The arrival of 2004 means one thing for the American political world – it is another presidential election year.
The arrival of 2004 means one thing for the American political world –
it is another presidential election year.
The pundits already are at the door – and on the airwaves – predicting,
speculating, postulating and posturing as well.
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson already has announced he believes President
George Bush has a divine mandate and will win in a cakewalk.
Others have agreed in principle, voicing concern about whether Democrats can
field a viable candidate.
Still others note that with the economy recovering and Saddam Hussein in custody,
there are few issues that can hurt the sitting president in his quest for a
Is it that certain?
Well, if a new OLeary Report/Zogby International poll is any indication,
the answer is an emphatic “no.”
Based on the findings of the poll, researchers are predicting a deeply-divided
The answer is simple – because the United States is a deeply-divided country.
Indeed, the poll shows a clear division between the states Bush carried in
the 2000 election and those Democratic challenger Al Gore carried. The lead
researcher suggested that division is not going away for this presidential race.
“I believe that the 2004 presidential race will be a close one, a very
close one, …” said John Zogby, president and CEO of Zogby International,
a polling and research company. “We are looking at a squeaker in the presidential
The reason is clear, Zogby added in an opinion column in the St. Louis Business
Journal near the end of the year.
“We have become divided into separate and distinct political cultures
in the past decade, …” the national researcher explained. “We are
separated by the way we live our lives and think about our world.”
Zogby suggested Bush and his Democratic challenger will be campaigning in “different,
yet parallel universes.”
He has numbers to back up his view.
The OLeary Report/Zogby International poll uses the 2000 presidential
race as the basis for its findings. It uses a color-coded system to identify
states Bush carried as “Red States” and those Gore carried as “Blue
The findings are revealing.
For example, on the issue of religion, Zogby found that 57 percent of Red State
voters are Protestants, 23 percent are Catholic, and 1 percent are Jewish.
In Blue States, the religious demographics differ – Protestant, 37 percent;
Catholic, 33 percent; Jewish, 4 percent.
But that is not all.
When asked how they practiced their faith, 51 percent of Red State respondents
said that they attend their local church, synagogue, or mosque once a week or
Conversely, in Blue States, 46 percent said they attend religious services
only on holidays, rarely or never.
The differences continue in other areas of national life and thought as well.
2000 Presidential election
When asked if Bush legitimately won the last presidential election, 62 percent
of Red State respondents said “yes,” while 32 percent said the election
Conversely, in the Blue States, only 50 percent said they viewed the election
as legitimate, compared to 44 percent who said they believed it was stolen.
Bush job performance
When asked to evaluate Bushs job performance as president, 60 percent
of respondents in Red States gave him positive marks – and half (50 percent)
said they want him re-elected to the office in 2004.
Conversely, 46 percent of those in Blue States gave the president positive
marks in performance – and more than half (51 percent) said they wanted
a new president.
The Clinton factor
When asked to evaluate the political, economic and social values espoused by
former President Bill Clinton and his wife, 56 percent of respondents in Red
States rejected them, while only 34 percent embraced those views and values.
Conversely, 47 percent of those in Blue States rejected the same values and
views – and 45 percent embraced them.
The poll found that 70 percent of Red State respondents side with the proposition
that marriage should be confined to a man and a woman. Only 25 percent support
the idea of civil unions between homosexuals.
Conversely, while a majority of Blue State respondents (55 percent) support
restricting marriage to a man and woman, 42 percent support the idea of civil
When it comes to identifying their political views, 39 percent of Red State
responents call themselves as Republicans, compared to 38 percent who opt for
Democrats and 22 percent who come in as Independents.
Conversely, 40 percent of Blue State respondents characterize themselves as
Democrats, compared to 31 percent who choose Republican and 29 percent who opt
Almost two-thirds of Red State respondents (64 percent) are married, compared
to 10 percent who are single.
Conversely, fewer of Blue State respondents (56 percent) are married and more
(20 percent) are single.
In other breakdowns, the poll found more respondents in Blue States owned guns
(51 percent to 36 percent); more respondents in Red States were age 35-64 (46
percent to 39 percent); and more respondents in Blue States had college or post-graduate
experience (48 percent to 44 percent).
The divide breaks down geographically as well.
In the 2000 election, Gore won the Pacific Coast states, New Mexico, the Great
Lakes States and all the Northeast except for New Hampshire. Bush won all the
Bush won 30 states to 20 for Gore.
So, what does it mean?
Zogby said he thinks the research points to a showdown.
“I think that any Democrat starts the campaign with 45 percent of the
vote,” he said. “It is sort of like the SAT exams where you get 200
just for showing up. … Now, obviously there will be a campaign and things
that cannot be foreseen, … but I think this is a 50/50 president in a 50/50
Zogby likened the 2004 race to the 1796 campaign between John Adams and Thomas
Jefferson, with “each side predicting the end of the world if the other
“We are extremely and intensely polarized, …” he said. “There
is a cultural and ideological divide. … What I dont see is a (candidate)
… who attempts to build bridges.
“I think it (is) troubling.”
Zogby goes even further in his St. Louis Business Journal column, calling the
United States a “divided nation.”
He proposed a nation in which two separate regions “think and vote differently
because they are different.
“What this suggests … is a national campaign for president means a Democrat
can be successful if he rallies enough votes in the Blue States, while a successful
Republican candidate must ensure mobilizing the troops and voters in the Red
States,” Zogby noted. “Translated, that means that if the Democrat
can hold on to the states which Al Gore won, then add either Ohio or New Hampshire,
the Democrat can win.
“If President Bush can hold on to the states he won, ensuring a Florida
victory, he gets a second term.”
Zogby predicted both sides will view the presidential race in just such a manner,
pursuing a Red State vs. Blue State strategy instead of a national appeal to
voters. “I see little opportunity for the president in the Gore states
– and with the exception of Ohio (which Bush won by four points), little
opportunity for the Democrats in the Red States,” he said.
Welcome to 2004.
(The Zogby poll was commissioned by the OLeary Report. It involved a
survey of 1,200 likely voters on various issues. This article also includes
information from a Baptist Press release, as well as from Internet sources on
the Zogby survey.)