A LOT like last time, only more so: That is the picture that emerges of George
W. Bush's winning majority in the 2004 presidential election. He held on
to the votes of most of the groups that supported him in 2000, while making
inroads among a few that did not.
Most men, whites, Protestants, regular churchgoers, high earners, conservatives
and, naturally, most Republicans voted for Mr. Bush. Women, blacks, Hispanics,
young voters, the lower paid, moderates, liberals and, of course, Democrats
gave John Kerry a
majority of their votes.
This portrait of the 2004 electorate emerges from interviews with 13,600
voters conducted by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International for
the National Election Pool, a consortium of ABC News, The Associated Press,
CBS News, CNN, Fox News and NBC News. The large number of respondents makes
it possible to measure the preferences of some groups, like Jews and Asians,
whose share of the population is too small to be examined in typical telephone
Highlights of the survey's results and comparable figures for the previous
six presidential elections are shown in the table.
The Gender Gap
Although the majority of women continued to vote Democratic, Mr. Bush
increased the Republican share, reducing the gap between his results among
women and men to 7 percentage points, down from 10 points in 2000. A gender
gap is seen in all age groups, ranging from 4 points among voters under
30 to 11 points among those over 60.
The gap first attracted attention in 1980, when men were 8 percentage
points more likely to support Ronald Reagan than women were.
The Democratic candidate has won the most votes among unmarried voters
in every election since 1988. Unmarried women, especially, backed Mr. Kerry
this year, giving him 62 percent of their votes.
Religion, Race and Ethnicity
A majority of Protestants, particularly white and Hispanic Protestants,
supported Mr. Bush. Black voters, regardless of religion, continue to support
the Democratic candidate overwhelmingly, giving almost 9 in 10 of their
votes to Mr. Kerry. Jewish voters also remained firmly in the Democratic
column, though Mr. Bush expanded his share to 25 percent this year from
19 percent in 2000.
Although John Kerry was the first Catholic nominated by a major party
for president since 1960, most Catholic voters chose his opponent. Mr.
Bush was supported by 52 percent of all Catholics, a significant change
from 2000, when Al Gore won more Catholic votes than Mr. Bush did. Fifty-six
percent of white Catholics backed Mr. Bush this year, but 58 percent of
Hispanic Catholics voted for Mr. Kerry.
In fact, a majority of Hispanics in general backed Mr. Kerry. Still, Mr.
Bush won a greater share of the Hispanic vote than any other Republican
candidate for president since the advent of exit polls in 1972. Mr. Kerry
received a majority of votes from people under 30, both men and women.
Although most white voters in general preferred Mr. Bush, his share of
the white vote was smallest among those under 30. Blacks of every age overwhelmingly
favored Mr. Kerry.
For the past three elections, Republicans have been steadily regaining
voters aged 60 or older, a group that supported Ronald Reagan but switched
to the Democrats in the Clinton years. This year, most voted for Mr. Bush.
Although Mr. Kerry was backed by a majority of voters who live in big
cities, their support of the Democratic ticket fell to 60 percent this
year, compared with 71 percent for Mr. Gore in 2000. Mr. Bush once again
ran strongly in rural areas, and did slightly better among suburbanites,
who split evenly in 2000. Suburban men were particularly supportive of
Mr. Bush, giving him 55 percent of their votes.
As in 2000, few voters crossed party lines, and fewer still voted for
a different party than last time. Political independents split their votes
In party identification, Republicans appeared to pull even with Democrats
at 37 percent of the voters each; four years ago, Democrats led, 39 percent
to 35 percent.