Posted 5:28pm November 6
by Vanessa Maltin
U-WIRE Washington Bureau
Three years after one of the most contested elections in American history, voters are again split on their approval of President Bush. Without the overwhelming flood of national unity brought on by the Sept. 11 attacks and disapproval over the handling of the war in Iraq and the economy, the country is divided 50-50 with a partisan line looming over Bush as Election Day approaches.
Kevin Madden, a Bush campaign spokesman, said the Bush camp is preparing for the tough contest by building grassroots support across the country and taking nothing for granted.
“The 2004 election will be fought state by state, district by district,” Madden said. “But historically incumbent presidents have faced much lower poll numbers going into an election year than Bush is now.”
Madden said he thinks voters are going to look favorably on Bush’s leadership throughout the war in Iraq and his promise to help every American find a job.
Other Republicans view Bush as a strong candidate, whose conviction and dedication to the American people will lead him to another term in the White House.
Democrats, however, believe that Bush is leading the nation in the wrong direction.
“As Election Day gets closer, people will begin to realize that the Democratic candidate will do a better job at keeping Americans safe,” said Adam Kovachevich, a spokesman for Sen. Joe Lieberman’s, D-Conn., campaign. “Bush faces such a rocky road because he hasn’t led with integrity and the American people know it.”
Kovachevich said that the past three years have left the Bush administration with a string of broken promises to defend during the election. “[Bush] said the mission in Iraq was accomplished. But it wasn’t. He promised more jobs but there aren’t any,” Kovachevich said. Yet with nine candidates still on the ticket and no leader amongst them, Democratic voters have been unimpressed by the parties lack of effort to find an alternative to Bush’s policies at home and abroad. Christine Swisher, a junior at the George Washington University and a New Hampshire voter believes that once the Democrats settle on a candidate they will be able to rally enough support to regain the White House.
“The circumstances as they were after 9/11, anyone would have been popular,” Swisher said. “But as Bush’s true policies have come to life people are realizing that it’s time for an administration change.”
Voter interviews imply that Bush has successfully converted only a few of those who voted against him in 2000. Even several of his supporters in 2000 are unsure if they will continue to support Bush in 2004 unless there are significant improvements in the job situation and violence in Iraq.
Alan Darius, a registered independent from Jupiter, Florida, said he voted for Bush in 2000 and intends to support him again unless something catastrophic happens. He agrees with critics that Bush has made mistakes with the United Nations, but gives him credit for standing up for his convictions in both Iraq and his handling of the economy, which is now turning around.
“If the Democrats come up with a better answer for the world’s problems, I will support them,” Darius said. “But I don’t believe that right now any of the nine candidates can do that.”
Andrew Fullerton, a recent graduate of Bucknell University said that if the United States continues to lose troops in Iraq that Bush will have a difficult time finding support for the election.
“Bush’s goals are correct,” Fullerton said. “But his methods are incorrect.”