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Moral issues "decisive" in Bush re-election

Particular moral values topped the list of issues voters were most concerned about when they went to the polls on Election Day, with Catholics, evangelicals, blacks and Hispanics joining an ad hoc coalition that re-elected President Bush by 3.5 million votes.

AsiaNews cites a Washington Times account of a national exit poll of 13,531 voters that found 22% cited moral values as the "most important issue," with the economy and jobs second at 20% and terrorism at 19%, according to a joint survey by Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International. Iraq came in fourth at 15%.

Moral issues - referring to marriage, family and bioethics - were highlighted by ballot measures in 11 states to effectively prohibit same-sex marriage. Voters approved all the measures by solid majorities, ranging from 57% in Oregon to 86% in Mississippi - and 62% in the key state of Ohio.

The overwhelming support that Americans gave to marriage and family issues and the candidates who supported them showed that this is the 'year of the values voter,'" said Gary Bauer, president of American Values and a former presidential candidate.

For months on the campaign trail, the president drew the most enthusiastic applause from supporters when he talked about moral values: the "culture of life", a phrase borrowed from Pope John Paul II; the sanctity of marriage; the importance of family; and especially his signing of the partial-birth-abortion ban.

The Christian Defence Coalition pointed on Wednesday to a strong evangelical and pro-life voter turnout as a key to the president's victory.

"This election demonstrates that Democratic Party leaders have moved far away from the moral consensus in America," said the Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council. "If they are to reclaim political relevancy, they will need to re-examine their positions on all the major moral issues including the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage and the public acknowledgment of God."

Conservatives credited moral issues with boosting Mr Bush's tally among black and Hispanic voters. The president's share of the Hispanic vote increased from 31% in 2000 to 44% this year. The shift in the black vote was smaller - from 9% four years ago to 11% in 2004 - but may have proved decisive in Ohio, the state that ultimately tipped the election to Mr Bush.

Leonard Leo, Catholic adviser to the Bush-Cheney campaign, says Catholics voted for President Bush over Senator Kerry by 51 to 48. That is a 4% gain over 2000. Among regular Mass-attending Catholics, President Bush garnered 55% of votes. The gain in Catholic support (4 points) surpassed the gain in the Protestant vote (2 points).

Moral issue decisive for Bush re-election ( 4/11/04)

Religious freedom and defence of minorities should be the priorities of a re-elected Bush, John Daya ( 4/11/04)
Council of Churches: God Has No Place in US Politics (Reuters 4/11/04)
Eleven states approve ban of same-sex marriage in ballot vote (Catholic News Agency 3/11/04)
California votes in stem cell research, pro-life groups denounce result (Catholic News Agency 3/11/04)
Florida abortion notification law overwhelmingly approved (Catholic News Agency 3/11/04)
After the election: Soothing bitterness, analyzing votes (Catholic News Service 3/11/04)
Ballot measures on same-sex marriage approved in 11 states (Catholic News Service 3/11/04)

5 Nov 2004