exaggerated or lied about his service in the war. These claims damaged Kerry's ratings, however strong performances in the televised debates brought things much closer as the election drew nearer. A video of Osama Bin Laden emerged four days before the election, where he talked about the 9/11 attacks and taunted Bush; this video then boosted Bush's popularity, as the many felt the need to rally behind their President once more.

Results

The election was close, but not as close as the previous election. Bush won a majority in both the electoral vote and popular vote, taking 53 and 51 percent respectively. Kerry took the remainder of the electoral votes, and 48.3 percent of the popular vote, while the remainder of the popular vote was spread among several third party candidates.

Share of electoral college* and popular votes** in the 55th US presidential election in 2004

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Source

Release date

2011

Region

United States

Survey time period

2004

Supplementary notes

*Actual number of electoral votes:
George W. Bush - 286
John Kerry - 251

**Actual number of popular votes:
George W. Bush - 62,040,610
John Kerry - 59,028,439

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