Philip Klinker has some stats from the National Election Survey that demonstrate that George Bush won re-election because of terrorism. Terrorism and Iraq were the number one and two issues for voters (42% and 18% respectively), but those who cited terrorism were 70% likely to vote for Bush, whereas those who cited Iraq were only 31% likely to vote for Bush. Interesting numbers. From this, T. Rex concludes that morals played no role in the outcome of the election.

Kerry lost because he couldn't overcome the fact that no terrorist attacks had happened on U.S. soil since 9/11. People who think about such things in passing concluded that since there were no more attacks and Bush was president, he must've been doing enough to prevent further attacks. Values were 100% unimportant in the election. People who say values such as abortion and gay rights are the most important issue are NEVER going to vote Democrat, so they are not a swing constituency and they didn't determine the election. Voters who supported Bush on terrorism can be won, Kerry just didn't make the sale.

I don't buy T. Rex's analysis. Sure, terrorism was the most important issue this time around, but eventually it won't be. Plus, there are pleny of gay voters (such as Andrew Sullivan) to whom gay rights are the number one concern, and who vote for Democrats. Perhaps T. Rex should have said that voters for whom morals are a number one concern are much less likely to be swayed from one party to the other... as long as morals remain their number one concern.

However, a great deal of time is spent trying to convince voters that issue A is more important than issue B. That's why of the 9% of the electorate who cited the economy as their most important issue, 75% voted for Kerry. Does that mean Bush was weaker on the economy, or that Bush hasn't the economy well? Not at all. It may be the case that many of the people who cite terrorism as their top concern also approve of Bush's economic performance. The survey simply doesn't say. What it indicates is that the people who were persuaded that the economy (or Iraq) was more important than terrorism tended to prefer Kerry -- which makes perfect sense since the Democrats were constantly arguing that Bush was overstating the threat of terrorism, and their most ardent supporters would have been eager to believe that to be true.

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