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ELECTION-REACT (THIRD UPDATE) Nov-4-2004 (810 words) With photos posted Nov. 3 and 4. xxxn

After the election: Soothing bitterness, analyzing votes

By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the second close presidential election in a row was called Nov. 3 for President George W. Bush, analysts scrambled to interpret the results while others looked ahead to soothing bitter partisanship from the campaign.

In his concession speech at Boston's Faneuil Hall, the Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, said he and Bush "talked about the danger of division in our country and the need -- the desperate need -- for unity, for finding common ground and coming together. Today, I hope we can begin the healing."

Kerry said he told Bush that "America is in need of unity and longing for a larger measure of compassion. I hope President Bush will advance those values in the coming years."

Later in the day in a speech in Washington, Bush pledged to seek the support of Kerry's voters during his second term.

"America has spoken, and I'm humbled by the trust and the confidence of my fellow citizens," he said. "With that trust comes a duty to serve all Americans. And I will do my best to fulfill that duty every day as your president."

Speaking to "every person who voted for my opponent," he said, "I will need your support and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust."

Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles was quick to offer his congratulations to Bush after Kerry conceded in a mid-morning telephone call to the president the day after the election.

"The partisan rhetoric of the campaign must now give way to a genuine commitment to bipartisanship and to a partnership for the common good," the cardinal said in a statement. He said all Americans must work together with the administration and Congress to strengthen the nation's moral principles, promote human dignity, nurture the stability of families and assist those who are hungry, lack health care or need jobs.

Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali issued a statement congratulating Bush and expressed his best wishes to Kerry and his vice-presidential running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, and their families.

But he also called on Americans "to come together to support the president as he leads the United States during the next four years."

"As citizens we may differ in our views but agree that we want what is truly best for each other, for our country and for the world," Cardinal Rigali said. He said he and his brother bishops "will strive to work with the president as he deals with difficult issues facing our nation."

Meanwhile, even before the final vote tallies were in, the campaigns, pollsters and social scientists were deconstructing the results for clues about why people voted the way they did.

Despite extensive attention to the role of religion in the lives of the presidential candidates this year -- particularly criticism of Kerry from within his own Catholic Church -- exit polls showed Catholics apparently voted much the same as the overall population.

Nationwide, about 51 percent of voters chose Bush, compared to 48 percent who voted for Kerry. Among all Catholics, who make up 27 percent of the electorate, Bush got 52 percent of the vote compared to 47 percent for Kerry.

An analysis by John Green, head of the Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron in Ohio, and Steven Waldman, founder of the online magazine Beliefnet, found that Catholics in the battleground states of Florida and Ohio turned out more strongly for Bush than for Kerry.

In Ohio, the analysis found that 65 percent of Catholics who attend church weekly voted for Bush and 35 percent of them voted for Kerry. Nationwide, 56 percent of Catholics who said they go to church weekly voted for Bush, compared to 43 percent for Kerry.

Green and Waldman said 58 percent of voters nationwide from all faiths who attend church once a week voted for Bush. Those who attend church less frequently were more likely to vote for Kerry.

Voters said moral values were the most important concern behind their choice, followed by the economy and terrorism. Bush's support came from people who cited terrorism, moral values and taxes as the issues that mattered the most.

Kerry's support came from those who said they were most worried about the economy and jobs, health care, education and Iraq.

The exit poll study also reported high turnout particularly for Bush among what they defined as white evangelical or born-again Christians. They constitute 23 percent of the electorate, and 78 percent voted for Bush while 21 percent voted for Kerry.

Protestants -- including both evangelicals and members of mainline denominations -- make up 54 percent of the electorate; 59 percent of them voted for Bush, compared to 40 percent for Kerry.


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