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A Look At How And Why America Voted

Updated:
A look at voter thinking in Tuesday's presidential election:

WHO VOTED HOW:

-OVERALL: George W. Bush won solid majorities of men, whites and the wealthy. Al Gore was winning among women, blacks, Hispanics and those earning below $30,000.

-FAMILIES: Bush was leading among voters who were married, particularly those with children; Gore was doing better among those who were not married.

-RELIGION: Bush was leading among Protestants, and Gore was leading among Jews and those who did not identify with any religion. Bush and Gore were splitting the Catholic vote. The more likely a voter was to attend religious services, the more likely he or she was to vote for Bush.

-PARTY: Bush and Gore each had overwhelming leads among Republicans and Democrats, respectively. They were running even among independents, with a small chunk of independent voters favoring Ralph Nader.

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NOTABLE GROUPS:

-LATE DECIDERS: Nearly one in five voters said they made up their minds in the last week, and Gore had a solid lead with this group. Bush and Gore were very close among voters who decided earlier.

-MODERATES: About half of voters considered themselves politically moderate, and they favored Gore. More voters called themselves conservative than liberal; conservatives heavily favored Bush and liberals heavily favored Gore.

-UNIONS: About one in four voters came from a union household, and a solid majority of them were supporting Gore.

-CLINTON VOTERS: Gore was holding on to the vast majority of those who voted for President Clinton in 1996, though Bush was doing better among Clinton voters than Gore was doing among those who voted for Republican Bob Dole. Bush also won the lion's share of those who supported Reform Party nominee Ross Perot in 1996.

ISSUES AND QUALITIES:

-MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES: Bush was winning among voters who cared most about world affairs and taxes. Gore was winning among voters who cared most about Medicare/prescription drugs, Social Security, health care, economy/jobs and education.

-MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES: Bush was winning among voters who cared most about a candidate being honest, a strong leader and having good judgment in a crisis. Gore was winning those who cared most about someone who "cares about people like me,'' who has the right experience and who understands complex issues.

-ISSUES OR PERSONALITY?: A solid majority of voters said a candidate's position on issues was more important to them than leadership and personal qualities.

-BUSH-DRUNKEN DRIVING: About one in four voters said the revelation last week of Bush's 1976 arrest for drunken driving was very or somewhat important to their vote. Those voters went overwhelmingly for Gore.

-SAY ANYTHING?: Voters were more likely to believe that Gore would say anything to get elected than that Bush would. But a large chunk of voters - about four in 10 - thought they both would.

-SMART ENOUGH?: Voters were more likely to believe that Gore had the knowledge needed to serve effectively as president than they were to think the same of Bush.

-HONEST ENOUGH?: More voters thought Bush was honest and trustworthy enough to be president than felt that way about Gore.

-RESERVATIONS: Four in 10 voters had reservations about their choice for president. Gore's supporters were more likely to have reservations about their vote than were Bush voters.

-INTERNATIONAL CRISIS: Voters were slightly more likely to believe that Gore would do a good job handling an international crisis.

-PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: Asked how the government should help senior citizens pay for their prescriptions, a majority preferred increased financing for Medicare, which Gore has proposed. Gore voters favored that plan overwhelmingly, while Bush voters more narrowly supported providing money for seniors to buy private insurance coverage - Bush's proposal.

-SOCIAL SECURITY: A majority of voters supported allowing individuals to invest some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market, as Bush proposed, and two-thirds of those voters backed Bush.

-MILITARY: Almost half of voters thought the U.S. military has become weaker since Clinton took office; more than one-third believed it stayed about the same. Bush's voters overwhelmingly said it was worse, while Gore supporters were divided on the question.

-COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATIVE?: Bush's effort to position himself as a compassionate conservative appeared to have made inroads. About half of voters said his positions on the issues were about right; about a third said he was too conservative.

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ECONOMY:

-FAMILY FINANCES: Half the voters said their personal finances were better now than four years ago, and they overwhelmingly voted for Gore. Most other voters said things were about the same, and these voters favored Bush by 2-to-1.

-CLINTON CREDIT?: About two in three voters said the Clinton administration was very or somewhat responsible for the good economy, and they favored Gore. Those who didn't give the administration much credit were overwhelmingly in Bush's camp.

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NADER FACTOR:

STEALING FROM GORE?: About half of Nader voters said they would have voted for Gore if it had been a two-way race. But about one in three said they simply would not have voted in a two-way race.

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LOOKING AHEAD:

Bush voters were more likely than Gore voters to say they were excited about what their candidate would do as president. Among voters on both sides, about half said they would be scared if the other candidate won.

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CLINTON:

-SCANDALS OR LEADERSHIP?: Two-thirds of voters said Clinton would be remembered more for his scandals than his leadership. Yet a majority said they approved of the way Clinton handled his job as president.

-INFLUENCE ON VOTE: A little more than half said Clinton administration scandals weren't important to their vote. But those who called the scandals very or somewhat important went heavily for Bush. About seven in 10 Bush voters called the scandals important.

About one-third of Bush voters said one reason for their vote was to oppose Clinton, but far more - about six in 10 Bush voters - said Clinton wasn't a factor.

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ROLE OF GOVERNMENT:

BUSINESS OR GOVERNMENT?: A majority of voters thought government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals, and they strongly favored Bush. The four out of 10 who said government should do more to solve problems heavily favored Gore.

DIVIDED GOVERNMENT?: A majority of voters said it's better for the country if the president and Congress are of the same party.

PRESIDENT'S FIRST JOB: About three in 10 voters said the first thing the new president should do is improve education, and a majority of them voted for Gore. About a fourth of voters said cutting taxes was job No. 1, and they overwhelmingly chose Bush. Another fourth made strengthening Social Security the priority, and as a group they leaned toward Gore.

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Voters were interviewed as they left the polls by Voter News Service, a consortium of the AP and the television networks. Early results were based on interviews with 8,364 voters as they left their polling places. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.3 percentage points, higher for subgroups.

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