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Plenty of winners, losers

General election provides full roster of gains, setbacks

Posted: Friday, November 05, 2004

WASHINGTON You're not alone, Sen. John Kerry. Diplomacy, nuance and your adviser Bob Shrum were also Election Day losers.

And don't get too puffy-chested, Mr. President. Values, exurbs and your political aide Karl Rove had winning nights that rival yours.

In addition to the 59.3 million happy Bush voters and 55.7 million grim Kerry voters, it's a full roster of winners and losers.

Winner: Fear, a powerful motivator and Bush's main weapon. With more than 1,100 dead in Iraq and millions unemployed at home, many Americans wanted a new direction. Bush made them afraid of change, warning of terrorist strikes and Kerry's ability to command.

Loser: Hate, the emotion that rallied Democrats behind the first candidate they thought could beat Bush. ''Anybody But Bush'' buttons were all the rage, but Kerry's Vietnam combat record alone wasn't the antidote to Bush's formula of fear.

Winner: Exurbs, the farthest suburbs in states such as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Arizona are packed with new Republican voters and converted Democrats. Rove thinks shifts to the GOP in exurbs and small towns are the secret to a semi-permanent Republican majority, and nobody is arguing with him right now.

Loser: Europe, a continent filled with Bush bashers whose sentiments were summed up by this Daily Mirror of London headline: ''How can 59,054,087 people be so dumb?''

Winner: The Internet, which helped former presidential candidate Howard Dean and Kerry raise millions of dollars. Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman used it to turn a hodgepodge of GOP voters from coast to coast into an e-mail-linked community.

Loser: TV ads, $600 million worth aired by both sides. What did they buy? Two states, New Hampshire and New Mexico, switched sides from 2000. Iowa remained too close to call.

Winner: Red states, where Bush carried the day. The political map is awash in red and growing redder, particularly if Democrats can't slow GOP momentum in the Upper Midwest.

Loser: Blue states, and there's so few of them already. The West Coast and the Northeast are the only havens for a Democratic candidate.

Winner: Rove, the White House political strategist Bush calls ''The Architect.'' He persuaded Bush to increase his 2000 vote totals by tailoring policies and politics to conservatives.

Loser: Shrum, the Democratic consultant who extended his presidential campaign losing streak to seven and proved more adept at fighting fellow staffers than battling Bush.

Winners: Hispanics, who favored Kerry but were drawn more to Bush than in 2000. That makes them swing voters, a focus of pandering politicians.

Losers: Young voters, who defied predictions of a large turnout. Dude, pandering politicians can stop the draft!

Winner: The doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes, which Bush expanded in the presidential campaign to include nations such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq that doesn't have weapons of mass destruction but wants them badly.

Loser: Diplomacy, or at least the kind of ally-courting that Kerry had in mind when he said pre-emptive action needed to pass a ''global test.''

Winner: Swagger, the Texas word for walking.

Loser: Nuance, the Massachusetts word for let-me-explain-what-I-meant-by-global-test. Kerry's policies were often wrapped in long, nuanced sentences that Bush converted (Democrats would say twisted) into a flip-flop.

Winner: Former President Bush who watched his son claim a prize that had eluded him, a second term.

Loser: Former President Clinton, who watched Kerry lose a prize that he had won: Arkansas.

Winner: Special interest groups called ''527s'' that ran shadow political parties.

Loser: Campaign finance laws that created 527s.

Winner: Conservatives, who backed gay marriage bans in 11 states and gave Congress another nudge to the right.

Loser: Moderates, who are being crowded out of politics by extreme elements of both parties.

Winner: Moral values, which ranked at the top of voter concerns along with jobs and terrorism. Bush won 80 percent of voters citing values.

Loser: Issues such as education, taxes and health care, which became secondary concerns to safety after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Winner: John Edwards, the Democratic vice presidential candidate who might have launched his campaign for the 2008 nomination by urging Kerry to contest Ohio's balloting.

Loser: Vice President Dick Cheney, shuttled to Hawaii or GOP bastions with his less-than-stellar job approval ratings.

Winner: House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose push for redistricting in Texas helped the GOP knock off four veteran Texas Democrats.

Loser: Texas Democrats.

Winner: The National Rifle Association, which aired 750 television ads, 1,200 radio ads and 300 newspapers ads to help defeat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D.

Loser: ACT, or American Coming Together, the liberal get-out-the-vote organization that spent more than $100 million to help Kerry lose by more than 3 million votes.

Winner: Republicans.

Loser: Democrats.

Ron Fournier has covered national politics or the White House since 1993.



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