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Election Leaves Americans Divided About Future
Most agree with Kerry concession
by David W. Moore
GALLUP NEWS SERVICE
PRINCETON, NJ -- A one-night poll conducted the day after the most expensive campaign in American history, and one of the most bitter, finds Americans divided in their feelings about President George W. Bush's second term. About a quarter are enthusiastic, but another quarter are afraid. The rest tend more toward optimism than pessimism, but the divisions by party are still deep.
While Republicans are almost universally pleased with the outcome of the election, about three-quarters of Democrats are upset, including almost half who are "very" upset. Eight in 10 Americans agree with Sen. John Kerry's decision to concede the election, but agreement is much greater among Republicans than Democrats, almost a third of whom disagree. The good news for Bush is that about three in four Americans believe he won this election fair and square, compared with less than half who felt that way after the 2000 election. Still, 3 in 10 Democrats believe Bush stole the 2004 election.
The CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey was conducted among a random sample of adult Americans on Wednesday evening, hours after Kerry delivered a speech announcing he would concede the election rather than wait until all of the provisional ballots are counted in Ohio. Acknowledging that he had little chance of making up a deficit of more than 100,000 votes in that state, Kerry promised he would still fight to make sure every vote was counted. The poll shows that 80% of Americans agree with his concession, and only 16% disagree. Also, a majority of Americans interpret his concession as a realistic (60%) rather than as a statesmanlike (35%) gesture.
Shortly after Kerry's speech, Bush declared victory and said he would do his best to fulfill the duty of a president to serve all Americans. A majority of Americans tend to accept the president's word, with 57% predicting he will do more to unite the country than divide it, though 39% predict he will do the opposite. Also, 63% of Americans believe Bush's actions in office should be to emphasize programs that both parties support, while only 30% say Bush has a mandate to advance the Republican Party's agenda.
Looking to Bush's next term, 56% of Americans say they are either enthusiastic (23%) or optimistic (33%), while 42% are either pessimistic (18%) or afraid (24%). Half of Republicans are enthusiastic, while half of Democrats are afraid.